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Unhulled millet for day-old chicks

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Hi there!


My husband and I hope to start a small flock (5-6) of grain-free chickens soon.  We are planning on getting heritage breeds (hopefully all Delawares).  


Due to our son's food allergies, we'd like to raise the chickens as grain-free as possible.  I was reading in Harvey Ussery's book that he often starts chicks on grower-ration and then ups the protein with other sources like fish meal, liver, etc.


I'm formulating our own grower-ration and would like to include millet.  My questions are:


1. Does anyone know if you can feed day-old chicks bulk millet (it wouldn't be a spray on the stalk; rather, it would come from somewhere like Azure or Amazon)?  


2. Can millet be about half of their supplemental feed (planning on doing greens, etc. - the chickens will have about 10 square feet per bird in their run - we can't do pasture yet bc of coyotes and other animals - live in the country)? We're planning on doing other seeds like BOSS, flax, and other pseudo-grains for the supplemental feed.


3. Do chicks need hulled grains, or can I feed unhulled millet (is it more nutritional to leave the hull on?)?  I'm planning on grinding up the supplemental feed and fermenting it before I feed it to them.


Thanks so much! :)

post #2 of 15

I will start by saying, that if you give each bird 10 sq ft of run space, they will graze it down to the dirt in a matter of months. If you want them to spend most of their lives on grass, you will need to double the run space, at least. You may want to consider having multiple large runs for rotation grazing, or a tractor type coop/run that can be moved as needed.

Secondly, no one grain will be sufficient to cover the nutritional needs of a chicken. You run the risk of serious nutritional deficiencies by feeding primarily one grain. 

Also, you need to be careful about feeding too much flax. It can cause mottled yolks and can make the eggs taste fishy.

Having said that, my chickens, both chicks and adults, enjoy millet sprays as treats. And they can be sprouted and used as fodder, which they also love. You'll have to make sure that the chicks have access to grit.

post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

We are living in a rental and can't afford a bigger coop for now . . . but we do plan to have them out on a compost pile when we get it built and can supervise them.  There are coyotes, hawks, snakes here.  I hope to work up to a tractor-type pen in a few months after we get the coop done.


Our feed will have millet plus BOSS, flax, and other pseudo-grains in it.  Maybe yellow peas, etc.  But I don't know yet what they'll like, so hoping to create a foundational feed and rotate other things in and out . . . 


Thanks for the tip on the flax!!  Planning on keeping it no more than 8% of the feed.


And yes, definitely chick grit from day 1! :)

post #4 of 15

That's probably going to be too much flax, I'd aim for no more than 2 to 4%. It can do some funky things to eggs.

And chickens require about 13 different amino acids, some of which cannot be sourced from plants. 

post #5 of 15

This thread has a lot of good info, and some really helpful links.

post #6 of 15

What exactly do you mean by grain-free?


I am going to assume that means no gluten and no corn... correct?


What's considered "grain" to one person is considered not a grain to others, so it would be helpful to know what exactly you are trying to avoid. Then I can provide you some links to recipes and nutritional information.



post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thank you!! :)

post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thank you, HeritageGoose13!! We are hoping to avoid all true grains like wheat, barley, oats, etc.  


Yes, so no gluten, corn, or soy.  Also, no canola or camellia - our son has reacted to those.


"Pseudo-grains" are fine, like millet, buckwheat, amaranth, etc.  


We found a recipe for once chickens are out of the brooder for millet, sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, and flax, along with supplemental stuff.


Peas, lentils are ok.

post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thank you! :)

post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 

Good to know about the flax, junebuggena!  Thank you!  


We hope to add meat to the chick's diet in the form of raw liver or other protein like fish meal, mealworms, etc.

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