Feeding Whole Grains

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by digitS', Jun 2, 2010.

  1. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Questions often come up on this forum about feeding whole grains.

    I've just come across some information from the University of Kentucky on feeding 11 different whole grains to poultry and want to share it [​IMG].

    An important link on the UK webpage is the very first one under the General Information heading, Evaluating Grain for Livestock. Oregon State University says: Livestock "producers need to develop 'a good eye' for grain quality." Only wheat, barley and oats have USDA grades of quality. After that, it is up to the buyers to evaluate the quality of the grain for their flocks.

    It is best not to assume that all grain of one type is the same. With proso millet for example, "Two types of birdseed mixes are marketed. One type is for wild birds and the other type is for cage birds. The cage bird mixes require the better quality proso. . ." NDSU

    Feeding whole grain to our backyard flocks is a reasonable choice. I hope the information helps [​IMG].

    Steve
     
  2. fiberart57

    fiberart57 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I feed Purina Flock Raiser as the main food for my backyard flock. The idea of whole grains, while attractive, is not feasible for me. I only have six birds and most of these grains are sold in 50 pound sacks and I'd have to mix them and then where would I store them, and so on. And even then I don't think they'd get everything they need to thrive on because chickens are omnivorous and need other proteins. Commercial chicken food is formulated for nutritional completeness.

    I feed a homemade scratch made up of oats and wheat and BOSS at night before they roost but it's just for a snack and to fill their crops.

    Mary
     
  3. Organics North

    Organics North Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you digitS' [​IMG]
    Nice info, I had not seen the U of Kentucky paper before..

    I feed whole grain sprouted, and or freshly ground. I am happy with the results so far. I was on the fence with adding barley but after reading the paper I think I might mix in 10% barley, the lysine note was interesting. Nice to see the paper confirm my opinion that hard wheat is better than soft wheat.

    It is my opinion it is good to add a legume to birds being fed a whole grain diet. (I add a percentage of field peas freshly ground.)

    Thanks again.
    My personal favorite feed subject of course!

    ON
     
  4. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

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    That's a nice site.

    I thought the article "Feeding whole grains to chickens" from the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association had a nice little overview on the nutritional needs of chickens and how to combine other ingredients with whole grains, to provide a complete diet. I know people are always wondering what else to feed besides grain and asking about recipes on here. It wasn't very long, either, a plus for those that are looking for a quick read.

    http://www.mofga.org/Portals/2/Reports/MOFGA FS 13 Feeding Whole Grains to Chickens.pdf
     
  5. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It is interesting that the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association rates inclusion with these university and government sites. The author is professionally trained, however [​IMG], with degrees from Cornell University in Agricultural and Animal Science and in Veterinary Technology from the State University of New York. (Maine Beef Industry)

    Back to the grains - - When people on BYC describe their "scratch grain" mixes, there seems to be a range of mixes depending on mill. The tags usually have information on crude protein but often nothing more. I can do no more than guess at what is in scratch and trust the feed company to sell me something of some value.

    This information from West Virginia University seems entirely too optimistic that the scratch being fed is a quality feed. No other departments of animal nutrition that I know of suggest that so much of the chickens' ration can be scratch grains: 50% and up. In fact, the University of Florida and the University of Georgia, if I remember right, say simply, "do not feed scratch!" The WVU information, however, does give you some ideas how you may use a high protein feed to complement grain feeding.

    This information from the ag agency for the government of Manitoba makes more sense to me, altho' they leave the amount of whole grain consumed, up to the flock [​IMG]. I suspect that it works well because they are advising that the protein supplement be custom formulated.

    Like many folks on BYC, I feel that it is best to keep the whole grains offered on any particular day down at the "treats level" of no more than 15% while making a high-protein ration available free-choice. Taking it beyond that would just be a little too complicated for me at the present time.

    Steve
     
  6. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Don't Panic

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    I feed a considerable amount of whole grain to my birds.

    Each tractor has two tube feeders in it. One contains Purina Flock Raiser which is a 20% protein general-purpose poultry ration. The other tube contains a mix of whole corn, whole wheat, alfalfa pellets, and a few handsfuls of ground oyster shell in a ratio of about 5:2:0.5 corn/wheat/alfalfa. The birds can self-select their own diet from this and normally choose about 60% whole grain and 40% Flock Raiser unless they are in molt when it'll be closer to fifty-fifty. Their tractors are moved every day so they also get fresh pasture of varying quality depending on where they are at on the property that day.

    This is about the ratio that birds have always self-selected from what I've read in the poultry books from the 1950's and earlier when this sort of thing was still the commercial norm. High-protein complete ration mash feeds are costly. Whole grains if properly selected are much less so. The birds will self-select a diet from between them that will give acceptable returns of eggs or weight gain to enable one to pursue that management method profitably.

    If I could find a source of cheap Proso or other light colored millet or white sorghum I'd jump on it. Haven't found it yet, but neither are often farmed in my part of Florida. Used whole oats for years, but as the document says the high amount of fiber does not make it attractive. They do make great winter forage though when they sprout and start growing. Rolled oats are really great, but they cost several times what whole corn does and about twice what I'm paying for wheat at the moment.
     
