mung & adzuki

digit(ID/WA)November 29, 2007

Let me say right off that I enjoy eating mung bean sprouts frequently and have a special fondness for adzuki bean cakes from the Asian markets/restaurants. Now, I'm thinking of growing them next year and not using them as my own food.

I've often raised small flocks of chickens and fed them out of my garden. Recently, I've been looking at some of the crops that I could have especially for laying hens and I'm a little dismayed at the low protein levels of most garden produce.

Laying hens require a diet much like our own and need about 14% protein in their ration. They can eat the very same food that we eat. What they can't do, and stay healthy and productive, is eat a high carbohydrate diet.

Most garden produce that I could give the hens would rate very high in carbohydrates and very low in protein - 1% to 3%, something like that. I'll still be giving them laying mash free-choice but not much of their daily ration can come from the garden without compromising their egg production. I'd just have lazy, non-laying, fat hens hanging around the backyard.

Adzuki beans seem especially appropriate as a potential poultry food mostly because of their good yield. Mung beans may even be more suitable because of their small size and digestibility. Both, are well over 20% protein.

I don't believe I live where I could grow soy beans. I've known other local gardeners who have tried unsuccessfully. The season is short and altho' daytime temperatures can be high, low humidity means night temperatures drop. Soy beans are not grown commercially anywhere nearby. Cereal grain crops are but I'm really trying to have good yield of a very high-protein feed. The potential of 2 tons of adzuki beans per acre, for example, sounds really good even if I'm only growing them within a thousand square feet.

What do you think of mung and adzuki beans as appropriate crops for the garden and feed for laying hens? I have never grown either and would appreciate your help on this (the hens would too).


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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Steve, I've grown several varieties of both, and I'll give you my observations.

There are two species of mung beans (a.k.a. "grams") - Vigna mungo (black gram) and Vigna radiata (green gram). Both have a tendency to be prostrate, spreading plants, although I have grown one this year that was mostly an erect bush. There are quite a few of both listed as "erect" (bush) in the USDA database, more than I'll ever be able to try; but they may not be suitable for short seasons (though I will try a few each year).

The Black Gram has a very heavy yield, but the small 2" pods are hidden beneath the foliage, and are very time-consuming to harvest. The ones I grew had very dense foliage, and sprawled considerably, growing a ground-hugging 2-3 feet wide. If you wanted to allow your chickens to free-range, this might be a good choice... provided that they recognize the short black pods (or the immature green ones?) as food. The dry pods had some shattering, so they might find the loose seeds, and figure it out.

One of the Green Grams that I grew was from a pack of dry seed purchased from an Asian store. These plants also sprawled, even more so than the black gram, with a semi-vining habit similar to cowpeas. The foliage, though larger, was more open; and the black pods were 3-4" long, so they were easier to find. The yield was comparable.

I grew a "green gram" from the Philippines this year, called "Yellow Mungo". It was indeed more yellow then green, some a deep gold color. It was also much more compact than the other, almost a true bush habit; and much to my surprise, was much earlier than the other, with the first dry seed at 60 days - my earliest seed crop. Even here, the plants rebounded after the first harvest, and produced an even larger second picking... no small feat in Wisconsin. Oh, and the pods were nearly all borne above the foliage... this one's a "keeper".

If you were growing green gram to be cooked into soup, let me tell you... there is _no_ comparison between home grown & store bought. The fresh beans cook up much more tender & flavorful.

Of the several adzuki I have grown, all but one were true upright bushes, nearly identical in habit to stout bush beans. Only the bright yellow flowers give them away. The maturity varies widely; from the earliest (90 days) to one which failed to mature here even when started as transplants. Some grown outside the country may be daylength-sensitive, so you might be taking chances with seed from foreign sources.

But for those that mature, the yield is quite good. Two varieties yielded over 1 ounce per plant, at 6" spacing. The 3-4" tan pods are borne in large clusters, and are fairly easy to harvest & shell.

There is a lesser-known relative of these beans that you might also consider, the Moth Bean (a.k.a. Mat Bean), Vigna aconitifolia. As far as I know, there is only one variety, at least in this country. It is a very low, spreading plant, almost clover-like, with 1" pods and seeds even smaller than the grams. You would have to be a lunatic to try hand-harvesting this one; the tiny seeds take forever to gather (that lunatic would be me ;-). But it is supposedly very drought-resistant (it does well in California) and could be another good choice for free-range areas.

