If you want healthy chickens laying good quality eggs, you must ensure that they have the proper diet. One of the highly nutritious seeds is flax seed, but can chickens eat flax seed? The answer to this question is yes. But like any other seeds, chickens must take them moderately.
Benefits of Flax Seed to Chickens
Flax seeds come from flax plants. They help produce commercial products like linen, paper, and oil crops. These nutty-flavored seeds are considered superfoods because of the nutrients they provide. Not only are they beneficial to humans, but also chickens.
Rich source of omega-3
One of the benefits of flax seeds is that it is a good source of omega-3. To humans, omega-3 helps in combating diseases like cancer and high cholesterol. The same is also true for chickens! Unfortunately, chickens can also have ovarian cancer. Yet including flax seeds in their diet can prevent them from having cancer.
Aside from that, flax seeds increase the omega-3 fatty acid on chickens’ eggs. If you want to have a continuous supply of tasty and healthy eggs, flax seeds can help. Also, you can expect healthier chicks running around your backyard. What a hen consumes affects the health of its chicks, so a good diet is necessary.
Feeding flax seeds can also improve the appearance of the chicken. It is rich in Omega-3 that develops the colors of the feathers. Furthermore, these seeds can also increase the amount of omega-3 on chicken’s meat. Feed the chicken some flax seeds seven days before slaughtering it. The result is tastier and healthier meat.
Increases the bone mass of chickens and helps in preventing skeletal problems
Bone breakage is one of the problems that poulterers face. This unfortunate event happens when chicken housings have limited space. They prevent the chickens from maintaining solid bones by moving around. According to studies, omega-3 found in flax seeds prevents osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.
Research on the omega-3 diet explains how it strengthens the bones of chickens. It is more effective than diet supplements rich in calcium, fluoride, and vitamins.
|Nutrient||Amount per 100g|
|– Saturated Fat||3.7g|
|– Monounsaturated Fat||7.5g|
|– Polyunsaturated Fat||29g|
|Omega-3 Fatty Acids||22.8g|
|Omega-6 Fatty Acids||5.9g|
|– Dietary Fiber||27g|
|– Vitamin A||0 IU|
|– Vitamin C||0.6mg|
|– Vitamin E||0.31mg|
|– Vitamin K||4.3mcg|
|– Thiamin (B1)||1.64mg|
|– Riboflavin (B2)||0.16mg|
|– Niacin (B3)||3.08mg|
|– Vitamin B6||0.47mg|
|– Folate (B9)||87mcg|
|– Vitamin B12||0mcg|
Steps on feeding flax seeds to chickens
Before you feed flax seeds to your chickens, there are things that you need to remember. This section will guide you on administering flax seeds. It will help to improve your chickens’ health.
Step 1: Prepare one tablespoon of flax seed per day
Choose what kind of flax seeds you want for the chickens: dark brown or golden one. They differ only in flavor but have the same nutritional content. The brown flax seeds have a more intense taste than the golden flax seeds. After deciding what type of flax seeds to give to the chickens, scoop one tablespoon of flax seeds.
You can also combine flax seeds with other seeds or grains. Look for other foods that can work best with flax seeds. They must also add other nutrients aside from omega-3.
Step 2: Grind first using a coffee grinder
It is not advisable to feed chickens with whole flax seeds. They are at risk of choking on whole flax seeds, resulting in internal injury to their throats. Even if they swallow them whole, it may lead to blockages in their digestive system. However, there are whole flax seeds that are safe to consume, but they are more costly to buy.
The safest way is to provide them with ground flax seeds. If you have already bought whole flax seeds, it is not a problem. You can grind them using a coffee grinder, mortar, pestle, or spice mill.
Step 3: Observe the reaction of the chickens.
It will only take eight weeks to notice the benefits of flax seeds to your chickens. If you haven’t seen any improvement, you can change the brand that you are using. If you notice development in their health, keep providing them with these seeds for a time.
