Scratch Grain- Why it's useful in flock management and nutrition

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Resolution, Nov 26, 2011.

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  1. Resolution

    Resolution Chillin' With My Peeps

    Different Galliformes have different feeding strategies and consequently divergent morphology of feet and bills.
    In the following thread, I'll be discussing "scratch grain" it's attributes in poultry management as well as its nutritional inadequacies/ deficiencies based upon common grains used in its composition.

    To be sure, scratch grain was all that was available to feed to poultry for the entire 19th and more than half of the 20th centuries. There was no such thing as processed feed. It hadn't been invented yet and even once it had, poultry were the last to get their processed feed because- well because poultry had done very well for close to 8000 years on one sort of scratch grain or another.
    Big production facilities were the first to put processed utility feeds to use and this advance in animal nutrition benifited poultry science enormously. From the late 1950's on there was an international race to increase poultry production as a burgeoning population came to be able to afford to have meat in their weekly diet . Let's not forget the Great Depression as a starting point for modern poultry farming as it was this form of nutrition that led the way for feeding this great nation in its aftermath. It was also poultry farming responsible for feeding the majority of families during WWII.

    Heirloom and Cultural Heritage Breeds were select bred to thrive on readily affordable scratch grain and those that maintained them learned about how to ameliorate that relatively low nutrition by free ranging during those seasons that that was feasible and with supplementation from the processing of meat animals.

    Modern utility breeds did not exist until very recently and they were select bred to thrive in close confinement and on feeds that were processed from biproducts of grain farming and commercial meat production. There was until a few decades ago, no such thing as inexpensive soy or alfalfa meal available for livestock feed. Alfalfa came first in the late 50'. Soy was being farmed in the USA since the 1920's but its uses were primarily for human use. Biproducts of soybean used in other applications were eventually developed into livestock feed with increasing regularity. Soybean meal became primary food for livestock in the late 70's. It was not of such and enormously significant ingredient in poultry feed until the mid 1980's when animal protein was replaced with soy. Likewise, soy began to replace fish meal and bone meal in gamebird feed in the 1980's and 1990's when smaller high quality companies like Mazuri were bought up by enormous high quantity corporations like Purina.
    Round up ready crops were not licensed for use in our feedchain- that is legally fed to livestock species until the 21'st century.

    I'm jumping way ahead here and topic is scratch grain. There is a great deal of misinformation about scratch grain, which is understandable given the ready access to commercial soft feeds that are completely formulated with vitamins and minerals, amino acids and probiotics that grains are well-known to be deficient in. It is of course in the interests of industrial feed manufacturers to sell more rather than less of their product. Feeding scratch grain fills up the birds crops leaving less room for the highly efficient, if too rapidly digested soft feeds. Only the mindful poultier is going to realise this and as so many are on very frugal budgets we need to help more backyard poultry affecianados mindful poultiers and sustainable agriculturists make more informed decisions about affordable, feasible, ethical, sustainable poultry nutrition.

    Along those same lines we have the peafowl and ornamental pheasant and gamebird hobbyists.

    The discipline of aviculture was historically, from antiquity forward, was an activty of only the most priviledged classes. It was not until the late 1970's that cage bird aviculture came to exist in any truly substantial numbers. Before the 1970's diets for cage bird aviculture consisted entirely of what the aviculturist could afford to provide. Subsequently, only those species that could survive and even thrive on hemp seed and white millet, paddy- were kept in any large numbers at all. The budgie, the rice finch, the canary.

    It wasn't until the 1980's that aviculture of "ornamental gamebirds" came to take hold in the middle classes. Again, only those species that could subsist on foods of relatively low nutrition were maintained in any number. Those species were adapted to live at least seasonally on the nutritious fresh seeds of grasses like bamboo, millet and broom. Captive birds adapted to life on corn and hemp, millet and paddy. These species that were also (generally) at least seasonally folivorous, included the Barbary Partridge, the Golden and Silver Pheasant, the Indian Peafowl and the Pharaoh Quail. In the mid 1980's alfalfa finally became affordable for gamebird breeders and species like tragopans, monals and eared pheasants, bobwhites, wild turkeys, valley quail- species that had hitherto not fared well on lower protein ( all seed diets) with vastly inferior amino acid profiles- - came to exist in sufficient numbers that they were available on the open market...

