Spent Grain

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Amirah, Dec 15, 2014.

  1. Amirah

    Amirah Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 14, 2014
    San Francisco, CA
    Hello Everyone,

    I am new here and I have a few questions about feeding my chickens. :)

    1. Does anyone know whether or not spent grain still retains most of the sugars, vitamins and protein? I don't know much about brewing, but I watched a video and it appears that the grains are boiled only for a short amount of time before being discarded, so it appears to still be quite nutritious for my girls, right? I have an acquaintance that owns a brewery that hooks me up with free spent wheat, barley and rye. I usually mix that into my Layer feed 50% of each. The chickens love it, and even prefer it since its soft! Do you think that's a good idea or its not enough nutrition for them?

    2. If your chickens free range in an urban backyard (about 25ft x 50 ft) how much feed would you give them? Like about half the recommended amount? (remember, I mix it with the spent grain)

    3. I eat alot of veggies and have my own mini garden. So my chickens get to feast on loads of scraps like carrots, kale, chard and cabbage, apples and figs. However, I was told to limit the amount of fruits and veggies since that would decrease egg production (since it's low on protein). What do you guys think about that? I know eating more produce makes the eggs more nutritious, right?

    If my chickens started laying then maybe I would have a clearer idea. But they haven't started to lay yet so I am not sure if it's because of the season or lack of nutrition. They range from 6 month to 8 months old. I set the timer on so that they get the required 14 hr of daylight. I see their waddles are slowing coming in, but definitely not super big or red. Is that normal for a 6-8 month old chicken? They are all different breeds. Leghorn, wynadotte, amerucana, RIRxMaran, and a possible Orpington. They have definitely been getting bigger and fluffier, but no eggs yet! They are very happy and friendly birds and no mites or anything. Could it be the season?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!
     
  2. MeepBeep

    MeepBeep Chillin' With My Peeps




    Nothing wrong with fermented mash, but 50% is IMO too much as it's not a balanced diet... You should not be giving layer feed to the birds until they are actually laying, go back to a chick starter or grower until they start laying, then either keep them on the starter/grower and offer a side of oyster shells or switch to layer, and even then I recommend a side of oyster shells...

    That is more like 'cage free' not free range... Due to the limited size and urban environment, they are not going to benefit much nutritionally from roaming the yard... You should offer them food at all times, not ration it out, they will eat only as much as they need each day unless they are hybrid boilers... If they are hybrid broilers you might need to ration if they show signs of over eating...

    Birds need a balanced diet to thrive, variety is great and should not be discouraged but it should also only be offered in moderation... You are already cutting their balanced feed with the fermented mash, so extra 'treats' like this should be only given in small moderation...

    Could be a combination of many factors, their age, cooler weather, light (you say you mitigated this), diet to name a few...
     
  3. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 11, 2013
    Eastern WA
    X2 what MeepBeep said, all very good advice.

    One suggestion is to find a 20-22% starter or grower feed and mix in perhaps 10-15% of the spent grain. This will lower the protein content a bit (too high of protein for layers isn't good either, though many regulary feed 20%). I'm not sure how spent grains affects the protein content, perhaps google will help. Each grain has differing protein content (unspent). Then you could feed more of the treats, since the treats will further reduce protein content. It sounds like you only have a few chickens so keep in mind it will probably be easy to over feed veggies and fruits and throw off protein, even with the starter feed. And yes, keep oyster shell on the side with the starter/grower feed. They will eat the oyster shell when they need it for eggshell production and will eat less of it when they don't need as much, such as during a molt.

    Yes, fruits and veggies will add to nutrition of the eggs, but more is not better. They need protein and those foods have little to none.
     
  4. MeepBeep

    MeepBeep Chillin' With My Peeps


    A good average number to use for spent grains is 30% protein...

    They do make a great feed additive to boost protein and vitamin levels but it's not a balanced diet...

    If I had access to freebie spent grains and not wanting to waste the freebie, I would probably do about a 10% spent grain, 10% scratch (or cracked corn) and 80% all flock (16%-18%) feed mix... This should maintain about that 17% protein level and not horribly dilute the balanced diet...
     
  5. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 12, 2013
    Boulder, Colorado
    1. Does anyone know whether or not spent grain still retains most of the sugars, vitamins and protein? I don't know much about brewing, but I watched a video and it appears that the grains are boiled only for a short amount of time before being discarded, so it appears to still be quite nutritious for my girls, right? I have an acquaintance that owns a brewery that hooks me up with free spent wheat, barley and rye. I usually mix that into my Layer feed 50% of each. The chickens love it, and even prefer it since its soft! Do you think that's a good idea or its not enough nutrition for them?


