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Can Chickens Eat Lentils?

When raising birds in a pasture-based model, keep in mind that a chicken’s digestive system is geared for digesting insects, seeds, and grain rather than for digesting forage. But chickens need to concentrate feed rations to produce well. Chickens need to make some use of high-quality forages, particularly legume (lentils belong to the legume family).

 Lentils are part of the legume family emphasizes the importance of sprouting grains; it says although sprouting is a labor-intensive process, it is used by some producers for providing vitamins to their chickens. Sprouting enhances the amounts of carotene (vitamin A precursor) in the grain and is an advantage for certified organic poultry production as it enables the reduction of the number of synthetic vitamins required in the chicken diet.

Chickens’ what do they eat’

Chickens eat insects, grubs which provides a cornucopia of protein and are vitamin-rich. They are omnivores and will eat (or try to eat) anything they can get their beaks on. They may sample yard fares like frogs or tiny snakes but reject them as the little chirpy, fuzzy yellow chicks grow from cute little puffballs to pretty biddies, their nutritional needs to increase. Keep a ground-up premade ration in the form of pellets or crumbs for your flock so that they can’t pick or choose what to eat. Chickens like children pick up the goodies and refuse to eat what is good for them!

Chickens need protein to help grow; to produce feathers, cook up eggs, and grow nails. In  eggshell, protein is their building block. No wonder gym junkies gulp cartons of raw eggs full of protein.Hen up your flock’s protein.

A pulse is an edible seed that grows in a pod. According to Pulses include all beans, peas and lentils‘ many of today’s pet owners are applying human food philosophies to the products they select for their furry companions. This includes the consumption of more plant-based foods such as pulses.

Lentils are packed with good-for-you-protein, and luckily they are versatile, inexpensive and make a delicious meal when they are cooked. Brown or green lentils are best pressure-cooked after being soaked for half an hour or so. Once cooked, they turn soft and mushy with a creamy texture and your chickens will relish it. One cup of cooked green lentils includes: 280 calories, 24g protein, 46 carbohydrates,1g fat and 18g fiber.

Never give dried lentils to your flock because after eating they can swell and cause problems in the digestion process. It is okay to feed lentils to chickens as long as they are cooked or sprouted first, and then they are perfectly harmless and in fact become super food for your flock.

Cooked lentils – lentils can’t be a substitute for chicken food. Nevertheless, whenever you make a lentil meal for yourself, set aside cooked lentils and beans and serve the chickens with motherly love, be the perfect chicken-mama, make your chickens smart!

Chicken and lentils, give chicken lentils but not in its raw form and in moderation. It is better to give it as a ‘treat’. Prepare the lentils for chicken by sprouting them. Green and brown lentils sprout more easily than red lentils.

How to sprout lentils

  • Prefer green lentils as they sprout easily.
  • Soak and pour extra water on top.
  • Let it stand for 10 hours. Rinse once during standing time
  • After 10 hour the lentils swell and get ready to sprout
  • Now drain and rinse a couple of times then carefully put the wet seeds in a jar, tie a cheese cloth.
  • For another 10 hours let it stand damp, not wet, any extra moisture makes the lentils moldy.
  • Always rinse in a sieve.
  • After 5-6 days, the sprouts turn long and grow leaves. It is now ready for chickens to eat. The sprouted lentil is now ‘living food’.

Prepare your flock for winter– Chickens induce warmth by trapping air between their skin and feathers; they do so by fluffing their feathers. Chicken feathers are about 90% protein(mostly keratin) 8% of water and the rest water insoluble fats. It is important to add protein to chicken’s diet during molting season. This helps chicken to grow new feathers and get set to face the winter cold.

Merits of feeding lentils to chickens

  • Chickens lack folate, this can make chickens lose their embryos in final stages of incubation, lentil sprouts are high in folate.
  • About 7 grams of protein is found in one cup of sprouts which helps in chicken’s muscle growth.
  • Chickens can eat more of sprouted lentils because the fat content is minimal.

