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19 October 2017 | Online since 2003


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23 January 2017 08:39:50 |Animal Health,Feed and Forage,News,Poultry,Produce

'Benefits could be huge': Sprouted seeds can make hens lay more eggs, farmers' group suggests


A recent field lab suggests that including sprouted seeds in hens ration meant they could produce the same number of eggs with less dry matter

A recent field lab suggests that including sprouted seeds in hens ration meant they could produce the same number of eggs with less dry matter

A farmers' field lab has suggested that including sprouted seeds in hens ration meant they could produce the same number of eggs with less dry matter.
The field lab, carried out at Duchy College in Cornwall by group 'Innovative Farmers', fed hens their usual ration for six weeks and then a mixture of 50% sprouted barley and 50% layers pellets for a second six week period.
The birds were fed the same weight of food over the whole trial, but the water content of the sprouts meant there was a big difference in dry matter intake.
When on the diet of sprouted seeds, the hens were receiving 25% less dry matter, without affecting their weight or production.
In fact, egg production was actually higher when the hens were fed on sprouted seeds, although this is more likely due to the birds’ age than their diet.
Innovative Farmers say more trials are needed, but stresses the hens were using the food more efficiently, to perform at the same level but with less input. This is the first formal research into this idea.
'Nutrients more easily absorbed'
Emily Harris of the Duchy College said: “There are claims that sprouting grain can increase its digestibility, making nutrients more easily absorbed, improving a chicken’s health and improving the eggs laid.
“Sprouting grain is also inexpensive and can be sprouted all year round. So, the purpose of this research was to find out the effects of sprouting techniques on egg production by comparing whether the number of eggs laid, the weight of the eggs, net feed consumed and the weight of the chickens increase or decrease due to being fed on sprouted barley grain.”
The field lab included 48 Lohmann pullets at point of lay. The hens were divided into six groups of eight hens, all weighed and measured beforehand. Each group was kept in identical conditions outside.
'Considerable anecdotal evidence'
Liz Bowles, head of farming at the Soil Association, coordinated the Innovative Farmers field lab.
She said: “There is considerable anecdotal evidence that sprouted grains can be part of a diet for poultry, which would allow for an overall reduction in the concentrate requirement for a given level of egg production.
“No research has been done in the UK to confirm this view, so it was a huge benefit that Emily was able to carry out real cutting edge investigation through the Innovative Farmers network. We will be continuing the research into this concept with other livestock and more farmers who are part of the network.”
Innovative Farmers now hopes to continue the trials and establish whether the results can be repeated at scale.
If so, and with cost-efficient growing systems, the benefits could be huge.
Feeding sprouts could reduce the total land required for livestock feed, whilst producing high quality feed on-farm could protect farm resilience and improve finances.





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