    The brewing process uses up the sugars to produce alcohol. What is left is mostly protein and fiber. It has some B vitamins, moderate minerals, the protein is incomplete meaning it has limiting amino acids eventhough the percentage is high (30% DM) The mash is about 85% water. To figure how how good or bad spent grain is you need to do a little math. Let's take 100g for ease of calculations. That would be close to 4 oz or about 1/3 C. If 85% is water, you have to first remove that part so your 100g sample only has 15g of "stuff" DM or dry matter). That 15g has all the protein, fiber, fat vitamins and minerals (remember all the sugars and starches were used in the fermentation process). 30% of 15g is 4.5g of protein in the as fed 100g of product. Chickens do not process fiber like other livestock and do not benefit from high fiber feeds. Calcium is less than 1% so very low for laying hens. Energy (calories) is fairly low. So how does all this fit into feeding chickens? Spent grains are a major component of processed chicken feed but many things are added to make it a balanced stand alone feed. In the wet stage, it does make a nice treat (10% of the diet) but not a major component if you need your hens to produce. Same with vegetable treats. Vegetable and fruit treats are low in protein, energy and high in fiber. You again have holes in the hens' diet. 50% layer ration is not going to make up the difference and fill the gaps. Your hens not laying at 8 months should of been a sign that something was off and I think it starts with their diet. I would drop all the treats down to less than 1/2 C per hen a day. Make them eat their layer feed and see where that gets you. Take all you extra spent grains and start a killer compost pile. Take the vegetables and put them in the freezer for treats when you don't have anything.
     
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  6. Amirah

    Amirah Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 14, 2014
    San Francisco, CA
    Thank you so much for all these wonderful tips and calculations. You are right, passed 6 months and no eggs should have been a major red flag. Another thing my chickens are battling now is the elements. Its soo windy and raining so hard for the last 2 weeks and my chickens don't take cover in the coop. Is that normal? I know a wet bird is an unhappy bird but these birds don't seem to wanna go into the coop naturally when its raining like crazy. Next time I plan on not letting them out to begin with if I know the weather is gonna be bad.

    I have already switched them to grower feed and we will see what happens!

    Quick question: what is the purpose of scratch? To boost up the carb in their diet? why 10% mash and 10% scratched as opposed to
    20% mash spent grains? Thank you again!
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2014
  7. MeepBeep

    MeepBeep Chillin' With My Peeps


    To lower/average out the protein levels back to your desired 16%ish range for laying...

    If you used 20% spent grains and mixed it with 80% of say a 16% protein commercial feed, the resulting mix would be about 19% protein...

    On the other hand if you used 10% spent grains, 10% scratch/cracked corn and 80% of a 16% commercial feed the mix would be right back to about 16% protein...
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2014
  8. Greg Mann

    Greg Mann Out Of The Brooder

    I live on the northern coast of Cal. in Eureka...I know what you mean about the rain. My Ladies have shelter but they don't seem to mind the rain. I have 12 hens and they have been laying 12 eggs a day most of the time @ 7 months old.
    Best to You and your Birds,
    Greg
     
  9. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 12, 2013
    Boulder, Colorado
    There's no reason to go out and buy a bag of scratch grains. Scratch is nothing more than a low protein, high energy treat. You have plenty of treats available to feed right now. Don't be afraid of feeding a diet in the 20%+ protein range. Many people on here simplify their feeding programs by only offering an All Flock (22%+) or Grower to their entire mix of birds. I only offer a 20% layer feed. I feed it because with the treats I offer, they naturally bring down the protein %. The biggest draw back to feeding a higher percentage protein feed is cost. Protein is the most expensive component of the mix and if they don't need it, than that's just money wasted. BUT, 20% treats is pushing it. Put them on a diet of only 10% treats (get some fruits and vegetables in the mix as well) until they are pumping the eggs out. As you figure out that they genetically can produce than you can start adding a little more. If you see a drop in production than you know you've pushed it too far.
     
  10. MeepBeep

    MeepBeep Chillin' With My Peeps


    As you said the higher protein won't hurt, but I personally choose to limit the protein lower in my chickens due to the smell, the more protein you feed the smellier the poop...
     

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