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Can Chickens Eat Bread?

Can Chickens Eat Bread?

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Naturally Free Organic Layer Feed for Chickens

Naturally Free Organic Layer Feed for Chickens

When I heard someone referring to chickens as ‘two-legged pigs’, I was somehow lost. But my curiosity motivated me to find out more about this statement. To my amazement, the phrase simply means that chickens can eat almost anything they come across. And this is true if you have been observing your flock for some time. One of the things you cannot believe that chickens eat is a loaf of bread. If you are in doubt, I will answer the question, “Can chickens eat bread?” Read on to find out more about this unique treat.

Two-Legged Pigs

Just like I said, chickens can eat almost anything. This should tell you that they can feast on bread if they get the chance to do so. However, most chickens love this treat so much.

Just like pigs, chickens are amazing creatures. So amazing that they are considered as garbage disposals in small farms or homesteads. This is attributed to quite a number of factors that make this bird unique and fun to have around you. 

A chicken’s digestive system is a fascinating one, to say the least. It is built to handle different types of foods. To add to that, these birds are omnivorous animals, meaning that they can eat a variety of foods. 

More often than not, you will find your chickens stirring up dust and dirt while searching for worms and bugs. This behavior should not surprise you at all. This is because chickens have a natural instinct to scratch around to find something edible. 

Mostly, their diet includes vegetables, meats, and grains. Bread and other treats make it to the list of the most favorite foods for your chickens. 

But the question is, can you really feed your birds bread? Is it safe for them to eat? What are the nutritional and health benefits of bred to your chickens

To find the correct answers for these questions, you need to understand the ingredients making up a loaf of bread. This is important because you will know if each ingredient found in bread is beneficial to your chickens. 

In general, bread is safe for your chickens to eat. Therefore, nothing should stop you from feeding them this tasty treat. Surprisingly, you can give them bread, whether it is fresh or stale. This sounds almost impossible, but you need to draw the line between stale bread and moldy bread. The latter should not be given to your chickens at any given time. 

Bread is a common treat for all chickens besides being one of your favorite dishes at breakfast. This type of food contains different ingredients that make it a perfect choice for your birds. With that in mind, consider including one or a few loaves of bread to your chicken’s diet. 

As usual, give your birds this wonderful treat in moderation to avoid other complications. Also, provide them with plenty of water every time they are feasting on slices of bread. Doing so will prevent the formation of balls in their crop after enjoying their bread. 

Why Should You Feed Your Chickens Bread?

Little Giant Plastic Fence Feeder

Little Giant Plastic Fence Feeder

  1. Whether white or brown bread, your chickens will eat it. They are usually not as picky as other domestic animals when it comes to eating bread. They will likely scramble for both fresh and stale bread without even realizing minor differences between the two. 
  2. Most importantly, their digestive system is well structured to handle this type of treatment. This brings to the question of a chicken digestive anatomy.
  3. Unlike other farm animals, chickens have unique digestive anatomy. To begin with, they tear pieces of bread or any other food and swallow it. The food is then collected in the crop, which is located just below their necks. 
  4. The crop acts as a food reservoir before moving to the other parts for digestion. When full, this organ is visible from outside. It also forms a bulge below the neck and on the front side of your bird. 
  5. From the crop, the food travels down toward the intestines. Here it is mixed with digestive juices from various glands making up their digestive system. Some of the food finds its way into the gizzard, where it is further digested. This gives you an idea of what goes inside your chicken’s digestive system. 
  6. Coming to the question of why your chickens need bread, you should know that this treat is predominantly energy giving food. Your birds need this energy to stay active and energetic throughout the day. And the easiest means of keeping them energetic is by providing them enough bread.

Why Should You NOT FEED Your Chickens Bread?

  1. As I had mentioned earlier, bread can quickly form balls inside your chicken’s crop. When this happens, your birds will experience catastrophic blockages that are detrimental to their well-being. To avoid such dangerous incidents, you must always provide water at strategic locations where your birds can access it easily.
  2. Another reason why you should not give bread to your chickens is the emergence of chronic cases within their crops. How does this problem come about? 
  3. Typically, bread consists of yeast and sugar, among other ingredients. These two components can ferment inside your chicken’s crop. Fermentation results in the formation of necessary substances, leading to an increase in pH levels in the crop.
  4. An increase in the pH will most likely affect the growth of bacteria and other microbiomes inside the crop. What happens next can put your chicken in harm’s way. So, changes in the pH can lead to several chronic cases such as sour crop which is hard to treat. 
  5. Although such a case sounds scary, the chances of your chickens getting affected are minimal. In other words, you can continue feeding them loaves of bread without worries. All you need to do is to break loaves of bread into smaller pieces before passing them to your flock. 
  6. Alternatively, you may soak bread in the apple cider vinegar for a while before letting your birds feast on them. Apple cider vinegar plays two significant roles when you use it to soak the bread. 
  7. First, it increases the acidity of this treat, which in turn helps in maintaining the pH inside the crop. Secondly, it makes the bread softer for easy digestion besides breaking up fibers to discourage balling in the crop. 
  8. Once you apply this simple trick, nothing should stop you from making your birds happy when you feed them bread. However, you should not consider it the sole source of your chicken’s food. Instead, let it remain a treat that you can include in their primary diet.

