Can Chicken Eat Nuts?
Every poultry farmer likes to treat their birds to a tasty snack. However, you must be careful to avoid giving something that could harm your chickens.
So, is it safe to give nuts to your chickens? Chicken can eat nuts and gain nutrients from them, but you need to observe how much you give them and the type of nuts you avail.
Most nuts are soft enough to break using beaks and swallow. Digestion is also stress-free, as the gizzard is adapted to dealing with complex objects like nuts and grains.
Are Nuts Good for Chicken?
Nuts are a good addition to your chickens’ diet. They are an excellent treat that diversifies your birds’ meals. It’s worth noting that nuts are not a full meal.
Therefore, they shouldn’t make up more than 10% of your bird feed. You can mix nuts with other treats like leafy greens, popcorn, or bananas.
Although it seems strange, this mixture is a good source of minerals and vitamins to boost your birds’ health, provided you don’t add salt and sugars.
Types of Nuts Chickens Can Eat
Here are some examples of nuts you can feed to your chickens:
- Peanuts – roasted peanuts are a good treat, but it’s wise to avoid salted nuts. Limit the availability to once weekly.
- Walnuts – give ½ nut two to three times weekly.
- Hickory nuts – fine in small quantities, but be careful because some varieties are poisonous. They’re an excellent source of fats and proteins.
- Almonds – are among the most nutritious nuts. Give a few nuts up to four times weekly.
- Beech nuts – these taste bitter because they contain tannins. However, chickens love them so you can provide them in small amounts.
- Hazelnuts – are eaten mainly by squirrels but make an excellent treat for chickens. Ensure you break them up before feeding chickens because they choke if swallowed whole.
- Cashews – cashew apples and nuts are both edible to chickens. Ensure they aren’t salted and break big nuts to prevent choking.
- Macadamia nuts – are a great source of fat. You must break the hard coat and the nut before giving it to the chickens.
- Pistachio nuts – they have a hard shell, like macadamias. Remove the cover and break it into small pieces before giving it to your flock.
- Pine nuts – are expensive but make a tasty treat for your chickens. They are rich in minerals and vitamins.
Benefits of Nuts to Chickens
The following are the nutritional benefits of feeding nuts to chickens:
Nuts are an excellent protein source. Proteins are helpful in promoting healthy growth and development. They also improve egg quality and quantity and facilitate molting.
– Healthy Fats
Besides proteins, most nuts are rich in fats, which provide energy to your birds. These fats are also crucial in maintaining healthy joints, shiny feathers, and tasty eggs.
However, too much fat can cause obesity, increasing the risk of organ failure.
– Folic Acid
Nuts contain folates that contribute to egg formation and chick development. Folic acid ensures the egg develops healthily after fertilization, resulting in a robust embryo and, eventually, a strong chick.
It is also helpful in feather formation and maintaining recommended iron levels.
Like humans, chickens need fiber in their diet to improve digestive functions. Dry nuts have substantial fiber that increases stool bulk, preventing constipation and other gut problems.
– Vitamin E
Vitamin E is crucial in the egg production cycle. It hardens the eggshell, improving overall egg quality. It also aids in increasing egg production.
Feeding nuts to chickens guarantee more vital, more frequent egg production.
– Vitamin B6
Chicken are vulnerable to obesity because they feed on almost everything daily. Providing feed with vitamin B6 is an effective way of reducing this risk.
Nuts contain vitamin B6, which prevents the accumulation of body fat by boosting metabolism and improving nerve functions.
Calcium strengthens bones and helps in eggshell production. When hens start laying eggs, they need calcium in large quantities.
Any deficiency results in low-quality eggs. This explains why commercial chicken feeds contain crushed oyster shells. You can supplement the meals by including nuts in your bird’s feed.
Magnesium helps in the absorption of calcium in chickens. As a result, it indirectly contributes to denser bones, reducing the risk of injury.
It also prevents osteoporosis in older hens that still lay eggs.
Selenium is a lesser-known nutrient with a significant role in chickens’ overall well-being. It keeps the birds calm, increasing productivity and high-quality eggs and meat.
Happy chickens are also less likely to get sick.
Can Chickens Eat Moldy Nuts?
It isn’t advisable to give moldy food to your chicken, as it increases the risk of disease. Ensure you store nuts in cool, dry areas to prevent mold growth.
Can Baby Chicks Eat Nuts?
Experts recommend against giving too many treats to baby chicks. Instead, their diets should primarily consist of chick and growers’ mashes and quality chick crumbs.
You can introduce nuts to chicks once they attain three weeks.
How to Feed Nuts to Your Chickens?
It’s essential to confirm that nuts don’t have added salt or artificial flavors before feeding them to your chickens.
The birds get all the salt they need from commercial feed, and any extra can cause irreversible kidney damage.
Sugars and artificial flavorings contribute to weight gain, increasing the risk of obesity. For this reason, it’s advisable to use organic nuts and avoid processed products.
It isn’t common to see chickens choking, as they seemingly know to size their bite such that it’s easy to swallow.
You should break up hazelnuts, macadamias, and other hard nuts to make it easy for your birds. If you’re feeding chicks, chop the nuts into small bits.
A healthy and diverse diet is crucial for quality egg and meat production. Good food also keeps your birds healthy and reduces the risk of infection.
Providing nuts is an excellent way of diversifying your chickens’ diet while adding vital nutrients like calcium, selenium, protein, fats, and some vitamins.
However, be careful with the portions to avoid exposing your birds to obesity and other fat-related complications.