If there are any adverse effects, stop feeding them flax seeds immediately. Also, consult a veterinarian. There are parasites on chickens that could turn worse if the chickens consume flax seeds. You can check this video on “Add flax to your chicken feed” to learn more about feeding flax seeds to chickens.
Effects of giving too many flax seeds to chickens
Flax seeds, although beneficial to health, must be taken in moderation by chickens. Overfeeding them with flax seeds may result in severe illness, or worse, death. You should give them the right amount every day for only a specific time.
Giving a large number of seeds to the chickens may stop them from absorbing the nutrients. The sticky material in the seeds increases the vitamins the chickens need. Without proper nutrients, chickens may lose weight and lay tiny eggs with thin shells.
Studies revealed that consuming flax seeds for a long time leads to the hemorrhagic liver. The reason is still unclear why this happens to chickens. But some suspect that too many fatty acids are the culprits.
The negative effect of giving too many flax seeds is not only limited to the hen’s health. It can also lead to a poor-quality egg with an irritating smell and a darkened egg yolk. Instead of a delicious egg for breakfast, you may taste one that is fishy in flavor.
Five recommended seeds for chickens
Aside from flax seeds, there are also other seeds that you can feed on the chickens as treats. You must follow the 90/10 rule on their diet. Ninety percent of the chicken’s diet must comprise the complete feed. Only ten percent should be allocated for treats.
Not only are pumpkin seeds beneficial to the chickens, but they also love them! Whenever you feed them these seeds, you are also helping them boost their protein intake. The good thing about giving pumpkin seeds to chickens is that you don’t have to follow the 90/10 rule. You can give them how much you want to.
Sunflower seeds have unsaturated fats. They are beneficial in preventing high cholesterol and high blood pressure. It also protects the body from heart diseases. Rich in antioxidants and vitamin E, they boost the immunity system. When raising chickens, these seeds are highly recommended treats.
Instead of throwing away papaya seeds, you can feed them to your chickens. These seeds are high in protein. They improve chickens’ metabolic functions, build their tissues, and repair their body cells.
Other treats that you can add to your chicken’s diet are watermelon seeds. The seeds are not only rich in protein, but chickens also love to consume the rinds. They also like the taste of watermelon seeds, so surely they would be glad if you gave them some.
Bell pepper seeds
Bell pepper seeds are safe for chickens. Surprisingly, they are good sources of proteins. Never feed chickens with peppers that are hot and spicy. Aside from the fact that they would not like it, it could also negatively affect them.
There are other seeds and grains that you should and should not give to chickens. Before you give them new treats, make sure that you research them since foods may harm them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can feeding chickens with flax seeds harm them?
As long as you feed them with flax seeds in moderation, there is nothing that you should worry about. Chickens should not miss consuming the nutrients from flax seeds. They are rich in omega-3 and other vitamins. But feeding them too much with these seeds can harm them.
Aside from flax seeds, what other foods are good sources of omega-3?
Other good sources of omega-3 are walnuts, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, fish, and shellfish. These foods are only part of the list since there are more other foods rich in omega-3 that you can give to the chickens.
Can flax seeds improve the size of the hen’s eggs?
No, flax seeds cannot improve the size of the chickens’ eggs. But they can enhance their flavor and quality. You can buy an expensive lay booster if you want to.
Can I give flax seeds to chicks?
Yes, you can give them some flax seeds, but these seeds are not advisable for their diet. Chicks don’t need a lot of omega-3. The nutrients they need are protein, carbohydrates, and vitamins. If you want to add flax seeds to their diet, give them the right amount.
How often should I give flax seeds to the chickens?
You should only give one tablespoon of flax seeds each day. Treats, like flax seeds, must be only ten percent of their diet. Overfeeding may endanger them.
Can chickens eat flax seeds? Indeed, they can! Flax seeds have many benefits to chickens. If given correctly, you can expect healthier hens to lay more good quality eggs. You can also combine flax seeds with other treats to get more positive results. Yet don’t forget to give them in moderation.
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.