Chickens are notorious for eating almost anything you offer them. However, just because chickens aren’t very picky eaters does not mean that you can give them anything you want. Some foods are not good for chickens to consume. As responsible chicken owners, it’s our responsibility to know what we can and cannot feed our flock.
Today, we’re going to take a look at whether chickens can eat nuts. First, we’ll take a look at whether chickens can eat nuts at all, and if they can, whether they derive any benefits from doing so. After that, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most popular nuts to see if chickens can safely consume them. In addition, we’ll also cover some frequently asked questions.
So, buckle up, and let’s dig in!
Can chickens eat nuts and are they good for them?
Yes, chickens can eat nuts. Generally speaking nuts do not contain anything that’s harmful to your chickens. On the contrary, they contain quite a few nutrients that can benefit your birds enormously. As long as you feed it to them in moderation, certain nuts can be a part of a healthy, balanced diet for chickens.
All nuts have different nutritional makeups but one thing they all have in common is that they’re very rich in healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. All of which can benefit your chicken’s wellbeing.
For instance, while fiber was historically thought to be not all that important for chickens, recent studies have shown that adequate dietary fiber intake is crucial for your chicken’s digestive system.
Can chickens eat nutshells?
Chickens can eat the shells of peanuts but the shells of other nuts such as pistachios and walnuts are too hard for them to crack. When feeding nuts like these, remove the shell before feeding.
Do chickens like nuts?
Chickens have evolved to enjoy eating foods that are high in calories and fat. Nuts satisfy both these criteria so most chickens go absolutely nuts for nuts. They’re many chicken’s favorite food, something you’ll quickly learn when you start giving them to your flock.
Of course, no two chickens are the same and, while rare, it’s possible that one of your chickens is not very interested in nuts. The best way to find out is to give them some to see how they react.
Precautions when feeding nuts to your chickens
While feeding some nuts to your feathery friends can be beneficial you do have to be a bit careful. Too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing and the same applies to nuts. Because nuts contain quite a bit of fat they’re very high in calories. Avoid feeding too many nuts to your chickens to prevent unwanted weight gain and nutritional imbalances.
Secondly, many nuts are salted or flavored. Do not feed these nuts to your chickens. Chickens should not have too much salt in their diet.
Thirdly, most nuts can not be fed to your chickens raw. There are some exceptions, but in general, make sure that the nuts you feed to your chickens are roasted or cooked.
Nuts that chickens can eat
So, now you know that chickens can eat nuts and the precautions you must take when feeding. It’s time that we take a closer look at some of the most popular nuts in a little more detail to discover whether your chickens can eat them and what benefits they offer them.
Can chickens eat peanuts?
Did you know that peanuts are technically not nuts? They’re actually legumes! However, because many people consider them to be nuts I decided to include them in this overview.
Chickens can eat peanuts and they absolutely love them. They’re a good source of healthy fats, protein, fiber, and many vitamins and minerals. Some of the nutrients that peanuts are rich in include:
- Vitamin E
These nutrients are beneficial for your chickens. Vitamin E, for example, can improve their egg-laying and strengthen their immune system. Also, increased levels of vitamin E in your chicken’s diet can lead to higher levels in their eggs, being beneficial to you when you eat them!
Magnesium, according to a study published by the Cambridge University Press, can positively affect body weight at certain development stages. In addition, if you plan on eating the chickens at some point, the study found that it can positively affect meat quality.
Something you do have to be aware of when feeding peanuts to chickens is that they have to be roasted or cooked. Do not feed your chickens raw peanuts. Raw peanuts contain peanut lectin and trypsin which are bad for your chicken’s health.
On the whole, peanuts are definitely a food that you can give your chickens occasionally. Do make sure that you feed it to them in moderation. When fed in excess, peanuts can cause weight gain due to how many calories they contain. You should also avoid feeding your chickens salted or flavored peanuts.
Can chickens eat peanut butter?
Chickens can technically eat peanut butter and most chickens are completely in love with this creamy, delicious food. However, peanut butter is even denser in calories than the peanut itself. You can give your chickens some peanut butter, but only in very limited quantities.
Can chickens eat walnuts?
