Chia seeds are also known for being a superfood because of the numerous benefits it acquires. It may help in weight reduction and digestive health issues for humans.
However, can chickens eat chia seeds as well? Is it even beneficial for your flock? Read this blog to answer your questions!
What Are Chia Seeds?
Before you even start knowing the essential information about chia seeds and their connection to chickens, it is best to understand first simple details about these superfoods.
For those who do not know, chia seeds come from a desert plant that belongs to the mint family called Salvia hispanica. These seeds appear to be gray with white and black spots. Meanwhile, the shape is oval that only measures around 2 millimeters.
Indeed, chia seeds are safe to consume. You can attain a lot of nutrients just by eating chia seeds. Some of these are the following listed below:
Table 1: Breakdown of the fat content of chia seeds
|Amount in Grams (gr)
Moreover, chia seeds also contain minerals and proteins such as copper, selenium, calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.
Since you already know or have been reminded of what chia seeds are and consist of, it is time to answer the most crucial question.
Can Chickens Eat Chia Seeds?
Without a hint of doubt, the answer is yes! Chia seeds are a great source of nutrients perfect for your flock.
However, remember that chickens cannot eat too many chia seeds. A tablespoon of chia seeds will be enough for adult chickens. On the other hand, for a chick, a teaspoon will be enough. You can give it to them only as treats, every day.
Be mindful of the number of chia seeds you feed your flock to avoid digestive health issues. Nevertheless, your chickens are safe with chia seeds as long as they meet the standard nutrition they need to be healthy.
Look at this flock eating chia seeds:
Can Chia Seeds Be A Full Alternative for a Pellet Mix?
As mentioned above, chia seeds can’t replace the staple food for your chickens. A balanced diet for your flock must include necessary nutrients. Check the table below to see the sources of these nutrients and why they are essential.
Table 2: Essential Nutrients, Sources, Functions
|Grains, sugar, starch
|Source of energy
|Corn gluten, soybean meal
|Building of muscles, nerves, beak, feathers, skin, cartilage, and body tissue
|Beef tallow, poultry fat
|Hormone production, cell membrane growth
|Carrots, beans, fish, yeast, spinach, banana,
|Growth, reproduction, body function
|Bone meal, oyster shell
|Digestion, muscle function, chemical reactions
Although chia seeds contain many nutrients, these are not enough to replace the staple food of your flock. Again, these are only snacks for your chickens.
Moreover, watch out for the signs of a lack of essential minerals and vitamins in poultry in this link. Be a vigilant poultry farmer!
What Are The Effects of Chia Seeds On Chickens?
As usual, chia seeds also have effects on your flock. As a poultry farmer, it is necessary to know all these.
High fiber content is contained by chia seeds, 34.4 grams to be exact. For this reason, letting your chickens peck even an ounce of it will immediately help in maintaining healthy digestive health. Hence, the extraction of nutrients from the food they consume will be fast and easy. It will help in minimizing constipation as well.
Even so, prioritize controlling their chia seed intake because it may as well cause digestive health issues.
If you want your chick to produce thick shells, then you should add chia seeds as part of their meal. These seeds contain high amounts of calcium.
Without calcium, egg shells become thin and are easy to break. If that happens, you will lose produce or potential income as a backyard farmer.
Cancer is also a thing for chickens! A population of 5% to 35% of hens may contract ovarian cancer throughout their lifetime. This issue is alarming since hens are the ones that reproduce chicks.
Antioxidants are crucial in battling or preventing free radicals that can cause illnesses in flocks. Its primary purpose is to avoid damage to cells. Luckily, chia seeds are abundant with antioxidants!
2 Ways To Feed Chickens With Chia Seeds
Using chia seed as an additive to the staple food of chickens is easy. There are two ways for you to do this: uncooked and cooked. Both of the options are okay to practice.
Uncooked chia seeds
Feeding your flock with uncooked seeds may be a simple task for you, but it will require so much caution to do this. You have to make sure that every cock will only consume enough and not too much.
You can throw the seeds into the cage and scatter them. The chickens will forage on the feeds themselves. Do not forget to prepare water for your chickens to avoid choking. It may be considered a treat for them.
Cooked chia seeds
For the cooked chia seeds, just soak them in water for 10 minutes. Soaking will make the chickens digest the seeds even faster. After drenching them in water, the seeds will look like oatmeal– which is normal.
You can also add the chia seeds to the pellet mix you are going to give your flock. It is safe to mix it with others too. Make sure that you stir it well to avoid any areas where the seeds are concentrated.
Again, chia seeds are not a full alternative for a complete chicken meal. It is not advisable to give the chickens above 5% amount of chia since it will make them bloated easily. Hence, they won’t be able to consume other food needed to balance the nutrient level in their body.
Here is a video of chickens devouring their food salad with chia seeds:
If you are wondering if you can grow chia seeds yourself, here’s a tip: use a chia pet!
Introduction To Chia Pet
Originating from America, the chia pet is made of terracotta clay and is considered a terracotta figurine. This pet can hold chia seeds and make them grow in no time.
Chia pets are best for poultry farmers since they can generate chia seeds even indoors. It will save space, and chickens won’t peck on it outdoors. In addition, these are reusable. Chia pets are great investments.
You can buy it in stores, or you may customize it. The choice is yours!
How To Grow A Chia Pet?
Follow these 7-easy steps to grow your chia pet!
Step 1. Soak the pet
Moisten the pet by fully submerging it in a bucket filled with water. The first step is crucial because soaking the figurine is the key to making the seeds stick to it. Wet the pet for 24 hours.
Step 2. Water the seed
An hour or two before you stop soaking the pet, prepare to wet the chia seeds. In a bowl, place a teaspoon of seed and mix it with enough water. Mix it well for 15 minutes, then leave it for an hour. The mixture will become sticky as expected.
Step 3. Stick the seed
On a deep tray, place the soaked chia pet. Usually, there is a hole on top of it which you should fill with water. Paste the sticky seeds on the ridges and exterior part of the pet. Spread it evenly.
Step 4. Create a greenhouse
Put plastic over your pet. It should be big enough not to touch the seeds. It will serve as a fake greenhouse for your chia pet. Remove the plastic after 3-4 days.
Step 5. Sunlight
Do not forget to place your chia pet in an area where it can be hit by sunlight. Every plant needs it! Occasionally rotate the pet to make the sprouting even.
Step 6. Harvest the seeds
Usually, the seeds will already sprout after a week. If you spot this change, harvest the chia immediately and do not wait for it to turn brown and overgrown.
Step 7. Clean
Clean all the utensils that you used, especially the chia pet. So you can use it again for another chia planting session.
Hopefully, you understand the steps listed above. It is helpful for your chickens who eat chia seeds. Watch this video for a real visual representation:
In a nutshell, the answer to the question: can chickens eat chia seeds, yes! These are more beneficial than harmful. It has the necessary nutrients needed by your flock too. Again, chia seeds are not an alternative for a pellet mix. Chia seeds are safe but give them moderately.
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.