All of these may be easier for you, Steve, than they were for me. I had to pick all of the dry pods whenever rain threatened - which in my late Summer, was fairly often. If your climate allows you to control water as the seeds mature, harvest might be as simple for you as pulling up the dry plants.

BTW, there _are_ soybeans with a very early maturity... and believe it or not, they tend to be some of the highest in protein content, some well over 50% (I have one that is nearly 60). The trade-off is that they have fairly low yields... but in short-season areas where the DTM is the issue, that might be a minor shortcoming. I'm not sure if they would tolerate Western climate, but if provided adequate irrigation, they might be worth a shot.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2007 at 8:08PM
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No, I can't be joining you in lunacy, Zeedman. But, more importantly, the hens can't either.

The hen house is in the backyard. There is only a small garden there. The large veggie garden is miles away.

Believe it or not, I have actually transported chickens, well, chicks in a dog-carrier out to the vegetable gardens. It was a lot of fun having them out there with us. But, really, really nerve-wracking since they want to be UNDER you as you are working! . . . peep, peep, peep . . . Then, off they go after some bug or chasing each other thru the foliage.

That might be fun but I don't think free-ranging the hens will extend farther than the back lawn where they are quite happy (gotta go with the quiet breeds - Mediterraneans would be in the trees and over the fence).

I've spent some time looking for the varieties you've mention. "Yellow Mungo" searches turn up this "Zeedman" guy on a forum called GardenWeb . . . Also, I see that, culinarily speaking, yellow mung beans are usually hulled green mung beans. Hmmm.

I see sources for Mat Beans! Sand Hill Preservation is one (could order some Australorps to accompany the seed ;o)!

I've grown pinto and soldier beans here without any trouble. My attempt to grow lentils was silly. Not because they wouldn't mature but because the plants were so small and the yield so low.

I was looking at some of the average yield numbers for these other crops and thinking, "yeah, 1,000 square feet could make a difference for a few hens." The higher the percent protein, the fewer pounds that would be necessary to make that difference.

Interesting what you say about the soybeans . . . can you name a couple of varieties that may have a chance to mature quickly?


    Bookmark   November 29, 2007 at 11:21PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Digit, the "Yellow Mungo" was collected by the USDA from the Philippines; I obtained it from them. It really _is_ yellow on the outside, which if I know my beans, means it has a colorless seed coat which allows the yellow interior to shine through. Unusual.

It has many good qualities, but there was one I was unable to test for - taste. It was a small trial (only 8 feet of row) and having observed how successful it was, I saved all of the seed produced for planting. I plan to grow it large-scale in 2008, consume mass quantities, and share it with others in short-season areas... including some guy who lives in the Rockies, named "Fingers" or something (lol).

As far as the adzuki beans, most of those I have grown were originally carried by a collector/seed company called Horus Botanicals, which may have gone belly-up. Several seed savers still offer a few of them, which I am trying to collect, with varying degrees of success. My favorite, a variety called "Buff", is sold commercially by a seed company in Canada.

I've been planning to post a lot of soybean info on its own thread, in the very near future... but for now, I'll list info for early varieties here. There are quite a few soybeans from my trials that matured dry seed in 90 days or less here in Wisconsin, so they should grow almost anywhere:

- Bei 77-6177 (from China), 90 DTM, yellow seed, tasty as edamame, high yield for such an early variety, but only the soybean norm of 40% protein
- Cha Kura Kake (from Japan), 85 DTM, large yellow seed with a brown "saddle" across the eye, edamame type, 45% protein
- Ezonishiki (Japan), 90 DTM, another yellow & brown edamame type, smaller seeds, 43% protein
- GL 2216/84 (from North Korea), 90 DTM, light green seed, dwarf plants, very high protein (over 57%)
- Hidatsa (originally from Japan), 80 days, medium-sized light green seed, extremely vigorous seedling, protein over 50%, but fairly small yield
- Kosodiguri Extra Early (Japan), 90 DTM, dwarf plants, medium-small light green seed, 51% protein, tasty as edamame but small
- Manitoba Brown (Canada), one of the earliest at 80 DTM, medium-sized brown seed, high yield, tasty as edamame, also makes a good baking bean
- Rouest 13 A1 2 (France), 85 DTM, medium-large dull black seed, taller & higher-yielding than most early types, 45% protein
- Pando (Korea), 80 DTM, medium-small light green seed, 52% protein
- Sakamotowase (Japan), seed light green w/ glossy black saddle over eye, fairly high yield, 48% protein
- Zolta z Zolna (Poland), 90 DTM, yellow seed, 45% protein

Honorable mention:
- St. Ita (from a seed swap, unknown origin), 95 DTM, medium-small dark green seed, seed color is green throughout rather than the usual yellow, unusual, very tasty edamame

As you can see from even this limited list, the diversity available in soybeans is really astonishing.