    There had been subtropical, largely insectivorous species being raised in modest numbers by the avicultural masters like Delacour and Sivelle, Denton and Hinkle- Heckmann- all along, but only because they knew how to feed them- how to supplement their diets with ant nests, custards and so on. Read the old books- raw ground meat was the first ingredient for successful breeding of peacock-pheasants, argus, firebacks and the like. These species were also maintained successfully on the first generations of game bird feeds because at that time, there was still fish and bone meal mixed into them. That ended in the mid 90's when big quantity feed corporations saved money and increased their profit margins by replacing the expensive animal protein and bone meal with different forms of soybean meal that had never existed before. All that time, from the beginning of aviculture scratch grain/ seed mixtures provided management food- substantial % of entire rations every single day and for most species.
    As more kinds of seeds and grains became available, wild bird seed came to exist and a whole new industry was born. Parrot feed came to exist as well.
    Aviculturists and show breeder poutiers were utilising these more nutritiously valuable and expensive seed mixtures to supplement their scratch grain.

    People were not attempting to raise rare, subtropical species like commercial chickens.
    There was no competition as there is today where quantity beats out quality. There was no such thing as junk birds flooding a free market based on the whims of devaluation.

    I'd like to cover three different related topics here all involved with flock management..
    Let me preface these inter-related subjects with the following fact.

    There is a major difference between maintenance rations and management fare.

    Maintenance rations provide the entire nutritional spectrum - the near-complete range of nutrients required for optimal nutrition. Soft feeds will ostensibly provide everything required of acutely domesticate production strains of domestic poultry. They are barely scraping by nutritionally for wild species, save those aforementioned species that have a diet very like the Red Junglefowl- those that can subsist on a seed/grain/vegetable based diet. Breeding stock of valuable chicken breeds are in the same boat.

    Management fare provides behavioral enrichment, supplement dietary fibre, satiation as well as ameliorate maintenance rations with micro-nutrients.

    None of the fowl, not waterfowl nor landfowl -no captive fowl should ever be fed scratch grain as a maintenance ration on its own- all by itself- to the exclusion of maintenance rations. Unless of course the birds are free-ranging most of the day.

    Nevertheless, there is a great deal of value in scratch grain and it deserves to be deconstructed so that people might make more informed decisions about its uses, especially those managers that wish to practice sustainable agriculture and end the cycle of disease and infection that plagues commercial flocks those viruses and bacteria gaining a major footprint in backyard flocks maintained like intensively farmed populations.

    Despite its recently derived ill reputation from some hobbyists, Scratch Grain, when used appropriately, can be an invaluable tool in avian husbandry.

    Three Topics:


    A. The Role of Optimal Foraging Theory in nature as it relates to the hard-wiring of captive wild species, domestic mutations of those wild species and domestic species themselves.


    B. The Role of Specialised Morphological Adaptation in nature as it relates to the manner in which different species of fowl procure nourishment as it relates to behavioral enrichment and preventing and/or ending the development of destructive behaviors; i.e. egg-eating, feather picking, manure ingestion

    C. Nutritional Values of different grains commonly used in scratch grain; Nutritional Values of other, ostensibly locally farmed crops which can greatly ameliorate the diets of captive birds, adding to the nutritional value of a diet composed of a high % of scratch grain and finally, some physiological reasons that scratch grain proves helpful in cutting down on feed costs and management.

    I'll also be describing how to supplement this management feed efficiently without breaking the bank.


    No two species share identical foraging behaviors or eat exactly the same foods. Even closely related species may diverge by a surprisingly large margin. There may be nothing superficially apparent about the species that might distinguish them from one another so far as foraging behavior is concerned.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2011

  2. Resolution

    Resolution Chillin' With My Peeps

    Logically, most of what we'll be covering in this thread is the nutritional value of the various grains and seeds regularly used in scratch grain and something about the natural and agricultural history of the crop species themselves.

    While I do appreciate that the thread has been unlocked, the moderator has greatly curtailed the room I have to work in by deleting my individual posts dedicated to each of the materials that go into scratch grain.
    This is going to make the thread unecessarily difficult to read. I'll end up having to take up more room on the thread- by jumping over your posts to add more information and this has a tendency to help a thread get convoluted and hard to follow- something that I already have an issue with obviously. I tend to overwrite and don't want to ignore any member's comments.

