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Feeding Chickens Whole Grains

 
Jerry Ward
Posts: 188
Location: S.E. Michigan - Zone 6a
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I'm wanting to move away from chicken chow and am thinking about whole grains. I do the (more or less) paddock shift system with electro-net fencing that gives them about 1/10th of an acres for 20-40 birds, this gets moved through a grass/brush/woods area. I'm thinking that by not providing feed all the time they will forage more and eat less.

I know smaller grains they can eat whole but do larger grains need to be ground? I'm thinking about fields peas if I can find them. Also can they eat sunflower seeds in the shell or do they need to go through some kind of grinder?
 
John Elliott
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The chicken crop is a marvelous grinding machine when properly outfitted with small pebbles. There is very little that is recognizable after it comes out of the other end of the chicken, maybe small bits of grass that manage to stay together.

While chickens can process grains as large as whole corn kernels, you have to be careful feeding them beans and peas. Raw dried beans and peas can contain phytohemagglutinins which can be poisonous. Any chicken feed made with soy is made with cooked soy meal for this reason.
 
Alder Burns
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Location: northern California
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A little of this and a little of that is fine however, but a steady diet of whole grains is more digestible and nutritious if soaked and preferably sprouted. This may help with legumes also, but the safest way to feed them is by cooking. I have heard that twenty minute's at a boil is sufficient to break down the antinutritional substances in most legumes including soybeans. You can look up charts and equations to figure out how to mix these for adequate protein, etc. for growth and for laying, but it's also true that if you provide them with a free choice they will pretty much balance their own diet. Having access to some range with plenty of grees stuff will meet most of their needs for micronutrients.....
 
Tina Paxton
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Location: coastal southeast North Carolina
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Sprouting does reduce the "anti-nutrient" and toxic elements of beans *to a degree* but *most* beans/legumes still require cooking after sprouting. Lentils is an exception and both humans and chickens love sprouted lentils. A really good information source for sprouting beans (for humans or animals) is sproutpeople.com.

 
Jerry Ward
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Location: S.E. Michigan - Zone 6a
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What about field peas? Do they need to be roasted first?
 
Tina Paxton
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Location: coastal southeast North Carolina
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Jerry Ward wrote:What about field peas? Do they need to be roasted first?


First, you need to definite "field peas" because that can mean different things in different areas of the world. Here is the Southern portion of the USA, a "field pea" is usually a Crowder (Cowpea) but can also be an immature blackeye pea.

Sproutpeople.org mentions an "Alaskan Field Pea" which is a type of green "sweet" pea.

Also check out: http://www.feedipedia.org/node/233



 
Tina Paxton
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Location: coastal southeast North Carolina
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Just found this article in which he states that he uses cowpeas in his feeding plan and because it is in the context of the chickens self-harvesting the peas, that would answer the question of them being acceptable as a raw legume for chickens.

http://thenaturalfarmer.com/article/feeding-flock-homesteads-own-resources
 
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