On the Farm
I know we have been planning Mark's poultry egg business for a while now. One thing that was in the back of my mind was maybe growing some sunflower seeds for the poultry. I actually did plant some black oil sunflower seeds specifically for the purpose in the spring. Unfortunately, I did not do a good job of marking where the black oil sunflowers were growing. When I went to harvest the cut flowers, I just took the black oil sunflowers too! Whoops!
A Brazilian study found increased egg weight in hens fed sunflower seeds. Its researchers stated that increasing levels of sunflower seeds in daily rations did not affect feed intake, feed conversion or yolk color.
|Example of black oil sunflower field and seeds|
|Sunflower showing seeds under stigma part of flower|
Taken from hunker.com: Sunflowers are known as composite flowers. The large flower head at the top of the stalk is often referred to as one flower but is actually hundreds of small flowers. The dark center is made up of disk flowers that have five brown petals fused together into a tubular shape. The male, stamen, and female, stigma, are both present in disk flowers. The stamen is composed of filament and pollen-producing anthers. The stigma houses the style, which receives the pollen and allows it to travel down to the ovary, where the unfertilized seeds, ovules, are located. This is the process of pollination that enables the flowers to produce seeds.
Pollenless sunflowers do not have stamen to produce pollen. HOWEVER, the black oil sunflowers that I had planted were NOT pollenless. I am thinking that the pollen from the black oil sunflowers was used to fertilize the other flowers. There are always tons of pollinators buzzing around the sunflowers.
As the sunflowers started to dry down, I cut off the heads to dry out. At first, I thought I would just dry out the heads and store them. This still might work if I can get them dried down enough. The struggle is to get them dried down enough so when you store them, they will not mold.
More benefits of feeding sunflower seeds to poultry:
Taken from beginningfarmer.org: Since sunflower seeds contain oil, they are a great source of fat and will therefore add a little weight to birds. This is a good thing going into winter because this extra fat will translate into warmth when temperatures drop. Another physical change will come in the form of feathers. The very same oil that adds fat to their diet will make feathers glossy and shiny.
I have read that sunflower seeds should not be more than 1/3 of the hens diet. We definitely won't have enough to feed that much but we should have some to feed a little each day as a treat.
Next summer, I may plant some of those big mammoth sunflowers so we can get LOTS of sunflower seeds!!!