The protein percentages quoted are from the USDA's database of 30,000+ soybean varieties... a truly enormous collection of data. I know that some of the varieties above are available commercially, including Cha Kura Kake, Hidatsa, Pando, St. Ita, and perhaps a few others. Synergy Seeds, Seed Dreams, and Peace seeds, in particular, are run by other soybean collectors that I know. For some of the varieties listed, only a few collectors and the USDA offer them. If you think you might be interested in a trial, contact me off-site, I'll get a package together.

Wow, it's late... venting my frustration over the Packer game, I guess. 'Night all.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2007 at 2:00AM
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Thanks Zeedman!

I'd be honored to try those Mungo beans and will send you a note. I have a little of that Russian radish seed for trade.

I've googled the commercial varieties and sites. Not too much jumped out at me. Synergy Seeds does not list a mung, soybean or adzuki in 2007. Seed Dreams has changed affiliation and it looks like I'd need to contact them over the phone. Searching for Peace Seeds didn't turn up a viable webpage . . .

Some of my initial ideas came from the Vermont Bean Seed catalog which offers an unnamed adzuki. VBS has large enuf packets to plant a few hundred feet of row. Does this unnamed variety make any sense to you?


    Bookmark   November 30, 2007 at 5:59PM
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fliptx(Houston 9)

This is off the topic of beans, but do you grow amaranth for your chickens? A friend of mine always has a few plants in summer for hers.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2007 at 7:26PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Digit, commercial sources for non-GMO soybeans are rather scarce. While quite a few catalogs list one or two edamame varieties, only a few offer a larger selection, and fewer still offer non-edamame cultivars. Most of these are run by a single person, often collectors & seed savers who have turned their hobby into a business. I have no such plans... that would turn it into "work". ;-)

George Stevens (who runs Synergy) also runs a seed exchange. Among many other crops (including mung and adzuki), his soybeans are still listed there - complete with some excellent seed photos, which were in no small part responsible for my own early interest in soybeans. I have attached a link below, I think you may find it interesting. This may be a remnant of his previous website, so you would want to email him about the availability of any variety which interests you.

I plan on utilizing his ingenious method to post photos of my own seeds - he laid small ziplocks full of seed (in single layers) on a color scanner!

Oh, and he carries another legume that I forgot to mention to you, one that thrives in the West; tepary beans.

Peace Seeds has a rather unusual status... they don't blow their own horn a lot, and don't have a website, but they are still around. You can request a printed seed list with descriptions (no photos) from the following address:

Peace Seeds
2385 SE Thompson St.
Corvallis, OR 97333

Synergy & Peace Seeds each offer about 30 soybean varieties.

Seed Dreams also had a printed seed list, only available by mail (I think there was a fee). It has been a few years since I ordered from them, so I am unsure of their present status. It was a cross-state partnership; much of their seed was grown by a farmer in California.

Just as an FYI, Salt Spring Seeds (in Canada) has an excellent guide to growing & cooking soybeans on their website. They also offer several soybeans, but will no longer ship to the U.S. Lots of good info there on organic gardening & seed saving; the owner is one of the founders of Seeds of Diversity (their equivalent of Seed Savers Exchange).

I looked at the adzuki in the VBS catalog; it appears to be very similar (at least in terms of color & maturity) to the "Tarkara Early" that I grow, although it is taller (mine grew to about 18"). It should succeed in your climate. If you were looking at the VBS print catalog, the adzuki in the photo appears to be purple... it should be red. When I send you seed, I'll enclose a sample of the "Buff", which matures a little later (100-105 days) but has a thinner skin & better flavor.

Here is a link that might be useful: Synergy legume list (including adzuki, mung, and soy)

    Bookmark   December 1, 2007 at 12:39AM
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I was a little afraid to post my original question. When a person talks about utilizing something valued by others for a different purpose than customary, there's sometimes offense taken. "You did what with that!!"

