Healthy chickens are your assets. That is why there should be focus and emphasis on what you feed them. There are so many healthy foods they can eat, including grains. With that said, can chickens eat oatmeal?
Do You Know Your Oatmeal?
As much as you want your chickens to be healthy and well-fed, you still have to know what goes into their system. You want to make sure that what they are eating is safe for them. Some things might not be good for them, and these can significantly harm them.
What is Oatmeal?
Oatmeal is one of the most popular foods around. It comes from oats which are said to be one of the healthiest grains in the world. Oats have been around since time immemorial. However, they were domesticated and cultivated much later than wheat and barley.
Back then, people weren’t too keen on oats. They used oats as fodder for their animals. To this day, it’s still being used for horses, cattle, and sheep. As time went by, they were able to embrace it and add it to their diets. It has even become a staple in some people’s daily meals.
There are no exact details as to how the oatmeal we know now came to be. There are many theories regarding its exact origin.
The porridge type that people eat is, perhaps, one of the most well-liked ways of consuming oatmeal. It’s a popular breakfast food and it’s enjoyed by people all over the world.
When it comes to oatmeal, there are several types available in the market today. You can check out the different kinds of oatmeal here:
- Scottish Oats
- Steel Cut Oats (also known as Irish Oats)
- Rolled Oats
- Instant Oats
- Oat Groats
Is Oatmeal Safe For Chickens?
People have been using oats to feed their livestock, including chickens. Given this knowledge, it’s safe for chickens to consume oatmeal!
It is your responsibility as the owner of the flock or poultry to feed your chickens healthy meals. As with other types of food, you should be cautious of how much you give them. Remember that too much of something is bad enough. You must not overfeed your chickens. Everything has to be in moderation. And this includes oatmeal, of course!
What Are The Benefits Of Oatmeal?
|Nutrient||Content in 100g of Oatmeal||Effects on Chickens|
|Energy||389 kcal||Supports daily activities|
|Protein||16.9g||Aids muscle growth|
|Fat||6.9g||Provides essential fatty acids|
|Calcium||54mg||Supports bone and egg formation|
|Phosphorus||523mg||Maintains bone health|
|Zinc||3.97mg||Essential for immune system|
|Magnesium||177mg||Supports nerve function|
|Potassium||429mg||Maintains heart function|
|Vitamin B1||0.763mg||Supports neural health|
|Vitamin B5||1.349mg||Aids in metabolism|
|Manganese||4.9mg||Important for egg formation|
Oats have been part of some livestock’s diets for ages. It’s because they have a lot of benefits, including vitamins and minerals. When chickens eat oatmeal, they too can get a lot of nourishment. If you want to learn more about what oatmeal can do for your chickens, then you should check these benefits out:
Oats pack a lot of magnesium. This mineral is essential in the chicken’s bone formation. It also aids in the activation of some enzymes. When there is magnesium deficiency or Hypomagnesemia, it could affect the chicken’s calcium homeostasis and Vitamin D. When something like this occurs, it might lead to the increased risk of developing certain diseases. Chickens might develop diseases related to their cardiovascular system. There might be effects on their bone growth and density as well as their metabolism.
Magnesium is also vital in younger chickens. If they have a magnesium deficiency, it could affect their growth, impairing their physical development. In some cases, this leads to lethargy or death. Losing one member of your flock might not sound serious. However, if this is something that occurs multiple times, it’s a cause for concern.
Thiamine (Vitamin B1)
When chickens lack Thiamine or Vitamin B1, it affects their energy production, specifically the conversion of sugar (glucose) to fat. A chicken with Vitamin B1 deficiency might lose its appetite.
They might not have the energy to eat or drink or they might have difficulty doing so. Due to the inability to feed themselves, they might start losing weight. If this continues, they would lose the ability to walk or to move.
When chickens become paralyzed, this can become a major issue for them. It usually starts from their legs, but it can soon affect the rest of their body, including their wings and necks. As their condition worsens, it can lead to their deaths.
