What Grains are Good for Chickens?
Raising chicken is not an inexpensive affair as most people presume. However, like anything in life, you can cut corners and make it less demanding. One of the most costly parts of rearing poultry is feeding them. Often, farmers feed their chicken with either pellet or ground mash. While there is nothing wrong with this combination, it can end up denting your pocket more.
If you aspire for a more profitable venture, feeding your poultry with whole grains can be a wise decision. Remember that whole grains are more nutritious because oxidation happens after grinding.
Furthermore, chicken requires a regular intake of whole grains to promote gizzard growth which leads to better feeding. Today, we will define why grains are a suitable diet choice for your chickens.
Grains that Chickens Can Eat
You can feed a wide selection of whole grains to your poultry. Nevertheless, you have to provide them in a balanced ratio to prevent digestion issues. We all know that corn is the standard grain in commercialized feeds, but you can interchange it with sorghum because it has similar nutritional value.
Note that oats are ideal for growing fowls, but you should avoid them on broilers and layers since they have high fiber content. In laying birds, you can maintain the yolk color by adding alfalfa feeds or other yellow grains like canola.
Other than that, you can feed your poultry with wheat. The downfall is that wheat lacks essential amino acids vital for your bird’s growth. Fortunately, although wheat slows down digestion, you can substitute it with corn because it contains more protein.
Other popular whole grain options include oats, millet, and rye. Bear in mind that oats are more fibrous but have lesser energy. On the other hand, rye affects growth development, while millet is a perfect alternative but lacks enough protein.
The good news is that each grain has its share of benefits to your birds. Still, you have to supplement other feeds to ensure that the chickens get the required nutrition. For instance, you can make a homemade grain feed combining corn, wheat, millet, and flax or sunflower seeds.
The bottom line is to offer your birds a diet concurrently high with amino acids, vitamins, carbohydrates, and proteins. Most importantly, concentrate on minimizing the anti-nutritive characteristic of each crop while gaining on the nutritious part.
Whole vs Cracked Grains
Feeding whole or cracked grains to chickens has been a debatable topic for a long time. While some individuals state about less nutritional value in whole grains, others argue otherwise. You should be aware that whole grains do not lose nutrition when cracked.
In addition, it is cheaper and lasts longer compared to cracked grain. If not kept in optimal conditions, cracked seeds can also get moldy, which can be disastrous to your bird’s health. Another shortcoming is that your chicken may pick them first and leave more nutritious foods behind.
How to Feed Chickens Whole Grains?
The best time to feed your chicken with whole grains is from six weeks and above. Start by mixing it gradually in their meals for easier adaptations. Other than that, some experts recommend soaking the grains to save money.
Given that fermented food comes mashed together, you are more likely to reduce wastages through pecking. For better results, soak the seeds overnight and feed them first thing in the morning. Some farmers prefer soaking the seeds for 1-4 days till they ferment.
The beauty of fermentation is that it adds probiotics to the grains, which helps in gut health. As a result, the birds get extra protection from harmful bacteria such as salmonella and e-coli.
Further research also indicates that fermented feeds aids in egg production and weight gain because it has more vitamins. This translates to increased production of nutritious eggs and far much healthier chickens. Thanks to increased nutrients in the fermented feeds, chicken eats fewer portions while saving on expenses.
Please note, that if you are feeding whole grains, you will also have to consider giving your chickens grit, so they can digest the grains.
How Much Grain Should a Chicken Eat?
A chicken diet quantity depends on age, weather conditions, productivity, and bird size. On average laying hens consume approximately ¼ pound of grains daily. Given that roosters are slightly heavy eaters; their daily grain requirement may be considerably more.
All in all, your chicken’s productivity depends on the quantity and quality of the feeds offered. If you allow your birds to forage, feeding them on grains once or twice a day with grains would be appropriate. For birds kept indoors, fill their feeders with grains at least twice or thrice daily.
You can also give them healthy natural snacks like pumpkins and melons to supplement their diet and keep them entertained. Finally, observe their feeding pattern and determine whether you need to refill the feeders or not. That way, you may not have to incur losses on food wastage.
What to Feed Besides Grains?
Chickens are omnivores and feed on an almost similar diet to human beings. When foraging in the yard, they can find plenty of vitamin and protein-rich food like vegetation, grubs, and insects. Altogether, supplementing the diet is vital, especially during the cold months.
Excellent choices include a combination of grains, vegetables, and fruits. Your chickens will appreciate it much if you offer them fresh leafy vegetables, non-sugary cereals, apples, watermelons, berries, and so forth. Another way to augment your flock’s diet is by giving them table scraps.
Still, be wary of feeding them with moldy leftovers because it can lead to food poisoning. Avoid giving them salty snacks, high fat, and processed foods to deter weight-related complications.
Avocado is another no-go zone food as it contains a lethal component known as persin, which can kill or make your bird extremely sick. Above all, please do not feed your chicken on dry beans, citrus, chocolate, candy, or any junk food as it adds no nutritional value.
Feeding your chicken on whole-grain does offer not only nutritional value but also protects them from bacterial infections. According to experts, poultry that often feeds on grains tends to have bigger crops which impacts better nutrient digestion.
Furthermore, birds can store more ingested food in enlarged crops. If you want your flocks to benefit fully from a grain diet, add some organic acid and stick to regular mealtimes. This is because hungry birds tend to overeat which can be detrimental to their health.