Can Chickens Eat Yogurt?
It’s common knowledge that chickens are omnivores and can eat most of the foods consumed by humans. However, some people are unsure about dairy products, as they don’t bode so well with all individuals. So, can chickens eat yogurt?
Yes, chickens can eat yoghurt. However, it shouldn’t be a main meal – instead, it’s best used as an occasional treat. That said, yoghurt has numerous health benefits to your birds.
How to Feed Chicken Yogurt?
You must be creative when feeding your chickens. Besides being monotonous, giving the same foods to your birds over an extended period makes them more vulnerable to diseases and other disorders. Try to embrace variety to keep your poultry healthy.
Giving yogurt as an occasional treat is an intelligent way of diversifying your chickens’ eating routine. However, you need to check the levels, as too much yogurt has adverse effects.
While there are several types of yogurt, plain yogurt is the best for your chickens. Please avoid other types, especially flavored variants, because they could hurt your birds’ health. These other yogurts have artificial sweeteners and other unnatural additives that chickens can’t digest properly. Moreover, they have lower concentrations of valuable nutrients.
It’s also unwise to give homemade yogurts to your chickens. You might think that the product is safe because you made it yourself, only to end up hurting your birds.
When feeding poultry, it’s worth noting that their digestive systems are smaller and can’t process yogurts and other foods as efficiently as humans. This is why you must limit the amount of yogurt given and avoid particular types such as flavored and homemade yogurts.
Always give the yogurt in liquid form. Ideally, a few drops for each bird should suffice.
It’s essential to exercise caution when serving. Chickens tend to be messy when eating treats and snacks. It’s likely that they will have yogurt smeared all over their faces, beaks, and bodies when and after feeding on it. You can avoid this mess by serving your poultry yogurt in open fields, grass, or in wide-rimmed containers, instead of confined coops.
What Are the Benefits of Feeding Yogurt to Chickens?
Here are the nutritional benefits of giving yogurt to your chickens.
Like other dairy products, yogurt is a great source of calcium. However, it’s vital to supplement it with other foods that contain calcium, such as fresh grass and oyster shell grit.
Plain yogurt contains nine grams of fat per serving. This is enough to keep your birds healthy without increasing the risk of obesity.
Chickens have symbiotic relationships with microorganisms. Since yogurt contains probiotics that can boost the bacteria in your bird’s digestive tract and strengthens their body immunity.
The ideal daily protein intake for chickens is 16% of their meals. Although one serving of plain yogurt contains 3.5%, it’s a valuable addition to your birds’ diet. Why? You can’t generate the required 16% from a single source – if so, your birds will get bored of sticking to one food for too long. Therefore, yogurt is an excellent source of protein that diversifies your chicken feeds.
– Vitamins and Minerals
Lastly, yogurt is rich in minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc, and has several traces of various vitamins. These micronutrients are helpful in keeping your birds healthy.
What Type of Yogurt Is Best for Chickens?
Plain yogurt is the best type of yogurt for chickens. Resist the urge to give flavored products to your chickens, as they contain artificial sugars and other harmful additives. They’re also low on useful ingredients. It’s worth noting that chickens can’t perceive sweet tastes because they lack such receptors.
Soya-based yogurts are also harmful to your birds. Besides having lower concentrations of calcium and proteins, they have too much sugar and salt, which might hurt your chickens.
How Much Yogurt Should I Feed My Chickens?
As mentioned earlier, yogurts are treats that chickens should eat occasionally. It isn’t advisable to make yogurt an integral part of your birds’ meals. That said, the ever-increasing cost of dairy products makes this unfeasible.
If you have the money, feed your birds with small portions of yogurt once weekly. Never exceed two servings per week. The recommended serving amount is ¾ cup.
Feeding your birds with too much yogurt has severe repercussions. That’s why you must stick to the recommended rates.
What Are the Potential Risks of Feeding Yogurt to Chickens?
The first risk of giving yogurts is the increased risk of obesity. As mentioned earlier, flavored yogurts have high sugar content. When chickens eat these for long, they are at a higher risk of being obese and developing relates conditions like heart disease and breathing problems.
Moreover, flavored yogurt can cause severe digestion problems manifested through diarrhea. Excessive water loss causes dehydration and results in death.
Another risk stems from overfeeding your chickens. Since poultry can’t process dairy products quickly enough, their bodies get overwhelmed. This results in poor digestion, but later causes serious complications like irregular heartbeat and multiple organ failure.
There’s divided opinion about the value of expired yogurt. Some argue that it’s beneficial, while others are adamant that it poses a health risk.
Can Chickens Eat Spoiled Yogurt?
Expired yogurt has potential benefits to your poultry, such as increased egg production. However, too much of it has adverse effects like stomach upsets and diarrhea. This subject is still contentious among poultry farmers – some feel that the birds are lactose intolerant and can’t digest dairy products, while others feel that yogurts can boost egg production.
Although expired yogurt is sour, it isn’t harmful to your chickens, especially if given in limited quantities. Feed the birds with yogurts once or twice weekly, but don’t add more. Supplement the yogurt with other nutritious foods rich in proteins and probiotics.
What about Other Fermented Milk Products?
When you let raw milk sit out for a while, it turns into something like cottage cheese. For this reason, it isn’t wise to feed your chicken with raw milk.
Another reason to avoid raw milk is that it contains harmful infections like brucellosis. If your chickens ingest such milks, they are at a higher risk of dying.
Cottage cheese and other cheeses don’t contain lactose, but they are still unsafe for chickens. If you must feed them to your birds, do it sparingly.
Fermented milks and yogurts contain cultures that can transform lactose into lactic acid. As a result, chickens can tolerate them better because they can process lactic acid.
Other Healthy Treats for Your Chickens
Here are other healthy treats that you can give to your poultry.
– Chicken Starch
Despite popular belief, chicken starch isn’t an independent meal. Starch mostly consists of corn, making it a treat that you should supply in small amounts. The best time to use starch is winter, as it helps in improving insulation.
– Flock Block
Flock Block is a nutritious blend of seeds and grains held together with suet. A single block can feed a few birds for a month or more, serving as a treat and a means of breaking monotony. Flock Blocks are particularly useful for keeping birds mobile and active in cold winter conditions.
Chickens are a proven biological control for insects. For example, if bugs and worms are feeding on your small backyard garden, you can let the chicken eat them.
You can let chickens hunt for insects by letting them roam, or take the insects to the bird’s yourself. The first approach keeps your chicken active, but the bird’s can also consume your veggies and fruits.
If you keep your flock in a coop, you can find insects in your garden, or buy them online or in local shops.
Chickens are a popular choice for subsistence and commercial farming because they are easy to maintain and aren’t choosy when eating. However, this means that you should keep a close eye on what they eat to avoid potential food poisoning.
Yogurt is a valuable addition to your chickens’ meal plan. It provides proteins, probiotics, fat, vitamins, and minerals. On the other hand, expired yogurt can boost egg production. However, too much is harmful.