Chickens are omnivores. So, if you’ve been raising them for some time, you probably know there’s no limit to what they can eat. But, can chickens eat dog food?
You bet they can. So, if your birds have recently gobbled down some dog food meant for your canine friend, you need not worry.
In fact, dog food could be beneficial to your chickens in certain ways as you’ll quickly find out!
But, should you feed your chickens dog food regularly? Probably not! And for good reason.
what are the nutritional benefits of dog food for chickens?
Dog food usually comes in two major forms – dry and moist. Dry dog foods typically contain less than 10% moisture while wet ones mostly consist of just over 70% of moisture.
The thing with dog foods though, is that they come in an incredible amount of flavors. And their specific composition may vary depending on the brand or the manufacturer.
Generally, however, dog foods consist of meats, offals (by-products of meat), grains, fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins. Though, rather than meat, some manufacturers may use fish as well as its by-products.
High-quality dog foods contain a lot of protein as they usually contain a lot of meat.
As you’re probably aware, proteins remain an integral part of chickens’ diet. From when they’re chicks to when they’re molting in the autumn, there’s so much to benefit from a diet rich in protein.
Even more importantly, when they start laying, a lack of protein may lead to devastating results for you.
The quantity of protein may however differ from bird to bird. Layers, typically, will require about 16-18% of protein while growers may need about 20-22% of protein.
Chickens can therefore benefit immensely from the protein content inherent in dog foods.
Dog food will typically contain Omega-3 fatty acids, Omega-6 fatty acids, or both.
For humans, we know these nutrients can, among other things, help fight anxiety, boost eye health, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of cancer.
For chickens, these fatty acids are equally beneficial. They aid in the brain development of the birds, boost metabolism, as well as assist in reproductive growth and functions.
What’s more, they help improve the quality of meat, bone development, improve fertility rates, and increase the quality of semen.
Calcium and phosphorus
Calcium and phosphorus are crucial elements that chickens cannot do without.
Together, these minerals are needed for proper metabolism concerning bone formation.
In growing chicks, they’re needed for bone formation and skeletal growth. In laying hens, they’re necessary to maintain the skeletal structure as well as aid in the formation of hard eggshells.
Chickens benefit from the vitamins there are in existence except for vitamin C. Dog food usually contains both water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins.
Of interest to us are vitamins A, D, E, and K. Even though chickens need these vitamins in minimum amounts, they’re still nonetheless crucial in many respects.
For instance, a lack of vitamin A in your chickens’ will result in a reduction in egg production. A lack of vitamin D will cause eggs to have thin shells.
No vitamin E in their diet may lead to the enlargement of their hocks. And an absence of vitamin K may result in intramuscular bleeding.
In conclusion, your backyard chickens can gain lots of nourishment simply by feeding on dog food!
can chickens eat dog food? Can it be Unhealthy?
Clearly, dog food isn’t necessarily harmful to chickens. And as we’ve shown, it may benefit your birds in more ways than one.
But, here’s the catch. Dog foods are meant for dogs. And no matter how nutritious or beneficial they could be for chickens, they cannot substitute the main diet of your birds.
Manufacturers assemble the respective constituents of dog food in rations intended to benefit dogs primarily.
Therefore, serving dog food occasionally and in moderate quantities to your birds will be okay. In special cases where your chicken feed is finished, you may make an exception for that day and feed your birds mainly with dog food.
Still, you don’t want that to be the norm. Dog food may be completely healthy for your dogs when eaten every day. For your chickens, it may have devastating effects if eaten constantly, without any restraints.
For instance, chicken feed already contains an appreciable amount of protein. If you carelessly overfeed your chickens with dog food – which also contains protein – the excess protein intake may cause serious problems for your chickens, damaging their kidneys.
Does the type of dog food my chickens eat matter?
We’ve already mentioned that dog food usually comes either in dry or wet form. In between these, you may have raw and semi-moist dog food.
Depending on the type, they may contain different ingredients, flavors, and additives. Manufacturers will also decide how much of these elements they should add to the food.
The type of dog food you feed your chicken will usually not matter. For dry dog food, you want to make sure the pellets are in small sizes that the chickens can pick and swallow. You may even blend it and feed it to your chickens in powdered form.
For moist/wet dog foods, chunks in gravy or chunks in jelly are very common types. These are also okay to feed to your chickens. Chickens can even eat raw meat. Though, you must make sure that it is fresh. If it’s gone bad/moldy it risks poisoning your birds.
The bottom line, though, is that you’re free to feed them any type of dog food you want. Though, it doesn’t automatically mean they’ll love it or even eat it.
Some birds might be drawn to the food because of the texture or flavor. Others might fall in love with the food because they’ve never tasted anything like it. Yet still, others may outrightly reject the food.
Regardless of their reactions, just remember not to overdo it. If you will, serve your chickens with dog food in moderate portions.
How should i feed my chickens with dog feed?
It’s a straightforward process of simply getting the food out of its container and giving it directly to your birds. It’ll be more appropriate to feed moist dog food this, though.
For dry food, you may deploy the same means as stated above. Or you may crush it and mix it with the main food of your chickens.
You may even mix the pellets with other treats like scratch grains including corn, barley, oats, wheat, and feed them to your birds.
Remember, however, that moderation is key.
What amount of dog food should i feed my chickens?
Your chickens don’t need dog food to thrive. Their main diet will meet all their health and nutritional requirements. And if you allow them to forage, they’d be able to supplement their main diet with extras like greens, bugs, worms, grasshoppers, lizards, etc.
You should therefore consider dog food as a treat for your birds. Therefore, you shouldn’t be so bent on giving them dog food regularly.
As a rule of thumb, treats shouldn’t make more than 10% of the total diet of your birds in a day.
Typically, in a day, chickens eat only up to 1/2 cup of feed. Of course, it may not always be the case. How much you feed your birds might depend on the breed, their level of activity, and the season you’re in.
Nonetheless, if half a cup is 8 tablespoons, 10% of this amount will give you just about 1 to 2 tablespoons.
Generally, therefore, you don’t want to serve more than 2 tablespoons of dog food to a single chicken in one day.
how often should i feed my chickens With dog food?
Like we’ve said throughout this article, you should feed your bird in moderation when giving them treats.
Thus, you want to treat them to dog food occasionally. Occasionally could mean once a week, every two weeks, once a month, or once every blue moon.
They may end up liking it so much, you’d probably want to give it to them every day just to watch the delight on their faces.
But, that may do more harm than good to their health. Ultimately, you should use your discretion to determine when you should excite them with some dog food and when to hold back.
Our undying love for our chickens means that we crave sharing as many goodies as we think are beneficial for their nourishment.
Some foods may be inappropriate for your birds. Dog food, though, doesn’t happen to be one of them.
So, can chickens eat dog food? Yes, they can. It may provide some much-needed nourishment for your birds. Plus, they may end up enjoying it so much, they’d probably end up begging for more.
Remember, however, to ensure the food is fresh for your birds. And never forget – for chickens, dog food is a treat that should be best served in moderation. Find out here other healthy treats you can incorporate into the diet of your birds!.