That's why I started off by saying that I personally enjoy eating some of these crops that I'm interested in feeding to laying hens. Please understand that when I first began to take this "garden-fed" direction, I was very nearly preparing extra plates of table food for the birds.

Fairly quickly, I realized that this wasn't at all necessary. The hens were delighted with things like cooked dandelions (roots and all). Yes, they would eat SOME of the dandelions without cooking but I wanted them to eat every bit and, boy, do they like weeds cooked in the microwave!

With free-choice laying mash, I don't think they ever missed a nutrient on a diet rich in cooked peelings and such. I've got lots of this sort of "stuff" - it's the high quality protein that hasn't been coming out of the garden.

I grow some cereal grains each year for use in wreathes. Millet, wheat and I've grown broomcorn and other grasses. They aren't for the hens because I couldn't really push the trimmings and weeds without giving them something with higher protein than a 12% wheat, for instance. But, Flip, I see that amaranth has protein ratings higher than that! And hey, I've even grown amaranth (Prince's Feather) as an ornamental.

Obviously, variety is the spice of life and a key to good health. With a few "staples" and lots of interesting "yummies" - a backyard flock can be healthy and productive. This looks like a real sensible way for me to make good use of large gardens and some measure of gardening skill.

Thank you for your help with these ideas.

Steve, digits and all

    Bookmark   December 1, 2007 at 2:22AM
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. . . ooooo, those are pretty soybeans grown there in the cool of NorCal . . .

    Bookmark   December 1, 2007 at 2:48AM
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fliptx(Houston 9)

I was a little afraid to post my original question. When a person talks about utilizing something valued by others for a different purpose than customary, there's sometimes offense taken. "You did what with that!!"

You'll get no shocked response from me. Last year, I planted a cherry tomato plant specifically for my tomato-loving dog, and I regularly steam up a few home-grown snap beans for my other dog.

Here's some data on the nutrition of amaranth leaves, too:

It's something I plan to grow next year mostly for the leaves. If I get any seeds out of the effort, too, that'd be fine. But my garden's so little I doubt I'd manage more than a handful (good to add to my homemade bread).

    Bookmark   December 1, 2007 at 1:38PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

OK, I guess I got carried away... legumaniac that I am. (lol). Soybeans have become a sort of personal crusade of mine, I think they should be grown in more gardens, not just on farms. Especially if you have reservations about GM soy, as I do.

Maybe the solution for the chickens is simpler than we think, and it might not necessarily involve beans (at least in part). Following FlipTx's link, I looked up the nutritional value of lambs quarter, since I remembered it as being high. You might find it surprising - the protein content in particular. I've always allowed a few plants to grow in my garden - sort of a spontaneous vegetable. If you keep cutting it back, you can prolong the harvest for quite some time. Maybe all you really need, Digit, is the "right" weeds.

Of course, a few beans (or soybeans) couldn't hurt either. Let me know if you still want to try any of them. You'll still need a protein source to get the hens through the winter... and if it's something you enjoy as well, so much the better.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lambs quarter

    Bookmark   December 1, 2007 at 4:31PM
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(I thought I was the only person to know about that handy website! ;o)

PhD dissertations have been written about poultry nutrition. I'm nowhere close to understanding much about the subject. There are all sorts of protein balances and essential vitamins to be considered. My only idea for a solution there is variety, variety, variety.

But, if I've done the math correctly: Each day, a hen eats about 120 grams of food and she needs 18 grams protein and 320 calories.

If she ate only wheat (a traditional diet in the US), she would require 165 grams of food to gain sufficient protein but she would be consuming 570 calories. She may not be able to eat enough wheat and if she could, she would grow fat.

wheat, per 100 grams:
11 grams protein
340 calories

If a hen ate only potatoes (something I could grow quite easily for her), she would require 900 grams of food to gain sufficient protein but she would be consuming 693 calories. I doubt if she can consume the 900 grams of food.

potato, per 100 grams:
2 grams
77 calories

If she ate only amaranth (or pig weed) leaves, she would also require 900 grams of food to gain sufficient protein but she would be consuming only 189 calories. The hen would stuff herself with food but starve to death.

amaranth leaves, per 100 grams:
2 grams protein
21 calories

If a hen ate only amaranth grain, she would require 130 grams of food to gain sufficient protein but she would be consuming 486 calories - not so bad, especially if the protein level was actually 16+%.

amaranth grain, per 100 grams:
14 grams protein
374 calories

Really, we are in the same boat with the hen - - we would grow fat but protein-deficient on a diet of potatoes. Maybe we wouldn't live long enuf to grow fat . . . A grain diet would probably sustain us for quite some time. Of course, it would be deficient in vitamins. If we consumed the necessary fruits and vegetables to gain the vitamins, this diet may be protein-deficient.

