We aim to produce a local, nutritious, affordable poultry feed while also improving the health of Big Green Lake by utilizing excessive plant growth removed by aqweed harvesters each year, some invasive, as well as invasive zebra mussels, analyzing the nutrient content, and formulating it into a poultry feed. In line with duckweed and other aquatic plants, this current waste product is expected to be high in protein, vitamins and minerals, with added calcium from the mussel shells.
Over 3 months, one control flock of layer hens of fifty birds will receive a diet of organic layer feed, and a separate flock of fifty birds will receive a diet of our formulated aqweed feed. Eggs will be counted and weighed daily from each flock, and hens will be weighed at the beginning, middle and end of the trial period. Other than feed, the two flocks will have identical environmental conditions.
If successful, this could develop into a community enterprise which would provide an alternative source of income for us as farmers, plus other jobs for the community. Additionally, area poultry farmers will have a local, sustainable, and affordable option for sourcing feed.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Evaluate the safety and efficacy of local aquatic weed and mussel waste as chicken layer feed through livestock trials and lab analysis.
- Formulate a complete layer feed diet using the aqweed and other [ideally] locally sourced ingredients.
- Measure egg production and weight of hens fed our aqweed feed in comparison to a control flock.
- Determine feasibility of producing this feed at a commercial level to diversify income.
- Share project and results via field days and farm and organizational partner websites and publications.