Fish is one of the most popular seafood eaten by most people worldwide. But can my chickens eat fish?
They contain a variety of nutrients, such as proteins. Besides, fish is very versatile and can be cooked in different ways.
If you own a flock of backyard chickens, you will likely want to give them scraps and other treats. But can you feed your chickens on fish?
Yes, your backyard chickens can be fed on fish. They can eat both cooked and raw fish. It can be very nutritious to your chickens as it has high amounts of vitamins, minerals, and proteins.
Some of the best fish to give your chickens include tuna, salmon, cod, shellfish, tilapia, catfish, sardines, and pollock.
According to some chicken keepers, chickens’ eggs that consume large amounts of fish in their diet may have a fishy taste.
Therefore, if you intend to keep and eat your eggs, you will have to limit the amount of fish you give to your birds.
Besides, you must remember to remove large bones because they can lead to a choking hazard.
You must avoid giving your chickens fish that has been battered, fried, or contains seasonings.
Is Fish Healthy for Chickens?
Fish is one of the healthiest foods in the world, both for human beings and chickens. This does not mean that you can only raise your backyard chickens on fish.
Like human beings, chickens also have several nutritional requirements that can easily be met if you provide them with commercial feed. Fish can provide an excellent complement to their diet.
The nutritional content of fish varies depending on the type of fish. However, fish is generally rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a wide range of vitamins, and minerals.
If you are feeding your chickens on fish, you will have to be aware of mercury because some fish have higher amounts of mercury than others.
Research has shown that one of the top causes of mercury exposure in the United States is eating contaminated fish.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) recommends that you should avoid the following fish species:
- Orange Roughly
- King Mackerel
This applies to human beings as well as chickens. Because chickens are smaller than humans, they are more likely to suffer ill effects even if they feed on smaller amounts of mercury.
Should Chickens Eat Fish?
It is open to debate whether or not your birds should eat fish. It will depend on several factors, such as your choice as the chicken keeper, the preference of your chickens, and the availability of fish to you.
Generally, there are many benefits and positives in providing your birds with fish. You will have to be cautious when feeding fish to your chickens, as you should avoid giving them rotten or spoiled fish.
Besides, you should not offer your chickens fried fish or fish wrapped in batter or breadcrumbs.
Generally, this type of fish may not be suitable for your chickens as they are mainly processed with many preservatives, oils, and seasonings.
The most significant benefit of feeding fish to your chickens is their high content of proteins and abundant minerals and vitamins.
Protein is one of the most important nutrients for chickens. Giving your birds protein plays a crucial role in a chicken’s growth, immunity, egg production, adaptation to the environment, and other biological functions.
According to veterinarians and poultry specialists, protein makes up about 20% of the overall diet of backyard chickens.
This depends on their age, size, and breed. It will also depend on whether or not your chickens are laying eggs.
Studies have shown that chickens respond differently to protein in their diet depending on the amino acids and protein quality provided.
A low protein quality may not significantly impact egg-laying quality, growth, and feed efficiency.
Because of this, you must ensure that you are offering high-quality poultry feed so that your hens get all the nutrients and proteins.
Fish is known for having high levels of proteins. Feeding your hens on fish is a good way of boosting their protein intake.
Nutrients (Minerals and Vitamins)
Fish is among the most nutritious foods in the world. This is because they have a wide variety of minerals and vitamins. Below are some types of fish and the nutrients that they have:
Prawns/Shrimp: Rich in choline, selenium, vitamin B2, vitamin E, and zinc. Tuna: Rich in B-vitamins, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus
Halibut: High in selenium, vitamins B6, B3, B12, and minerals like magnesium, potassium, phosphorus. Tilapia: Rich in B-vitamins and minerals like phosphorus, potassium, and selenium.
Cod: Rich in B-vitamins and minerals like potassium and magnesium
Can Chickens Eat Fish Bones
Chickens can eat fish bones. However, they can cause issues depending on how sharp and large they are.
They can splinter and lead to problems with your chickens during and after ingesting them. Therefore, it could be good if you removed sharper and larger bones before any feeding.
You can also break them beforehand, although you will have to keep an eye on your chickens as they feed on them.
Generally, chickens will enjoy eating the fish shells. A good example is the crayfish/shrimp shells.
Many backyard chicken keepers have reported that their chickens love shells and will eat them ahead of the meat or along with it.
One type of fish where bones may not be a big issue is sardines. They are small and will crumble when fed on.
Sardine bones are very rich in calcium. Therefore, they can boost the calcium intake in your backyard chickens, which is necessary for the formation and production of eggs.
How To Feed Fish To Your Chickens
There are two ways through which you can feed fish to your chickens.
The first way of feeding fish to your backyard chickens is to serve them raw. This will work well for small types of fish such as shrimp and sardines.
You can drop them in the coop or place them in their feeders. Besides, you can choose to mix the fish with other scraps.
The second way is to give cooked fish to your chickens. This is more efficient if you are offering any leftovers to your birds. Instead of disposing of fish leftovers, you can feed your chickens on them.
When cooking fish for your birds, you will have to ensure that it is grilled, boiled, poached, or baked.
In addition, you must avoid adding any flavorings, seasonings, condiments, or oil. Adding these substances to fish meant for chickens can lead to various health issues.
Cooked fish can work better if you mix it with the rest of the food for your poultry. You can also cut the fish before offering it, especially when dealing with large types of fish or those with a lot of larger bones.
Can Chickens Eat Spoiled Fish?
You should avoid feeding spoiled fish to your chickens as it can be very harmful. Doing so will make your chickens sick and even lead to death.
A Spoiled fish usually has parasites growing in it as well as bacteria, all of which are harmful to birds.
If you let your chicken eat spoiled fish, it can lead to food poisoning or put them at the risk of several diseases.
Chickens may not be able to know if the fish is spoiled or not because they do not have a good sense of smell. Therefore, you must never forget to dispose of any spoiled fish.
How Many Fish Can Chickens Eat?
It would be best if you constantly fed fish to your chickens in small quantities, whether it is raw or cooked.
For baby chicks, a small piece of fish will be enough for them without causing any harm. Remove bones from the fish, whether it is small or large, before feeding it to your chicks.
If you are dealing with mature chickens, you can give them half of the large-sized fish or one medium-sized fish.
Other Seafood for Your Chickens
Shrimp is one of the best seafood that you can give to birds. It has abundant nutrients that your backyard chickens will benefit from.
However, you should feed your chickens on cooked shrimp only. Raw shrimp may contain bacteria that can make your birds sick.
Another seafood that your chickens will enjoy feeding on is clams. It is very rich in vitamin C and proteins, which can help keep your birds in a good healthy condition and even live a longer and more productive life.
If you are thinking of feeding clams to your chickens, you should ensure that you give them cooked clams only. Raw clams may result in the birds getting bacterial infections.
If you have been thinking of feeding fish to your chickens, you should worry about nothing. Generally, fish is safe and healthy for your birds. It has a wide variety of nutrients, such as vitamins and proteins, which will benefit your chickens.
They can give them any part of the fish without any issues. However, you should remember to remove bones from the fish before serving.