Feeding whole wheat and now I have a question

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We have been storing wheat for about 20 years. I was going through some of the old wheat and had read that it was an excellent feed for chickens. Our land has very little rock or gravel in our soil. Do chickens need grit to be able to digest whole wheat? I am putting oyster shell calcium in the feed and wondered if that was enough grit to do the job? Secondly, with table scraps and they being able to range will they need a mash supplementation?

-- Vearle and Janie Payne (vnjpayne@gilanet.com), December 25, 2000


If your chickens are allowed to free range they should pick up all the grit they need in the form of tiny stones. Wheat isn't a complete meal by itself....falls more in the category of scratch. If you crack some corn and put with it would be better. Of course if the table scraps you are feeding them have a good variety to them you may be able to get by with just the addition of a wheat and corn supplement.

-- Amanda in Mo (aseley@townsqr.com), December 25, 2000.

You would have a bit better digestion if it were cracked first. Or better yet, it the wheat is still viable, sprout it for a few days and then feed it. That improves both the digestablity and vitamin content.

Oyster shell and limestone are too soft to be used as grit. If they are on any type of dirt, they should be able to find enough grit, but if you don't think they are, a bag of sand is cheap enough. If they are not laying now, they probably don't need too much of the Oyster shells.

I agree with Amanda, wheat isn't enough. They should have some corn and some greens every so often.


-- paul (p@ledgewood-consulting.com), December 26, 2000.

For our sheep we use to soak the wheat over night to make it more digestible.... I guess that would go for chickens as well.

-- kelly (kellytree@hotmail.com), December 28, 2000.

If you have a wood stove, put some wheat and water in a bucket at the back of the stove and let it cook some. They will get a lot more nutrition out of it cooked. Judith

-- Judith (JHaral2197@aol.com), December 30, 2000.

I posted an answer on this one, but it seems to have disappeared....I read an article on feeding sprouted grain to chickens, that touted feeding 2-3 day sprouted grains (soak in water, rinse several times a day to prevent souring, feed when sprout is 1/8" in length. Corn, peas, wheat,barley, etc.). The author said that chickens fed in this manner were consistantly 1-1 1/2 lbs heavier in meat weight, and proportionately less fat. I will attest that sprouted grains have an increase in enzyme and amino acid function, and the starch is converting into useable protein for your animals. It is also much easier for the crop to handle in this state.

You can buy granite grit for your chickens and offer it in a seperate can, or just throw it out into their yard. I think we used to pay 5 cents a pound for it at the feed stores. We also recycled our eggshells back to the chickens for calcium.

-- Julie Froelich (firefly1@nnex.net), January 01, 2001.

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