    I wanted for there to be a cohesiveness from start to finish and that the reference material all be at the top of the thread.
    As this is going to be necessary, each of the first two posts are going to be very long. I apologise in advance.

    So please be patient and read the thread in its entirety rather than speed reading and kicking up dust along the way.

    In the interests of agricultural sustainability and local food movements let's preface the following information with a few facts.

    1. The American Grain Belt is economically in dire straits as cheaper imports of cereal flours and soy flour from Brazil and Asia easily outcompete American grown commodities.
    Buying locally grown grains/seeds is obviously the best possible option but for most people in the country this simply isn't possible. Purchasing scratch grain from your feed distributor at least encourages supply and demand quotas that keep family cereal farmers in business.

    2. Cereal grains are handled less and go through very little processing before being bagged and shipped. Local grain mills throughout the country are able to bag their own crops and ship direct to distributors. Not only does this support family farming business, it also makes for less consumption of gasoline and all the associated ills of a gasoline based economy. I won't get into the carbon foot print issues as this is something many of you are well aware.

    3. Industrial Grain Farming is a different animal altogether. They need to be to feed the world. These corporations are farming efficiently and effectively with fantastic outcomes. They ship their grains to processing facilities where they are pulverized into powders of varying consistency and mixed into anti-caking agents, mold-inhibitors, anti-fungal additives, and chemicals that discourage infestation by mites and insects. These processed flours are then shipped to feed manufacturers where additional ingredients are mixed in according to different formulas for different (primarily) livestock species. Zoo feeds have radically different rules and are processed in feed plants local to the zoos themselves from the same commodities, though often from local growers because less product is needed to produce smaller batches.

    We all know that our maintenance feeds, be that soft mashes, crumbles, or pellets are made almost entirely of cereals, corn and soybean meal/soybean flour. Middlings from baking industry and brewing will also be used in feed manufacture.

    It's a bit ironic that scratch grain has such a bad reputation given that it is made entirely of- well - of grain and generally fresher grain that has obviously not been processed.

    Scratch Grain can be anything from a lazy mixture of cracked corn, wheat and oats, which seems to be the more commonly available recipe to a custom blend. A more nutritious variety of scratch grain will include red millet. Pigeon feed, which includes valuable dried peas and whole corn and occasionally whole sunflower seeds is an even better way to increase the nutritional and behavioral enrichment value of your management feed. Wild bird seeds are readily available, generally for a ridiculous price when premixed, but bulk ingredients like white millet, red millet, nijer and peanut hearts can be bought wholesale.

    Red Millet AKA Proso Millet and Milo are the two foremost ingredient of choice, especially in winter, of scratch grain.

    To be clear, Millet is not a single species.


    I. History:
    Millets are some of the oldest of cultivated crops. The term millet is applied to various grass crops whose seeds are harvested for food or feed. The five millet species of commercial importance are proso, foxtail, barnyard, browntop and pearl. In China, records of culture for foxtail and proso millet extend back to 2000 to 1000 BC Foxtail millet (Setaria italica L.) probably originated in southern Asia and is the oldest of the cultivated millets. It is also known as Italian or German Millet. Its culture slowly spread westward towards Europe. Foxtail millet was rarely grown in the U.S. during colonial times, but its acreage increased dramatically in the Great Plains after 1850. However, with the introduction of Sudan grass, acreage planted to foxtail millet decreased.

    Proso millet (Panicum miliaceum L.) was introduced into the U.S. from Europe during the 18th century. It was first grown along the eastern seaboard and was later introduced into the Dakotas where it later was grown on considerable acreage. In North Dakota acreage has ranged from 50,000 to 100,000 acres while in Minnesota only a few thousand acres have been grown.

    Today, foxtail millet is grown primarily in eastern Asia. Proso millet is grown in the Soviet Union, mainland China, India and western Europe. In the United States, both millets are grown principally in the Dakotas, Colorado and Nebraska.

    Barnyard or Japanese millet (Echinochloa frumentaceae L.), is a domesticated relative of the seed, barnyard grass. It is grown for grain in Australia, Japan and other Asian countries. In the United States, it is grown primarily as a forage.

