Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah) is a cereal grain that originated in the highlands of South America. It is a unique cereal grain because it is resistant to drought as well as to light frost. It is high in protein (12.2% crude protein) and specifically the amino acids lysine (6.7 % of CP) and methionine (2.9 % of CP). The quality of the protein portion is similar to that of casein. Unfortunately, quinoa also contains a number of anti-nutritional substances, such as saponins, phytic acid, tannins and trypsin inhibitors, which can have a negative effect on performance and survival of monogastric animals when it is used as the primary dietary energy source. Differences in levels of anti-nutritional factors may be found in different types of quinoa that have been grown under different conditions.
Heat-treated quinoa can be included in poultry diets with minimal disruptions to poultry performance.