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Optimum health is the goal, for the chickens and those who consume their products. Optimum health is achieved through harmonious use of as many known nutrients as possible.

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The best thing you can do for your chickens, your family and yourself is to
Get an Accurate Working Knowledge of Nutrition

Adelle Davis' classic, Let's Eat Right to Keep Fit, is without doubt the very best, most interesting and most motivating place to start to learn about nutrition, the effects of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients on the body, and the amounts of each to take. (More at end of page.)

A Very Complete Chart Showing the

Nutrient Requirements of Chickens

by Jeffre D. Firman, 1993

NOTE: in Firman's listings, he uses the following names for some of the B Vitamins:

Riboflavin=Vitamin B2
Pantothenic Acid =Pantothenic Acid
Niacin =Nicotinic acid 		
Biotin =Biotin
Folacin =Folic Acid
Thiamin =Vitamin B1
Pyridoxine =Vitamin B6

Is your feed too "corny"?
Comparison of Vitamins and Minerals in Grains and Feeds

About B Vitamins

B vitamins are a large group of compounds that work together to promote growth, reproductive health, nervous system function, resistance to disease, feather and skin health, and many other functions. They are among the most important group of vitamins for poultry, due to egg production and rapid growth requirements of our birds.

Since the expert nutritional research and writing of the late Adelle Davis (Let's Eat Right to Keep Fit), many vitamin manufacturers have made B vitamin preparations that include all the known B vitamins: B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B6 (pyridoxine), B12, Niacin, Biotin, Folic acid, Pantothenic acid, choline, inositol, and PABA (para amino benzoic acid), to name the ones currently featured. But the total spectrum of the B vitamins has not yet been completely identified, and all of their functions are not known.

It is known that the the B vitamins work together, which is called working synergistically. If too much of one or a few B vitamins is given over time, it can bring about a deficiency in other B vitamins. Thus the complete spectrum of B vitamins needs to be consumed. It is the experience of this author that using natural sources of the B vitamins is the best practice, since they supply the complete spectrum of known and unknown B vitamins in balanced proportions. Grains and beans of all kinds are very high in the B's. Liver is also very high, as are brewer's yeast, nuts and seeds, wheat germ, and rice polish. (Read the labels of the brewer's yeast you buy --- many have synthetic B's added to them!)

Synthetic B vitamins can be produced relatively cheaply, give a "quick boost," and get a lot of people hooked on them. But the effect wears off quickly, and more of the preparation is required. The danger of causing a synergistic deficiency by using an excess of a few B vitamins is very real, Davis warns. We feel these kinds of preparations should be used with extreme caution and lots of expert guidance, if at all.

Corn compared to other feeds

America is corn-happy. We grow and consume so very much of it. Writers, without comparing the known ingredients in corn and other foods, throw out supposed truisms about its great health values. But in Europe and the rest of the world, corn is only fed to animals. If it were so vastly healthful, wouldn't the Europeans have incorporated it by now into their diets? American corn has been hybridized beyond recognition as a grain. It's vitamin profile is uniquely odd among the family of grains, and invariably it comes out near the bottom of the list of nutrient concentrations.

See for yourself if corn "contains the best mix of nutrients," as one writer boasted. Here's a comparison of nutrients in some standard grains and foods, listed in order of nutrient richness.

Nutrient concentrations in 100 grams (about 1/4th pound) of feed

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
Soybeans, 1.07 mg 
Sesame seed, 0.93 mg
Barley, 0.65 mg
Buckwheat, 0.58 mg
Wheat, 0.57 mg
Rye, 0.43 mg
White corn, 0.41 mg <<<
Brown rice, 0.32 mg
Alfalfa seed, 0.22 mg
Yellow corn, 0.17 mg 
Oats, 0.14 mg
Sunflower seed, 0.13 mg
Hominy grits, 0.13 mg
Millet, 0.12 mg
White flour, 0.08 mg
Flax seed, 0.08 mg

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Sunflower seed, 1.71 mg
Millet, 0.89 mg
Alfalfa seed, 0.78 mg
Soybeans, 0.31 mg
Sesame seed, 0.22 mg
Rye, 0.22 mg
Buckwheat, 0.15 mg
Oats, 0.14 mg
Flax seed, 0.13 mg
Whole wheat, 0.12 mg
Barley, 0.12 mg
White corn, 0.12 mg <<<
Brown rice, 0.05 mg
Hominy grits, 0.04 mg
White flour, 0.06 mg
Yellow corn, 0.00 mg <<<

Niacin (a B vitamin)
Millet, 7.1 mg
Sunflower seed, 6.8 mg
Flax seed, 5.5 mg
Brown rice, 4.6 mg
Sesame seed, 4.5 mg
Whole Wheat, 4.3 mg
Alfalfa seed, 3.3 mg
Barley, 3.1 mg
Buckwheat, 2.9 mg
Soybeans, 2.3 mg
Yellow corn, 2.1 mg <<<
White corn, 1.7 mg <<<
Rye, 1.6 mg
Hominy grits, 1.2 mg
Oats, 1.0 mg