So, we need either animal protein or a higher value vegetable protein addition LEGUMES! (But then, we knew this. ;o)


    Bookmark   December 1, 2007 at 9:01PM
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Steve, I don't know if the toxins in uncooked dry beans are of any concern, but I thought I'd mention the subject in case you wanted to address it. I noticed that our chickens did not eat the dried beans that had spilled in the garden one time. They were curious but did not eat any.

For protein in winter, a worm box could yield extra worms for the chickens (and castings for your garden).

In my market, I sometimes meet people who buy liver and other meats for their pet cats/dogs.

I noticed that the more greens our chickens ate (they ranged free), the stronger the orange color of the yolks.

Also noticed that our chickens never ate the whole soy beans in their feed. For some reason, there were always whole soy beans in the otherwise milled (organic) feed. The corn was the first they picked out of the feed.

If you are going to grow your own feed and wish to mill it yourself, there are often small grain mills (for home use) for sale on ebay. One manufacturer also sells new ones. I'm saying this, because nutritional value of milled grains (and legumes?) apparently deteriorate quickly, so freshly ground feed would be neat.

I linked to one of the chicken boards in case you'd be interested in posting there. There are other (better?) boards, but I don't have their urls.

When we had chickens, I sprouted wheat berries for them during the winter months. The chickens loved this treat.

Sorry if my post does not directly address your topic of growing mung and adzuki, but it is impossible to sit still when the topic of chickens comes up.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2007 at 11:43PM
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Marquette, I was hoping that uncooked and unmilled would work . . .

Yes, I could feed the worms and then feed the laying hens and they in turn . . . Gotta say, my overwintered compost piles are absolutely teeming with red worms by May! But, if I could AVOID digging them out - I'd be happy to.

Meat scraps used to be an important part of the diets of chickens in this country. What they then called "scalded" feed was, as well. I've thought about sprouts but also hate to go to that bother.

Interesting what you say about whole soybeans. You're starting to discourage me here . . . I know of a backyard chicken person who purchases and mills her feed. She had 2 complaints - she is spending as much on grain as she would for commercial feed and her right arm is beginning to look like a weight-lifter's!

I once worked for a farmer who fed straw and grain to his cattle. The straw was limited and just for roughage. The grain was milled using a hammermill at the farm. Thirty years later, this guy is still growing oats and barley and still in the cattle business.

I broached this "garden-fed laying hens" idea over on the homestead forum some time ago and had some interesting and informative responses.


    Bookmark   December 3, 2007 at 5:46PM
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Steve, I did not mean to discourage you about growing your own chicken feed. Your ideas about protein and carbohydrates are new (to me) and fascinating. And growing your own feed is an admirable achievement.

I tried to find information on how soybeans are (heat?) treated to make them feed-grade. But no luck. Lionsgrip's feed formulas specify "roasted soybeans," but that's all I could find.

Our chickens didn't eat the whole soybeans (for whatever reasons). But had these whole soybeans been ground (like the rest of the feed), the soy would have been eaten. I did not mean to imply that the chickens avoided the soybeans due to toxins. The soybeans in the feed had been treated and made edible (detoxified).

**her right arm is beginning to look like a weight-lifter's!**

No need to crank by hand..... A number of used/vintage grain mills with 3/4 horsepower motors, seemingly in good condition, are available almost continually on ebay.

For brand new 3/4 HP grain mills by Kuest Enterprises:

For larger grain-and-feed mills:

**I once worked for a farmer who fed straw and grain to his cattle**
Straw is usually used for bedding, hay, like alfalfa, for feed.
There are numerous other chicken boards, but I don't have their urls.

I do hope you pursue growing your own feed and give us updates now and then. Re. high protein content, there's also Alfalfa.

Good luck with your research and growing of feed.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2007 at 11:33PM
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Thank you Marquette, I'll enjoy looking at those sites!

Toxins in legumes? Can anyone help me with information on that?

