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Are the 3 sisters a good option for fodder?

 
Matt Gorham
Posts: 10
Location: Louisburg, NC Zone 7b avg. 50" precip.
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What experiences have you had with growing corn beans and squash together as fodder?

I'm planning on growing butternut squash with field corn and some bean to be able to feed chickens.
 
Bill Crim
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There are several threads here where they mention pumpkins as being good winter fodder.
Here is one where they talk about it in relation to chickens. http://www.permies.com/t/30074/small-farm/fodder-cold-months
I don't remember where I saw it, but I read that most regular farm animals will happily eat pumpkin, and those that don't, will eat it if it has been fermented a bit.

 
Alder Burns
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You will have to process your harvest to give your chickens much benefit from it. Vigorous poultry can pick field corn off the cob, but they probably won't be able to get it down off the stalk and shuck it, and it will be a lot more digestible and nutritious for them if it is soaked, slightly sprouted, or ground first. Ditto with the squash...it will have to be opened up, and preferably cooked to soften it. The beans are the worst....raw, dry beans contain anti-nutritional factors that apply to poultry as much as to people....they will need to be either sprouted or brought to a boil for a while to get rid of these and make them digestible. A cow, goat, or pig, turned loose into the patch, might have more success than chickens.....
 
Andy Reed
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Yes legumes may contain several anti-nutritional factors. The three main factors are:

- phasine, a protein that has a serious effect on the small intestine in some people. However, this protein is destroyed by cooking, so only raw beans pose a risk regarding its presence. Phasine though is destroyed only after a lengthy period of boiling the legume, and not by drying. Outbreaks of phasine poisoning are very rare.

- trypsin inhibitors, several of which are found in legumes. These are proteins that block the digestive enzyme trypsin; some of these inhibitors are heat resistant. The activity of these inhibitors impairs the digestion of proteins, which are thus not digested and absorbed. These trypsin inhibitors may result in malnutrition, especially in low-protein diets.

- phytates, or phytic acids, which are affected by heating, but require other processing (such as fermentation) for further neutralisation, which is still only partial. Also, soaking/germination (sprouting) reduces or eliminates phytates.

Still, legumes are an important source of proteins and should be part of a good and varied diet.
 
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