Choline (a B vitamin)
Soybeans, 320 mg
Oats, 150 mg
Wheat, 90 mg
Yellow corn, 37 mg <<<
White corn, 37 mg <<<

Calcium (a macro-mineral)
Sesame seed, 1125 mg
Alfalfa seed, 320 mg
Flaxseed, 260 mg
Soybeans, 227 mg
Sunflower seed, 150 mg
Millet, 80 mg
Barley, 75 mg
Oats, 53 mg
Brown rice, 39 mg
Rye, 38 mg
Whole wheat, 36 mg
Buckwheat, 33 mg
Yellow corn, 18 mg <<<
White corn, 18 mg <<<
White flour, 16 mg
Hominy grits, 4 mg

Iron (a micro-mineral)
Millet, 27 mg
Sunflower seed, 17 mg
Alfalfa seed, 14 mg
Flaxseed, 11 mg
Sesame seed, 9.5 mg
Soybeans, 8.0 mg
Barley, 5.0 mg
Oats, 4.5 mg
Rye, 3.7 mg
Whole wheat, 3.1 mg
Buckwheat, 2.8 mg
Yellow corn, 2.7 mg <<<
White corn, 2.7 mg <<<
Brown rice, 2.0 mg
Hominy grits, 1.0 mg
White flour, 0.9 mg

Outstanding foods for specially large quantities of nutrients per 100 grams

Soybeans, 1700 mg of potassium
Brown rice, 0.36 mg of copper
Oats, high in trace minerals, including 0.5 mg copper, 145 mg magnesium, 0.17 mg fluorine, 5.0 mg zinc, 4.95 mg manganese
Corn (yellow and white), 680 mg manganese, 121 mg magnesium
Barley, 485 mg potassium, 171 mg magnesium, 143 mg sulfur
Carob powder, 950 mg potassium, 10 mg silicon
Rice polish (=rice germ; mills charge a bit for this), 659 mg magnesium, 660 mg potassium, 168 mg sulphur, 134 mg chlorine, 9.25 mg choline, 2.1 mg B1, 0.13 mg B2, 36.8 mg niacin, 3.08 mg B6, 9.25 mg Choline, 9.8 mg vitamin E
Rice bran (free at mills), 135 mg calcium, 20 mg iron, 1420 mg potassium, 2.73 mg vitamin B1, 0.27 mg B2, 33.2 mg niacin, 3.21 mg B6, 7.3 mg Choline, 10 mg vitamin E

All the above information is from the very hard-to-obtain EL MOLINO BEST RECIPES, by El Molino Mills, "Specialty Millers of Whole Grain Flours & Cereals", Alhambra, California (published in the golden years of the health food industry, Copyright 1953). Now at El Molino Mills, 345 N. Baldwin Park Blvd., City of Industry, CA 91746, (206) 962-7167 (no website or email contact found).

PROTEIN CONTENT of feed items, our ChickenFeed Protein page at shows that corn falls at the bottom of the list, having 9% protein by weight. Here's the list of

Alfalfa seed , 35 %
Beef, lean, 28 %
Earthworms, 28 %
Fish, 28 %
Sunflower seeds, 26.3 %
Wheat germ, 25 %
Peas & Beans, dried, 24.5 %
Sesame seed, 19.3 %
Soybeans (boiled), 17 %
Wheat bran , 16.6 %
Oats, whole, 14 %
Rice polish, 12.8 %
Rye, 12.5 %
Wheat, 12.5 %
Barley, 12.3 %
Oats, 12 %
Corn, 9 % <<<<<<<<<<<<<
Millet, 9 %
Milo, 9 %
Brown rice, 7.5 %


So, as you can see from the lists above, corn is among the lowest in protein, vitamin and mineral quantities, scoring high only in manganese and moderately high in magnesium. Yet it forms the huge bulk of most poultry feeds: most commercial feeds in the US are 90% corn (maize), according to our own experts here at ChickenFeed. For those who own chickens, we see them pick and eat everything except the corn.

Reading these quantities, it should be obvious that the best thing to do is present a wide variety of grains and protein foods to your chickens, and let them choose at will. Their appetites will tell them what they need. Certainly, the commercial push of corn should be gradually shifted over the next few years, and as healthy a blend of many grains as feasible should be fed to our nation's chickens.

