Chickens, like almost every bird, adore all types of nuts and seeds. People also like to eat seeds and nuts as healthy snacks, and since the almond is one of the “nuts” (seed, actually) cultivated, it makes sense that you would wonder, ‘Can chickens eat almonds?’
The short answer is yes; chickens can eat almonds. However, you must be careful with how much you feed them and whether the almonds are plain or coated. If you get it right, you get a nutrient-packed snack for your chickens to snack on, and we’ll detail everything you need to know about feeding your chicken almonds below.
Nutritional Profile of Almonds
Almonds are a popular health food packed with protein, fats, dietary fiber, and carbohydrates. If you feed these to your chickens, they can enjoy the following:
First up is macronutrients, the nutrients our bodies need in larger quantities that work as an energy source. For example, in almonds, the macronutrients include:
Protein Content And Quality
A cup of almonds has 20 grams of protein that builds your chicken’s muscles and repairs bone damage to keep them healthy and strong. Protein increases your chicken’s energy levels, helping them stay at a lean weight.
Fats: Types And Benefits
Most of the fat in almonds is unsaturated, which is healthier for chickens than saturated fats. This beneficial fat can also decrease inflammation in a chicken’s system, improving its immune response and helping them stay healthy by fighting infections or inflammation.
Carbohydrates And Dietary Fiber
Almonds offer a decent amount of carbohydrates to help your chickens feel full so they’re not constantly scavenging for food, and almonds also introduce a high amount of dietary fiber to help keep the digestive system regular. As a result, your chickens are more comfortable and less prone to blockages when they eat.
Along with macronutrients, almonds have a high number of micronutrients, and this is why both chickens and humans can benefit from eating them.
- Vitamins – Almonds have a high level of vitamin E, riboflavin, and magnesium. Feeding your chickens almonds will give them a dose of these vitamins, and this can strengthen their immune systems.
- Minerals– Almonds also have high levels of magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium, with trace amounts of copper. These minerals help regulate nerve and muscle function, improve bone strength, and encourage muscle growth.
|Almond Nutrition Profile Per 20 Almonds
Benefits of Almonds for Chickens
Several benefits come with routinely feeding your chickens almonds. They include but are not limited to:
How Can Almonds Contribute To A Balanced Diet For Chickens?
Crush the almonds and mix them in with your chicken feed. If that doesn’t work, scatter chopped almonds around the coop for your chickens to eat. Letting your chickens eat almonds increases their protein intake, building strong muscles and boosting egg production. Additionally, chickens with protein-rich diets lay larger eggs.
Healthy fats increase your chicken’s energy levels, so feeding them a diet rich in healthy fats encourages good egg production. Your chickens will draw from their energy stores when they get ready to lay to help ensure strong shells. Healthy fats boost immunity too, to help your flock stay healthy and fight disease.
Are Almonds Beneficial For Chickens’ Immune System?
Almonds can be very beneficial for your chickens’ immune systems because they have many antioxidants. Antioxidants can help prevent free radical damage to your chickens’ cells, leading to reduced vision issues, inflammation, damage to nerve cells in the brain, and more.
Your chickens will also get a dose of vitamin E when they eat almonds, and this vitamin is responsible for supporting healthy immune function. When your chickens have a robust immune system, they can fight off infections easier than unhealthy chickens with weak immunity.
Can Almonds Improve Chickens’ Egg Quality?
If you include a balanced quantity of almonds in your chicken’s diet, you may notice changes in the eggshell strength, yolk color, and overall egg taste. This is because almonds have calcium, strengthening the eggshells and making them more challenging to break, leading to higher egg production.
If you look at an egg from a chicken with many almonds in its system, you’ll notice significantly less yellow coloring. The taste may also have a nutty undertone, especially if the chickens get a lot of almond hulls in their food. While this isn’t necessarily bad, you don’t want to get caught off guard when you notice it in your chickens.
