Non GMO feed: Field Peas

At this time last year, I was trying to source field peas as a soy replacement to feed to my chickens. The only places I had any luck finding these peas were feed companies that stocked them in the spring for planting. I can’t find anyplace in Michigan to buy these peas at any other time of year.
From living in the South, I think of “field peas” as black-eyes, white acres, cream peas etc. I’m pretty certain that the field peas being referenced as livestock feed are different. The best I can determine is that the livestock field peas are the same as the dried split peas sold in the grocery store. Great news! Now I can experiment.

I put some split peas out in separate containers for the chickens and ducks. I didn’t want to mix it with their grain because it would be harder to tell if they were eating it. They turned up their collective beaks and bills at it. I left it there for a couple of days; they showed no interest. I soaked some for a couple of hours and boy were they “fragrant”. Maybe the smell would attract them. The ducks dove right in. The chickens also ate some, but weren’t as gung-ho as the ducks. They ate them better the second time I put them out. By the third day, all the poultry was eating split peas without hesitation. Next, we will see if they will now eat them dry.

I dug around online and found a couple of resources for anyone who is interested. One is a small book that was published in 1911 that contains information for using field peas as livestock feed. You can read the book at this link. “Something For Mother’s Dinner/Peas and Pea Culture”


This is a bit of interesting information about returning to using field peas for feed in Northern Michigan:
Field Peas for Northern Michigan
The next step is ordering enough untreated “seed” from my feed dealer to carry me through a year. Some will be fed and some will be planted to see how practical it is to grow and how much space it requires to feed my birds all year. If I have the Super Worms in full swing, I’ll need to grow less of the peas.

Paid Endorsement Disclosure: I may receive commissions/revenue from affiliates or advertisers for endorsements, recommendations, and/or links to products or services from this blog. It doesn’t change the cost to you and helps offset expenses on this frugal homestead.


Non GMO feed: Field Peas — 6 Comments

  1. Happy New Year! Glad to see a new post and on one of my favorite subjects too 🙂 That is great news about the split peas. I am going to have try that with my chickens.

    You know, it shouldn’t be so hard to find non-GMO, safe feed for our animals but then it is getting just as hard to find it for our own consumption!

    How are the super worms doing? Can you grow them through the winter for the chickens when they are missing all the bug protein (at least here in Michigan)?

  2. I’m going to look into a bulk resource for the split peas. I bet the shipping cost will be killer.
    The super worms are thriving. Hopefully sometime next week, they will have their own page on the blog. It is almost a year since I got them.
    How is everything with you?

  3. Very interesting post. I’ve been thinking along the same lines and last year, planted a packed of Ozark Razorback field peas from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. They did great! Shelling them is a bit slow, but after reading your post, I think I need to see how well everybody likes them. I’d like to feed them to both the chickens and the goats. I give the chickens goat milk on occasion too.

  4. Hey Leigh,
    Thanks for giving the name and source for the seeds. I’ll be checking them out. Fedco and Johnny’s also sells field peas, although I don’t believe they mention the variety.
    Did they naturally split in half when you shelled them or did they remain whole? If they split in half, I wonder if you could feed them pods and all.

  5. Another alternative to feeding them dried peas is to feed them sprouts. Most people use Mung beans for Chinese dishes, but I would think you could sprout your peas or other beans and the chickens would eat them up like worms.

  6. Azure Standard sells organic split peas in 50 or 25 pound sacks–researching my own feed recipe and found your post 🙂 good luck!