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Using Feed Grain for Feeding Humans  RSS feed

 
James Landreth
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Hi everyone,
I know a few local grain farmers. They use very few chemicals on their fields, some using none. I can get a pretty good deal on grain (considering how expensive it can be here in Washington State, compared to places like the Midwest). I plan on using some of the grain to feed my rabbits and some to feed other livestock. I was wondering, though, is it ok for people to eat also? What about grain from a feedstore? I have a grain grinder.
Thanks,
James
 
Dale Hodgins
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If you can find your own supply, that isn't poisoned, then I would think it is going to be better quality than what is generally available. The difference between human and animal feed, is mostly about certain impurities, like pebbles, weed seeds  and possibly, bug and wevil count. My mom used to buy oatmeal in 50 lb bags. Some went to the livestock and some was turned into porridge.

Human grade and pet grade can mean vastly different things when we're talking about carnivorous pets. All sorts of meat products that are illegal to put into human food, may be used in pet food.



 
John Weiland
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James Landreth wrote:Hi everyone,
I know a few local grain farmers. ....is it ok for people to eat also?


Sure, I would just ask the ones that you know if you could buy it from them and if you trust that will be up-front about not putting on chemical treatments that you don't want.  Some crops do not yield enough cash for the grower to bother spraying...it simply doesn't pencil out.  The only other thing to look at is that the grain "looks good"....is clean-looking and plump with the hulls removed.    One example of wheat or barley that you would not want to ingest is grain with visible "scab" (Fusarium head blight):  "Scab-infected grain can contain the mycotoxins known as vomitoxin and zearalenone. Vomitoxin (deoxynivalenol) may cause vomiting and feed refusal in swine. Zearalenone is an estrogenic mycotoxin and may cause infertility in domestic animals. Scab in grain does not mean it has mycotoxins; however, scabby grain should be analyzed for vomitoxin and zearalenone. Scab was severe in eastern and south-central Idaho and Washington in 1982 and 1984." -- https://pnwhandbooks.org/node/3705/print

Don't know if oats are available as well, but the same general ideas would apply.  Not sure that I would delve into corn in the same way, ..... would probably be more context-dependent and would need to know the grower, varieties planted, and cultivation practices employed.
 
Emily Spring
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Animal feed CORN tastes terrible (zero flavor, not sweet), so I doubt you'd want to eat it. I don't know if there is such a big difference among varieties of other grains that are destined for animals vs. humans. I'd not buy a lot until I'd tasted it.
 
Jen Fan
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I buy lots of grains for the critters.  I'm not sure I'd ever eat any myself.  Go to a grainery and see how the grain is handled and stored.  Open air, mice, birds, bugs, machinery moving grains, truck beds transporting, going through mills and moving bin to bin, getting scraped out of the dirt, going through screening...  My local grain seller (who sources most grains locally but on a huge scale) has dozens of "health violations" written up against it for mice and birds being in and around the grains.  It would be an extreme last resort for me.  I'd personally rather know exactly how my grain was harvested, stored, what chemicals it's been in contact with, and how the equipment is cared for. 

That's an industrial grainery, of course.  And of course I would rather be growing these grains for the critters than buying.  But it is what it is right now.  Ask to see their process and see if you feel comfortable with it.  Bugs will be the biggest problem I can see.  Even sealed grain bags can harbor a beetle infestation from just a handful of eggs.  Sealed metal or plastic barrels aren't safe if there were any eggs in the grain you stored in there.  Etc etc.
 
r ranson
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Depending on how the seed was cleaned and stored, it could be okay.

For me, I don't feel comfortable with just cooking the grain, but I do think it's okay to malt and ferment it.  Sprout the grain, toast it, coarsely grind it, boil it, then ferment the liquid.  That's how poorly stored beer grain used to be made safe to consume. 

Just cooking alone... I would be leery.  If I knew the farmer and saw the method used, I think it wouldn't be a problem.  If we are going direct to the farm, buy the grain just after harvest and storing it yourself would help avoid the rat problem.
 