The farm I worked on many years ago was one of the biggest bluegrass operations around. They harvested the grass seed and fed the bluegrass straw, which has very little food value but maybe more than grain straw. The barley & oats we grew in rotation was milled on the farm. Other than good pasture, that was all the 35 cows had to eat.

Pasturing poultry works too but there are differing ideas about how well - some experts say up to 30%, others say up to 10% of their feed.

Milled alfalfa hay is a common component and I've read that it may actually comprise 25% of poultry feed. I've learned that 100 years ago, it was cooked and that may still be what is done.

I could certainly get alfalfa easily since there are fields of it around my vegetable garden. In fact, I need to mow the corner where the swather can't get close enuf without running into my garden. So, at 3 cuttings each year, 100 square feet . . .

Obviously, I have more fun than anything else but as you probably well know - a few good hens can produce more eggs than even an extended family can eat.

That's a new chicken site to me. I looked at a couple forums a few months ago and was a little afraid to ask any questions about a laying flock. Looked to me like some folks just keep chickens as pets - which is fine. Others, I swear, keep chickens by accident. The birds just cannot scrounge around and come up with enuf nutrition to amount to anything. Kind of the polar opposites of backyard chicken people. Practically, it can't just be whatever they love or whatever they scavenge. They are too much bother for that.


    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 2:25PM
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Marquette, searching that forum turned up the links of one of participants. Super good information, apparently nearly all from creditable sources. The Canadian universities seem to be especially oriented towards the small flock person.

I think that anyone could spend quite a bit of time here and find answers to their questions on poultry nutrition and alternative feeds. Included is info on "antinutrients." These are ingredients that inhibit digestion and need to be detoxified. "The antinutrition factors in some feed material such as beans can be destroyed by heat (cooking)." All this should be of important help to me in considering legumes.


    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 5:40PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

I find this thread interesting, even though I don't keep chickens. It almost makes me want to keep some.

Steve, investigate sesame. I would think chickens would enjoy picking sesame seeds off the stalks that you could bring from your other garden. If I am correct (and I'm far from certain about that) sesame seeds have about 25 grams of protein and about 500 calories per 100 grams. If I figured wrong, I would like for you to straighten me out.


    Bookmark   December 18, 2007 at 11:15AM
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Oh my, another non-legume mentioned!!

Jim, I think you'd enjoy keeping chickens. They certainly go with gardens - you just need to keep them OUT! And, with a little tiny flock of hens, that isn't really difficult.

Using The Zeedman's nutrition data link, I find that dry, uncooked sesame seeds are about 18% protein. Better than wheat!! Between 500 & 600 calories . . . Might well be a healthy diet with the addition of some greens.

I came across a new book called "Keeping Chickens" by a couple of Brits. It says, "If you have space in your garden, you may consider growing crops especially for feeding to your poultry. Useful feeds to grow include alfalfa, vetches, lettuce, cabbage, kale, millet, and clover. The birds will obviously also appreciate kitchen vegetables that have gone to seed . . . . Weeds . . . chopped dandelion leaves, plantains, shepherd's purse, watercress, and appropriately enough, chickweed."

One thing about being a gardener, I don't have any problem identifying any of these weeds nor the ones mentioned above.

Here's a little something on "Chicken Treats" that I found lately put together by some knowledgeable chicken folks. Not quite a diet of garden vegetables but shouldn't take too much imagination to move on from here.

The little critters take about 1/4lb./day of good food. If you could think of a McDonald's quarter pounder as good food - a hen will trade a fresh egg for it. I can almost see me at the backdoor of the local MickyD's with a couple of chickens under each arm . . .


    Bookmark   December 20, 2007 at 2:27AM
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jimster(z7a MA)


Here's another non-legume to check out. The seeds look to have good nutritional properties. They are sold as food, which might be more economical than buying them as garden seed.


    Bookmark   January 4, 2008 at 2:52PM
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You ought to take a look at Macmex's thread over in the Garden forum. Lots of excellent information on growing a crop of non-sweet corn. I thought the information could be useful in case you wanted to grow a crop of corn for feed.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 1:31PM
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Jim, first of all I never thought about chia for livestock. I vaguely remember reading it was edible. It's a salvia?!!

Marquette, I'll go right back there. I'd avoided that thread thinking it was about grits and cornmeal - - uh, there must have been a reason why I avoided it . . .


    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 2:31PM
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I had my nose in Sand Hill's seed catalog and saw that they offer seed mixes for growing your own chicken greens. Scroll down the page.