    Browntop millet (Panicum ramosum) is a native of India and was introduced into the United States in 1915. It is grown in southeastern United States for hay or pasture and bird and quail feed plantings on game preserves. It is sometimes sold to Minnesota sportsmen for this purpose. Seed and forage yields of browntop millet have been low in Minnesota tests and it did not compete well with weeds.

    Pearl or cattail millet (Pennisetum glaucum) originated in the African savannah and grown since prehistoric time. It is grown extensively in Africa, Asia, India and Near East as a food grain. It was introduced into the United States at an early date but was seldom grown until 1875. It is primarily grown in southern United States as a temporary pasture. It is preferred over sudangrass as a forage crop in the south. Varieties planted at Rosemount, Minnesota produced very little seed, and their forage yield was low compared to foxtail varieties.

    II. Uses:
    The most commonly grown millets in the midwestern states are proso and foxtail with a limited acreage of barnyard.

    The major uses of proso millet are as a component of grain mixes for parakeets, canaries, finches, lovebirds, cockatiels and wild birds and as feed for cattle, sheep, hogs and poultry. Millet for birdfeed purposes is often grown under contract. Large bright or red seed is preferred, and premiums are sometimes paid for superior quality. Two types of bird feed mixes are marketed. One type is for wild birds another for caged birds, and still another for poultry. The cage bird mixes require the better quality proso for which premiums are paid.

    Proso millet as livestock feed is similar to oats and barley in feeding value. It is commonly fed in ground form to cattle, sheep, and hogs. Whole seed can be fed to poultry. The protein values compare favorably with sorghum and wheat and are higher than corn. Proso also has considerably higher fiber levels, due to attached hulls.
    The average composition of proso grain is shown in Table 1. Proso performs best in livestock rations when fed in mixtures with other grains. If the amino acid levels are balanced, the feeding value to hogs is nearly equal to corn. Proso can be cut for hay, but it is not as suitable as foxtail for this purpose.

    Foxtail millet is usually grown for hay or silage often as a short-season emergency hay crop. Some seed is used for finch and wild bird feeds. It does not necessarily yield more forage than proso but is free of foliage hairs and is finer stemmed. For forage, foxtail millet is harvested at the late boot to late bloom stage. The composition of foxtail millet relative to other forages is shown in Table 2. Foxtail millet should not be fed to horses as the only source of roughage since it acts as a laxative. If foxtail millet has been severely stressed it may accumulate nitrate at levels toxic for livestock. Several landraces of foxtail millet have been developed over time and include what is called Common, Siberian, Hungarian, and German Foxtail.

    Average composition of proso millet.1

    1Adapted from "Proso Millet in North Dakota."

    Oats and Wheat
    History and Origin of Oat

    Little history of oat is known prior to times A.D. Oats did not become important to man as early as wheat or barley. Oats probably persisted as a weed‑like plant in other cereals for centuries prior to being cultivated by itself. Some authorities believe that our present cultivated oats developed as a mutation from wild oats.

    Probably the oldest known oat grains were found in Egypt among remains of the 12th Dynasty, which was about 2,000 B.C. The oldest known cultivated oats were found in caves in Switzerland that are believed to belong to the Bronze Age.

    The history of oats is somewhat clouded because there are so many different species and subspecies, which makes identification of old remains very difficult. The chief modern center of greatest variety of forms is in Asia Minor where most all subspecies are in contact with each other. Many feel that the area with the greatest diversity of types is most likely where a particular plant originated.

    Oats were first brought to North America with other grains in 1602 and planted on the Elizabeth Islands off the coast of Massachusetts. As early as 1786, George Washington sowed 580 acres to oats. By the 1860s and 1870s, the westward shift of oat acreage in the United States had moved into the middle and upper Mississippi Valley, which is its major area of production today.
    Predominant Areas of Oat Production

    Oats are chiefly a European and North American crop. These areas have the cool, moist climate to which oats are best adapted. Russia, Canada, the United States, Finland, and Poland are the leading oat producing countries. Oats are adapted to a wide range of soil types, thus temperature and moisture conditions are the usual limiting factors as to where oats are grown. Perhaps no other country uses oats as much in their cropping system as does Scotland. Some winter oats are produced in the United States, but most are spring oats produced mainly in the north central states.