Jen Fan
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Then again... how big a problem are bugs anyways?  I don't know.  Maybe just sifting out the bade grains and floating kernels before use (non-viable and/or eaten/bored grains will float, healthy/viable should sink) is sufficient?  o___o  I just don't like the beetles and don't like the thought of ingesting them.  Silly me!  I keep grains and nuts in glass jars and inspect them for bug presence before using, every day!  Maybe I'm just a goof, maybe someone here has a reasonable bit of knowledge obout actual threats of critters in feed.
 
r ranson
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Most grain bugs are edible by humans.  Some taste terrible, some taste nutty.  I don't know of any that are poisonous, but some, especially flying ones, can bring in outside germs that are. 

My biggest worry would be rodents as these can spread some nasty diseases. 

Also, what was the grain bin used for before?  Some farmers aren't so careful with feed grain as they are with human grade grain.  But this varies from farmer to farmer.  If you get a good farmer, then it should be fine. 
 
Bryant RedHawk
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The biggest problems with using feed grains are storage time.
All grains come in from the fields and are dried down to around 15% moisture, some grains require less moisture content for safe storage.
From the dryers the grain is moved into silos, where it is stored until a buyer makes the purchase with a delivery date.
The differences between "human consumption" grain and "feed" grain are actually few.
Wheat will have phosgene applied to kill any bran bugs whether it is going to be used for making flour, bread or ground to become part of a pellet feed.
If treated the grain will be washed at least two times during pre processing at the plant.
Rice will remain in the hull, protected from almost all insects until it is processed and packaged.
Corn that is for humans is usually flint sweet corn (flint has a smooth top to the kernel) dent corn is usually turned into feeds since it is the tougher corn kernel.

If you can purchase corn direct from the producer and they have a drier, then you are or should be fine, you will be getting fresher product.

Redhawk
 
aka darrell
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I grew up in a tiny isolated community of subsistence farmers.  I do not recall  ever eating the grain grown for animals.  In the case of corn, taste was given as the reason.  Same with soybeans.  Wheat and oats were grown by another family so I don't know about those.  We did however, give a lot of human food to pigs and chickens.
 
William Bronson
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At Carriage House  Farms they grow and grind corn for humans. The floor sweeping are sold or traded as animal feed.

Horse bread was once baked for horses and poor people:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horsebread
 
Travis Johnson
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I am about as frugal as a person can be and I have tried a variety of animal products and honestly...suit yourself of course...but nothing turned out well. Molasses for livestock tasted terrible, so did the oats, and while we would cook up big batches of silage corn, it took a lot of milk and salt to make it taste good enough for even corn chowder. I even was curious as to why my flock of sheep would follow me shaking a grain bucket past pastures teeming with alfalfa and clover so they could graze further fields, only to discover that sheep grain is DISGUSTING! And I only tasted it!

About the worse for-animal-only experiment I tried was using penicillin intended for livestock for a burn infection I sustained. I nearly killed me! Since a sheep is 180 pounds, and I weigh 180 pounds, and Penicillin is penicillin...why not? So I loaded a syringe with 7 cc's of Pen-G and into the ole arm it went!

DON"T DO IT!

It ended up only half-killing the infection, then returned, then a real Dr put me on real antibiotics...which was not strong enough and so the infection returned. We went to a stronger antibiotic, but it was not enough and the infection returned again. Because of the half-kill, the lab could not identify what the bacteria was and so they had no idea what they were fighting! At this point they were talking amputation of my arm and how only 50 years ago the infection would have been a death sentence. In the end I took the strongest antibiotic possible by IV, for 2 hour durations, ever 12 hours, for 2 weeks. That medical treatment subsequently ended up killing my pituitary gland which is causing my hormone issues which will require drugs for the rest of my life.

They say the medication I will forever have to take will be about $500,000; totaled over my life-span. The hospital stay was over $20,000. And I spent a month recovering with time off from work (I was not retired at the time). A $500 emergency room visit and $30 in medication would have saved me a lifetime of hassle. Yep $530!

Eating livestock feed might not be as drastic as shooting up with Pen-G, but it could still mess your stomach up for good. After the zombie invasion I might have another opinion, but for now I would stick with for-human-consumption.
 
James Landreth
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Thanks for the feedback, everyone. The grains in question are barley, oats, and wheat. They'll be grown by a local farmer, then dried and delivered to me in what they describe as "tote bags" that have never been used for anything else. I suppose I'll probably stick to using it as animal feed. But maybe I'll try sprouting it
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Hi James,

If I knew and trusted the farmer, and he told me the process start to delivery, I'd go ahead with the plan, but, is there a chance you could get a sample pound to eat, see if the flavor agreed with you.

