Spent Grains and egglaying

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by AKCub, Feb 3, 2014.

  1. AKCub

    AKCub Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 1, 2011
    Anchorage, Alaska
    I have 8 hens that have been laying pretty regular since they were about 4 months old. They are about ten months old now. I normally run a 20% layer ration for them but discovered that I can get spent grains from a local micro brewery for free. I tried swapping them over to the spent grains and supplementing with oyster shells but they stopped laying. I went back to straight 20% rations with supplemental oyster shells and they went back to laying.
    Now I have the 20% layer out and a tin with the spent grains "on the side" so to speak and it seems like they have almost stopped laying again.

    It has been about 2 weeks in between the food changes and egg production changes.

    My understanding is the spent grain runs about 28% protein and low carbohydrates. Looking at the layer ration bag it seems that the protein/carb ratios are about the same (minus the 8%).

    So, what is it about the spent grain that slows my girls down? I've seen numerous posts that tell of folks feeding their hens the spent grain and have seen one other post asking about egg production and the spent grains.

    It would be nice to supplement them in the winter anyhow with a free food source.

    Any suggestions on how to feed them the grains without losing egg production would be appreciated.


  2. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 11, 2013
    Eastern WA
    If I understand you correctly, you were using a formulated layer feed then switched to only spent grains and oyster shell. If so, I would guess your birds just aren't getting all the nutrients they need from the spent grains. Probably minerals, EFAs and/or methionine. From what little I've read about spent grains, they sound like a usable feed ADDITIVE, but is not a complete nutrition by itself. Remember, a chunk of the grains' nutrition is now spent, gone to the beer. Try an experiment by adding a bit of blackstrap molasses (for minerals) and fresh whey (for methionine).

    And perhaps they were due for a molt and the feed change just sped that up a bit?
  3. Lazy J Farms Feed & Hay

    Lazy J Farms Feed & Hay Chillin' With My Peeps

    If you used straight spent grains then you are feeding a ration that is deficient in energy, has the incorrect amino acid profiled, and is SEVERELY deficient in calcium even with the use of oyster shells. The reason they stopped laying is that they no longer had enough energy to produce egss and the calcium:phosphorus ratio is imbalanced.
    1 person likes this.
  4. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

    Carbohydrates is a compound word meaning "carbs" or calories. The hydrate portion of the word means water soluble. So carbohydrates are calories that dissolve in water or that can be removed from grain by washing it in water.

    Spent Brewers Grain derives most of its feed value from digestible fiber or cellulose. The 28% protein figure is a relative percentage figure and it doesn't take into account the carbo-hydrates that was lost in the washing process. SBG is fine if your chickens are a ruminant with multiple stomachs and chew their cud like a cow or a goat does, but because so much of the food energy (carbohydrates) in SBG has been taken out by sprouting and then washing the grain to produce alcohol that SBG is way down the line in the type of food energy (carbohydrates) that a chicken needs. I hope that this episode of starvation has not started a forced molt in your flock because if it has it could be months before egg production returns to normal.

    There is an old adage that says that you can hear anything but meat frying and money rattling! If someone told you that a diet of only SBG is a healthy diet for your layers, then this seems to be one of those occasions.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2014
    1 person likes this.
  5. AKCub

    AKCub Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 1, 2011
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Thanks for the information gang. I figured something was up nutritionally with the spent grains by the way they reacted to to it. I just didn't know what. That's where this site is so helpful.

    They are on the 20% layer ration and we are back to 5-6 eggs a day from my 7 hens and one reluctant duck. I have a side container of the spent grains and they can feed at will from it.

    Waiting for spring!

  6. biga

    biga Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 8, 2013
    Decatur ,AL
    i brew my own beer and have plenty of spent grains to deal with. during fall and winter i dump them in the garden area and turn it over for composting. The girls will see a pile of spent grain and start getting into it, but they realize after a few minutes that it's not worth eating and they go back to eating grass or layer pellet. i wouldn't try using it as a food source, but i will use it to give them something different to play with now and then.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2014

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by