Written by: Dr. Jacquie Jacob, University of Kentucky

Humans are the primary consumers of the seeds of the lentil (Lens culinaris), but if the seeds—commonly referred to simply as lentils—fail to meet food-grade standards, they can be used in livestock feeds. Lentil seeds have a relatively high protein content and low digestive inhibitors. There is very little research available on the use of lentil seeds in poultry feeds.

Lentils (Image by Diana Taliun on Shutterstock.com)

Lentils are relatively tolerant to drought and are grown throughout the world. The cultivars are divided into two groups: the macrosperma (large seeds), mainly grown in Europe, North Africa, and America, and the microsperma (small seeds), grown in Asia, Egypt, and Ethiopia. Both types are grown in western Asia and south-eastern Europe. Lentil seeds vary in color depending on the cultivar type and may be grey, green, brownish, pale red, or black. Red lentils are typically grown in the United States and Canada.