Feeding Amaranth to Chickens

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by beavis, Dec 18, 2008.

  1. beavis

    beavis In the Brooder

    Jun 25, 2008
    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:


    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

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

    thoughts on this? Should Amaranth be cooked before it is fed to chickens if at all?
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2008
  2. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    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 [​IMG].

  3. farmergal

    farmergal Songster

    Jul 21, 2008
    Nor Cal
    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 [​IMG] (Does amaranth need threshing? I assume so, but I don't know myself.)
    1 person likes this.
  4. momofdrew

    momofdrew Songster

    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...
  5. dangerouschicken

    dangerouschicken Will Barter For Coffee

    May 6, 2007
    Columbia Gorge, OR
    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....
  6. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    There's also sesame and since Beavis seems to be letting us get away with some alternative grain ideas . . . [​IMG]

    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.

  7. beavis

    beavis In the Brooder

    Jun 25, 2008
    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
  8. feeding frenzy

    feeding frenzy Chirping

    Oct 24, 2012
    I feed my chickens leaves of amaranth plant and they love it. Cut up and mixed with their food

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