As for the corn folks have mentioned above, I would be more concerned with gmo, though the issues of storage and the poisons used for storage are important and would deter me.  Dent corn is not supposed to be sweet.  The sweet corn we know has been bred (by traditional selection and breeding rather than the GMO or the other one where they try to enhance mutations) to make more sugar and to not digest its own sugars after harvesting.  The way I see it, the sweetening of corn has been part of training our palates for more sugar in everything.  Long after we had the modern sweet corn, my Dad (growing sweet corn) would insist that the pot of water be boiling BEFORE he went out to pick the corn on the cob.  When he was a child (born 1922) that was how a person had sweet corn, if they picked it and did not boil/blanch it immediately, the living plant part consumed the sugar present in the kernels.

IMO, Dent corn is fine for some uses if it is grown as is appropriate for animal or human-animal feed. 
 
Brad Mayeux
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I would never do it.

no telling the pesticides and herbicides used...
those laws are radically different for human and for feed.
not to mention GMO, higher use of roundup etc...

if you do it, let us know in a few months if  you survived.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Brad Mayeux wrote:I would never do it.

no telling the pesticides and herbicides used...
those laws are radically different for human and for feed.
not to mention GMO, higher use of roundup etc...

if you do it, let us know in a few months if  you survived.


but how bout if you knew and trusted the farmer, and he assured you he had not utilized herbicides and pesticides, nor, as is the case with potatoes, not used round up immediately before harvesting, to get the tops to wilt.....

To me this is a great example of getting to know the people who grow your food, as no amount of regulation is ever going to substitute for having a relationship with your farmer. IMO, regulations will always be designed for ease of regulator and profit of the industry, with various terms assuming new meanings as they are usurped by industrialized agriculture... words like "natural"  and "free-range"  "grass fed"  and even "organic". 
 
Deb Rebel
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Thekla McDaniels wrote: Long after we had the modern sweet corn, my Dad (growing sweet corn) would insist that the pot of water be boiling BEFORE he went out to pick the corn on the cob.  When he was a child (born 1922) that was how a person had sweet corn, if they picked it and did not boil/blanch it immediately, the living plant part consumed the sugar present in the kernels. 


I remember the adage about prop the back door open, have the pot boiling, and pick, and run. If you trip, leave the corn right there and go pick more and try it again.

Indeed, modern sweet corn is so incredibly sweet. And usually hybrid to boot. So even if you do like the variety, the seed won't breed true.

And yes, a lot of the corn produced is GMO, so knowing your source, the farmer that grew it, is important. 'Feed grain' quality may be definitely adequate for the human table, but still knowing how it was grown and handled before it gets to you is important too.
 
D Graves
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Hi all

I was thinking of this question today after a trip to the Produce place. Now it has appeared in the "Interesting permies threads you might have missed" in my Inbox.

We were asking about buying Organic Certified feed for chickens. Anyhow, the guy said he could get some different grain mixes, mash, etc and also straight wheat, soybeans, and perhaps sunflower seeds. So, my question was something like "What is the difference between this wheat at say $1.50/kg compared with organic grain from the health shop at $5 or so per kg?" would it be a different variety with different taste? (as people have already mentioned) or are the organic specs for growing animal grain different to growing human grain? otherwise, I am guessing it is to do with handling and storage differences? or are we just being conned and the farmers are growing the one grain but businesses along the way add their margins and we end up paying a heap more because of the kind of shop it ends up in?
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Isn't there a chance that the standards are different from one country to the next on something like this?

 
Bobby Clark Jr
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Back in the day when we grew corn it was just an open pollinated corn that had been in the family and neighborhood for generations. Part went to the cows, horses and chicken part went for cornmeal, grits and hominy. All the same corn! Picked green for roasting ears or to cut off the cob to can for winter. We did grow some sweet corn but mostly ate the field corn. Some was dent, some flint, different colors. Some was called shoe peg, a dent with a nasty barb that would chew my hands up unless I used the sheller or another cob.
I have milled corn from the feed store for corn bread, just needed cleaned more than homegrown and cared for. Taste was OK. We once ground multigrain scratch and made bread! We are still here!  Just did not think it was good enough to do again!
I plan on trying to buy corn in the field this year if I can find someone who does not grow GMO. That and the chemicals is what I would worry about. Buying direct from the farmer is the way to go.
 