Potential Risks of Feeding Almonds to Chickens
As with anything, there are risks to feeding your chickens almonds; you should know what they are to prepare.
- Choking Hazard – Your chickens may choke on them if you toss whole almonds to them. Grind the hulls, mix with their food, and feed them sparingly.
- Weight Gain – Almonds are fatty and oil, which is what makes them a good, filling snack. To prevent weight gain, monitor your chicken’s weight, feed any almonds sparingly, and stop feeding them to them if they gain too much weight.
Are Almonds Toxic To Chickens?
Bitter almonds contain cyanide and can be harmful if consumed in large amounts, so it’s safer to buy and feed sweet almonds instead. Buy the raw almonds from reputable sources, grind or chop them up, mix them with the feed, and use it as a treat. Another option is to chop the almonds, mix with fruits or vegetables, and scatter throughout the yard.
Almond Feeding Recommendations for Chickens
Feed the almonds as a snack or a treat instead of mixed into their food as a full meal. Laying hens will need more almonds than non-laying hens because they burn more energy producing and laying eggs.
How To Prepare Almonds For Chickens?
Ideally, you’ll crush or chop your almonds, scatter them throughout the yard, or mix them into their feed to avoid a choking hazard. However, don’t give your chickens whole almonds. Also, feed your chickens raw almonds over roasted whenever possible because roasting them destroys some of the healthy fats and nutrients.
How Much And How Often Should Chickens Be Fed Almonds?
How much you feed your chickens and how often depends on their size and whether or not they’re egg-laying hens. However, as a rough guide, you should try to ensure your chickens get the following at a minimum each day to stay healthy:
|Starter Food Mix
|Grower Food Mix
|0.9% to 1.8%
|0.9% to 1.8%
Generally speaking, most people feed their chickens almonds sparingly as a special treat or snack every few weeks.
How To Incorporate Almonds Into A Balanced Diet For Chickens?
One way to give your chickens almonds is to chop or grind them up and combine them with other healthy treat foods like blueberries, strawberries, watermelon, lettuce, beets, carrots, and broccoli. Then, scatter them around the coop or put them in your chicken’s food dish once every week or every other week.
Additionally, you must round out your chicken’s diet by adding high-quality commercial feed and giving them time to forage for bugs or grass. Of course, you can make your own chicken feed, but you can also buy high-quality feed with all the necessary vitamins and nutrients to ensure your chicken’s health.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can you feed your chickens almond hulls or shells?
Grind or chop the hulls or shells, toss them in the yard or mix them with vegetables and fruits. Feed them as a snack in small amounts once a week or every other week. Don’t put whole almonds where your chickens can reach them as they may choke. Seal the hulls in plastic containers, set the containers on a shelf, and make sure they stay dry and cool.
2. Which nuts are safe for chickens?
Chickens will eat pumpkin or sunflower seeds, walnuts, peanuts, and hazelnuts. Crack the shells, chop up the nuts, and scatter them sparingly around the yard. Store the nuts in a dry, cool place. Put them in an airtight container that seals to lock bugs and rodents out.
3. Can you feed your chickens almond butter and milk?
Chickens will eat almond milk and butter if you put it in their pen. Spread almond butter on pinecones, hang them in the coop, and let your chickens peck them as an enrichment activity. Pour almond milk into a pan, set the pan in the coop, and let your chickens drink from it. Remove both at night to ward off predators and pests.
So, can chickens eat almonds? Now you know this is a great treat or snack for your flock if you feed them in moderation. The high protein content and dietary fiber are great for your chickens, but feeding them too much can lead to weight gain. So, feed them sparingly as a fun reward.
Joseph Hudson has been raising chickens for over 15 years. In 2018, he completed the Agriculture & Natural Resources program at Mt. San Antonio College. He currently raises over 1400 chickens on his 7.5-hectare farm. He keeps sharing his experience on raising healthy and happy chickens on Chicken Scratch The Foundry.