What do chickens eat? Our feathered friends like to eat a varied diet. This is why they often hunt for vegetables, insects, worms, seeds, and other tasty treats while roaming the garden. However, even in an environment with a lot of space or an open field farm, it is very important to ensure that your hens have a balanced diet that contains all the essential nutrients and vitamins for their proper development.
These nutrients are usually found in granule form at any feed store for poultry and have to be given daily. This will help your chickens stay healthy, happy, and continue to lay plenty of fresh, nutritious eggs.
However, have you ever stared at your chickens as they roam the field eating grass and insects as they moved, and wondered how chickens can feed themselves if they don’t have teeth?
How do chickens eat if they don’t have teeth?
When chickens are feeding, they use their beaks to break their food by pecking it or slamming it against the ground to break it into smaller pieces. The food is immediately swallowed whole, without chewing, and stored in the crop before moving to the gizzard.
As we all know Chickens are omnivores, which means that they eat both meat, plants, and insects. For example, their diet includes worms, insects, frogs, and even snakes. But they also eat grasses, leaves, herbs, and vegetables. All of these foods are eaten by chickens despite not having teeth to chew.
Although here we have the first contradiction. Because saying that chickens don’t have teeth is not entirely accurate.
When the chicks begin to hatch their eggs, they have a small egg tooth at the tip of the beak. This is a great help to cut the egg from the inside and it can rise to the surface. However, not long after hatching, this tiny egg tooth falls out. Its only tooth is not used for eating, but only for hatching.
Very often people who raise chickens sometimes feed them with different types of feed to save the cost of daily feeding. A great way to feed chickens is to feed them fruit.
What kinds of fruits do chickens eat?
At gallinaponedora.com we have prepared a list of fruits with which you can feed your chickens along with their benefits and tips to keep birds happy and in good health.
Apples are one of my favorite fruits for their nutritious and delicious flavor, but you’ll be happy to know that they make a great treat for your chickens too. Apples contain a lot of energy, carbohydrates, fibers, minerals, and vitamins.
You can add a few small pieces of apple to the daily diet of your hens, I assure you that your birds will enjoy it. Another option is to prepare an apple sauce and mix it with your balanced food.
Cherries make an excellent gift for your chickens. You can feed your birds raw or cooked cherries. These delicious fruits are very nutritious and full of vitamins: K, C, E, and A. And if that weren’t enough, cherries also contain many beneficial minerals for chickens.
Tomatoes are another of the fruits that could not be missing from our list of foods that chickens eat. Because they are not just a delicious snack for your birds, they are healthy and completely safe for them. The only thing we do warn is that you do not allow your chickens to eat the leaves and branches of tomato plants because they contain some harmful toxins that can be somewhat harmful to your birds.
One of the favorite fruits that chickens eat is pineapple pulp. Although this does not happen in all races. In my case, I currently raise Brahma and Jersey Giant chickens and they always get very excited when I combine their food with pineapple and even eat the shell.
Chickens can be fed in any way with pineapple, but it is always recommended to cut them into slices. Be aware that there are some varieties of chickens that hate the taste of overripe or green pineapples.
Strawberry is a fruit with high nutritional value rich in antioxidants, vitamins B9, A, and C. A small disadvantage of this delicious red fruit is that it can affect the color of your birds’ waste. Although this does not affect the health of your chickens at all. I generally feed my birds sliced strawberries, but they can also be fed whole.
These delicious, watery fruits are an excellent source of vitamins for chickens. Your birds will not only settle for melons, they will also devour all their seeds. Melons contain beneficial vitamins and minerals for your chickens. Melons are an excellent summer food for birds because chickens need more water in their diet at this time of year, and melons are rich in water.
These round and tiny fruits contain a large amount of sugar inside, which is why they are among the favorite foods that chickens eat. With the help of the functioning of their digestive system, chickens can digest grapes and their seeds. However, it is important to note that seedlings should not be fed grapes.
On the other hand, don’t overdo it with the ration of grapes for your chickens. Because, as we mentioned earlier, it has high sugar content. Grapes should be a weekly treat and not a daily food in your diet.
Besides being a delight to eat some frozen pears, they are also sources of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Pears are definitely great food for chickens. However, it is not advisable to give the whole pear to your birds, as the seeds can be harmful and cause suffocation in your chickens. You can give them pears in pieces or prepared them in a fruit salad.
Mangoes are one of the fruits that chickens enjoy the most, and they can even be used to train their birds by rewarding them for returning to their hen house on time. However, these fruits should be occasional foods and should be part of your regular diet.
Finally, we could not leave the side of the list of foods that hens eat with cucumber. You can always reward your chickens with this fruit. And the best part is that you don’t have to chop the cucumbers for your birds to eat. You can also feed cucumbers raw, unsliced, in salads, slices, or diced.
What other foods do chickens eat?
Your chickens will love whole grains like oats, wheat, and sunflower seeds. However, these nutritious foods should be administered as a supplement to your diet, in no case should they replace your daily diet. Whole oats and wheat are the best foods for winter since the process of breaking down these grains generates heat in the hens.
That is why we always recommend giving them these foods one or two hours before bedtime, as they will help the hens to stay warm during cold winter nights.
Vegetables should always be present in the hens’ diet. However, if your birds have free access to the field or your garden, it will not be necessary to provide additional vegetation. On the other hand, if your hens live confined, it is advisable to give them vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, corn, alfalfa, etc. Consider hanging alfalfa in an area within the pen, and you will see your birds have fun while they eat.
In addition to the hens enjoying while eating their vegetables, it is important to remember that adding vegetables to our chickens’ daily diet will help improve the flavor of the eggs and also contribute to a beautiful yellow/orange color of the egg yolk.
What foods do chickens not eat?
As we have shown throughout this post. The list of foods that chickens eat can be very long. However, there are some that are the exception, although in small amounts they are not harmful if they are given in excess they can be harmful to the health of your birds. Therefore, in this section we will make a shortlist of the foods that your hens should avoid eating:
- Potato skin
- Apple, pear, and cherry seeds
- The plant and the leaves of the tomato and the pepper
- Dry beans
- Rhubarb leaves
- Salty or sugary foods
Remember that fruits are rich in vitamins and minerals, but they do not have enough protein for the diet that chickens eat daily, so these treats must be accompanied by a balanced daily diet that contains an extra source of protein. And as we mentioned throughout the article, the balanced chicken feed can be found in any poultry food store.
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