    During the 1940s and 1950s, the five leading states in production usually were Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, and South Dakota. By the 1960's, the main oat producing area began moving somewhat north and westward. In 2000, the rank of states in order of production was Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, and Iowa. Iowa acreage peaked at about 6.4 million acres in 1950 and slumped to 270,000 acres, of which only 180,000 acres were harvested, by 2000. The more profitable crop, soybean, has replaced the oat acreage.
    Uses of Oat

    Oats have been used as livestock and human foods since ancient times. Some have been used as pasture, hay or silage; but most have been used as a feed grain. Oat straw has been an important bedding for livestock through history. In Samuel Johnson's dictionary, oats were defined as "eaten by people in Scotland, but fit only for horses in England." The Scotsman's retort to this is, "That's why England has such good horses, and Scotland has such fine men!"

    In the United States, oats were formerly grown mainly for horse feed; but with the coming of the motorized age, oats became a feed chiefly for young stock and poultry. There has been an increase in oats used for human food in recent years. Oat Bran has received considerable attention from the medical community for its role in reducing blood cholesterol. Nutrition experts believe that Beta glucans, the water-soluble fibers present in oat bran inhibit cholestrol, which helps prevent heart disease. Nutritionists recommend increased daily intake of fiber, such as that in oat bran, because it assists in regulating gastro-intestinal function.

    Several breakfast cereals and bread products are made from oat flour and rolled oat products. Oat hulls have also been used as a raw material for fermentation to furfural, a chemical solvent used in refining minerals and for making resin. Another oat product has been used as an antioxidant and stabilizer in ice cream and other dairy products. Iowa continues as a center of oat processing in North America, although the newer processing facilities, built over the last several decades, are more northward in Minnesota and Canada .

    A bushel of oats weighs 32 pounds.

    composition of oats[/url]

    History and Origin of Wheat

    Wheat is grown on more land area worldwide than any other crop and is a close third to rice and corn in total world production. Wheat is well adapted to harsh environments and is mostly grown on wind swept areas that are too dry and too cold for the more tropically inclined rice and corn, which do best at intermediate temperature levels.

    Wheat is believed to have originated in southwestern Asia. Some of the earliest remains of the crop have been found in Syria, Jordan, and Turkey. Primitive relatives of present day wheat have been discovered in some of the oldest excavations of the world in eastern Iraq, which date back 9,000 years. Other archeological findings show that bread wheat was grown in the Nile Valley about 6,000 B.C. and subsequently in India and eventually China. European wheat followed shortly after. Wheat was first grown in the United States in 1602 on an island off the Massachusetts coast. Man has depended upon the wheat plant for himself and his beasts for thousands of years. A global wheat failure would be a disaster that few nations could survive for even one year.

    Although the so‑called bread wheats are common to most of us, there are many uncertainly related species that make up the genus Triticum. This likely was due to a number of natural crossings with wild species during its early evolvement. Some of the species closely related to our common wheats would be einkorn, emmer, durum, and spelt.
    Predominant Growing Areas for Wheat

    In 2000, world wheat production was approximately 21 billion bushels. This was grown on approximately 520 million acres. About 36 percent of the world production is in Asia with about 17 percent in Europe Union countries and 16 percent in North America. World leaders in order of wheat production are the China, India, United States, France, and Russia. Marked increases in wheat production in China and India since the early 1960's is one of the greatest success stories of modern agriculture.

    The United States grew just over 62 million acres of wheat in 2000 with an average yield of 41.9 bushels per acre. The top states in acreage grown are Kansas, North Dakota, Montana, Oklahoma, and Washington. Other leading producers are Texas, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota.

    About 70 percent of the wheat planted in the United States is winter wheat (fall seeded). Of the remaining wheat acreage, 24 percent is planted to spring wheat (spring seeded) and 6 percent to durum (spring seeded). Although five major classes of wheat are grown in the United States, the two major wheats are hard‑red spring and hard‑red winter, and both are bread wheats. Iowa is a very minor producer, having only 20,000 acres in 2000, compared with 500,000 acres in 1910. A major processing plant for making pasta products from durum wheat is located in Ames, Iowa.
    Uses of Wheat

    Although useful as a livestock feed, wheat is used mainly as a human food. It is nutritious, concentrated, easily stored and transported, and easily processed into various types of food. Unlike any other plant‑derived food, wheat contains gluten protein, which enables a leavened dough to rise by forming minute gas cells that hold carbon dioxide during fermentation. This process produces light textured bread.