  7. Organics North

    Organics North Chillin' With My Peeps

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    digitS' :

    Like many folks on BYC, I feel that it is best to keep the whole grains offered on any particular day down at the "treats level" of no more than 15% while making a high-protein ration available free-choice. Taking it beyond that would just be a little too complicated for me at the present time.

    Steve

    Great links in this thread. All interested in this subject should book mark these links.!

    I partially agree with statement Steve. Yes complicated indeed! Developing your own balanced feed containing whole grains is not for those without a passion for the subject. I personally thought I could get away without a grinder, feeding only whole grains and sprouted grains. I could not do it with out a ground legume. (I use field peas.)

    I also grind the my entire mix to offer free choice, as feeding sprouts and a wet mash with the smaller grains and ground grains is very hard to not feed too little or too much and have waste. So I error on the too little side with the sprouts and mash and allow them to have free choice dry mash 24x7

    However it can be done! One can develop their own feed and regiment that may or may not be cheaper and more natural than commercial. It is MORE complicated that is for sure! But for me it is about principal... Being free from the "commercial industrial machine.."
    [​IMG]


    Heres mine again:

    Organics North Chicken Feed

    6 part Black Oil Sunflower (17%P)
    6 part Oats (12%P)
    6 parts Red Wheat (17%P)

    3 part Field Peas (24%P)
    3 part cracked Corn (9%P)
    3 part whole Flax (34%P)
    3 part Alfalfa (17%P)

    .5 part Kelp
    .125 Oyster shell
    .125 DE
    .125 Azomite


    Notes:
    For daily mash first 3 ingredients are mixed and sprouted. Last 8 ingredients are mixed and wetted for mash prior to mixing in with sprouts. Fed twice daily. All above ingredients are ground and offered free choice 24x7

    Proper ratio is as follows for daily serving..: 2 parts sprouts to 1 part mash.

    Above mix has ::: PROTIEN= 17% unsprouted

    Sup. With meat or fish which is about 25% protein

    Sup with ACV, Kombucha, Yogurt or water kefir for probiotic..​
     
  8. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wow, Organics North!

    Field peas may be a good substitute for soybeans. I've wondered if us folks closer and on both sides of the 49th line of latitude don't get more mileage out of whole grains because of the higher need for energy here where cold temperatures have to be dealt with.

    (And then we have A. T. there in Florida sunshine [​IMG]. Maybe we will get A. T. out of that Florida sun to, let's see, it is 46° with wind gusts to 23mph this morning [​IMG].)

    I was recently reading a California animal nutritionist who wrote that a 21% protein feed is only suitable for a laying hen when her food consumption falls below 2/10ths of a pound daily. He is interested in a feed with much lower levels of usable protein. And, he is talking about laying breeds but my hens would eat twice that on any but very warm summer days!

    I took the big window out of their coop a month or more ago but it froze again last week . . . With a daytime high temperature of 55°, I don't think that it is any surprise that the birds want plenty of food and if much of that food goes to energy and some goes straight thru them, that's okay. They are laying well . . . our long days must have fooled them [​IMG].

    Anyway, you may already have seen this on the usefulness of "Field Pea in Poultry Diets" from NDSU. Lots less anti-nutrients in peas compared to soybeans, as I understand it.

    Steve
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2010
  9. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Don't Panic

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    digitS' :

    (And then we have A. T. there in Florida sunshine [​IMG]. Maybe we will get A. T. out of that Florida sun to, let's see, it is 46° with wind gusts to 23mph this morning [​IMG].)

    Well, that could be any day from November through about March here in my part of Florida. It's not always warm and sunny even here.

    Feeding whole grains and the use of pasture used to be the commercial norm in poultry raising. It wasn't until about the mid-fifties that we developed enough knowledge of poultry nutrition that we could really compound a "complete poultry ration." Now we can do a pretty good job of it and so for faculty who are crafting extension documents for folks who want a simple answer to what they believe is a simple question many are naturally going to say "feed a complete ration ONLY." And it will work.

    But it's not necessarily the only way to get the job done nor is it always the most economical way. Whole corn at the moment is costing me about $7.60 a bag. Wheat about $11.50. Flock Raiser about $14.50. As one can see if I can get my birds to eat 60% whole grains, 40% Flock Raiser and still get an acceptable amount of eggs then I'm saving money over feeding straight Flock Raiser even if I get a few percent more eggs. That's just straight penciling it out without bringing any other considerations into play.

    Not worth the bother if you only have a handful of birds. Too cumbersome if you're using automatic feeding machinery in a big barn. If you're tractoring or free-ranging on pasture a few dozen birds or more it may be a good way to go. I also like the fact that the corn and wheat are at least somewhat locally produced.​
     
  10. ChickFarmer

    ChickFarmer Out Of The Brooder

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    In many mixed flocks not all of the hens are in lay or molting at the same time some of us even have roosters. Birds need much more protein to produce eggs or new feathers. They need more carbs to deal with freezing temps. Allowing hens some varriety in their diet lets them chose what they crave. One option is to feed scratch and give them a protein feed, such as black soldier fly larva, based on the weight of feed they eat. It involves just a little math and the PEARSON'S SQUARE is helpfull for that. As for vitamins and minerals, the home flock or small farmer has the advantage of providing green forage. Chickens do not get much in the way of calories from it but it vastly improves the health of the chickens and the quality of the eggs.
     

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