Feeding Acorns to Chickens

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Bullitt, Aug 21, 2013.

  1. Bullitt

    Bullitt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I saw this article about feeding acorns to chickens. http://livingthefrugallife.blogspot.com/2010/10/acorns-as-chicken-feed-revisited.html

    You collect free acorns that have fallen from oak trees and store them for winter feed. The example in the article used a denim bag to place some acorns in and then the acorns were smashed with a hammer. Simple.

    The article mentioned that a study found that up to half of a chicken's feed could be from acorns.

    Has anyone fed acorns through the winter to his or her chickens? Is it a good feed? How did it affect laying?
     
  2. chfite

    chfite Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The writer said that the intent was to use acorns as a supplement to normal feeding. I wonder about the nutrition in an acorn. The writer said the nuts contain a lot of fat, therefore calories. Is this the equivalent of junk food?

    It may fall into the category of a treat, not to be given in too large quantities.

    Any mention of a study must have been removed from the article. I found no such reference.

    Anyway, it seems to be an interesting twist. My chickens eat all manner of unsupervised things, but I have not noticed them eating acorns. It would be a good way to get rid of the acorns.

    Chris
     
  3. Bullitt

    Bullitt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, chickens don't usually eat acorns on the ground because they can't crack them open.

    I think I read another article that stated up to 50% of a chicken's feed could be from acorns, and they did this in England during World War II.

    This article states acorns are toxic to farm animals and humans and must be cooked before eaten. http://woodridgehomestead.com/2010/10/07/acorns-toxic-feed-for-poultry/

    But if that were true, people feeding acorns to their chickens would have killed their chickens, or at least made the chicken sick. That doesn't seem to be happening in the article where the lady breaks acorns each day and feeds them to her chickens.

    On the other hand, the article about acorns being toxic stated that small quantities of acorns will simply reduce egg production.

    So I am not sure what to think.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2013
  4. gilmoujr

    gilmoujr Out Of The Brooder

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    Deer, pigs, and other woodland animals eat acorns so I would imagine it isn't harmful to chickens.
     
  5. Bullitt

    Bullitt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That is what I was thinking. Squirrels live on acorns.

    I would feel comfortable with acorns being as much as 25% of a chicken's diet.
     
  6. It's the tannins in acorns that can be toxic--which you can get rid of by repeated rinsings. Acorns were one of the staples around here for a few tribes.
     
  7. Bullitt

    Bullitt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Are you saying that all that needs to be done is rinse off the acorns? Does it require hot water, or will cold water work? How many times must the acorns be rinsed?

    What about soaking the acorns in a bucket of water?
     
  8. That, I don't know. Google probably does, though[​IMG]
     
  9. Bullitt

    Bullitt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Alright, I found some information. Different oak trees have different levels of tannic acid in the acorns, but tannic acid is bad for the liver and slows iron absorption into the body.

    It seems that the tannic acid can be removed after cracking the acorns. You can put the cracked acorns in a bucket and fill it with water and let the acorns soak, and then drain the water. Repeat the process until the water is clear.

    You can also boil the acorns for a faster process, but it still takes about six times of removing the water and boiling again. That seems like a lot of work to get a small amount of acorn meat. But the soaking process seems pretty easy. I would just use a five gallon bucket and pretty much fill the bucket with cracked acorns. Have a lid on the bucket and put some small holes in it. Then just turn the bucket upside down and at an angle (to let it breath) to drain the water.

    If acorns are available, it would be an inexpensive chicken feed.

    I learn something new every day.
     
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  10. nontoxic

    nontoxic Just Hatched

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    I have recently been doing a lot of research on Acorns. I found that to remove the tannin in acorns native Americans would simply put them in a stream and allow the water to remove the toxin for about 3 days or until the water no longer turns brown. Acorns are not just food to animals as we can use them in lieu of some nuts and add it to many recipes that use flour. Of course you would have to remove the meat and grind them. The info is out there and is very interesting.
    I plan to gather as many good acorns as I can and have had my 3 and 4 year old making it a game to see who can gather the most.
    Hope this helps
     
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