Chickens are playful and fun animals to have in the backyard. They are not too high-maintenance and you can keep them both for the eggs and the meat. If you are reading this article, you are probably wondering if chickens can eat birdseed, so let’s find out all about it.
Is Birdseed Safe For Chickens?
Yes! Birdseed is a mix of seeds designated for feeding birds. Chickens are birds, so it is safe for them to eat this food.
Chickens are awesome animals for many reasons, but what’s so cool about them is that they eat almost anything. So, not only can your chicks eat birdseed, they will probably love it too.
When you give your chickens birdseed, you need to make sure the product you feed them is of high quality, just like you should with any other food you decide to feed your chicks.
Keep away from any birdseed that has added additives; it’s best if you can find a product that is 100% made from seeds. Chickens do eat almost everything, but they are not adapted to food that’s not natural, so additives are a big no.
Can Baby Chickens Eat Birdseed?
It is safe for baby chickens to eat birdseed too. You can start introducing this food to them once they are a few weeks old.
Baby chickens are too gentle at the beginning of their life, so avoid giving them anything other than the starter feed. It is specifically designated according to the nutritional needs of a very young chick so that the babies get enough nutrients to grow.
Once they seem stronger and healthy enough, you can start giving them the birdseed. They are sure to be thrilled by this treat, but that’s all the birdseed should be – a treat. It shouldn’t be the only food they eat, just a tasty addition to their standard diet.
Can Chickens Eat Birdseed Every Day?
No, chickens shouldn’t eat birdseed every day, at least not a lot of it. This food is very tasty but it doesn’t provide enough vitamins and minerals necessary for chickens to live a healthy life. Feeding your chickens only birdseed can lead to numerous health problems caused by vitamin deficiency.
Birdseed also has a high fat content and a lot of calories so if it is the only food your chickens eat, they can get obese, which can lead to even more health issues. Despite the potential consequences, you should know that your chickens wouldn’t complain the slightest about eating only birdseed.
This is why you need to be a bit more responsible than your little feathery friends and limit the amount of birdseed they have access to.
If your chickens are free-range, you can pour a small amount of birdseed on the different parts of your backyard. Your chickens will love finding the treat and they will be more likely to be active and enthusiastic about walking around daily.
Can Laying Hens Eat Birdseed?
Yes, laying hens can eat birdseed as well. The same rule applies – you should only give it to them as an occasional treat. If birdseed is your chick’s favorite treat, make it a habit to feed it to her every time she lays an egg. Your chick will be happy and feel comforted, and you may even encourage her to lay more eggs through positive reinforcement.
Is Birdseed Good For Chickens?
Birdseed doesn’t provide a lot of nutritional value to your chickens. It lacks the necessary vitamins and minerals the chickens need to function in the long term. However, birdseed contains a lot of good fats, so it is a good source of energy, especially during the winter. Also, chickens love it, so it is good for them to feel happy when given a treat!
While fats are healthy in a limited amount, keep in mind that you shouldn’t give too much birdseed to your chicken. If they eat a lot of it daily, they are at risk of getting obese and developing health issues.
What Seeds Can Chickens Eat?
Chickens can eat numerous types of seeds. It is safe to feed them sunflower seeds, flax seeds, safflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, buckwheat seeds, hemp seeds, and more. Some of these seeds are more nutritional than others, but all of them are safe, which is the most important part.
What Seeds Can’t Chickens Eat?
While numerous seeds are delicious and safe for chickens, you should be aware that not all seeds are good to feed your chicks. You should avoid giving your pets apple seeds – these contain a toxic substance that human bodies can easily digest, but they can be fatal to chickens in large quantities.
Stone fruit pits also contain harmful substances, so make sure that your chickens don’t have access to any of those. If you have an apple, plum, peach, or apricot tree in your backyard, clean the area regularly so your chicks can’t accidentally eat the seeds and pits that may fall on the ground. As mentioned, chickens will eat anything and everything, so they are not really aware that some food can harm them.
How To Make Birdseed For Chickens
In order to avoid low-quality birdseed full of additives and ingredients with zero nutritional value, you can make homemade birdseed treat for your chickens. This way, you are in control of what your chickens eat, and it is fun, easy, and cheap to make. Bonus points if you actually keep birds too!
You will need flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, crushed corn, and sesame seeds. You can add any other type of seed that you think your chickens will like. The quantity depends on how much birdseed you want to make, but the proportions of different seeds should be equal.
You just need to combine all of it and put it into a container for the next use. Depending on the amount of birdseed you decided to make, this mixture can last for a long time. It is also overall cheaper than the store-bought product.
Can Chickens Eat Other Animals’ Food?
If you keep other domestic animals in your home or backyard, you may have wondered if all of them can share food. It would be easier and you wouldn’t have to buy separate food for each animal that lives with you. Let’s see if chickens can eat the food designated for the most common household pets – cats and dogs.
Can Chickens Eat Cat Food?
Cats are carnivores while chickens are omnivores. Cat’s diet should be high in protein so the typical cat food, either canned or dry, is usually high in protein. Chickens do need protein in their diet, but not as much as cats.
This is why giving your chickens cat food exclusively can lead to long-term health issues. However, sometimes is fine – when you forget to buy chicken feed or if you have nothing else suitable to feed your chicks, give them some cat food. They will probably like it and it won’t cause any negative effects if it is an occasional occurrence.
If you own laying hens, they can benefit from some cat food from time to time. Laying hens need more protein in their daily lives, so feel free to treat them with some of your cat’s specialties once a few days.
Can Chickens Eat Dog Food?
Dog food is also high in protein so the same rules apply. You shouldn’t give your chickens too much dog food as the excess protein can cause health problems. Giving them your dogs’ food now and then won’t harm them and they will probably like the taste of the meat.
What Should You Feed Chickens?
Your chickens need a good, healthy, and balanced diet, whether you keep them for eggs, meat, or as pets. The better your chicks’ diet, the happier and healthier they will be, so it is essential to take care of their nutrient needs.
The chickens’ diet should primarily consist of high-quality poultry feed appropriate to the age of the chick. You should make this food available to them at least twice a day. If you are home often and if you can give them smaller quantities of food several times a day, that’s even better.
Apart from the poultry feed, you should encourage chickens’ natural free-range behavior. You should scatter seeds, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains across the backyard so they can peck and increase their vitamin and mineral intake for the day.
Closely follow your flock’s behavior when you introduce new food to them. You will see by the reactions which food they like and which they don’t. Plan their meals and treats according to that, and they are sure to be thankful every time you give them the food they enjoy.
Birdseed is a mixture of seeds designated for feeding birds. Chickens usually love this food and it is completely safe to feed it to them. However, it shouldn’t be the only thing your chicks eat because of the lack of vitamins in it. Their diet should consist of poultry feed, fresh fruits and vegetables, seeds, and whole grains.
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.