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Feeding your chickens acorns.

 
Mike Guillory
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My chickens free range in the back yard.  I have 6 large oak trees in my yard that are dropping acorns like crazy.  When I go to feed my chickens they follow me like puppies all the way to the feed can.  A few days ago I noticed they had stopped following me and were pecking something.  When I walked across a concrete pad, I had crushed several acorns and they were eating them up.  I gathered several gallons of acorns and crushed them and the feeding frenzy was on.  I will pay a minimal food bill for the next month due to the love of acorns by my chooks.  I hope this saves someone else some money due to feed being so high.
 
Allan Laal
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I fed my chickens acorns too, they loved it. Im always experimenting with new stuff to feed them and see if it kills them or feeds them

Acorns would be a good way to store food for the long winter. Only thing is that each acorn needs to be crushed/split, so the chickens could eat the innards.

Is there any way to crush/split acorns on a massive scale? I tried my old manual meat mincer and it did not work at all.

How about storing the acorns? My guts tell me that it would be wiser to dry them out and then store them like they are, as opposed to crushing them all at once and then storing the mush. Tell me your ideas on the matter!
 
John Polk
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Dried acorns provide 6% protein, as well as fair amounts of calcium and iron.

They are certainly a valued hog feed (especially since the hogs will crush their own).
 
Nicola Marchi
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I thought acorns had a poisonous concentration of tannins in them.

Are chickens immune to to it? or are they subject to liver damage from tannins the same as humans?

If they are immune to it, will it carry through and make the meat inedible and slightly poisonous to humans?
 
Guy De Pompignac
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http://www.atk.ke.hu/index.php?mid=60&did=181
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Mike Guillory
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Thanks for the information.  This tells me to limit the feeding of the acorns to about 20% of the total feed intake.  I am fattening some roosters so they will suffice for that also.
 
Nicola Marchi
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Awesome study thanks for finding it.

If you still want to use acorns for additional chicken food you might just want to  process them yourself to remove the tannins. It's a simple process of washing the mashed acorn until the water that passes through it is clear.

Too bad the study didn't establish whether it was the tannins themselves that affected the chickens or something else in the acorn (tannin content was assumed to be the culprit).

If you do depend on your chickens for food though it seems best to not give them acorns at all since they do note that, "In the all cases rate of egg production, number of eggs per hen in 84 days, egg mass per hen per day and feed efficiency was significantly affected by the dietary treatments." right above the conclusion of the study.
 
Jack Shawburn
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Chickens'll eat anything...
after all they're related to T-Rex
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13772-t-rex-kinship-with-chickens-confirmed.html
 
Guy De Pompignac
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ilchianti wrote:y didn't establish whether it was the tannins themselves that affected the chickens or something else in the acorn (tannin content was assumed to be the culprit).


If someone have access to scientific publications ...

n poultry, small quantities of tannins in the diet cause adverse effects

*    levels from 0.5 to 2.0% can cause depression in growth and egg production,
*    levels from 3 to 7% can cause death.

Source

This paper on effects of diets containing acorns on growth and laying performance includes data for effects of diets supplemented with 1 or 2% tannin on laying performance and egg quality. The results show that addition of tannin to the diet decreases shell thickness and Haugh score of the eggs. These adverse effects of dietary tannin could be alleviated by supplementation of the diet with 0.4% methionine and 0.4-0.8% choline.

Source
 
Raine Bradford
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Allan Laal wrote:I fed my chickens acorns too, they loved it. Im always experimenting with new stuff to feed them and see if it kills them or feeds them

Acorns would be a good way to store food for the long winter. Only thing is that each acorn needs to be crushed/split, so the chickens could eat the innards.

Is there any way to crush/split acorns on a massive scale? I tried my old manual meat mincer and it did not work at all.

How about storing the acorns? My guts tell me that it would be wiser to dry them out and then store them like they are, as opposed to crushing them all at once and then storing the mush. Tell me your ideas on the matter!


Did you ever find any more information on this topic? I have dozens of oak trees on my property and am getting ready to get chickens next spring. Lots of conflicting info, but I'm gonna give acorns a go if I can figure out how to crush them easily.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Acorns are easily crushed by driving a vehicle over them. Small birds are often seen along roadsides and driveways as they pick through the mashed nuts. For free range birds, this is dead simple. Crows will place nuts on the road themselves.
 
Saybian Morgan
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I'm glad the subject of % came up while reading down this thread and thanks to dale I can skip the car suggestion. If your looking to crush them on a massive scale put them in between to sheets of corrugated metal and drive over that so it's faster and nobody gets any cuzz there under the metal.
This topic is in Bill Mollison's original 1983 pdc recordings. the answer is to sprout them, that's when chickens naturally tackle them in the spring for a limited period. What's more the assimilable protein goes up as well as the tannins begin to convert.
 
jack spirko
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On toxicity there is likely no way anyone can kill a chicken with an acorn unless the chicken is restricted from getting other foods. As long as the birds have a choice they will limit their own intake. Further the more tannin the less of them they will eat. I have seen they won't touch my Live Oak acorns, they are just too bitter. White acorn they tear up and some reds they may eat a bit or two here and there. Tannins are bitter.

Consider wild poultry including ducks (especially wood duck) and turkey eat the hell out of acorns.

As for storage, think like a chicken, not like a person.

Here is what I mean, if you were storing chestnuts for yourself and they got all infested with weevils you would be unhappy right? But a chicken says oh wow, more food, LOTS of protein. You know how I said they won't eat the live oak acorns? They won't until late in the year when they are half rotted, full of weevils, etc. Then they go into them pretty hard to get to the little worms, weevils, etc.
 
Alder Burns
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I've been successfully feeding acorns to my layers for some months now, by leaching and cooking them similar to the process I use to eat them myself. See my blog post at www.udanwest.blogspot.com for the details. Right now I still have well over 1,000 pounds in storage from last fall's harvest, some dried longer in the sun than others, but a lot of them are more than half moldy now. I'm setting these aside and trying to feed them to my black soldier flies (after crushing and soaking), because I know any significant amount of moldy stuff will make layers quit laying. I think now it might be better to try to crush and then sun-dry the entire crop in the fall when it's still hot and sunny much of the time, and then store, instead of whole in the shell.....
 
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