Can You Feed Your Baby Chicks Bread?

Absolutely yes! Baby chicks can eat bread in the same way mature chickens do. On the contrary, you should limit the quantity of bread your chicks are eating. This should not come as a surprise to you if you genuinely know what your little birds need. 

Since they are young and growing, they deserve foods rich in protein. Unfortunately, bread, especially white bread, does not have enough protein for your baby chicks. Basic white bread only contains up to 3 grams of protein in each slice. This amount is too small to help your chicks grow and develop as you would wish. 

Due to the low nutritional value of bread, you only need to feed adult chickens and not baby chicks. You should supply your chicks with foods rich in high quantities of protein. 

Below is a complete list of proteins found in different types of bread compared to the chick starter feed:

  1. Chick Starter: 18-20 percent
  2. White Bread: 7.3 percent
  3. Wheat Bread:9.1 percent
  4. Multi-Grain Bread: 7.7-8.8 percent
  5. Italian Bread: 9.6 percent
  6. Wheat /Oat Bread: 9.6 percent

As you may have noticed, the amount of protein in bread compared to the chick starter feed is extremely low.  

Why Should You Not Feed Your Chickens Moldy Bread?

  1. Always remember that moldy bread is a no for your chickens. Sadly, most chicken owners feed their flock moldy or spoiled bread, claiming that there are no adverse effects. This is not worth it because they are exposing them to danger.
  2. Moldy foods, particularly bread, contain mycotoxins, which are highly poisonous to your chickens. Mycotoxins can cause serious health issues to your chickens if you let them eat moldy bread. This toxin is capable of creating severe conditions such as mycosis or thrush. While treatable, this condition affects the crop, which in turn affects the digestion of food. 
  3. Another reason why you should stop feeding your birds’ moldy bread is to prevent them from breathing in mold. Regardless of the type of mold, this form of fungi can create serious problems in both humans and chickens. 

Below are some common problems with feeding your chickens moldy or spoiled bread.

  1. Low Egg Production- Numerous studies have revealed that mycotoxicosis is likely to reduce egg production (in hens) after three weeks of exposure. The effect is the same, even if the exposure is minimal. The likely reason for the reduced egg production is because of the hen’s inability to utilize the protein. This inability to make use of protein is caused by the degeneration of the affected layer’s liver tissue.
  2. Poor Quality of Eggshells-Feeding your layers bread will not help them much as far as the quality of eggs is concerned. Bread is low in protein as well as calcium. These two nutrients determine the quality of an egg, especially the eggshell. So, the lack of protein and calcium in bread affects the formation of eggshells. 
  3. Good quality eggshells require the layers to have reliable access to enough calcium. Giving your layers too much bread is not a good idea. This can make them become full after eating bread and reduce their intake of layer mash. 

However, it doesn’t imply that you should stop feeding your hens bread. What it means is that you need to feed them bread in moderation so they can eat more layer mash. The consumption of more layer mash than bread will result in high-quality eggs with strong eggshells.

(3 Pack) Chicken Ware Chick-N-Veggie Ball

(3 Pack) Chicken Ware Chick-N-Veggie Ball

How Do You Include Bread in Your Chicken’s Treats?

Now that bread is one of the best treats for mature chickens; you need to think outside the box. This will help you find the means of incorporating it into your chicken’s treats. 

Here are the best ways you can mix bread with other feed for your birds:

  1. Warm Bread Mash-You should try making your birds a warm bread mash in the morning to see how it goes. To achieve this goal, add a few slices of bread to the regular chicken feed. Mix the content thoroughly using hot water. Add other chicken foods like cucumber, pumpkin, and zucchini to the mixture. If need be, you can add a few crushed eggshells to the mix to make it rich in calcium.
  2. Do It Yourself (DIY) Chicken Bread-If you like baking your own bread at home, this an opportunity to make your birds a special loaf. When preparing this treat, make sure to add some vegetables, seeds, grains, and crushed up eggshells ( for calcium). Homemade bread is good for your chickens. This is because you know what you put in it. 

Related questions

How often can you feed your chickens’ bread? You can give your chickens bread occasionally as part of their treat. Bread does not have most of the essential nutrients that your chickens need. Therefore, it will be needless to use it as your chicken’s main diet. 

Which nutrients are found in bread? Bread has a significant number of nutrients that help your chickens grow and stay healthy. These nutrients include vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, and carbohydrates. Bread is also low in cholesterol and fat. Keep in mind that all types of bread are highly nutritious, not only to humans but to your birds as well. 

Final Thought

Chickens love bread. It doesn’t matter if it’s stale or fresh. Just make sure it’s not moldy. Your chickens will enjoy eating this treat, although it does not have most of the essential nutrients. This means you should not use it as their main diet. Instead, your flock should have it in moderation. 

Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Chicken Board!!

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