Home > Chickens > On Corn, Soaked Oats and Barley for Gamefowl

On Corn, Soaked Oats and Barley for Gamefowl

Some useful information I want to keep track of is presented here. I have read that Flint Corn was used by older cockers to harden the gizzard without fattening the bird so easy. I use whole corn in moderation depending on how cold it is and how lean the birds are presenting. I also use soaked and fermented oats as well as barley as I find that it really reddens up a fowls face after only a week or two and seems to help their plumage shine.

I put what I need in a bucket the night before and put water in it and it swells and the fowl eat it better than feeding oats and barley “raw”. It is good in hot climates too for moisture and soaked barley for show gamefowl helps harden the muscles. Add lots of handling and fly them on strings. Pick them up and make fly to ground until they are a bit puffed every other day and you will be on the way to having a nicely conditioned stag or cock for a poultry show. When I want fermented oats I leave it soak for 3 to 7 days. The birds really do seem to enjoy fermented oats even though it does smell… well.. fermented!

Here is the information on corn taken from Ultimate Fowl Forum. I feed more whole corn in winter to help them stay warm at night, especially last feed of the day. The climate is subtropical here so it is not that cold but it sure feels it when you are not used to it!


Flint – very hard glassy kernel, hard to grind, resistant to mold, old types grown in northern areas were often flint. Does not make a very fine meal. A lot of “Indian Corns” are flints. Hard to shell. Strong stalks.

Popcorn – Is a subvariety of flint, bred to have very hard kernel. Hard to shell.
Sweet-derivied from flint, but, it’s own type now. Dried kernels are shrunken and shell easily. Soft weak stalks .

Flour – very soft kernels, grinds down easily to a fine wheat like flour, prone to mold in husk, best for dry climates. Very nice for parching, like popping into corn nuts. Easy to shell. Soft weak stalks.

Dents – Crosses between Flint and flour, very widely adapted and high yielding. No awards for best taste or texture though, dependable feed for animals, or whatever. Fairly easy to shell. Strong stalks.

As for the protein content-your old old varieties had/have far more protein than the modern corns do now. Although the old types don’t yield as well. Corn is a fattening feed for animals, just keep that in mind, that can be good or bad, depending.

Soaked Oats and Barley

Now with respect to oats there is a reason to soak them and why raw oats and barley should not make up a high percentage of the gamefowls feed. The information following is from Sabong Forum.

Why whole oats? They have an excellent amino acid profile for a grain and are an excellent source of certain vitamins and minerals. Unfortunately, in an unaltered state, whole oats, along with barley, have ANFs (Anti-Nutritional Factors) that limit their usefulness. The general consensus is that there should be no more than 10-15% untreated whole oats and/or barley in a feed mix.

The ANFs in the hulls not only render the oat and barley less digestible, they become gelatinous in the intestines of the fowl and prevent the absorption of nutrients from other feed ingredients.

Why soak whole oats? The water and Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) break down the ANFs, specifically NSPs (Non-Starch Polysaccharides), in the hull, thereby making the nutrition of the oat available. Among the many nutrients of ACV, there are significant amounts of Acetic acid, Citric Acid and Malic Acid which are the catalysts for breaking down the NSPs.

Do you need to ferment the oats? Short answer: No. 24-48 hours soaking will allow the water and ACV to break down the majority of the NSPs. However, depending on the type of fermentation going on, it can be a good thing or bad. If ethanol fermentation is taking place, the nutritional value of the oats will diminish. That is why I would never put sugar or molasses in the water, which would encourage ethanol fermentation. You will, in effect, be making oat moonshine. Lactic acid fermentation, on the other hand, would further break down the NSPs, specifically the Beta-Glucans, and make the whole oats more digestible. That is why I recommend adding whole oats, water and ACV only. In terms of other additives, I would recommend soaking the oats, draining them and then adding them at that point or finding a different way to deliver them. Any vitamin and mineral supplement like Red Cell could interfere with the soaking process. Also, use only fresh whole oats. Oat groats and crimped oats are not as nutritious due to accelerated oxidation of the oils in the oats rendering the nutrients less available.

If you want to give soaked oats or other grains a go simply put some oats in a drum or if just doing a small quantity, a pot and completely cover with water and leave stand for 2 to 7 days. They generally start fermenting from 3 days and you will see the bubbles of carbon dioxide being released. You can add some ACV if you like although you can ferment without the ACV. If you simply want to soften the oats leave them for a day or two only before fermentation kicks in.

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