Sand Hill's suggestion is excellent: Rotate your chickens to lessen the damage to your yard and to give the ground a chance to recover.

One way is to divide the chicken territory into sections (i.e., fan-shaped), so that whenever the greens are eaten to the ground in one section, the chickens are moved to another.

When getting chickens, it is important to limit one's desire for many chickens, because if there are too many on the land available, the chicken area will end up being a mud puddle.

If you plan on pasturing your chickens (hopefully not in those chicken-tractors, which is just a cage with another name) but on land with a bit of room to roam, you'll need sufficient area (for rotation) less they destroy your yard.

And, I'm sad to say, if you don't have lots of acreage, my advice is stay away from roosters. Yes they are beautiful and sound great. But they create many problems, i.e., tearing up the backs of the hens, creating frictions w/neighbors; some (but not all) are mean and attack whoever comes onto 'his' territory, including you, children, whoever. ......However, they do make the tastiest meat (when young).

    Bookmark   January 15, 2008 at 12:14PM
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All good advice, Marquette!

I was just looking at Sand Hill's mixes today! They have brassicas and millet. It fits well with what I've been growing in the garden but I'm hoping for more protein punch so may be growing a variety of seeds for the birds.

I've made the mistake of once having 35 chickens in my backyard. One can do this if they are young and go while still young. Or at least, the majority of them go.

Most of the time my "flock" has only amounted to 4 birds and once it was only 3! I can't start off with so few but I can end there, soon enuf.

All hens . . . I've never had a rooster in town - perish the thought! (BTW - A pair of gloves is good defense against a rooster, "You, sir, are a coward and a fraud!" ;o)

Steve's digits

    Bookmark   January 16, 2008 at 12:12AM
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here is some info on chia seeds. Not sure if this the place to buy them or where. Interesting for poultry.


    Bookmark   February 29, 2008 at 12:33PM
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I'm interested in maybe growing chia as a vegetable. Will it set seed up north? If it naturalizes as a weed, so much the better, especially if it chokes out the inedible weeds.

But regarding chicken feed, have you considered insects as a source of protein. You could put something in the chicken coop to attract flies or ants and let the chickens do the rest. For instance, around here a pile of fermenting grass clippings attracts many small flies with a white dot on the underbelly. You could dig up ant colonies and put a few shovelfuls in the pen and let the chickens catch the ants as they try to escape with their larvae.

If there is a brewery nearby, you may be able to get mash waste products for free. Chickens might also eat spoiled meat, fish or milk, though it might flavor the eggs and induce cannibalism, not to mention encourage stray meat eaters of all kinds to get into the pen.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2009 at 7:38PM
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I am curious how the "Yellow Mungo" tastes. I have ordered a Mothe, Mung and Urd from Seeds of Change this year. They only offer one variety of each and don't really give a lot of information on them. Other than a place in Canada who wouldn't ship to me, these are all I have found. I gave up on garbanzo beans.

I would like to grow an adzuki, but haven't had any success in finding one. I thought I might try planting a few of what I get at Willie St Co-op in Madison.

I am also thinking of growing a soybean this year. Any suggestions as to which one I should try?

    Bookmark   January 20, 2009 at 8:23PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

The "Yellow Mungo" is larger seeded than most of the green varieties, but more tender when cooked. But for that matter, any home-grown mung beans are more tender than store-bought, like most dry beans.

As for the Moth & Urd beans... I'm not sure they're good for much here other than curiosity.

The Moth is a small, ground-hugging plant with incredibly small seeds, about 1/2 the size of mung beans. It will test your patience to shell them, and you would need a huge area to get just a bowl full.

The Urd is a black-skinned relative of the green mung. The seeds are similar in size. The ones I grew had a pretty good yield, but it was hidden under the thick foliage on sprawling plants. Harvest was very time consuming. I was not too pleased with the mixed mung & urd soup I tried; it was rather indigestible. Most likely it is a question of preparation. I've seen them sold in ethnic stores in Chicago, so you might be able to find them in Madison... if so, you might want to try cooking some before you consider growing them.

There are not many named varieties of adzuki available here in the U.S. Most store-bought adzuki requires a longer season than we have here, so I would not recommend them. There are several short-season varieties carried by SSE members, I have two of them:

"Tarkara Early" is red seeded. It is the earliest, with first dry seed at 80 days, and harvest complete at 100 days. You could probably direct seed this one, if you can get it in early.

