Quinoa, packed with nutrients, provides many benefits to the body. Indeed, you would love to share it with your chickens. But can chickens eat quinoa? Definitely! Quinoa is one of the seeds that you can add to their diet. Compared to other grains, the nutritional content of quinoa is outstanding.
What is quinoa?
Although many misconceived it as a grain, quinoa is a seed consumed 7,000 years ago in South America. After the recent discovery of its health benefits, many considered it a superfood. It is one of the few plants that contain the nine essential amino acids.
If you are curious what are the nine essential amino acids, here is a list:
These building blocks of protein have different functions to sustain the biological processes. They help in repairing tissues and breaking down food.
In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly declared the “International Year of Quinoa”. The purpose of this is to recognize the ancient practices of the Andean people. It is also an avenue to promote quinoa for food security.
Types of Quinoa
There are more than 3,000 varieties of quinoa, but the most common are white, red, and black. Amazingly, each of them has different nutritional content. According to research, black quinoa has the highest omega-3. Also, both black and red quinoa have more vitamin E compared to white quinoa.
The most common variety is white quinoa. This variety is available in the markets. Most vegans and vegetarians consume it as a source of protein. Also, it helps in hemoglobin formation because it is rich in iron. Through the help of lysine, white quinoa also helps in tissue growth and repair.
Because it has the mildest flavor and a light texture, it serves as an ingredient for baked goods. Aside from that, it is a suitable rice replacement. The seeds only take less time to cook than other varieties.
There is also the red quinoa. Because it is rich in potassium and vitamin C, it is good for the heart. It is also a good source of antioxidants that can protect the body from free radicals. The high fiber content also provides good digestion.
You can see red quinoa often combined with vegetables and salad. Considering the flavor, it has a nutty and savory taste. Like all other varieties of quinoa, it also has nine essential amino acids.
Most lactose intolerants prefer black quinoa. It is a good alternative for daily products. Also, it is low in fat, so it can help in preventing obesity and weight gain. Black quinoa also builds and strengthens the muscles.
For preparation, black quinoa has the longest cooking time compared to all varieties. Its texture is very crunchy. Furthermore, it has the most intense nutty flavor. Yet many prefer its taste.
Other types of quinoa are available in the market that you can explore.
Nutrients in Quinoa
Amino acids are not the only reason why quinoa is a superfood. Aside from this, there are other nutrients that it provides. Here are the major nutrients that you can find in quinoa seeds:
In a cup of cooked quinoa, 58% consists of manganese. This nutrient plays a vital role in developing the bones of chickens. Also, it helps in breaking down food and turning it into energy. A lack of manganese may lead to osteoporosis and impaired growth.
Magnesium is in charge of absorbing calcium. It leads to stronger bones of the chickens. It also keeps their hearts from beating steadily. Through this, they can prevent cardiovascular diseases.
Chickens that are suffering from magnesium deficiency may experience metabolic disorders. They may also have cardiovascular diseases and osteoporosis.
Essential for chickens, quinoa contains a large amount of phosphorus. It has a vital part in the cellular activities of their body. Their brain, kidneys, heart, and liver depend on this nutrient. It ensures that the vital organs function correctly. If your chickens don’t have enough phosphorus, they would have brittle bones.
When it comes to DNA and RNA production, folate is the key player. Fortunately, a cup of cooked quinoa includes 19% folate. It is also beneficial for the rapid growth of cells and tissues. A chicken that is deficient in folate has slow growth, a frail appearance, and poor feathering.
Copper is typically found in seeds, including quinoa. It is the nutrient that absorbs iron in the body, preventing anemia. Aside from that, copper is also in charge of collagen formulation. Collagen helps strengthen and build bones. If your chicken has a low intake of copper, it will experience anemia and bone deformation.
There is 15% iron in every 185 grams of quinoa. Iron helps the red blood cells supply oxygen through the body. Without enough iron, chickens will have anemia. Red chickens that don’t have red pigmentation in their feathers suffer from anemia.
Check the signs of nutritional deficiencies if the chickens are not doing well.
Quinoa Nutrition Chart
Amount per 100g
Steps on Feeding Quinoa to Chickens
To maximize the health benefits of quinoa, you must prepare it properly. This section will guide you on how you can feed your chickens properly with these seeds.
Step 1: Choose how you want to serve the quinoa- uncooked, cooked, or sprouted.
There are three ways to give the quinoa seeds to the chickens: uncooked, cooked, or sprouted. If you want to serve them raw, don’t forget to wash them for 20 seconds. These seeds are coated with saponin. It makes them taste bitter. After rinsing, dry them for 20 minutes then they are ready to be served!
If you want to give them cooked quinoa seeds:
- Wash and rinse them first.
- Add water to it, then let it boil.
Wait until the water evaporates and the seeds are dry. You can also add ground beef to it to add protein to your chickens’ diet.
The best way is to serve sprouted quinoa seeds to the chickens. Soak the seeds inside the jar for 8 hours, then store the container in a warm place. Rinse the quinoa three times a day. The sprouts will appear after 24 hours.
Step 2: Prepare the right amount of quinoa.
Although quinoa seeds are healthy, you should give them in moderation to the chickens. For an adult chicken, prepare one tablespoon of quinoa. For chicks that are more than three weeks, a pinch of these seeds is enough. Give these treats to the chickens only twice a week.
Step 3: Mix it with the chicken feed or other treats.
You can serve the quinoa alone, or you can mix them with chicken feed or other treats. If you want to combine it with fruits, make sure to cut the fruits into tiny pieces. Feeding chickens with goodies that are too high in sugar have adverse effects.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I feed quinoa to chicks?
If the chicks are newborns, you should never feed them quinoa. Their digestive system cannot break down the seeds. Instead of quinoa, give them starter feed. But, chicks that are above three weeks can consume quinoa in a minimal amount.
What other foods can I give to my chickens?
Aside from quinoa, you can also give them barley, oats, and wheat. These grains are rich in vitamins and minerals. You can also add healthy fruits and vegetables for the chickens. But give them in moderation.
What are the foods that I should not give to my chickens?
Some harmful foods for chickens include raw potatoes, onions, asparagus, and tomatoes. Also, avoid giving them avocados, dairy products, and chocolate. The list goes on. Before feeding something new to the chickens, check first if they are not deadly to them.
Does quinoa lose its nutritional value if cooked?
Surprisingly, no. Unlike other seeds, quinoa does not lose its nutritional value if cooked. Cooked and sprouted quinoa seeds are healthier compared to raw or uncooked ones.
Can quinoa improve the appearance of the chickens?
Yes. A healthy chicken has a good appearance. Feeding quinoa to the chickens can help them gain weight. It can also result in bright, pigmented feathers. Aside from that, it can also prevent them from having nervous disorders.
Do I have to crush the quinoa seeds before feeding them to the chickens?
No, you don’t have to crush them before feeding them to the adult chickens. Quinoa seeds are tiny, and they can pass get into chickens’ throats without the risk of choking them.
Can chickens eat quinoa? Without a doubt! It is not only a superfood for humans but also chickens. Quinoa, filled with nutrients, can help you raise healthy and happy chickens. Adding quinoa to the diet of chickens suffering from nutritional deficiencies is recommended. It can do wonders for their health.
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.