The question is can chickens eat cheese? Chickens love cheese just in the same way we do. If you are wondering whether your chickens can eat cheese or not, the truth is they can eat it. But you should know which type of cheese is safe for them to eat.
In my opinion, chickens are the luckiest domestic animals. This is because they can never lack something to eat. From grains to vegetables and fruits to tubers, chickens can eat about anything they can find. That is the reason they are easy to raise compared to other farm animals.
Cheese is one of the dairy products that your feathery friends can eat easily. However, there are different types of cheese on the market, and each has its unique features. That is not important for now, provided that you know exactly what to feed your birds.
Cheese consists of protein and fat. The levels of these two most essential ingredients vary from one type of cheese to another. This explains why different types of cheese exist today.
How is Cheese Processed?
When making cheese, milk is first tested to determine its quality and purity. Once it passes this process, it proceeds to the next stage, known as standardization. This where it is weighed, treated using heat, and pasteurized to eliminate any bacteria in it.
After the pasteurization process, the cheesemakers add in beneficial bacteria commonly referred to as cultures. The cultures ultimately determine the texture and flavor of the cheese. But that is not all. A milk-clotting enzyme named rennet is added to thicken up the whole cheese so it may look like the custard.
During the thickening process, the cheesemakers cut it into slices or small pieces to help separate whey from curds. Later, the curds are cooked gently under lower temperatures to produce soft cheeses. Sometimes the same curds are cooked at a higher temperature to prepare harder cheeses.
The curd is cooked for a while and stirred to achieve the desired firmness and exact temperature. Then the whey is removed by draining it to leave behind a well-formed curd. The curds undergo some transformation using salt with other techniques before pressing for 3 to 12 hours. After this process is over, the transformed curd is cured for quite a long time, let’s say weeks or even years.
Why Should You Feed Cheese to Your Chickens?
What does cheese contain that can benefit your chickens? Cheese is an excellent source of many nutrients that can help your birds. Most of these nutrients are essential in ensuring that your chickens stay healthy, happy, and productive.
One ounce or 28 grams of cheese contains the following nutrients:
- Calories: 80
- Saturated fatty acids: 6grams
- Carbs: 1gram
- Calcium: 150milligrams
- Vitamin A:750 international units (IU)
- Cholesterol: 15milligrams
- Sodium: 380 milligrams
These nutrients vary from one type of cheese to another. Cheese-flavored products have different nutritional values, and most of them contain high amounts of sodium.
1.Cheese May Promote Bone Health
Cheese contains minerals such as proteins, magnesium, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin D vitamin K and zinc. All these nutrients can help promote bone health in chickens. They can also contribute to healthy bone development not only in humans but in chickens as well. Most importantly, they can prevent a condition known as osteoporosis.
Calcium and vitamin D are essential nutrients for the development of strong bones. With strong bones, your chickens will grow without physical deformities. Lack of calcium and vitamin can lead to weak, fragile, and porous bones. This can cause fractures, especially in adult chickens. You can avoid such incidents by feeding them cheese occasionally alongside their usual food.
2. Cheese Can Help Your Chickens Gain Weight
Even though too much weight is dangerous for chickens, you can help them healthily gain some grams. To achieve this goal, you should consider feeding them cheese. This type of treat can work well with broilers because they need to gain weight and muscles early enough to increase their market value.
Keep in mind that these birds are raised for meat, and that is why they need to gain weight healthily. Feeding them cheese will definitely help them grow faster and get ready for slaughter.
Cheese is rich in fat, protein, minerals, and various vitamins that will benefit your birds. Besides, it contains more calories than other foods, making it an energy-dense treat for chickens.
But you need to be very careful when feeding cheese to your chickens. This food can lead to obesity, and this is not good for the chickens. So try to balance cheese with low-energy foods to keep your chickens healthy. Include some fruits and vegetables in their diet in order to make them achieve their dietary needs as required.
3. Cheese is a Great Dietary Source of Calcium
Calcium is the most abundant mineral found in the body. It is necessary for keeping your chickens healthy throughout. Calcium regulates nerve transmission, vascular function, hormone secretion, and muscle function.
Surprisingly, only a small percentage (1%) of this nutrient in the body performs all these functions while the rest is stored within the bones.
Also, calcium plays a critical role in egg production. Lack of it can result in a poor quality of eggshells. It’s not surprising that some layers end up producing eggs with soft shells. Such hens lack calcium, which is essential in the formation of strong eggshells.
Unfortunately, the body cannot form its own calcium, although it loses this mineral every day. Therefore, it is wise to feed the chickens foods rich in calcium to replace the lost one. In this case, cheese is the most preferred food for your chicken if you want them to gain more calcium. With this type of food, your birds won’t need any supplementation.
4. Cheese is a Good Source of Protein
Protein is responsible for regulation, repair, formation, and protection of vital parts in the body. It is necessary for your chicken’s diet for many reasons. First, it provides them with an immune system, proper fluid balance, and growth of fathers. Lack of protein can result in so many health complications, such as shrinkage of some tissues and fluid retention.
Since the body cannot store protein, intake of foods rich in this nutrient is necessary. The same case is true with chickens. As such, it is essential to provide your flock with enough protein in their daily diet. At least 2 to 3 servings of protein-rich chicken food daily are enough to meet their dietary requirements.
One way of ensuring that their food has protein is by including cheese in their daily food intake. Low moisture-content cheese is recommended for your flock. A good example is Parmesan cheese, which has the highest protein content, with 10 grams for every ounce.
Avoid wet cheeses such as ricotta, cottage, and most of the cheese spreads. These cheeses are high in fat with low protein content. In short, cheese is the best source of protein for your flock of backyard chickens.
5. Cheese May Promote Immune System
Studies show that feeding cheese to your chickens can promote their immune system. Cheese is fortified with a large number of probiotic bacteria. These bacteria play a significant role in boosting your chicken’s immune system. In humans, the bacteria prevent a condition known as immunosenescence.
Probiotics in cheese are more or less similar to those bacteria found in the gut (especially the human gut). It is in the stomach that the majority of your chicken’s immune system is based. Since all food consumed by chickens go through the gut, this bacteria will likely help digest it. This also includes cheese.
When broken down, the cheese releases probiotic bacteria, which is essential in promoting the immune system of your chickens. A perfect example of a cheese that can support a strong immune system is gouda. This is because it can introduce gut-healthy probiotic bacteria in the body.
What are the Specific Cheeses for Your Chickens?
Consider feeding your birds goat cheese because it is prepared from goat milk. Compared to cow milk, goat milk is entirely safe for your flock. Even though it is a little bit acidic and aromatic, it will not harm them.
Shredded cheese is also safe for your chickens to eat. Despite it coming in different forms, your flock will enjoy it the most.
Besides, the shredded cheese is easy to eat. An excellent example of this type of cheese is mozzarella. It is less acidic and comes when it is already shredded. A different kind of cheese that your chickens can eat is cottage cheese. It is very soft and comes in the form of a lumpy mush.
What amount of cheese should I feed my chickens? Since it is a treat, you should feed it to your chickens in moderation. Too much of it can be detrimental to their well-being.
Should I give my chickens other dairy products? Even though cheese is part of dairy products, you should not feed your chickens other products such as milk and yogurt.
Chickens can eat cheese but not all types. This dairy product can benefit your birds in many different ways. Make sure that you feed them sparingly, just like other treats. Don’t forget to maintain their staple diet alongside their different treats.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Chicken Board!!