Can Chickens Eat Cheese?
Chickens love feeding on cheese as much as humans do. However, like any other treat, limit the quantity of cheese in a bird’s diet for various health reasons. As we all know, animal lovers take pleasure in spoiling their pets by giving treats. Unfortunately, some of these delicacies have detrimental effects on the life of a beloved pet.
On that account, cheese has a very high-fat content capable of making your poultry obese or sickly with life-threatening conditions. This article takes you on a chicken-cheese journey and expounds on the right portions for your feathered friends.
How Much Cheese Can Chickens Eat?
Experts recommend at least 10% of cheese in an adult chicken’s main diet. That is because cheese is very addictive and chickens end up feeding on cheese more than any other food provided. If not monitored, cheese can quickly become a threat to birds’ other sources of nutrition.
Remember that cheese is a milk product with a rich composition of protein and fats. The levels of these components differ depending on the preparation method and milk originality.
Currently, there are more than 1800 different kinds of cheese worldwide. Even if your little friend would do anything to get a tiny piece of cheese, never allow them to overindulge. It is worth pointing out that most animals have a tough time processing dairy products. Chickens are no exception and only require minimal quantities of milk products in their diet.
To start with, remember that cheese was never introduced to poultry in their natural habitat. Therefore, as a foreign ingredient, birds struggle in digesting and assimilating it in the body.
The reason behind this is that chickens do not have specific enzymes in the body that help break down milk products. For this reason, cheese digestion may only happen to some extent but not entirely.
What Type of Cheese Is Safe for Chickens?
When feeding cheese to your fowls, consider that they react negatively because of the high percentage of milk sugars. Nonetheless, you can never go wrong with shredded cheese since it is less acidic and not likely to harm your birds. Another first-rate variety is goat cheese. Although the product has a more pungent smell and elevated acidic content, it is considered safe for poultry.
You can also consider introducing cottage cheese because of its soft, lumpy texture. It is best if you combine it with other feeds to make it more palatable. Cheese puffs are also an ideal alternative that your chicken will relish. These tiny airy treats are made by forcing heat into corn dough and forming various shapes. Later, manufacturers add cheese flavoring to make cheese puffs.
Without added flavoring, you can find a similar product in the market as puff corn. Even if chickens love cheese puffs so much, do not give in large quantities. Just like other cheese selections, they are fattening and liable to affect egg and meat production.
We cannot fail to discuss cheese preferences you should avoid or give in minute quantities like the blue cheese. Manufacturers use safe blue molds recognized as Penicillium glaucum and Penicillium roqueforti in the manufacturing process. The brighter side of this pick is that the molds have an antibacterial component that limits the growth of pathogens on cheese.
Since birds naturally feed on dry food, stay away from wet cheeses like cottage or ricotta. Above all, avoid flavored or highly processed options because added ingredients can end up making your chicken’s life miserable.
Benefits of Cheese for Chickens
Cheese is a nutritious-packed meal not directly toxic to the life of your feathered pets. In truth, it takes a couple of months or years to notice the degenerating effects on chickens. Even so, there are several health benefits associated with a monitored amount of cheese.
When it comes to the nutritional profile of cheese, we intend to scrutinize one common variety; regular cheddar. In summary, approximately 100 grams of normal cheddar cheese contains about 400 calories. That boils down to 34 grams of fat, 24 grams of protein, and 37% water.
Below is a quick guide on why you should give cheese to your poultry, albeit in controlled portions.
– Bone Health and Egg production
Cheese is chock-full of calcium, a prime nutrient for healthy bones and excellent egg production. In addition, cheese contains other imperative nutrients like sodium, riboflavin, zinc, phosphorus, selenium, and vitamins K2, A plus B12.
The beauty of this combination is that it prevents chicken fragility and loads of defects. For instance, the occasional consumption of cheese averts the birds from fracturing their bones easily.
Most impressively, calcium aids in the formation of strong, healthy eggshells. Therefore, if you notice brittle eggs from your birds, some cheese would do more good than harm.
– Good Source of Protein
Protein supplementation is vital in a chicken’s diet because it promotes normal growth. Furthermore, chickens rely on frequent dosages of proteins because their bodies cannot store them naturally. Note that the protein content in cheese known as casein has the potential to lower blood pressure.
On the other hand, casein enhances the absorption of minerals in chickens. This is encouraging to farmers who yearn for a healthy supply of nutritious eggs. The secret is to ensure that your birds feed on a high calcium diet. In the long run, casein helps the body take it up to the advantage of your fowls.
– Perfect for the Immune System
Thanks to healthy nutrient composition, cheese is a definite immune system booster. Cheese contains a high level of probiotics that build up the gut, resulting in a robust immune system.
One of the most preferred options in boosting the immune system is the Gouda cheese which has the utmost probiotics ratios in the market.
Drawbacks of Cheese for Chickens
Unknown to most people, cheese contains no fiber, which can lead to a load of health problems on your fowls. All in all, the biggest challenge associated with cheese is frequent constipation, diarrhea, and obesity in birds. In some instances, birds develop severe intestinal blockages, which can be life-threatening.
That said, an unhealthy chicken may not give the desired results both in eggs and meat production. This information requires farmers to weigh the pros and cons of cheese before throwing it in the chicken coop. By the end of the day, offer your birds a balanced diet and only what adds value to their lives.
Can Chicken Eat Expired Cheese?
It is never right to feed your birds on expired or rotten food of any kind. As a farmer, it is prudent to put the lives of your poultry at the forefront. Unfortunately, most farmers use chicken coops as dumping sites for their moldy food.
Mold on its own is toxic and capable of making your birds extremely sick. When it comes to expired cheese on chickens, there is plenty of controversy on the topic.
While some individuals consider it safe, others call for thorough scrutiny on mold first. Generally, mold produces a toxic component that leads to a life-threatening condition known as Mycotoxicosis. In short, the molds are so toxic that they poison chickens similarly to local pesticides.
Can Chickens Die From Blue Cheese?
Blue cheese, also referred to as bleu cheese, is manufactured from mold penicillium cultures. As a result, there are noticeable veins or mold spots around the cheese, giving it a blue or green color.
Also, it carries a pungent smell because of this unique production process and several cultivated bacteria in the composition. Some manufacturers inject mold spores in the cheese slightly before the curd form. Others mix in the spores after curd formation.
Whatever production method is used, blue cheese gets matured in a temperature-controlled environment. This explains the salty, sharp taste of blue cheese. As mentioned above, there is nothing wrong with giving your blue cheese to your birds as long as it is healthy and without mold.
Like other expired foods, consuming moldy blue cheese can be a root cause of several health implications in poultry. The worst form is blue cheese with mycotoxins because of its capability in suppressing immune functions, causing cancer, digestive distress, and even death.
What Other Dairy Products can Chickens Eat?
Although fowls are not lactose intolerant, plenty of milk in the diet can make them sick. Lactose intolerance is the inability of the body to assimilate milk sugars fully. While lactose malabsorption is often harmless, the ugly symptoms can be highly uncomfortable. Even with these drawbacks, there is no doubt that chickens love milk products.
It is not unusual to find poultry eating more than necessary when milk products get added to their feed. Still, you can give small amounts of fresh milk, yogurt, whey, and cottage cheese but not overdo it.
Cheese is a delicacy loved by many for several generations. In fact, the salt and fat combination that sets it apart is pretty addictive and sets it apart from other milk products. While your birds will rejoice any time you throw in pieces of cheese, give it sparingly because of the high-fat content.
If possible, avoid cheese puffs because they classify as unhealthy junk food. By the end of the day, only feed your pet birds on food that makes them healthier and add value in their lives.