Can Roosters Eat Layer Feed? 3 Potential Risks

Roosters can eat layer feed since it isn’t harmful or toxic. However, layer feed isn’t the ideal feed for roosters. It contains plenty of calcium and protein, making it unsuitable for roosters, especially adult roosters.

Even though your roosters will eat layer feed together with your hens, the high calcium in layer feed can lead to organ failure and other severe illnesses in the long run.

Is Layer Feed Good for Roosters?

Roosters can eat layer feed alongside your hens if you don’t have a special diet for your cockerels. Roosters enjoy eating layer feed that comes in the form of mash or pellets. Layer feed is suitable for egg-laying hens, and therefore it isn’t ideal for roosters in the long run.

Cockerels have their individual diet preferences. Typically, roosters and hens usually eat the same food items while foraging for food outdoors. In the process, roosters end up eating bugs and worms. Roosters thrive well on oyster shells, sunflower seeds, corn, and millet foods.

Roosters are especially fond of fresh corn. They also love cooked rice, noodles, and cheese. Therefore, you can occasionally feed your roosters with food scraps after dining with your family. Young roosters love leafy vegetables like lettuce and kale.

Fatty foods are also vital for roosters because they enable them to get crucial essential oils, especially during the summer. After all, oils work as coolants for these birds. The enzymes in fatty foods improve roosters’ digestion systems. However, you should give fatty foods to your roosters in moderation since they can lead to obesity, making roosters too heavy to mate with hens.

Since cockerels like foraging for worms, bugs, and plants, you can occasionally let them out when your hens are feeding on the layer feed. Feeding excessive amounts of meat to your roosters can make them aggressive and encourage cannibalism in your roosters.

Though a small pie or cake is a good treat for your roosters, they have too much sugar, and hence you should provide your cockerels with sugary treats in moderation. Sugar isn’t healthy for roosters and chickens in general.

Roosters can also choke while eating sticky foods such as hard food chunks and marshmallows. The oxalic acid in tomatoes and cooked potatoes isn’t healthy for roosters. Be cautious when feeding your roosters with such food items.

Even when you want to feed your roosters with these food items, it’s good to provide them with moderation. Talk to an avian vet if you aren’t sure of the best foods to feed your roosters, especially if you have young roosters in your flock.

Like hens, roosters also need to drink water. Water serves two purposes for roosters. First, water helps roosters cool off when temperatures are high. Secondly, water helps improve roosters’ digestion systems. Make sure there are waterers around your roosters, particularly in summer.

Otherwise, your roosters will be at high risk of dehydration if they don’t get enough water. Have as many drinking stations for your roosters as you can. Whatever food items you introduce to your roosters, keep in mind that they are pretty curious about their diet. Moreover, roosters love to experiment with a variety of foods.

Risks of Feeding Layer Feed to Rooster

A few chicken keepers prefer to feed their roosters with layer feed. After all, roosters will eat whatever you give to other chickens as long as they are living together.

Although you might not notice any side effects after feeding your roosters with layer feed, some risks come with providing layer feed to roosters. Check these top risks of feeding layer feed to roosters.

– Calcium Toxicity

Roosters don’t require plenty of calcium, unlike hens. Layer feed has plenty of calcium which helps hen lay eggs with strong shells or rather help hens avoid laying eggs with soft shells. Ideally, roosters need about 1% calcium in their diet.

Since layer feed has loads of calcium, your roosters will get calcium toxicity after consuming layer feed. Calcium toxicity in roosters can lead to cardiovascular failure, exposing your roosters to the risk of death.

– Kidney or Liver Problem

Roosters can also suffer from kidney or liver problems after eating layer feed. Roosters that consume a high amount of layer feed are at risk of liver or kidney failure. Layer feeds have a high protein to calorie ratio.

Moreover, roosters that frequently eat layer feed are highly susceptible to the fatty liver hemorrhagic syndrome, a poultry disease that contributes to a high mortality rate in chickens, especially roosters.

Roosters with this condition have vast fats in their abdomen and liver. As a result, their livers experience abnormal growth, making them prone to bleeding.

– Growth Problem

Growth problem is another risk that comes with feeding layer feed to roosters. Ideally, layer feed has a formulation that helps hens lay more and better eggs. However, this feed doesn’t support the growth of chickens, including roosters.

Giving your young roosters plenty of layer feed can lead to stunted growth since layer feed lack essential minerals that boost the growth and development of roosters. Avoid introducing layer feed to your roosters’ diet lest they experience growth problems over time.

Should Roosters Get Supplements?

Yes, roosters should get supplements like other poultry birds. Supplements are essential for free-range roosters since they can’t get all their daily food’s vital minerals and nutrients.

For instance, roosters need vitamin supplements. Some vitamin supplements, such as vitamin B16, are enriched with various vitamins. These vitamins include vitamin B6, B1, folic acid, and vitamin B12.

All these essential vitamins help boost roosters’ immune systems. Furthermore, they stimulate their metabolism, nervous system, and musculature.

Roosters also require protein supplements because protein helps roosters grow muscle. Roosters are ideal for meat, unlike hens which are suitable for egg production. That means your roosters won’t make great table birds if they lack enough protein in their diet.

Protein supplements are beneficial for free-range roosters that can’t get sufficient protein from eating bugs, snails, and worms. You can mix the protein supplements with your roosters’ daily diet to boost their protein intake.


Roosters can eat layer feed when they are living with their hens. However, layer feed can’t meet your roosters’ dietary needs. Furthermore, too much layer feed can make your roosters vulnerable to myriads of health conditions.

Please don’t allow your roosters to rely on layer feed as their primary diet. Instead, choose other healthy food items for your roosters to boost their growth and development.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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