    Wheat supplies about 20 percent of the food calories for the world's people and is a national staple in many countries. In easten Europe and Russia, over 30 percent of the calories consumed come from wheat. The per capita consumption of wheat in the United States exceeds that of any other single food staple. Besides being a high carbohydrate food, wheat contains valuable protein, minerals, and vitamins. Wheat protein, when balanced by other foods that supply certain amino acids such as lysine, is an efficient source of protein.

    Various classes of wheat are used for different purposes. The major classes used for bread in the United States are hard‑red spring and hard‑red winter. These are the major wheats grown in the Great Plains of the United States. The dominant hard‑red spring wheat states are North Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, and South Dakota. The major hard‑red winter producing states are Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, and Nebraska. In recent years, some production of hard white wheat has begun in the hard red winter region. These wheats are of higher quality than red wheats, but have been prone to preharvest sprouting. Extensive crop breeding efforts have created modern cultivars that are less susceptible to sprouting than those available in the past.

    Durum wheat is produced mainly in very limited areas of North Dakota and surrounding states. Common foods produced from durum wheat are macaroni, spaghetti, and similar products.

    Soft red winter wheat is grown principally in the eastern states. Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Arkansas lead in production of these wheats. Soft wheats are softer in texture and lower in protein than hard wheats. Wheats of this class are generally used in the manufacture of cakes, biscuits, pastry, and other types of flours.

    Soft white wheats are soft wheats grown mainly in the northwest areas of the country. Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Michigan are leading producers. Soft white wheats are used principally for pastry flours and shredded and puffed breakfast foods.

    In summary, wheat is the major ingredient in most breads, rolls, crackers, cookies, biscuits, cakes, doughnuts, muffins, pancakes, waffles, noodles, pie crusts, ice cream cones, macaroni, spaghetti, puddings, pizza, and many prepared hot and cold breakfast foods. It is also used in baby foods, and is a common thickener in soups, gravies, and sauces. Germ, bran, and malt are additional types of wheat products.

    Much of the wheat used for livestock and poultry feed is a by‑product of the flour milling industry. Wheat straw is used for livestock bedding. The green forage may be grazed by livestock or used as hay or silage. In many areas of the southern Great Plains, wheat serves a dual purpose by being grazed in the fall and early spring and then harvested as a grain crop. Industrial uses of wheat grain include starch for paste, alcohol, oil, and gluten. The straw may be used for newsprint, paperboard, and other products.

    A bushel of wheat weighs 60 pounds.


    Corn as we know it today would not exist if it weren't for the humans that cultivated and developed it. It is a human invention, a plant that does not exist naturally in the wild. It can only survive if planted and protected by humans.

    Scientists believe people living in central Mexico developed corn at least 7000 years ago. It was started from a wild grass called teosinte. Teosinte looked very different from our corn today. The kernels were small and were not placed close together like kernels on the husked ear of modern corn. Also known as maize Indians throughout North and South America, eventually depended upon this crop for much of their food.

    From Mexico maize spread north into the Southwestern United States and south down the coast to Peru. About 1000 years ago, as Indian people migrated north to the eastern woodlands of present day North America, they brought corn with them.

    When Europeans like Columbus made contact with people living in North and South America, corn was a major part of the diet of most native people. When Columbus "discovered" America, he also discovered corn. But up to this time, people living in Europe did not know about corn.

    The first Thanksgiving was held in 1621. While other "New World" foods unique to the Americas like sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie were not on the menu, Indian corn certainly would have been.

    History of Corn

    Corn Nutrition Facts

    Milo (sorghum)

    Grain Sorghum History

    Sorghum is a member of the grass family and a native wild plant of Africa. The first grain sorghum seeds may have been brought into the United States during the 1800's on slave ships. It is believed that Benjamin Franklin introduced the first grain sorghum crop into the United States.

    Varieties of sorghums are classified into 4 groups: grain sorghums, grass sorghums, sweet sorghums, and broom corn. Broom corn is grown for the branches of the seed cluster, which are used to make brooms. Sweet sorghums have sweet juicy stems and are grown to be made into sorghum syrup. The syrup is made by pressing the juice out of the stems and boiling it down to the proper thickness. Sweet sorghums can also be made into animal feed or silage. Grass sorghums are grown for green feed and hay but can also be weeds. Two types of grass sorghums that grow in Kansas are Sudan grass, an annual grown for feed and hay, and Johnsongrass, a perennial weed.