If you wish to prevent any of these from happening, your chickens need a well-balanced diet. Oats can be a good source of Thiamine or Vitamin B1. Perhaps you can start adding this to your chickens’ diet as soon as you can.
If you are looking for something rich in Manganese, then add oatmeal to your chicken meals. Manganese is an important nutrient for chickens, most especially in their reproduction. It’s also essential in egg formation.
Laying hens who lack the right amount of Manganese in their systems might produce eggs with thinner shells and other abnormalities. The chicks from these eggs may also exhibit physical defects.
If young chickens lack Manganese, they can develop a condition called perosis. This condition causes slipped tendons and can affect the legs. Apart from potentially not being able to walk, their legs might grow thicker and shorter than they would normally be.
Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5)
Vitamin B5 can be found in many foods, including oatmeal. If your chicken has a Pantothenic Acid deficiency, then you can try adding oatmeal to its diet.
A chicken with Vitamin B5 deficiency might have issues with its skin and nervous system. Their adrenal gland, specifically their adrenal cortex, would also be affected. If your chickens exhibit some of the symptoms, they might be signs that they need more Vitamin B5 in their system:
- Flaking and cracking found between the toes and feet
- Flaking around the beak, particularly the corner
- Brittle and rough feathers
- Stunted growth and feathers
In laying hens, their egg production might be affected. There might be a reduction in the number of eggs they can produce. The embryos inside their eggs might also be impacted. There is a high probability that chicks born from these eggs would appear weak. There might also be high chances of these chicks dying after hatching.
This mineral is essential in bone growth and development. And it’s something that you can find in oatmeal. Together with calcium, phosphorus is needed by chickens so that their bodies develop well. If chickens lack enough phosphorus, this can result in the following:
- Softer beak and bones
- Enlarging of the hocks
- Swelling of the hocks
- Reduced bodyweight
If you want to avoid your chickens from going through these, they need enough phosphorus in their system. If there’s a balance between their phosphorus and calcium levels, it lowers the chances of chickens developing these kinds of conditions.
You can get a significant amount of zinc from oatmeal. If you have chickens that exhibit zinc deficiency, you can turn to oatmeal for help.
If chickens are suffering from a mild form of Zinc deficiency, their growth might be slower than usual. Their bones would become shorter and thicker. Their feathers might look frizzled and unhealthy. They might also have problems with their respiration. This can be fatal to the chickens.
The chicks born from chickens with zinc deficiency might also have development issues. They can appear weak and would often find it hard to eat or drink. Their skeletal system would often be the most affected.
Can Chickens Eat Raw Oatmeal?
Chickens can be fed raw oatmeal. They can consume raw oats safely, without any significant concerns. If you wish to preserve more proteins and fibers, you do not have to cook the oatmeal.
You can try feeding your chickens raw oatmeal. You can observe how they react to it. If it looks like something they enjoy eating, then keep doing that. However, another option for you is to add water to the oatmeal.
You can add warm water to your oatmeal mix. It softens the oats, giving them a more different texture than the raw ones. A warm serving of oatmeal during the winter would be perfect for the chickens.
If you want to shake things up a bit, you can try mixing other nutritious foods into the mix. You can add seeds, berries, and many others. Just make sure that these are safe for the chickens to consume. There are so many choices out there for you and your chickens.
As with most food you give to your chickens, you must make sure that you do it in moderation. You can’t just let your chicken live on an oatmeal diet every single day. There must be variety in their diets. This ensures that they are getting the right vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Overdoing it might cause some dietary issues that could affect their overall health and well-being.
Feed Your Chickens Oatmeal But In Moderation
Knowing how much food to give to your chickens is your duty as their owner or keeper. The same principle holds when chickens eat oatmeal. You have to make sure that there is balance in everything they consume. It starts from the moment they hatch up until they become adult chickens.
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.