The nutrition data is given in this source

Demerit of feeding lentils to chickens:

Despite all good lentils do, they have a deceptively malicious side too. Remember, raw lentils are not good for chickens according to Wikipedia; as they contain toxins when raw. “Lentils should not be eaten raw, due to the presence of anti-nutrients such as phytic acid and tannins; some types of lentils require soaking overnight before cooking as well.” Lentil for chick

Lentils need to be cooked to neutralize the toxins. Sprouting works well in diffusing the nutrient blockade. When you soak lentils, they release inhibiting enzymes and phytates, so that the nutrient content becomes easy to digest.

Soak lentils in clean water overnight, and then add them into a bucket with an optional bit of dry bran. Mix well and cover with water. The feed will soak up the water and keep level of water high so that it doesn’t turn moldy. Stir feed and water mixture- to fasten the process, add juice from homemade lacto-ferments, like sauerkraut or a bit of water kefir.

Once the concoction bubbles and a sour smell emanates, it means lacto-fermentation is happening, the process takes a few days. Feed the birds only the appropriate amount. Leave the rest in the bucket and add new dry mix to it filling the fermentation bucket again with water. The cultured feed will aid the fermentation for the new mix-The Source

The proteins in sprouts are easy to digest as the sprouting process reduces the amount of anti-nutrients- compounds that decrease chicken’s body’s ability to absorb nutrients from the plant-by up to 87% Sprout stage is the healthiest state to consume the lentil. The ideal sprout length is anywhere from 1/8-inch to 2 inches long. Once a sprout grows beyond 2 inches, it is considered a seedling, micro greens, or ‘fodder’, and is slightly less nutritious.

Don’t over feed your chicken – Feed lentils to chickens only in moderation and for fulfilling specific needs; during molting or in hard winter. Since lentils are very rich in fiber, chickens should not be overfed.

Treats: The average hen will eat around ½ cup of feed per day. Chickens should not be given more than 10% of their daily nutritional requirements in treats. You may treat them with cock mix that contains raw lentils and watch them murmuring to each other when they are hunting for the seeds as it is a wondrous sight to behold!

Exercise for overfed hens lists out games such as cabbage tetherball to exercise your flock. A handful of corn or scratch can be thrown and the hens could be encouraged to hunt and peck for their treats. Your chickens will do jumping jacks to reach a suet cage filled with greens which maybe hung at just above head height. Watch a game of hen football by putting in the coop a rolling treat dispenser. Adding a little diatomaceous earth (DE) aids digestion in chickens, it acts as a natural de-wormer.

Chickens need calcium-An adult laying hen needs 4-5 grams of calcium per day, calcium helps them form a stronger outer eggshell and adding little grit in their diet will aid their digestion. You could purchase supplement kit with oyster shells, DE and grit and add little amount to their feed daily.

Avoid giving citrus fruits, potato skins, onions rhubarb, avocado, uncooked beans, these are not only healthy but poisonous too. Augment chicken diet with table scraps. Chicken palate likes what we eat. Remember however not to serve high-sugar treats, high-fat foods or salty snacks and never serve spoiled food.

Food consumption- In scorching summer, chickens have low feed intake because of hot and humid condition they move less and don’t forage widely. In spring and early summer chickens will consume greater natural ‘feed’. When winter sets in chickens appetite increases and they require more energy to keep warm. Many hens eat at least twice as much layer feed in winter as they do in summer.

Nutrition at every stage is specific for chickens. Chicks that are newly hatched need a ration of around 18 to 20 percent protein for growing strong bones. Offer flock grower feed that contains 16-18% protein to growing chicks up to about 15 weeks. By 18 weeks of age, chickens will start to lay, depending on their breed, so their protein requirements fall and calcium requirements (to build strong egg shells) go up.

Water is needed by all chickens. In fact, water is number one nutrient and chicken’s requirement for water varies with seasons. Water must not be kept in direct sunlight and adding a bit of apple cider vinegar prevents algae growth during summers. Weekly cleaning and sanitation of watering bowls is vital.

Compost chicken waste chickens eat a lot and poop a lot. A laying hen can produce 70 pounds of manure a year. Pile the waste in a bin, turn and aerate the pile regularly, this process generates oxygen and helps break down bacteria. Check with local ordinances if they prohibit compost bins or not. Cluck-cluck-good-luck!

Read More about types of chickens

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