Chickens need to consume the required and recommended amount of nutrients for them to be able to grow healthy and strong. The essential nutrients a chicken needs include water, carbohydrates, and proteins, etc. Therefore they need to consume the right amount of these things to grow appropriately. Here are 10 high-protein foods for chickens.
The Importance of Protein for Chickens
Why are proteins so crucial to chickens? Protein is not only essential to chickens but also a wide variety of living things. Almost all animals need this nutrient in their life. Protein plays an essential role in the overall growth of animals.
They are responsible for building muscle, DNA replication, cell structure, molecular and enzyme transportation that determines and helps in chemical reactions. Here are some of its key points of importance.
- Egg production
- Adaptation to environment
Protein-Rich Sources For Chickens
Protein is a necessity for chickens. Owners exert effort to ensure that their flock gets enough protein every day and that they do not lack any necessary nutrients for their growth. There are a lot of protein sources for your chickens. Here are some of them.
1. Eggs (cooked)
Yes! Just as eggs provide protein for humans, it’s just the same for chickens too. It may be weird for some owners, but it is very much up to your preference as chickens eat eggs too.
Mealworms can be bought in stores and farms. Not only are they filled with good protein, but chickens also love them! You can also raise mealworms at home given the proper knowledge and experience in raising such.
This way, you have easy access to mealworms. Dried mealworms are also filled with protein of up to 53%. Mealworms are flexible meals. You can mix them with other foods like oatmeal, their feed, and etcetera.
This protein source requires extra effort as you may have to look for earthworms yourself. It’s a good hobby that you can do after rain.
Meat is also a good source of protein, just like how it provides humans with this nutrient. Any meat is okay as long as appropriately prepared. They enjoy animal carcasses. You can prepare them sliced, or just whole. Whatever style of preparation, as long as they don’t look too horrible for them, your flock would probably like it.
Chickens love bugs! Aside from this, bugs are very much available outdoors. Ticks are very common in chicken spaces, and so when chickens are roaming, they can eat some ticks. Maggots are also a favorite for chickens, and they go hyper and crazy for maggots.
Plant-Based Protein Sources for Your Chicken
Plant-based protein sources do not just give your chickens mere protein but also other nutrients such as vitamins A, C, etc. Plants also provide a lot of fiber that helps with your chicken’s digestion.
Peas are very convenient as they are cheap and they contain a good amount of protein. There are a lot of peas but if you want to grow peas in your garden, make sure to grow garden peas.
Peas contain up to 23% protein. Peas are good, but it’s better to serve organic and natural peas than processed and canned ones. Frozen peas are good to go as treats now and then, especially for the hot summer days.
Oatmeal is a flexible meal with a good amount of protein and some extra stuff! You can also add other ingredients like fruit bits and vegetables to the oatmeal you will prepare. This allows chickens to have more than the offered nutrients of oatmeal in one meal. Oats contain 10-17% protein, and it also contains fiber, calcium, and iron.
Lentils are a good source of an increased level of protein and are low in fat. Lentils contain 26-30% protein. This choice is an excellent choice because it’s both healthy and very cheap! Thus, you can buy them at any time and feed them to your flock.
9. Sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds contain 25% of protein. You can grow these plants to save money. These seeds also contain more nutrients that help in fighting off diseases.
10. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds are not only loved by humans but also by your chickens. These seeds contain 33% protein. In most stores, pumpkin seeds are pretty expensive, so these snacks are primarily available during Halloween where pumpkins are in season, and people are carving them up.
Their taste and preference may change as they grow up, and so, it’s good to give them more options. They love tasting food, and so they can expand their taste buds and explore more things. Having diversity in their meals also gives them more nutrients and balances their diet in a way.
Risks of Too Much Protein
While protein helps chickens grow healthier and adequately, it’s important to note that there are limitations even with foods that supply this nutrient. Chickens require a certain amount of nutrients to survive every day. Going overboard is terrible for their health in the same way the lack of these nutrients also affects them negatively.
It’s important to note a couple of things before feeding your chickens with protein-rich food. The levels of protein needed are always different as they grow. Growing chicks need an additional amount of protein intake than those that are older.
In short, you need to curate the level of protein you feed them based on their age and activity level. Too much protein can cause your chickens to have wetter litters, blistered feet, looser bowels, etc. Too much of this nutrient can also increase ammonia production, resulting in more severe issues like respiratory damage.
Molting in Chickens
Molting is a pretty necessary process in chickens. This is where chickens start to lose their feathers and replace them with new ones. Molting is like a natural process of replacing their feathers with newer and stronger ones. To be able to rebuild new, stronger, and beautiful plumage, they need enough protein intake.
Molting usually occurs during the late summer or fall. It usually starts and happens during the days where daylights are shorter. There is no specific time frame as to how many months it occurs to chickens. Factors like breed, genetic makeup, and overall health status are significant factors that influence the span of molting season.
Chickens undergoing their molting season is a preparation for their bodies for the upcoming winter season. Their bodies are just making sure that they are capable enough to keep their bodies warm during the colder temperatures sets in.
The growing of new stuff makes their feathers look a little thin or, at times, even wholly bald. This process is critical for them, as they might also be susceptible to health issues, including infestation.
During these times, owners need to do things that may help them reduce their stress levels or avoid them from any stressor at all. Protein is a crucial element during these times as feathers are made majorly of protein (80-90%).
Molting even slows down or stops the egg-laying process of egg-laying chickens. These are the times when you are very much welcome to treat your chickens to a high-protein snack now and then. There is a balanced and recommended protein intake every day for chickens. However, there are times when they need an extra boost of protein, especially during their molting season.
High Protein Snacks For Your Chicken During Molting Season
During molting season is one of the times when your chickens need a protein boost. When this process starts, it’s important to note that they will need food that has high protein levels and high nutrition foods. Here are some of the typical molting season snacks for your chickens.
- Eggs – It’s always easy to whip up scrambled eggs in the morning. Perhaps, you can make some for your chickens too. They love these kinds of food and are very easy to eat, given the texture of eggs.
- Chicken – Like how chickens provide protein to humans, chickens are also good protein sources for chickens. It’s delicious! However, for chickens’ food, it can be pretty pricey as it’s not usually the first choice when it comes to snacks. Thus, if you have some leftover cooked chicken and would want your flock to try some, do not hesitate.
- Shellfish – Yes, chickens are into seafood too! Shellfishes are good sources of proteins for the flock. Most of the time, it’s almost impossible to clean up the meat from shellfish. Therefore, most often than not, when they peck on the shells, they also get both the flavor and some meat.
Protein is an integral part of a chicken’s diet. In fact, it goes up to the top as one of the basic and most important ones. Knowing 10 High protein foods for chickens helps in expanding your flock’s menu. It’s a win-win for both as they get more nutrients and you have fun preparing their meals.