Chickens can definitely eat walnuts. They’re a great source of important vitamins, minerals, fibers, and antioxidants, making them a great treat to feed to your birds. Some vitamins and minerals that walnuts are particularly rich in include:
- Folic Acid
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin E
Manganese, for instance, is an essential nutrient for poultry. According to PoultryDVM: “Chickens require adequate levels of manganese in their diet for reproduction and development (formation of healthy cartilage and bone), egg shell formation, wound healing, nutrient absorption, and for preventing perosis.”
In addition, walnuts are quite rich in omega-3s and omega-6s. Studies have shown that omega fatty acids are essential for development and metabolism, immune response and anti-oxidative properties, growth and productive performance, improving meat quality, bone growth and development, and improving fertility rates.
It’s not for no reason that walnuts are often referred to as a superfood. They’re incredibly rich in nutrients and can be a great afternoon snack for your flock. Do make sure that you feed them walnuts in moderation. Like other nuts, they’re very high in calories.
Can chickens eat cashews?
Chickens can eat cashew nuts without any problems as long as they’re unsalted, unflavored, and not raw. In fact, they’re an excellent source of certain vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and antioxidants, making them a great treat. Some of the nutrients that cashews are a good source of include:
- Vitamin K
All the nutrients benefit your birds in their own way. Iron for instance, is an essential trace mineral for chickens. It plays important roles in oxygen and electron transport as well as in DNA synthesis
Cashews are also surprisingly rich in protein, per 100 grams, they contain almost the same quantity of protein as cooked meat!
On the whole, cashews can be an excellent snack for your chickens that provides them with plenty of nutrients. You do have to make sure that the cashews you feed them are unflavored, unsalted, and cooked. Of course, like all nuts, they are high in calories, making it important that you feed it to them in moderation.
Can chickens eat almonds?
Almonds are safe for chickens to eat as long as they’re roasted, unsalted, and without any flavoring. These nuts come in two types: sweet and bitter. Sweet almonds are okay for chickens but bitter almonds should be avoided.
Almonds are a good source of antioxidants, fiber, manganese, magnesium, and vitamin E while also being a decent source of copper and phosphorus.
The almond’s high nutrient content makes them a nutritious treat to your chickens but you do have to make sure that you do not give it to them in too large quantities. Almonds contain around 130 calories per ounce, making it easy for your chickens to overeat on them. Only feed it to them in moderation in addition to a balanced, healthy diet.
Can chickens eat pistachios?
Yes, chickens can definitely eat pistachios. As long as you make sure that the pistachios you feed your flock are unsalted and without flavoring, they’re a great treat full of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and antioxidants. Some of the most important nutrients in pistachios include:
- Vitamin B6
One of the most notable nutrients in pistachios is their B6 content. They’re one of the most B6-rich foods in the entire world. B6 is important for chickens because it aids their ability to make neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that carry signals between nerve cells. These transmitters are necessary for normal brain development.
Can chickens eat pecans?
Chickens can eat pecans. Like most other nuts, they’re an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats. Do make sure that the pecans you feed to your chickens are unsalted, without flavoring, and cooked or roasted.
Nutrients that pecans are particularly rich in include:
- Thiamine (Vitamin B1)
These nutrients are all beneficial to your chickens. Zinc, for example, helps to provide better eggshell quality and plays an important role in your bird’s immune system.
Other nuts that chickens can eat
Now that we’ve gone over the most popular nuts in a bit more detail, here are some of the other nuts that chickens can safely eat as long as you keep the precautions in mind that were mentioned earlier:
- Sweet Chestnuts
- Pine nuts
- Macadamia Nuts
Other food ideas for your chickens
Now that you know that chickens can eat nuts you might be tempted to explore their diet even more.
It’s a natural progression, once you figure out that chickens are omnivores that can eat almost anything, you’ll naturally want to try giving them different foods to see what they like the most. Here are some suggestions of foods that you can try feeding to your flock:
There you have it, everything you need to know about feeding nuts to your chickens. As you now know, chickens can eat most types of nuts, including peanuts, walnuts, cashews, pecans, and almonds, as long as they’re roasted or cooked, unsalted, unflavored, and preferably unshelled.
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