Growing our own feed, question on protein... peas?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by ShadyHoller, Dec 26, 2010.

  1. ShadyHoller

    ShadyHoller Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 12, 2010
    Willamette Valley
    I'm posting this question here, rather than in the "feeding and watering your flock" thread, because it's a meat-bird specific question, and everyone here has always shared helpful advice with me.

    We have been buying whole grain feed (wheat berries, mostly) from a local farmer, and, in our effort to reduce our dependency on commodity milled feed from who-knows-where, we have been toying with the idea of growing some of our own grains, but the thing that still leaves me puzzled is how to get protein in the diet of our meat birds. I was thinking peas (either shelling peas or spring-sown Austrian field peas) Has anyone ever thought about this?

    I think we've got the small grains figured out. I'm going to co-plant a few strips of proso millet, spring oats and buckwheat. Once the grain has matured (mid-summer) I'll drag the chicken tractor over it, one patch at a time. I have grown all of the above grains before.

    Before our home-grown grains are ready, we will be feeding a regular milled feed and the wheat berries I already mentioned. The birds will still have access to a feeder full of milled feed, in case there is some essential ingredient in there that they can't get from the home-grown grains. I'm not trying to be a radical and go cold-turkey on the milled feed; I'm just trying to use a little less of it. I don't feel like dealing with field corn, so we'll still be buying some things.

    So, I guess it's taking me a while to get to my question: does anyone have thoughts on growing protein? Our climate in Oregon isn't real well suited to soybeans. I put a section of field in clover, but wasn't sure if that would do the trick.

    Any feedback is welcome on this. Thanks!
  2. Staceyfeindt

    Staceyfeindt Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 27, 2009
    Bumping you up. I'd like to hear the answer to this too!
  3. KatyTheChickenLady

    KatyTheChickenLady Bird of A Different Feather

    Dec 20, 2008
    Boise, Idaho
    turnip greens are about the highest protien you can grow.
  4. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    I am in the Willamette Valley too. I feed split peas to my chickens in my feed recipe. I used to say to everyone that my chickens didn't like their peas. But now- I say they like them.

    What I discovered is that MY chickens have a "dose" that they will gladly eat of the following foods, beyond which they just bill out onto the ground for the mice to clean up overnight:
    1. split peas
    2. flaxseed
    3. whole or rolled oats.

    I tried growing millet once and it grew easily. But those songbirds LOVE millet, and you might want to plan on some cheap bird netting covering your plot of millet as a backup plan (kind of like blueberries) in case they try to eat all of it. They really went for my millet. My chickens at the time loved it too- I just bent the stems so the grain was accessible.

    Also, as an aside- you have probably researched buckwheat. I didn't and planted it one year too late. It started growing and then died off.

    Soybeans MUST be cooked for poultry. Roasted soybean meal is what is in the chicken feed you buy- not raw. You probably know this already too.

    Your plan sounds great!!
  5. freemotion

    freemotion Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 10, 2008
    Western MA
    Slightly sprouting the small whole grains greatly increases the protein content. Barley's protein level shoots right up! You can sprout any of the small grains quite easily in a pail of water for a 24 hour soak, then transfer it to a pail with small holes drilled in the bottom for rinsing and draining. It takes 3-4 days, usually, depending on the temp. The chickens love it.
  6. BlackBart

    BlackBart Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 29, 2009
    Peas seem to be the big thing for protein supplement when it comes to horses these days.
    ETA Those horses who cannot handle alfalfa.

    Peas are not commonly used in horse feed in North America, but they are used extensively in Europe. Peas are an excellent protein source, have two to three times more protein than other cereals with a considerably higher Lysine content (an essential amino acid). Peas have a biological value equivalent to soy protein, and are a very useful source of protein.
  7. alpinefarm

    alpinefarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 6, 2008
    Western Colorado
    Quote:Uncooked beans are toxic to chickens. I am not sure all legumes are included in that, but I would definitely make a google search and check the BYC threads before feeding peas.
  8. Lotsapaints

    Lotsapaints Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 17, 2010
    Paso Robles, CA
    Peas and lentils are fine to feed dry split peas of course cannot be sprouted but whole peas can and by sprouting you raise the protein level even more and it improves the digestibility of the grains also there are many of us who sprout and do not buy commercial feed mixes and try not to use soybeans or excess amounts of corn in our birds diets and our birds do excellent. My meaties love sprouts and peas and by not feeding soy they do not have runny poo. I use heritage dual purpose for eating they needed higher protein to do well seems that sprouts do the trick for me
  9. ShadyHoller

    ShadyHoller Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 12, 2010
    Willamette Valley
    Wow, what great responses in just a couple of hours! Thanks, guys! I have all winter to plan this project, and we're off to a good start.

    So, it looks like growing peas and feeding them green is out of the question. AplineFarm pointed out that beans are toxic to chickens. I did a quick search on that and found that all legumes contain Trypsin, which can toxic to poultry, but can be broken down by heat. Thanks for the heads up on that!

    Since my goal here was to feed the peas fresh (or just field-dried) and to not get caught up in too much processing or hand-work, it looks like I'm back to the drawing board for protein. I don't have the initiative to be out there roasting home-grown peas for all the chickens! Since I was planning on using peas for a lot of the needed protein, it seems likely I would be at risk of toxic levels of Trypsin. I'm sure you can get away with feeding some peas, as it seems like some folks here do it with no problems.

    I am fascinated to learn that turnip greens are such high protein! I just googled them, and they can be as high as a third protein! I guess that's why people plant turnips and other brassicas for cattle. Thanks, KatieTheChickenLady. As it turns out, our chickens already get a fair amount of turnip greens, but just as incidental garden scraps. You can bet they will be getting a few rows planted just for them next year!

    Freemotion, thanks for the pointer on sprouting. Sprouting gains is something I've done before. I think it really helps in the winter, when the pasture goes dormant. I've been thinking about rigging up a spot in the greenhouse for sprouting and rinsing grains.

    This is all great stuff. Thank you, all. Keep it coming!

    edited to add this link on forage turnips:
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2010
  10. BlackBart

    BlackBart Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 29, 2009
    Quote:Uncooked beans are toxic to chickens. I am not sure all legumes are included in that, but I would definitely make a google search and check the BYC threads before feeding peas.

    One company I buy my hen scratch from includes peas and lentils in their scratch. The peas look dehydrated but I will ask the Feed Nutritionist who sells that product.

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