"Buff" is rather unusual, the name refers to its tan color. The seeds are a little larger than TE, but it ripens a little later, beginning at 100 days. This is my absolute favorite for flavor, with a much more tender skin than most adzuki. They might succeed if seeded directly, but I prefer to start them as transplants, in small-celled Jiffy strips.

Both varieties are true bush habit. Given full sun & adequate spacing, both will yield about one ounce per plant of dry seed... IMO, they are a much better utilization of space than the beans listed earlier.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 4:17AM
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An ounce per plant? That doesn't sound like much. Is it? What I am looking for is a bean that I can use for Indian dishes in place of Moong Dal. Something that cooks up into a thick, creamy soup. I am a vegetarian and would like to grow a good portion of my own legumes. I expanded my garden by about 10 fold last year, so I have so much more room than I ever have. Many new things I can try. yeah!

I have contemplated joining SSE. Maybe I should do so.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 11:24AM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

You are right, Birdie, an ounce per plant is not that high... but it is better than some of the other Vignas, and with the smaller footprint of the plants, it offers better utilization of space. They are also much easier to harvest & shell. Cowpeas are even more productive, as are pole beans; but they might not be what you have in mind.

If you would like to try either (or both) of the two adzuki I mentioned, you could send me a SASE bubble mailer, and I would be happy to send you some seed. Contact me through my member page if interested.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 2:36PM
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I do plan to have quite a few pole beans this year also. Mostly for dried beans. Maybe I should stick with the more productive beans for my area? I don't know much about cowpeas. I will have to do a little research. I can always purchase adzuki at the the co-op.

Just for comparison, how many ounces do you get from you more productive poles?

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 3:06PM
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Mung beans are easy to grow.Green and black varieties will be really good for chicken feed.In addition to this I would suggest you to add Millet seeds as feed.They are easy to digest. Another legume I would is Math or Muth bean.Both are good for the health of the flock.
I am posting the pic. of Moong bean (green) plant.Small plants adjusted to it are Math or Muth plant.I was late in planting seeds of Math plant.Both pics. are from Summer-2008 garden.

Pic. of a Mung bean plant.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2009 at 11:28PM
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I have not read all the posts, there's lots of them, possibly i'm repeating what people have already said. In my experience, chickens are not fond of beans in general I have fed them my mung sprouts that started to go off, some chickend will eat them delightedly others not interested. You'll have to find out. Use a small amount from bulk in a store to find out what they think.
Chicken mixes often have peas, these are softer and easier to digest, i believe they are split.
For protein you could try a few 'pseudo cereals' These are plants similar to grains which are not actually grasses. As they are not grasses, some have complete proteins. As vegetarians will know, neither grains or beans are a complete protein. They both contain amino acids (beans also contain a lot of starch which is a carbohydrate) and when combined can make a complete protein. (hence the grain and pea mixture)
Crops which do have complete proteins of varying quality are: amaranth, quinoa, hemp, sunflower and buckwheat.
In most countries you aren't going to be able to grow hemp in your garden though it is one of the best things for them with it's essential fatty acids.
Giving them some flax, which is also easy to grow in cold places, will boost the omega 3 content of their eggs.
Amaranth is one of the most productive things you can probably grow in a cold place, it is a weed and very tolerant. Lambsquarters is closely related and also good, not as prolific.
If you get bulk amaranth it will usually sprout. My chickens love these, though i am doubtful that quinoa is good for them in large doses. Incans rinsed it quite a lot to remove the saponin coating, although birds have digestive systems much more tolerant of these seed coatings, seeds being one of their main foods.
It is reportedly hard to grow at low altitudes, i have not tried very hard.
Sunflowers are also excellent for their oil in the diet, just give them the heads as you may do for wild birds.
The best source of protein for chickens is bugs, they eat al ot of these in the wild. Consider growing meal worms for them, my husband and i war getting into this soon. He raised them as a kid to feed the family iguana, they are quite simple, they are actually the larva of a beetle. They need some vegative matter to eat, like clean compost (vegetable trimmings and such, not cooked leftovers, the chickens will probably eat those anyway) and some sawdust. There are more details but in in general it is pretty easy. He has not tried it on a really large scale so we'll see.
Would share some links with you but he has them, i don't know where he's been researching. There is some info on the web and also books on raising them for chickens, maybe i'll track them down later.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 2:53AM
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