Annette Pontillo
Institute of Organic Farming

Trenthorst 32
23847 Westerau
Phone: +49 4539 8880 0

Kontrollstellennr.: DE-ÖKO-006

Treated common vetch seeds for monogastrics


 (c) Thünen-Institut/Lisa Baldinger

Treated common vetch (Vicia sativa L.) seeds as protein-rich feed for monogastric farm animals in organic agriculture

The protein-rich seeds of common vetches contain valuable nutrients, but also anti-nutritive factors, to which especially chicken and pigs are sensitive to. In this project, we examine if the treatments germination and ensiling, respectively, can reduce these negative effects.

Background and Objective

Similar to other legumes, common vetches (Vicia sativa L.) positively influence soil fertility and can therefore be an important component in organic crop rotations. Because of their high content of crude protein, the seeds of common vetches are also a protein-rich feed. However, contrary to ruminants, monogastric farm animals like poultry an pigs react sensitively to the anti-nutritive factors present in common vetch seeds. Based on previous reports about closely related grain legume species, we hypothesize that treatment pf common vetch seeds can reduce their content of anti-nutritive factors and improve the digestibility of essential amino acids. Feeding trials with broilers, laying hens and fattening pigs are conducted in order to assess if the treatments germination and ensiling, respectively, can turn the protein-rich seeds of common vetches into a valuable feed for monogastric farms animals in organic agriculture. Accompanying cultivation and digestibility trials will enable recommendations for common vetch cultivation and will supply detailed information  that is missing so far.


The first feeding trial with broilers compares four different dietary treatments: a control diet based on commonly used components, and three diets including common vetch seeds, either untreated, germinated, or ensiled. Based on the results, a second broiler trial will focus on the better performing treatment, and treated common vetch seeds will be included in diets in differing proportions. Feeding trials with laying hens and fattening pigs will be conducted similar to the first feeding trial with broilers. In all trials, the documented parameters include feed consumption, animal performance (fattening and laying performance) and animal related parameters.

The project also includes cultivation trials over the course of three years, which will examine differencies between wheat and rye as cultivation partners for common vetches. Their focus will be seed rates and their relationship, yields and weed suppression. Knowledge about the different vetch cultivars is still scarce, therefore five different cultivars will be included in the cultivation trials. Samples from the cultivation trials will be used for preparing model silages and for germination trials, illustrating potential differences between cultivars and treatments. Samples both from the feeding and cultivation trials will be analysed with regard to their nutrient composition and content of anti-nutritive factors. Methods for analysis of the latter will be established at the laboratory of Thuenen Institute for Organic Farming during the course of the project, because they are not commonly available at commercial laboratories.

Digestibilities of both untreated and treated common vetch seeds will be determined by project partners Friedrich Loeffler Institute, Institute for Animal Nutrition in Braunschweig (fattening pigs), and University of Hohenheim, Institute of Animal Science (broilers).

Preliminary Results

There are no results available so far.


Involved Thünen-Partners

Involved external Thünen-Partners

Funding Body

  • Federal Ministry of Food und Agriculture (BMEL)
    (national, öffentlich)


3.2017 - 2.2020

More Information

Projekt type:
Project funding number: 2815OE038
Funding program: Bundesprogramm Ökologischer Landbau und andere Formen nachhaltiger Landwirtschaft (BÖLN)
Project status: ongoing


hits: 1

  1. Böhm H (2017) Saatwicke: Unterschätzte Körnerleguminose : Wickengemenge erzielen gute bis sehr gute Rohproteinerträge und unterdrücken Beikraut erfolgreich. Bio Land(2):8-10