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Milk-Fed Poultry?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Aozora, Jan 25, 2017.

  1. Aozora

    Aozora In the Brooder

    Mar 13, 2015
    Hi all!

    I have 2 dairy goats who are due in May, and I know I'll have more milk that what I will need. How can I incorporate milk and milk products (whey, excess curd, leftover yogurt, etc) into the diets of my poultry? I have chickens, turkeys, quail, and guineas.

    Should I let the milk curdle/clabber and mix it with their food? Should I soak their food in milk before feeding? Should I just offer milk to drink?

    Should I avoid milk for any of my birds? The only ones I could see it being an issue are the quail, because they're so small.

    Has anyone fed their birds on milk before? I will probably raise some excess roosters and turkey toms for meat, and I wonder how milk-fed birds will taste. Would that be considered a selling point, do you think? "Taste the past! Organic, pastured, milk-fed chicken/turkey!"

  2. SunHwaKwon

    SunHwaKwon Crowing

    Jul 19, 2015
    Eastern Shore, MD
    Some people do give their birds yogurt for probiotics, but generally milk is not something that is fed to birds. I personally would most certainly not mix it into the food, because while it could be okay in small amounts now you are giving them no choice about consuming it (and throwing off the nutritional balance of the feed as well). Lastly, I cannot see any reason that birds would have evolved the capability to digest lactose, and goat's milk does have lactose.

    You might read through this thread: https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/562599/milk-fed-broilers
  3. moving coops

    moving coops Chirping

    Jan 5, 2017
    When you study up on this, you will get both sides everytime. And good arguments to support either side each time!

    We now do give our whey from out fermented kefir and whey from our cheese and soured milk! Out chickens love it and thrive.

    I ordered 100s and I mean 100s of hatching eggs all across Canada and different locations! Some hatches terrible, some okay! And one lady consistently after long shipping distance awesome hatches. She feeds her cursed or slightly soured goats milk to her birds. Her birds are reaching the guidelines of weights that the ossification breeds call for. Whereas we had these big dual purpose breeds and just were not getting there!

    You can say they were not designed in the beginning to eat milk products(and there can be very good basis on that, even more so it you use commercial dairy product which I would never do). But then you might as well throw out all our chicken feed formulated for different growing stages of chickens. As seeds birds eat in wild were never ground and cooked at high temps! And certain grains that go into feed, trust me were never designed for consumption. Yet we feed without question!

    So I say go for it. It is extra that you have that is free to you and does help protein levels especially since even our grain products through different harvest years lacks proteins and minerals it should have. So we need to boost!

    Another good example of don't feed milk as they were not designed for it would be when everyone recommends oyster shells to help calcium for hard eggs and chickens not eating their eggs! Tell me the original chicken went to the ocean to get their daily intake of huge hard oyster shells!
    Yet we know it works!

    I say if it is natural and boosts their health I would do it any day to GMO products and grains that boast the same thing of increasing protein.
    Perris and Jenjee like this.
  4. Howard E

    Howard E Songster

    Feb 18, 2016
    100 years ago, mixing surplus milk, buttermilk, etc, with the bird's dry mash was common place on many farms. Considered ideal when you could get it or do it.

    Try it small scale and/or on a limited basis, let us know how it works for you.
  5. Petra Pancake

    Petra Pancake Songster

    In some settings that is done even today, and even commercially. I recently read a few articles about the French breed of Bresse chickens (Poulet de Bresse) an expensive heritage meat breed. If you believe Wikipedia, they get raised in France like this: "The birds are kept free range for at least four months. From about 35 days they are fed cereals and dairy products; the diet is intentionally kept low in protein so that the birds will forage for insects. They are then "finished" in an ├ępinette, a cage in a darkened fattening shed, where they are intensively fed on maize and milk." Then they get slaughtered and the meat sold very expensively. But it shows that milk products can have a place in poultry nutrition. The question is only, how much of it in relation to their other food. I don't have any answer to that.
  6. Aozora

    Aozora In the Brooder

    Mar 13, 2015
    Thank you for the responses!

    I think the amount of milk in their feed is my biggest concern. My girls will eat until their crops about bust through their feathers, especially when I let them free range. I probably will have to play with the amount and how I add it. Looks like having them just drink it isn't the best idea--curdled/clabbered or mixed with grains would be best. I gotta say, I'm really liking the idea of soaking grains in milk and letting them eat it! I'm neurotic about protein and calcium contents in my feed, and honestly a lot of organic feed isn't to my standards. I think the milk-soaked grain may help with that. Does anyone know if grains will start to sprout if I soak them in milk overnight hahaha?

    Guineas aren't as domesticated as turkeys and chickens--should I avoid milk in their food for the guineas? (But then again, they like higher protein content in their feed...)

    I read about the Bresse chickens, and that's kinda what gave me the idea. When I hatch and raise a batch of chicks or poults, I will end up with extra boys, and it might not be a bad idea to advertise them in a kind of fancy cuisine way. I grow my birds up slow, so I should have plenty of time to experiment with amounts for meat birds.
  7. OMG fermented grains from a milk mix? We may just have jumped to another level! What a concept!

    I ferment my organic mix for my girls. I also source local non-homogenized milk andmake my own yogurt. Hmmm. Thinking about this, may post to FF thread as a question!

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