    Grain sorghums are grown for the grain - round, starchy seeds that can be ground or mixed into animal feeds. Sometimes, the entire grain sorghum plant is made into silage. Grain sorghum is often used to replace corn in animal feed. The grain is higher in protein and lower in fat content than corn but does not contain carotene. In the United States, grain sorghum is a major feed ingredient for both cattle and poultry. Livestock feeding uses more than 95% of the grain sorghum used in the United States.
    I. History:

    Farmers on the hot, dry plains from Texas to South Dakota grow and use grain sorghum like Corn Belt farmers use corn. Large acreages of grain sorghum are also grown in Africa and Asia in areas where the climate is too hot and dry for corn.

    During the past 25 years, the grain sorghum acreage in the U.S. has ranged from 15 to 18 million acres per year. Grain sorghum acreage is somewhat greater than acreages for oats and barley, but considerably less than the land area planted to corn, wheat, and soybeans.

    In cooler, more humid regions, corn is usually a better choice than grain sorghum, but renewed interest in grain sorghum occurs whenever hotter and drier than normal growing seasons are experienced.
    II. Uses:

    Worldwide, sorghum is a food grain for humans. In the United States, sorghum is used primarily as a feed grain for livestock. Feed value of grain sorghum is similar to corn. The grain has more protein and fat than corn, but is lower in vitamin A. When compared with corn on a per pound basis, grain sorghum feeding value ranges from 90% to nearly equal to corn. The grain is highly palatable to livestock, and intake seldom limits livestock productivity. However, some sorghum varieties and hybrids which were developed to deter birds are less palatable due to tannins and phenolic compounds in the seed. The grain should be cracked or rolled before feeding to cattle; this improves the portion digested.

    Pasturing cattle or sheep on sorghum stubble, after the grain has been harvested, is a common practice. Both roughage and dropped heads are utilized. Stubble with secondary growth must be pastured carefully because of the danger of prussic acid (HCN) poisoning.

    Grain sorghum may also be used as whole-plant silage, however another sorghum, sweet sorghum, was developed as a silage crop. Sweet sorghum produces much higher forage yields than grain sorghum, but feed quality will likely be lesser because there is no grain. Some growers mix grain sorghum with soybeans to produce a higher protein silage crop.

    Nutrition Composition of Milo

    lysine supplements

    Beets are one of the most inexpensive vegetables in the market. They can be grown by just about anyone, anywhere and store very well. They are also a very fine source of lysine and caratonids. A dozen hens fed with scratch grain or a combination of soft maintenance ration mixed into scratch grain can increase the value of that fare with cubed steamed beets.

    Quinoa is by far the best possible source of lysine and a tiny bit goes a very long way. Like Indian Corn I suggest planting your own Quinoa.

    amino acid supplemenation

    It never ceases to amaze me how much food we Americans and Europeans throw out every day. Not only do most households eat meat, they do so every single day, at least once a day. Moreover, it's become a pastime for some exterminating invasive animal species like the Silver Carp and the European Boar . There's never a shortage of recreation hunters and fisherman willing to save the planet and help manage wildlife but evidently the vast majority of this nutrition is dumped and buried or burned. That's pretty astonishing given the economic hardships so many people are suffering in this nation much less the world.
    Perhaps there are some enterprising people out there that might explore the possibility of turning this obvious bounty into readily accessible, wholly sustainable and inexpensive protein supplements for poultry. Fast frozen fresh whole fish the size of your average silver carp could go a long way for an organic farmer. Boar parts discarded after processing for the elderly and infirm can be readily ground into a meat mash ready for fast freezing and shipping as well.

    But let's be real. Recreational hunters (upwards of 75% ) aren't too concerned with feeding families unless they are farmers or come from an agricutural background. Most of these yahoos are going to spend more money on booze and gasoline and hunting equipment than most families will make in a year. Besides. who has the kind of time necessary to process all that meat? It just makes more sense to waste it. Kill for joy of it and dump the harvest. That's what happened to the Bison if memory serves me correctly.
    So have a careful look at your local butchers- if they still exist in your town much less your county. Fish markets and fish farms- if you provide a container and ice to store discarded fish parts/whole fish and are religiously diligent about picking up this free bounty - you can freeze enough material for a year in one well planned trip.

