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Acorns as chicken feed?

 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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Crazy thought? Anyone have any experience trying it? Came to mind after watching acorns being prepared for human consumption. I don't think I really want to eat my local acorns, but if they can be chicken feed at no cash expense, that's another matter.

 
Andrew Parker
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Location: Salt Lake Valley, Utah, hardiness zone 6b/7a
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I used to feed my hens and turkeys broken up acorns. It was a lot of hand work. The turkeys were big enough to eat them whole, as their wild cousins would, but I think they were reluctant to eat large pieces of food because they were used to mash.

If you can get a decorticator and a grinding mill, you would be set. You may or may not need to wash the meal, depending on how palatable it was to the chickens.
 
John Elliott
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I don't find it to be much hand work, I have a concrete driveway. Driving over the acorns seems to size reduce them to the point where the chickens look upon it as more scratch feed. Of course, there is the hand work of sweeping up the driveway and tossing the sweepings in the chicken coop......
 
Andrew Parker
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The simple solutions are often the most elusive.
 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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Thanks gentlemen. Conveniently, my largest remaining oak is adjacent to my driveway

 
Jay Green
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Here's the info I found when contemplating feeding the acorns to the chooks. The wild turkeys eat them like candy around here, so you can take these study results with a load of "acceptable risk" in mind but I passed on gathering and feeding them to the birds and let them decide for themselves if they were food that was necessary to their free range diet. Not sure that I've ever seen one of my chickens eat one, but I'm sure it happens now and again.

Cornell University’s Dept of Animal Science states: “Generally, tannins induce a negative response when consumed. These effects can be instantaneous like astringency or a bitter or unpleasant taste or can have a delayed response related to antinutritional/toxic effects … Tannins negatively affect an animal’s feed intake, feed digestibility, and efficiency of production. These effects vary depending on the content and type of tannin ingested and on the animal’s tolerance, which in turn is dependent on characteristics such as type of digestive tract, feeding behavior, body size, and detoxification mechanisms.”

Their studies have shown the following information worth noting:

Animals fed diets with a level of tannins under 5% experience

depressed growth rates,
low protein utilization,
damage to the mucosal lining of the digestive tract,
alteration in the excretion of certain cations, and
increased excretion of proteins and essential amino acids.

In 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.
 
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