grains for chickens
- Hi, everyone. It's been along time since anybody had anything to say.
I was wondering if anyone could advise me on growing millet or other small grains to be fed to chickens, and/or pigs, for that matter. I raise meat birds for the family (Freedom Rangers), and I would like to grow some of my own feed. I live in central Florida.
I don't know if I would be growing the birds and the grain at the same time, or storing the grain to feed later. I raise the birds when it's not summer, which is like October to May here. I did have some chickens last summer into July, but I had to go out and hose them down 3-4 times a day to keep them cooled off and eating.
Anyone who knows about millet or other suitable feed grains, I'd appreciate any feedback.
Thanks so much.
- Hi Laurie,
I've fed wheat, barley, and corn to chickens. Any of those grains together with free range grubs, worms, grass, weed seeds, etc., makes a complete ration, I would say. A friend of mine has used rye in the same way. I'm sure oats would be fine, too. I don't know much about millet, but I imagine it would work just as well.
Barley (and presumably oats) seem to be a little less palatable to chickens because they don't thresh free of the hull. Chickens will eat plain, dry barley, but sprouting definitely improves chicken's interest in it. I have an old plastic barrel with holes drilled in the bottom that I have used for sprouting. I'll pour 20-50 lbs of grain in, then enough water to cover, which drains out within just a few minutes. Sometimes I'll repeat that and stir it up good 12 hours later. Depending on how warm it is, the root will start to emerge in another day or two. I probably wouldn't sprout any more than I planned to feed in 3-4 days.
If you're thinking of letting the chickens self-harvest the grain out of the field, I don't see much hope in that. It seems that even the small grains are too tall for the chickens to feed on them very well, and even then it's just hard for me to envision a system to make it all work. If I really wanted to experiment I would start with oats, because the grains dangle separately in the head.
Although I have no direct experience with hogs, I know second-hand that hogs can definitely self-harvest grains like oats, millet, or corn, as well as forages like rape, maybe field peas (cowpeas), etc. I imagine with enough effort and enough time to figure it all out, one could feed hogs directly out of the field most months of the year. I've heard -- and I'm not sure how true this is -- that barley is best aged for a month before being fed to livestock, so I don't know about hogs self-harvesting it. I've also read that buckwheat leaves can have unwanted side effects on hogs.
Of course, what small-scale, self-sufficient farmers most commonly did to feed chickens and hogs when there were still such farmers in America was to grow and hand harvest corn. Corn is much more efficient to hand harvest (and probably simpler to store, too) than the grains I talked about above for feeding chickens, and as for hogs self-harvesting grains there would be a tremendous amount to figure out to make such a system work very long, in terms of timing, fencing and rotations and moveable shelters and waterers, etc., besides a heavy labor cost. So I think corn would definitely be the most doable place for most people to start.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Laurie" <brokenoakfarm83@...> wrote:
> Hi, everyone. It's been along time since anybody had anything to say.
> I was wondering if anyone could advise me on growing millet or other small grains to be fed to chickens, and/or pigs, for that matter. I raise meat birds for the family (Freedom Rangers), and I would like to grow some of my own feed. I live in central Florida.
> I don't know if I would be growing the birds and the grain at the same time, or storing the grain to feed later. I raise the birds when it's not summer, which is like October to May here. I did have some chickens last summer into July, but I had to go out and hose them down 3-4 times a day to keep them cooled off and eating.
> Anyone who knows about millet or other suitable feed grains, I'd appreciate any feedback.
> Thanks so much.
> Laurie Flynn
- Thanks for writing. What I had in mind is to grow part of my animal feed, particularly grains for chickens. For pigs, I hope to grow some grain, but also beets (mangels), squash, and some kind of beans or peas. Probably either field peas or cowpeas, the two being different things. I had hopes of doing sweet potatoes, but some reading has made me rethink that.
Anyway, I thought my best choice here in central FL would be some sort of millet. Ideally, I would like to grow a type that is good for all animals and human food as well. I have had this issue on the back burner for a while, so I don't remember what I have read very well now. I just thought someone might have some experience and advice on the matter. Have you grown any millet varieties? Have you eaten any? I have some that was given to me, but I still haven't cooked any yet. And I don't know what kind it is. I guess I should try some, and see how the chickens go for it. Then I can plant the rest and grow it out. But knowing what it is would be helpful.
I guess I have said everything there is to say for now. If you have any other advice, feel free to send it this way.
- Well, my chickens will and do eat just about everything/anything.
They particularly like small grains. Year before last year they ate all my wheat and oats.
They love Amaranth and we do too. They also like Sorghum which should grow really well for you. I will grow millet next year which I also know they love.
BTW the chickens also love squashes, winter and summer, so I have to fence them out. They also like all of the kale family and will eat our cabbages if they get at them.
They also love my grapes...
I let the chickens cleanup after I harvest the grains and in the fall I let them at the garden areas after we harvest - they get every grain we miss and all the bugs. They also have free access to the compost pile where they will eat just about all of the kitchen scraps (no meat - which should never be on a compost pile).
I don't give them any meat source - they get plenty of bugs.
I also don't grow corn (I have a corn allergy) and don't provide it to the birds, either. Corn would be a good choice in your area.
There are a number of websites that have nutritional info for chicken feed and recipes for various mixes. Check out, http://www.lionsgrip.com/recipes.html
--- In email@example.com, L F <brokenoakfarm83@...> wrote:
> Thanks for writing. What I had in mind is to grow part of my animal feed,
> particularly grains for chickens. For pigs, I hope to grow some grain, but also