    Yes it's an inconvenience to process gross meat parts and fish guts. You may have to buy or borrow a meat grinder but you will be more self-reliant and providing better rations for your poultry.

    You don't have to feed this material daily. Try for once a week in place of all other food. During periods of moult increase the portions and try for three times a week.
    This is how your great grandparents managed it and they were likely raising hogs too.

    Ok- so this just sank the hearts of at least half of the people reading this because it just isn't feasible with everyone in the family working full time jobs just to pay the bills.
    So for those of you in that situation make the leap into a decent hard pellet- a kibble, either for fish farming, pets or birds. Look for the product with the highest % protein and feed out sparingly. Look to for the inclusion of real animal material in the hard pellet. There doesn't have to be much because the cereal flour used to make kibbles is heated to a sufficient temperature that makes it more digistible. When used in concert with scratch grain and a few beets you've got a complete diet working out there.

    A fowl only needs to ingest a half tablespoon of high protein hard kibble- formulated for fish, pets or birds to reach its daily requirements. The bulk of its feed can be good old, inexpensive scratch grain. I'll reitterate - scratch grain provides satiation. It fills the crop. This makes the birds feel full - content- willing to settle down and rest a while.
    The more hard food stored in that crop -the longer the high protein supplement remains in the digestive system and the more the bird gets out of it.

    An additional alternative is to feed out a turkey grower in conjunction with scratch grain balance out the ratio so that the birds receive a ~ 18% protein ration.
    And only feed that turkey grower every other day. When people leave a hopper full of soft feed they are wasting it.

    In India and Mexico where animal protein is harder to come by or frowned upon for cultural reasons, dairy biproducts take its place. Look around for government cheese.
    If you are rearing meat birds you can't do better than inexpensive blocks of cheese for the last few weeks of growing to produce a superior table bird. If you are rearing egg layers or gamebirds you'll be increasing the nutritional value of whatever else you are feeding while also providing behavioral enrichment.

    Cheese blocks are also one of the best ways to cure egg-eating as the cheese is still more rewarding than the egg and easier to ingest -more behaviorally stimulating- a shared larder.

    and etc.

    Peanut Butter is Heartless
    Did you know that peanut butter contains no peanut hearts? While they have all the same nutrients as the rest of the peanut, evidently, they're bitter. Consequently, millions of tons of peanut hearts are produced every year as a biproduct of peanut manufacturing. Unfortunately, thanks to their popularity as wild bird treat, they can be quite expensive. Nevertheless, contacting a peanut manufacturer directly may be fruitful as you can purchase them in bulk for pennies on the dollar. Any of you folks with a mind for business might want to explore the potential of purchasing peanut hearts wholesale and selling them to the Back Yard Poultry set as a business. If you can sell them for less than what they are selling them for as wild bird treat, you are sure to nurture an ever growing consumer base. Adding as little as four tablespoons per two cups of red millet increases the nutritional value of your scratch grain exponentially.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2011
  3. the-bird-man

    the-bird-man Songster

    Oct 24, 2010
    land of the sun
    i will be watching this thread [​IMG]
  4. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Loving this country life Premium Member

    X2 [​IMG]
  5. mstricer

    mstricer Crowing

    Feb 12, 2009
    Quote:Can you give millet like that, as treat in the winter, you know the kind, you would buy for budgies?
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2011
  6. the-bird-man

    the-bird-man Songster

    Oct 24, 2010
    land of the sun
    Quote:Can you give millet like that, as treat in the winter, you know the kind, you would buy for budgies?

    i am not an expert but i would think you can but it will cost more because pet stores buy it by the lb so you will be buying the stems too. if it was me i would just buy it by the bag from the feed store. and if you wanted it on the stem then plant some because most millet is not treated from what i have found
  7. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens


  8. Moabite

    Moabite Songster

    Feb 24, 2010
    This thread would make a good "STICKY"
    How about milo?
  9. 7L Farm

    7L Farm Songster

    Jul 22, 2010
    Anderson, Texas
    I'm no aviary vet but have spoken to one & he told me to feed my hens laying pellets & some greens. That's all they need. I will only feed mine scratch on very cold nights right before they roost to fill their crop.
  10. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

    Aug 20, 2010
    removed - the original post is being edited to include what was missing before.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2011
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