Sprouting lentils for your chickens is an inexpensive, easy way to give them a healthy treat. I love to give my chickens treats. The sight of them running to greet me makes my day. Plus when you have treats your chickens will go where you want! My chickens escape from their run on a daily basis to free range and when I go to see them in the afternoon, I get them all back in with treats. My standard treat is mealworms, specifically the FLYGRUBS, which are black soldier fly larvae. I keep them in stock most of the time, but I was wanting to find another healthy treat, that was much cheaper and still be an excellent source of protein.
Sprouting Lentils – Healthy for Your Chickens
According to this medical journal article, lentils, in addition to having high protein content, low caloric value and high levels of essential nutrients such as folate, vitamin C and fiber, have an advantage, when compared to other legumes and cereals, of having a very low phytic acid concentration (phytic acid prevents the absorption of iron, zinc and calcium and can cause mineral deficiency. It is often referred to as an anti-nutrient), as well as high total phenolic levels. Hence, this legume is a good source of amino acids, nutrients and high-quality protein.
Sprouting of the lentils enhances the nutrient levels. Sprouts are one of the healthiest things we can eat. Sprouts provide many nutritional benefits, including several vitamins, fiber, protein and essential fatty acids. In fact, sprouting of microgreens for my own healthy human consumption is something I plan to start in the near future.
One of my main goals in providing my chickens nutritious treats, other than making them run to greet me, is to provide extra protein. This is especially important in the winter, additional protein helps keep your chickens warm in the winter months, and keeps their body condition up and improves their health. Also added protein maintains egg production and feather growth. Other sources of protein treats are the mealworms, that I mentioned and occasionally scrambled eggs or other table scraps. The fact that the lentils have a high protein content in addition to all the other vitamins and nutrients is a huge bonus.
Sprouting the Lentils
There are different types of lentils, green, brown and red lentils. The best variety for sprouting are the green lentils, mainly because they are the most common found in the grocery store. This is a bag that I purchased at Aldi for a little over a dollar.
Brown lentils are also good for sprouting, just not as readily available. Red lentils do not grow as fast as green and brown.
There are different ways to sprout lentils including in trays or other sprouting containers, or as I chose the easy way, in a wide mouth mason jar. I have been sprouting 1/2 cup at a time. It makes about 4 cups of lentils. I alternate and start another jar every second day, so my chickens get some lentils about every other day.
Steps to Sprout the Lentils
- Rinse the half cup of lentils
- Add them to the quart jar
- Add water to cover the lentils
- Cover with mesh lid or thin cloth
- Let them sit until the next day
- Rinse the lentils twice each day
- Ensure all water possible is removed from the jar
- After about 4 days the lentils are ready to feed to your chickens
Detailed Lentil Sprouting Process
Measure 1/2 cup of lentils. Optional is to start with how ever much you want depending on the amount of sprouts you desire. General rule of thumb is that a cup of lentils will equal about 8 cups of raw sprouts. Place the lentils in the jar.
Fill jar to cover the lentils with enough water to cover the lentils. You can store the jar on the counter, it does not have to be in direct sunlight or in a cool dark place. You can cover the jar with a sprouting lid, like I have. Amazon also has complete sprouting kits.
Or you can cover them with thin cloth held on with a rubber band or screw lids.
Let sit until the next morning Then rinse the lentils twice each day with fresh water. Make sure the jar is drained of excess water to prevent moldy sprouts. A great way to drain is to store the jar upside down and tilted, on a drain board or in a large bowl or sink.
You can start seeing sprouted lentils pretty quickly! The photos show the lentils after the first few days.
By day 4, the sprouting process is complete enough to feed your chickens the finished sprouts. The desired length has been reached by then. You can feed them certain amount of sprouts and then place the rest in airtight containers in the refrigerator.
As you can see sprouting lentils for my chickens really makes them happy.
Below are some cute videos of my chickens eating the sprouts out of my hand and out of a bowl, joined by my duck. Sprouting lentils for chickens also benefits all animals!
Warning: Uncooked Legumes are Toxic to Chickens – and People
All legumes contain anti-nutrients. Phytate, as discussed above, is an anti-nutrient, as are lectins, a group of anti-nutrients contained in legumes. As also discussed above, anti-nutrients prevent absorption of other nutrients in the same meal the anti-nutrients are consumed in, and can also cause food poisoning.
Cooking and sprouting legumes breaks down the anti-nutrients, making them safe for chickens and humans.
Since raw lentils are not good for your chickens, check through your sprouted batch before you feed them to make sure you do not have any still in raw form. This is also a good reason not to sprout larger legumes, such as kidney beans as it would take longer for the anti-nutrients to break down.
Other toxic foods for chickens besides raw beans, include avocado, green potatoes, green tomatoes, and chocolate.
For more posts about raising chickens and other homestead related content such as canning and gardening, go to my website at www.HawkPointHomestead.com.
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