Who doesn’t like to share a nice snack with their chickens? There is nothing better than kicking back on a sunny afternoon with your favorite snack to watch your hens. But what if your favorite snack was also your chicken’s favorite?
Well, if you are a fan of trail mix or any nuts, you might just be in luck. Can you feed chickens nuts? Let’s take a look.
Can You Feed Chickens Nuts?
It might surprise you to find out that nuts are a healthy treat for your backyard chickens. Nuts of all kinds are packed with all sorts of vitamins and nutrients. And that’s why so many people eat them when trying to stay fit and healthy.
Some commercial feed even adds small amounts of nuts into it for more variety. As long as you take the shells off and chop up the nuts, your chickens will love the delicious snack.
Are Nuts Beneficial To Chickens?
Can chickens eat nuts? Yes, they can! But what do nuts contain that will make it a healthy choice for your chickens?
The first and most apparent nutrient in nuts is that it’s a great source of protein. Whether you are trying to bulk up your eggs or help your chickens molt, nuts are perfect.
You can even give your chickens a few chopped nuts in their chicken scratch during the winter. It’s perfect for when your chickens might not have the foraging materials that they need.
Nuts are also high in healthy fats that give your hens a boost of energy. Additionally, these fats will help keep joints healthy, feathers shiny, and eggs taste delicious. But remember not to feed too many nuts because even healthy fats can cause obesity in hens.
Folates are vital in egg formation and chick development. Folic acid aids in proper egg development and ensures that the embryos are healthy. But it is also essential for feather formation and keeping iron levels up. So if you are trying to boost egg production or breeding, nuts are the perfect snack.
Another important antioxidant for egg production is vitamin E. This vitamin improves the eggshell quality to make them stronger. It also helps increase your chicken’s egg production. So if you want stronger eggs more regularly, a few nuts are the way to go.
Nuts are also high in fiber, so they can keep your chicken’s regular. If you have a few chickens that are constipated, feed them a few nuts. They will get your chicken pooping in no time.
Chickens can get overweight if you don’t watch their diets. But one way that you can combat obesity in chickens is to feed them foods high in vitamin B6. This vitamin maintains the nervous system and boosts metabolism.
Calcium is needed not only for eggshell production but also for muscle and bone support. And while our chickens are in their laying years, they use up a lot of calcium.
That’s why we choose fortified layer feed, and you should always have crushed oyster shells available. But you can also give a tasty treat with bonus calcium in it. That’s where a few nuts come in handy.
In combination with calcium, nuts are also high in magnesium. Magnesium is vital to absorb calcium to create stronger bones. So feeding your chickens a few nuts will build denser bones and fewer possibilities for injury. Which is a great way to prevent osteoporosis in older laying hens.
And finally, the last reason why chickens should be eating nuts is for the added selenium. Selenium is a vital nutrient that everyone should monitor in their flocks. It helps calm your chickens down, produces more eggs, and even makes the meat more delicious. A calm and happy flock always gives you the best of everything.
What Nuts Can My Chickens Eat?
With so many kinds of nuts, you might be wondering if they are all safe for your flock. And this is an excellent question because not all nuts have the same nutrition. Here is a shortlist of some chicken favorites.
- Walnuts- No more than half per chicken
- Black Walnuts
- Beech Nuts
- Brazil Nuts
- Hazel Nuts- Chopped into small pieces
- Chestnuts- Only cooked
- Hickory Nuts
- Pine Nuts
- Cashews- Preferably broken up
How To Prepare
Can chickens eat nuts by themselves? Or do they need special preparations? The best way to feed your chickens nuts of any kind is first to make sure they are unsalted and unflavored.
Chickens get all of the salt they need from their quality feed. In large quantities, salt is toxic and can cause permanent kidney damage. Other flavors like sugar and honey can also be fattening to your chickens. So it’s best to stay away from processed nuts and go for the organic ones.
If you have nuts that are seasoned, you might still feed them to your chickens. But you will need to soak and rinse the nuts well to remove everything off of them. However, it’s important to note that you won’t be able to get all of the salt and flavoring off this way. So raw nuts are the best way to go.
It’s also important to completely remove the shell from all nuts that you feed your chickens. While most chickens can break the shells open themselves, it could pose a danger if your chickens try to eat the shells.
Now to take an added measure of protection, you might want to coarsely chop all of the nuts to make them the ideal size for your chicken’s digestion.
Are There Nuts You Should Stay Away From?
As you can imagine, not all nuts are safe for chickens. In particular, there are two types of nuts that you should stay away from at all costs. The first is acorns.
Acorns are highly toxic to your chickens, and even just a few of them could cause issues. So if you have an acorn tree on your property, you might want to keep your chickens far from it.
It’s also a good idea to stay away from the macadamia nut. These nuts aren’t toxic, but they are almost purely fat. So they are the most unhealthy and can cause your hens to gain weight quickly. So if you have table scraps from your macadamia cookies, you might want to think twice.
What About Peanuts?
You might have noticed that we haven’t mentioned the peanut yet. Peanuts are one of the special nuts that you should take caution with. Raw peanuts with green skins contain the same toxic elements as green potatoes. But as with potatoes, there is a way around this.
To ensure that the peanuts are safe for your hens, you will want to shell and inspect them for imperfections. If the peanuts are moldy or going bad, it’s best to toss them. Then you will spread the peanuts across a cookie sheet and cook them at 300 degrees for 30 minutes.
Remember to stir them periodically to make sure that all of the peanuts get cooked. Once the nuts finish roasting, they are safe for your chickens to eat. Cool them and toss a handful out for your chickens to have a great treat.
If this seems like a lot of work, you might consider buying roasted peanuts. But remember that most roasted peanuts are also salted, so you will still have to soak the nuts for 10 minutes. But it could cut back on a bit of work.
How Often Can I Feed Nuts?
Can you feed chickens nuts? Yes. But how often? Nuts are a healthy treat that you need to use only in moderation. As a general rule, treats should never consume more than 10% of your flock’s diet. However, that doesn’t mean that your chickens can eat 10% nuts and be ok.
You should only give even the healthiest nuts in small amounts. No more than 1-2 times a week is perfect for your chickens. And let’s not forget that most of these nuts only need to be fed a few per chicken at a time. Anything more than a couple could lead to obesity.
Can Baby Chickens Eat Nuts?
So if nuts are a healthy snack, you might be wondering can chickens eat nuts if they are young? Like most treats, baby chicks shouldn’t have them until they are old enough.
With something as high calorie as the nut, you should wait until your chicks are at least four weeks old. Otherwise, your chicks will fill up on fatty food and not keep up with proper development.
Can you feed chickens nuts? We don’t see why not. As long as you monitor that your chickens aren’t eating too many treats, your chickens will love them. And you will love the benefits feeding a varied diet will give you.
More eggs, beautiful birds, and delicious meat are all in your future. We think that makes the nut a good food for any chicken owner to feed.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Backyard Chicken Board!!