Like many kids, I grew up watching cartoons. I clearly remember scenes where people fed bread crumbs to birds. On the other hand, I have recently come across a sign saying that ducks should not be fed bread. So, what about chickens?
The poultry world is somewhat divided on this issue. The answer to this question is not a simple yes or no. However, you do not need to worry! We will be laying down the information. You can then make the call.
This article will cover
- Can Chickens Eat Bread?
- Why You Should Let Your Chickens Eat Bread
- Why You Should Not Let Your Chickens Eat Bread
- How to Make Bread Safe for Chickens?
- Things to Remember When Feeding Bread to Your Chicken?
- Can Chicks Eat Bread?
- High-Protein Treats
- Chickens and Protein
Can Chickens Eat Bread?
Let us look at the nutritional value of white bread. You will see that it has no ingredient that would be poisonous to chickens. On the flip side, you would also know that it does not really offer any nutrition for them either.
Click here to have a more detailed look at the components of the bread.
To answer the question: yes, chickens can consume the bread. Maybe a better question is if you should let them have a bite?
100g Bread Nutrition
Why You Should Let Your Chickens Eat Bread？
As we have already said, bread barely offers any nutrition to your chickens. Many treats do not contain all the good stuff to be part of their staple diet.
However, chicken keepers have approved them as treats because they can be advantageous if given in moderation. In other words, many treats are not that healthy. But does have some components that could be beneficial if balanced along with their everyday meals.
So, why bread? You might want to give your chickens a few pieces occasionally, as the little guys are known to love the treat.
In moderation, it would be a great way to make your chooks happy. I do believe that a happy chicken is a healthy chicken. Furthermore, it could also be a great way to introduce variety into their diet.
Why You Should Not Let Your Chickens Eat Bread?
Now, what about the risk?
It seems bread runs the risk of being a problem at every stage of the digestion process. First, it has a sponge-like texture. This quality makes it a choking hazard to your chickens. You could give them a tiny piece, and it might expand when they eat it. Furthermore, it might get stuck on their throat when they swallow it.
Remember, the little critters can only peck at food. They do not have teeth like us to help grind the food before it goes down.
Next, once it goes down the crop, it could pose several problems, such as blockages and alteration of several aspects of the microbiome.
How to Make Bread Safe for Chickens?
If you were looking forward to throwing a few pieces of bread to your chooks, you do not have to worry. Not all is lost. There is a way to make bread safer for the little critters.
You can avoid a choking chicken if you break the bread apart and soak it in water. This way, the bread will not expand any further once they consume it.
Additionally, you could add some apple cider vinegar to the water. This process would break up the fibers of the bread faster. This method reduces the chance it would ball up and cause all sorts of problems in the crop.
Things to Remember When Feeding Bread to Your Chicken?
As we have said earlier, feed your chickens bread in moderation. There is a way that you could make bread safer for consumption. However, remember that it still does not contain the nutrition that your chicken needs. It should not be part of their staple diet and should remain as a treat.
Furthermore, you could consider what type of bread you are feeding them. You should lower the amount of bread you give the chickens if it has more sugar or salt. Too much sugar or salt is unhealthy for the chooks.
As with any other treats you can give to your chickens, you should always stay away from anything that has mold. It might not kill them instantly, but it poses many health risks. It is just not worth it.
On the other hand, if you could give them some bread that contains some seeds, then it would be somehow healthier. Not healthy enough to make it part of their principal diet. Hopefully, though, there is a little more protein in that seeded bread.
A large part of the feathers of your chickens is protein. You might want to cut back giving the bread during molting season. Opt for treats with a little more protein. They need extra protein during this time to produce a new set of feathers to make them ready for the oncoming cold.
Having a hard time making sure the critters are taking their medication? Have a little guy that keeps refusing medicine? You can use bread to be a medicine soaker.
People will tell you different things regarding this matter. Some might say you could give your chickens bread, and others might advise against it. However, they do not know your chickens. Observe them when giving them the food. If they get sick after eating new food, it is likely a sign that you need to withdraw the treat.
Can Chicks Eat Bread?
We have established that chickens can eat bread. Furthermore, we have discussed how to make it safe for consumption. So, what about the baby chicks?
Your chicks could also eat bread. However, I should emphasize that bread barely has any protein, a nutrient highly needed by your chicks.
Make sure you take extra care when giving chicks treats. Give them smaller pieces and lesser amounts of it. Remember, chicks should mostly stay on starter feed until the 6th week.
Here are some treats that could be an alternative to bread. On the other hand, you could just add these treats to their growing list of chicken treats.
Mealworms – This one is undoubtedly one of the crowd favorites. Chickens would most probably love this treat. It is also a great way to boost their protein intake.
Maggots – This one is one of the cheaper options. If you have any rotting food, then you would most likely find maggots. Give this to your chickens, and they would immediately gobble it up!
Earthworms – If you let your chickens free-range, then they would have most probably eaten some earthworms already. You do not have to worry. Your chickens could safely consume earthworms. Furthermore, it is healthy for them.
As you might have already noticed, bugs are safe for your chickens. Furthermore, it is healthy for them. If you are looking to give more high-protein treats to your chickens, you can let them free-range. This activity will let them find some healthy high-protein treats on their own. Also, we are pretty sure they will love the pastime.
Egg – I know it sounds weird or maybe even a little freaky. (That is also one of my initial reactions.) However, eggs are also a high-protein treat you can give them. Just do not give them raw eggs! The raw egg might cause mayhem on your coop. Your chickens might figure out where the raw eggs come from, and you probably know where that would lead.
Chicken – If you thought eggs were already freaky, then I am not sure how to describe this one. However, yes, cooked chicken is also a way to give your live chickens a high-protein treat.
Chickens and Protein
One of the main concerns about giving chickens bread is that this food barely contains any protein. You might be wondering how essential this nutrient is.
Protein is vital in the growth and development of chickens. Furthermore, as we have already said, your chickens need more of it during molting season. It is also a good idea to give them some extra protein whenever they are in a stressful situation. Protein is also a nutrient to note when it comes to egg production.
With all of that said, protein is vital to a chicken’s life. However, as the saying goes, too much of a good thing could be a bad thing. Too much protein could also pose problems. It’s a bad idea to make their meals revolve around it. Balance is the key to having a healthy chicken.
Can chickens eat bread?
It is not the most nutritious meal on the list or the safest treat at that. However, chickens could eat bread.
There are some cautions and risks when giving your chickens bread. However, we have little doubt they would enjoy gobbling up this treat.
The chicken community is not united in its view of this food. However, you know your chickens best. You would be the one that could make the best decision for them.
If you want to know more about chicken treats, then you can check our chicken feeding tips.