Raising chickens is a worthwhile endeavor that anyone can do. It’s a fulfilling hobby that can also bring in extra income. The key is applying the best care practices and providing proper nutrition. One question that most beginners ask is, “can chickens eat meat”?. This article reveals the answer and offers other essential feeding information.
Can chickens safely eat meat?
Yes, your beloved birds can safely eat meat since they are omnivores. It means that they consume both plants and animals as food. These natural foragers will eat anything that will satisfy their nutritional needs.
When they’re free to roam outside, you might observe them eating insects, worms, and even tiny snakes. They would even enjoy feasting on small frogs, toads, and mice. All these animals are considered meat.
When chickens eat their food on their own, it is safe for them. They have an instinct that guides them on what’s best for their bodies. These animals have protein content that’s essential for a chicken’s development. Their nutritional values can help boost egg production and healthy body functions.
This homesteader who tried different meats for his chickens:
Can chickens eat prepared meat?
It’s a relief to know that it’s safe for your flock to eat anything they fancy outside. Perhaps you’re wondering if it’s okay to give meat table scraps. The simple answer is yes. You can provide leftover meat as long as they’re not spoiled or rotten.
How much meat can chickens eat?
One of the considerations in feeding chickens meat is the amount you’re allowed to give them. While meat is a good protein source, providing too much can be harmful. As tempting as it may be to give your pets all the meat they can eat, it’s not the best practice.
They can’t thrive on an all-meat diet. If you’re taking care of free-range chickens, the meat they get from outside is already enough. These animals can regulate their diet, so it’s best not to intervene.
On the other hand, if your flock has no access to other animals, you can provide them with the right amount of meat. You may include meat in their daily feeding schedule.
Four tablespoons of minced meat or small chunks are enough to feed a dozen chickens. It would be best to incorporate it with quality chicken feed for a more balanced meal. The key is to provide them with a higher amount of grains than meat.
What kinds of meat can chickens eat?
You can feed your chickens a wide array of meat options. These animals are not picky eaters, so you won’t have a problem introducing animal protein sources to their diet. Here are some types of meat you can give your flock:
Earthworms are one of the most popular meat options for chickens. They have high protein content and have a manageable size for your pet’s tiny mouth. Allow your chickens to catch them. If you’re acquiring it for them, ensure they are fresh and alive before feeding your flock.
Toads and frogs are safe for chickens. However, it’s best if they catch these amphibians on their own. If you want to grab it for them, make sure they are alive. Giving your pets dead frogs can cause illness or even death.
Chickens love the fresh taste of fish. It contains a healthy amount of protein that your chickens need to thrive. You have to make sure that the fish is fresh and cooked thoroughly. Avoid giving raw fish or seafood that’s improperly stored.
Pork, Beef, and Chevon
Chickens can also enjoy the savory flavors of these meat choices. However, it’s best if you cook them beforehand. Check the meat’s freshness before including them in your pet’s meal. If you notice any foul smell or discoloration, throw the food away. Feeding your pets questionable food is not worth the risk.
Here is a video of chickens eating raw meat.
As a chicken lover, you might be uncomfortable feeding your chickens poultry products. However, there’s nothing to fear because it’s safe and acceptable. They need protein to keep them healthy, so whatever source suits them. Providing cooked and unseasoned chicken is always the best option. If you’re feeding table scraps, ensure they’re not breaded, fried, or glazed in the sauce.
Eggs are a favorite breakfast food for humans. It’s great to know that your pet birds can enjoy them, too. They’re rich in protein and selenium, so they suit your chickens. It would be best to serve your flock cooked eggs.
What types of meat are not suitable for chickens?
You should be aware that not all meat will benefit your chickens. It would help if you were strict about their meat intake to avoid digestive trouble. A little preparation can help ensure your chickens consume healthy meats. You can also remind family members to avoid giving the following:
Processed meat is laden with artificial seasoning and preservatives that can harm your pets. They may cause allergic reactions and upset stomachs. Avoid giving them bacon, sausages, hotdogs, or luncheon meat.
Humans love burgers, pizzas, and fried chicken. However, these fast food treats are not ideal for chicken food. They also contain harmful preservatives that can disrupt the chicken’s intestinal flora. They also have high amounts of fat that your chickens don’t need. It’s best to avoid the urge to share your favorite food with your pets.
Trim the fat from the meat before giving it to your chickens. While your pets may benefit from small amounts of fat, higher levels may harm them. They can always get a healthy dose of fat from other sources, such as their feeds.
Unfresh Raw Meat
You can feed raw meat to your flock once in a while. However, please remember to give it in small, manageable portions. It would help if you ensured the meat was fresh and had not been sitting in the fridge for a long time.
Dead animals may contain toxic bacteria and viruses that can harm your pet’s health. Avoid giving it to your chickens to ensure they are safe from harm. If your pets can roam around a field, they can decide which animals are best for them. Indeed, they won’t have the appetite to feast on dead carcasses.
Meats with Sauces and Dressings
The sauces used in preparing meat often contain sodium sugar, MSG, and vinegar. These condiments are not beneficial to your chicken. Too much sodium and sugar can make them lose their appetite. It will prevent them from eating the right kind of food. These flavor enhancers can also disrupt your pet’s digestion.
How can I safely feed meat to chickens?
The following guidelines can help keep your chickens healthy and safe while eating meat.
- Chop the meat into small pieces. Remember that your chicken’s mouth is small so that it might choke them.
- It would be best to cook the protein before serving it to your flock. Subjecting the food to heat would kill off any bacteria or parasites that can cause illness.
- If you plan to feed your pets raw meat, ensure they are fresh. Discard the meat immediately if you notice discoloration, foul smell, or slimy texture.
- Avoid giving eggs with the shell intact as this may cause cannibalism. Your chicken might get used to this practice and eat their freshly laid eggs. Cook the eggs first before mixing with their feeds.
- Feeding chickens meat during wintertime is highly beneficial to them. Since they can’t go out to forage, providing them with meat will help keep them in good shape.
- You can give your chickens insect larvae. However, you need to identify them first since not all larvae are good for them. The following species are safe to feed:
- Grub worms
- Black soldiers fly maggots
- House maggots
- Avoid giving your pets greasy food. These can cause diarrhea and dehydration to your chickens.
- Make sure to balance the protein with the right amount of grains, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.
What are the benefits of protein to the chickens?
The right amount of protein provides the following benefits to your chickens:
- It helps during molting – Chickens lose some of their feathers during the molting period. Giving them protein supports healthy feather growth. Poultry raisers who provide meat during winter have noticed that their chickens grew fluffy feathers despite being cooped up in their houses.
- It supports egg production – Chickens need protein to produce high-quality eggs. If they get a sufficient amount of this nutrient, they can grow large, healthy-looking eggs.
- It keeps their muscles strong – Protein plays an essential role in a chicken’s growth and environment adaptation. It can also boost immunity so it won’t get sick often.
Here’s another video of a homesteader sharing her experience feeding her chickens meat.
So, can chickens eat meat? Sure, they can! Meat is a good source of protein that can support your chicken’s growth and egg production. The key to healthy meat consumption is to ensure they are fresh and clean. It would be best to show your pets some TLC by cooking their favorite meat.
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.