John Weiland
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This thread got me thinking,.....while some of the "major brands" in the US may contract specialty acres with growers for corn that goes into something like corn chips, there are a multitude of brands out there on any snack shelf of ground corn products.  Yet a quick perusal on the internet indicates no clearly defined "stream separation" of field corn for livestock and that going directly into human consumption.  Does anyone know where that source of information can be found....about whether *all* of the corn going into something like corn chips or corn flour in the US is regulated to be grown different than corn for livestock consumption?  From some past experience with barley, much of the barley that is grown that does not meet that quality requirements of the malting industry gets downgraded and goes into livestock feed.....so *that* is the dividing line, although probably not the only dividing line.  Below is a chart of the destination of corn grown in the US (can't recall if this was only field corn or if it included sweet corn).
CornChart.png
[Thumbnail for CornChart.png]
 
Thekla McDaniels
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beside the point just a little bit,  more related to grading and streams of flow than grains:

I had a friend in the welding industry who told me that the oxygen used for welding had to be purer than the oxygen supplied for medical uses.   And yet the medical oxygen was significantly more expensive.

And let me see, why did I think this is related?   I think it is because my sense of logic is disturbed by things like this.  If something costs more to produce, then that cost should be reflected in the price... that is what makes sense to me.

The feed grain question may have some elements some variables that are not logical to me.  I have to reach further in my thinking, to understand that ease of regulation and opportunity for profit contribute more to the way things currently are than what is logical.
 
John Weiland
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Useful comments on "food grade" corn (maize) grown in US, even if lacking in information on pesticide/herbicide residue thresholds:  http://www.lgseeds.com/blog/agronomy-blog/2017/01/12/food-grade-corn
 
Deb Rebel
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John Weiland wrote: From some past experience with barley, much of the barley that is grown that does not meet that quality requirements of the malting industry gets downgraded and goes into livestock feed.....so *that* is the dividing line, although probably not the only dividing line.


Where I grew up, some people grew barley. It would be sampled before harvest and sent off for a test. Once every few years someone had a field go 'malting barley'. Every few years. Some place that brewed would contract to take it, and the farmer would have to clean every bit of equipment to handle it, then the elevator would have to have a boxcar ready to load it and clean the pit and lift. It would get brought in, weighed, and be directly augered into the car, full or not. And sealed and head off. Makes me think the bar was rather high for the quality. Lesser grades went for barley flour and feed barley

People food, for wheat and such, durum wheat (used for pasta and flour) also has to hit certain minimums of quality/content (protein %, etc). Then there would be a year that someone got hailed or the stuff just didn't head out and they would either swat it for straw or turn the herd out in it to graze it. Finishing your steers off on grain without having to go through the process of harvesting it.

So some of the difference in our grains for humans versus the livestock has to do with nutritional minimums... the higher the protein in your wheat, the more it would go for. Corn, same, as well as flavor and palatability. You can eat flint corn but there are other types that taste better and digest better as far as us people are concerned.
 
Krofter Young
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Having been born into a family farming 1,200 acres of wheat and cattle and having worked in every phase of grain production form the farm to the commercial silo next to railroad tracks, I can tell you that there is no difference between grain fed to animals and grain used for human consumption.  The USduh (USDA) has regulations that allow a certain percentage of non-grain items (mostly insects) to be in all grain products - bread, pasta etc.  Railroad cars that serve the livestock feed industry and railroad cars that serve the human processed food industry are all buying the same grain from the same silos. 
When buying directly from a  farmer the first thing to know is whether or not that farmer is using glyphosate (Round Up) as a desiccant.  Or even if his neighbor does.  Glyphsoate is persistent in the human body - http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/12/15/glyphosate-modern-diseases-pathway.aspx ; Avoid it at all costs.  California has just required products with glyphosate to bear a label stating it's a carcinogen.
Besides, I don't recommend feeding grains to rabbits.  Rabbits, like cattle, are herbivores and like cattle, a diet of grains will upset their digestive tract, shorten their lifespan and alter the beneficial fatty acid profile of the meat for human consumption.  Best to grow your own feed crops (mixed vegetables) for your rabbits.  They'll appreciate it and so will those who eat them.
 
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