Unhulled millet for day-old chicks?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by GrFChickens, Oct 8, 2015.

  1. GrFChickens

    GrFChickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi there!

    My husband and I hope to start a small flock (5-6) of grain-free chickens soon. We are planning on getting heritage breeds (hopefully all Delawares).

    Due to our son's food allergies, we'd like to raise the chickens as grain-free as possible. I was reading in Harvey Ussery's book that he often starts chicks on grower-ration and then ups the protein with other sources like fish meal, liver, etc.

    I'm formulating our own grower-ration and would like to include millet. My questions are:

    1. Does anyone know if you can feed day-old chicks bulk millet (it wouldn't be a spray on the stalk; rather, it would come from somewhere like Azure or Amazon)?

    2. Can millet be about half of their supplemental feed (planning on doing greens, etc. - the chickens will have about 10 square feet per bird in their run - we can't do pasture yet bc of coyotes and other animals - live in the country)?

    3. Do chicks need hulled grains, or can I feed unhulled millet (is it more nutritional to leave the hull on?)? I'm planning on grinding up the supplemental feed and fermenting it before I feed it to them.

    Thanks so much! :)
     
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    I can't answer your millet question. But, you might do some research to find a chart that gives the nutritional breakdown of various grain/seed options. Making your own feed is a tricky process, b/c if you don't get the blend right, you're going to have some birds showing some serious nutritional deficiencies. You will need to provide them with some grit right away if you go this route.
     
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  3. GrFChickens

    GrFChickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks so much! :)
     
  4. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

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    Hi, [​IMG]
    Do not feed day old chicks food. They need water ( with vitamins is helpful). The 1st 48 hours they need to digest the rest of the yolk sack, If This is why day old chicks can be shipped to buyers. If you feed them too soon, they may not finish digesting the yolk sac. This can cause health problems later up to and including death of the chik. Give your newly hatched chicks 1 drop only by mouth of Bovidr Labs Poultry Nutri-Drench. Then put 2 ml per gallon in their daily water for the 1st 2 weeks to get them off to a strong start. http://www.nutridrench.com I have been using it on my collies ad poultry for over a decade. Marvelous stuff! Doesn't need digesting. All natural, mainlines directly into the bloodstream, measureable in bloodstream in 30 minutes with 99% utilization.
    Best Regards,
    Karen
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2015
  5. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    Um, I'm going to stick my neck out and show my stupidity, but isn't millet a grain?
     
  6. shortgrass

    shortgrass Overrun With Chickens

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    You can feed chicks millet, mine are actually on an ALL grain diet 24/7 from hatch on, no pellet or granule feed, and the chicks do go straight to foraging with mum. This, if course is MORE than just millet; there are nutrients missing and the protein in millet isn't high enough for feed alone, but I do believe that 50% of the mix being millet could work, depending on what your other 50% is...

    Are you aiming for gluten free, or ALL grain eliminated?


    Oh edit: hulled vs unhulled, go with hulled for the little ones, too much fiber for them unhulled. But as they get older, from 2 weeks or so on, you can give them a unhulled... And Azure is a GREAT placecto get it ;)
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2015
  7. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    I beg to differ re: with holding food from hatchlings. They are designed to manage food as soon as they start eating it. Mama does not keep the newest hatchlings from eating when she takes the whole brood off the nest. Granted, they can survive the 48 hours without eating, and the yolk is designed to give that window of "not needing to eat". I'd like to see a published study that says that chicks don't absorb the yolk if they start eating too soon.
     
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  8. Trefoil

    Trefoil Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The hulls have very little nutritional value and I think you would have to ferment the millet to enable the chickens to get enough nutritional value if fed a high% millet diet. I am assuming that you realize that not giving the chickens grain isn't going to affect the end product unless your chickens are malnourished.
    You probably could substitute up to 50% with millet, but the other 50% would have to be soybean meal or something else with super high protein. Good luck with that. If you do a search you will find articles about the nutritional value of millet. I'll give you one below. Generally speaking avoid articles from non research related sources. They tend to be unreliable.
    http://www.extension.org/pages/68861/feeding-pearl-millet-to-poultry
     
  9. shortgrass

    shortgrass Overrun With Chickens

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    Nice link ;)

    I disagree with the "end product being the same" theory though. For individuals with celiac disease, or gluten intolerance, even the meat is not consumable, nor the eggs. Wheat is very high in gluten where millet is not. Millet is actually a very good grain for starting on; agreed that the protein would need to bevupped for the other 50%, but alfalfa meal or soybean meal would definitely fit the bill.

    After weaning off grains, the diet can be restricted to other alternatives for nutrient sources that can keep production AND longevity of the birds in partnership. It's tricky, but not impossible :)

    Edit for autocorrect :p
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2015
  10. Trefoil

    Trefoil Chillin' With My Peeps

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