A fast-spreading new business based on grass feeding (called "pastured poultry" --- see the Pastured Poultry Page) is proving to be extremely health-inducing for the consumer of these products. Grass-fed chickens live in a huge, open-bottomed cage (aka "chicken tractor") with nesting places and water inside. The cage sits on the grassland, and is pulled by vehicle to a new spot each day, sometimes more often, insuring that the chickens always have access to the freshest living plants, insects, soil organisms, and soil particles of all sizes and varieties.

There are many studies, and much experience, that show the great benefits of eating fresh foods of all kinds. Something goes out of food within a very few hours of being harvested. When chickens are kept right on top of living pastureland, the benefits to health are inestimable. Other studies show that to consume a wide variety of nutrients, including good quality protein, lots of living enzymes, and the full range of vitamins and minerals, imparts top health.

The choice in one's philosophy of nutrition is between promoting optimum health on one hand, and bare subsistence on the other. Supplying all the known nutrients, in their natural form, and putting the chickens in a complete, living environment so that they can get the myriad other nutrients not yet discovered by science, will ensure optimum health in the birds and the consumer.

Feeding the largest bulk of food to the largest population of people is one of the greatest on-going achievements of modern science. Sadly, that practice by itself insures minimum health. For whatever reason, the push for "quantity over quality" tends to become an ethic in and of itself. We at ChickenFeed feel that our advancements in producing large quantities of food do not have to be sacrificed in order for us to move ahead into promoting optimum health. Exactly the opposite. Scientific research of all kinds can be applied to new business solutions, when people everywhere share ideas through involved practice.

To give our world populations the best possible health, we must follow our research, and feed our animals with live grains and other fresh food, large quantities of fresh green vegetable matter ~~ especially rich pasture grass, and its attendant varieties of soil microorganisms ~~ and insure availability of all the Earth's minerals through the use of kelp and ocean products.

Thank you sincerely for considering these thoughts and this information, which is, as always here at ChickenFeed, free to copy in full or in part.

~~~ ChickenFeed

The best thing you can do for yourself and your family is to
Get an Accurate Working Knowledge of Nutrition

Adelle Davis' classic, Let's Eat Right to Keep Fit, is without doubt the very best, most interesting and motivating place to start to learn about nutrition, the effects of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients on the body, and the amounts of each to take. Though the book is concerned with human nutrition, these nutrients are needed by all higher animals. The knowledge gained will help you throughout your life, in understanding what is going on in your body, and will help you care for all those who are dependent upon you, whether feathered or not (them, not you, that is).

A practicing nutritionist herself, Adelle Davis began writing about nutrition after many years of seeing that the discoveries made by researchers, reported in scientific literature, were not getting passed on to doctors and the public. Her "forte" was making scientific discoveries very interestingly and understandably readable by the average person, and thereby allowing the public to apply these discoveries in their daily lives.

You will not want to stop reading until you've finished every chapter, the knowledge it contains is so valuable. Ironically, copies of this invaluable treasure, Let's Eat Right to Keep Fit, are regularly available for a few cents at, and in many used book stores.

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Norton Creek Press Poultry Books

Let's Eat Right to Keep Fit
by Adelle Davis

Grass-Fed Poultry Facts (aka Pastured Poultry)

Nutrient Requirements of Chickens and Turkeys

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Feed Instructions
from The Family Poultry Flock, 1979

Definitions Mash: a blend of feed ingredients, ground to a small size but not to a powder; mash can be in pellet form

Pellets: small kernels of compressed mash

Concentrate: a blend of protein-rich foods, plus any other nutrients desired; usually fed together with a grain ration

Scratch: grains fed separately to chickens, usually scattered on the ground or litter of the coop

Grit: angular, hard crushed rock, preferably from granite, used by the chickens in place of "teeth" --- seashells and bone CANNOT substitute for grit; grit should be free-choiced several times a month at least

Calcium: provided by sea shells, crushed bone, and fresh or dried greens --- amounts need to be measured closely, if not free range

Protein: any food high in amino acids, used to build tissues; protein quality is determined by the "completeness" of the amino acid varieties in the food source; basically, meats, nuts, seed germs, and soy concentrates are protein sources

Amino acid: a molecule that is one building block of protein; there are many different amino acids, most of which can be manufactured in the body; the few that cannot must be supplied by foods

Vitamins: a general term meaning "life-giving"; see RECIPES section for which ones to use

Minerals: inert chemicals found in nature; kelp of all kinds supplies the complete spectrum of minerals

Free range: not controlled by fences, able to get to fresh greens and insects; as commercially used, this term allows fences, with minimum amount of space per bird being set by definition

Pastured poultry: hens kept in movable, usually wheeled, pens, moved daily over fresh pasture, creating delicious meat and nutritious eggs

Organic: inspected by government agencies, organic food sources must not contain traces of harmful chemicals; the term as currently used does not insure that poultry has been raised in the best possible way, only that it has near zero harmful ingredients

Pullets: female chickens under 1 year old

Hens: female chickens over 1 year old