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Feeding Amaranth to Chickens

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

So I just bought some Amaranth seeds, think this would be a good grain to grow to supplement the diet of our chickens, they could even peck at them as they free-range at times.

Then I found this article on Amaranth:

Excerpt:

We phoned Dr. Cheeke to get his perspective on the seriousness of these negative results. He told us that there are
definitely toxins and/or anti-nutritional factors in the raw grain, and that it is less of a problem with cooked grain.
He said that a scientist in Australia had been feeding raw amaranth seed to poultry as the major component of the
diet. He found that chickens went into spasms, convulsions, and finally died. This unidentified factor causes liver
damage. Other problems are caused by saponins, including unpalatability. But to keep this in perspective, Dr.
Cheeke pointed out that there are few raw foodstuffs that do not have problems. Raw soybeans contain 10 kinds of
toxins. Raw kidney beans will kill rats, but cooking eliminates the problem. The key seems to be to use the grain
in moderate amounts, and to cook it. We asked whether we could say that there would be no problem unless people
had little other than amaranth to eat. He thought that this was probably a fair statement. It is our opinion that more
research needs to be done before we can recommend amaranth grain as a major ingredient in animal feed. To our
knowledge it has not been shown whether these factors decrease the value of amaranth in human nutrition. Until
more work is done, however, the feeding trial results must moderate our otherwise enthusiastic promotion of grain
amaranth.

Full article here:  http://www.echotech.org/technical/technotes/amaranth.PDF

Any
thoughts on this?  Should Amaranth be cooked before it is fed to chickens if at all?


Edited by beavis - 12/18/08 at 8:31pm
post #2 of 8

It seems a little surprising to me how we wax and wane on alternative crops. Perhaps, Cheeke's research back in the early '80's was something of a coffin nail in the use of amaranth for livestock here in North America.

Here's is information a little more current from the UN  (and you can find other info from that source, also). Once again, it is interesting that there is no work cited from the 1990's or this century. However, the use of amaranth (cooked) as human food is firmly endorsed. But, that means - cooked.

Many of the choices we might make for including in our chickens' diet aren't recommended at greater than 10% or 15% - even some things that are commonly included in commercial feed.

I think you should go ahead and plant your amaranth seed. Maybe you can cook a little of it for your own breakfast, as well smile.

Steve

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post #3 of 8

I grew quinoa this year for my own personal consumption... after it took me ten minutes to thresh 1 teaspoon's worth... I left the rest of it "drying" on the garage floor.  (It was already "dry" at that point, and so by "drying" I really mean not dealing with it.)

I might try to see if the chickens like it.  Quinoa is absolutely gorgeous when it grows -- a lush blue-green plant that fades to a golden pink when it's ready to harvest.  Has anyone fed their chickens quinoa seeds?

Sorry to branch off on another rare grain -- luck with your amaranth!  Let us know how it goes -- and whether you find a way to effectively thresh it without driving yourself batty smile  (Does amaranth need threshing?  I assume so, but I don't know myself.)

http://farming101.wordpress.com
Holy moly.  I started out with 25 chickens all the same age, and now I'm up to over 70 at every age possible.  Sal favs, BBS Orps, Buff Orps, partridge silkies, and assorted hatchery birds (I do love my EEs).
I blame BYC!!!
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http://farming101.wordpress.com
Holy moly.  I started out with 25 chickens all the same age, and now I'm up to over 70 at every age possible.  Sal favs, BBS Orps, Buff Orps, partridge silkies, and assorted hatchery birds (I do love my EEs).
I blame BYC!!!
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post #4 of 8

My DH came home with a box of quiona as he is trying to change his diet habits and I too wondered if it would be ok to give to the birds...

Its not how many times you are knocked down, Its how many times you get up.
Pam wife to the love of my life David...mom to Spc Andrew Owen Tyler, & Jef, Robin, Dawn, Kevin, Myk, Beth,  Keith...grammy to too many to name here...Great Grammy to Sasha...owned by lab/rotty mix 12 year old and Chow/lab mix 11 year old pups... & 8 silkies
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Its not how many times you are knocked down, Its how many times you get up.
Pam wife to the love of my life David...mom to Spc Andrew Owen Tyler, & Jef, Robin, Dawn, Kevin, Myk, Beth,  Keith...grammy to too many to name here...Great Grammy to Sasha...owned by lab/rotty mix 12 year old and Chow/lab mix 11 year old pups... & 8 silkies
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post #5 of 8

We eat quinoa all the time because it is gluten free and 2 of my children eat gluten/dairy free.  I bet chickens would love it....

post #6 of 8

There's also sesame and since Beavis seems to be letting us get away with some alternative grain ideas . . . wink

I see that 25% protein level of sesame seeds and think, Wow!!

It requires a long season to grow and that just about leaves me out. Also, well drained soil - that I've got. Looks like it might be an idea or Arizona or Texas.

Like soybeans, sesame can be pressed for oil and the resulting, "sesame meal, left after the oil is pressed from the seed, is an excellent high-protein (34 to 50%) feed for poultry and livestock."

Here are some more alternative grains & such, inclucing amaranth.

Steve

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post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

There's also sesame and since Beavis seems to be letting us get away with some alternative grain ideas


Go for it!

Lets make it an alternative grains discussion, you know I'll be planting some:D

post #8 of 8

I feed my chickens leaves of amaranth plant and they love it.  Cut up and mixed with their food
 

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