whole grain

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Little Fuzzy, Feb 14, 2016.

  1. Little Fuzzy

    Little Fuzzy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 16, 2016
    As a newbie to chickens and BYC I have loved reading about the different feed suggestions. So I went to the feed store and got some whole Barley and Oat groats and some BOSS to stir up into my own chicken scratch. The cashier at the feed store, who has raised chickens for a long time, and has answered my many questions, told me not to feed whole grains to my 21 week chickens because it will clog up the crop. She especially says not to feed Milo or Millet, nor even sunflower seeds with shell. Now I'm worried, they do love the barley!!!
  2. Folly's place

    Folly's place True BYC Addict

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    You do have grit out there for them? I buy the mixed scratch grains, it's much easier, and a 50 lb. bag lasts long enough, rather than storing 120 lbs. of different whole grains, just for treats. Mary
  3. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

    Jun 1, 2009
    Barley isn't the best grain to feed laying hens. Here's a couple of posts that describe why.

    This is a Quote from--

    Barley- is generally lower in protein than wheat,
    but the starch content is about equal to that of an average
    soft wheat. The fat content is low, and there is, in most
    samples, a high percentage of fibre, which is indigestible
    and of little food value to poultry. Wheat and rye
    kernels have smooth, thin skins, or outer coats, but
    barley kernels are enclosed in hard fibrous sheaths mainly cellulose..
    As regards cost barley is a cheap food in most countries.
    It is not a good egg-producing food, but is largely used
    in fatting poultry. It may be given as a change of
    food, and with advantage in cold weather. The mineral
    content is low and, as in other cereals, is acid.

    Written by: Dr. Jacquie Jacob, University of Kentucky http://articles.extension.org/pages/68431/feeding-barley-to-poultry
    Barley (Hordeum vulgare) is commonly grown for malting but can also be grown for human food and animal feed. Barley is the main feed ingredient in some parts of western North America and in many countries in Europe that are less suitable for corn. In addition, barley can also be grown as a pasture crop and can play an important role in crop rotation in organic production systems. Barley has an extensive root system that makes it able to compete with weeds. Barley is often used to break disease, insect, and weed cycles associated with other crops. Direct rotation with other small grains, however, is not recommended.
    Nutrient Content

    Barley can be added to an animal feed as an energy source, with some restrictions. Poultry cannot digest barley's carbohydrates as easily as those of corn because of the amount of non-starch polysaccharides (NSPs) in barley. The carbohydrates of corn grain are typically 65% to 70% starch and 11% to 14% fiber. In contrast, barley grains typically contain 60% starch and 22% fiber. As early as 1928, reports described the poor performance of birds fed barley-based diets. The poor performance was originally believed to be because of barley's high fiber content, but hull-less barley cultivars show similar performance levels to that of the hulled cultivars. The antinutritional factor identified in barley grain is beta-glucans (ß-glucan), which, because of its chemical structure, cannot be easily digested by poultry. The beta-glucans bind with water in the intestine, resulting in the formation of gels and increasing the viscosity of the intestinal contents. The increased intestinal viscosity reduces the availability of the nutrients in the diet. It can also cause sticky droppings, resulting in increased incidence of "pasty butt."
    Commercial feed enzymes are now available that can break down the beta-glucans in the diet, reducing intestinal viscosity, increasing nutrient availability, and improving bird performance. The effectiveness of enzyme supplementation, however, is influenced by the age of the bird as well as the barley cultivar used and the conditions under which it was grown. Older birds are more able to utilize barley than young chicks.
    Barley also contains phytic acid. This compound binds phosphorus during digestion, reducing its availability to the animal. Varieties of barley that are low in phytic acid are now available, decreasing the need for supplemental phosphorus in poultry diets. Commercial phytase, a feed enzyme that can be added to poultry diets to improve the availability of phytate-bound phosphorus, is also available.
    Nutrient composition tables allow nutritionists to meet animal needs with a combination of ingredients. However, energy values for barley can vary widely and a given nutrient table might not reflect the true values of the barley a producer uses. Beta-glucan levels in barley are affected by the cultivar, growing conditions, geographic location, conditions at harvest, and storage conditions. The age of the animal consuming the feed is also important. The digestive tract becomes more efficient as the animal ages, permitting older birds to utilize barley more effectively.

    Feeding, unground, whole-grain barley has become more popular in some regions to reduce feed-handling costs. Feeding a diet composed of 20% whole barley to turkeys has shown no negative effects on growth rate. Feeding a diet composed of 35% or more whole barley initially resulted in reduced growth and feed efficiency. This reduced growth rate, however, resulted in reduced mortality and leg problems. The feeding of grit is not necessary when feeding whole barley to turkeys.
    Feeding whole grains to laying hens was shown to reduce egg production, feed efficiency, and shell quality, while increasing feed intake, egg weight, and body weight. The effect was the same whether the hens received grit or not
    1 person likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by