Chickens are amazing and even more so when it comes to eating. They eat different types of food in the same fashion as pigs, but the major problem with their eating habits is that they can eat so much that we must determine whether a food type is healthy for our chickens.
That is why it is always recommended to ensure if your chickens can eat a food type before giving it to them. With this in mind, let’s get to the question. Can you feed chickens bird seed?
To answer your question, yes, chickens can consume a wide variety of bird seeds. This can be an excellent source of nutrition for your hens, helping them to grow quickly and healthily.
However, there is more to it than a chicken eating bird seed as part of its regular diet. Wild birdseed is high in fat and lacks essential nutrients and vitamins for pet chickens to eat long-term.
In our guide, you can learn more about chickens eating bird seed so you won’t lose your fresh eggs daily. (Read Can You Feed Chickens Cooked Shrimp)
Can Chickens Eat Bird Seed?
If you have bird feeders, it could cross your mind to get one seed rather than two to save money. Yes, hens can eat bird seed if it is given as a treat only once in a while. It isn’t the best diet for kids, but it is delicious and does not pose a health risk.
It’s perfectly OK for chickens to eat when they’re properly nourished.
While it is not suggested to feed bird seed to chickens regularly, many chicken owners do so every couple of days to keep the chicken’s diet varied. This can be done by placing the seeds in a tiny cup or dispersing them on the ground and allowing the hens to forage for them.
It is best offered as an occasional snack, and while you can add it in a cup, many people intentionally spread it around to give chickens something else to keep them occupied.
You can also mix thistle seed with your birdseed, yet if you have smaller chickens, its’ best to avoid sunflower seed additions as these are much larger than regular seeds. (Read Can Goats Eat Tomatoes)
What Do Chickens Eat In The Wild?
To further appreciate why bird seeds are edible but not ideal for hens, it’s necessary to grasp what a chicken’s regular diet looks like. Chickens have been around for a very long time, descended directly from dinosaurs. They’ve been exposed to many of the same foods over time, which has resulted in their bodies becoming optimal for processing those foods.
As a result, it’s critical to feed your chicken a diet similar to that of a wild chicken. They are built to thrive on specific foods and may not process items they haven’t had before.
Chickens are omnivores who eat just about anything they can find. Chickens have become highly robust because of their varied diet, which helps them digest a wide variety of nutrients.
Fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, grasses, tiny insects, reptiles, and even mice are part of a chicken’s natural diet. When fed properly, the mixture of chemicals in bird seed is typical for chickens and will not cause any inside problems.
If feeding chickens from home, some table scraps are suitable, yet they are better if they have whole foods included and leave out white bread and pasta.
Benefits & Dangers Of Bird Seed For Chickens
Birdseed offers many health benefits when fed appropriately, yet it isn’t the healthiest food and can pose a health hazard.
Luckily, risks are minor and can be avoided if you’re knowledgeable about chicken health.
The biggest issue with bird food is the lack of nutrition compared to chicken feed. Most bird food mixtures are full of fat while not containing many vitamins and added calcium, a vital component for year-round egg-laying. (Read Can Chickens Lay Eggs Without A Rooster)
If you feed your chicken birdseed every day, they’ll develop nutritional deficiencies.
However, birdseed has advantages besides it being a tasty alternative to their regular diet. Birdseed can be rich in amino acids, and with whole grain, rolled oats, and seed diets, it can help reduce salmonella infections.
Over the winter, many chicken owners feed chickens supplements of birdseed together with cracked corn to help produce body heat.
How To Feed Bird Seed To Chickens
Since hens should not be fed birdseed, you must ensure that you are feeding your flock appropriately to avoid any health problems.
First and foremost, you must ensure that your chickens are fed a balanced diet. In addition to plenty of fruits and vegetables, this diet contains a high-quality chicken feed. If you follow this diet, your chicken will have access to all of the nutrients it needs. It’s easier to provide bird feed once you’ve mastered this first step.
Most chicken owners just scatter a handful of birdseed on the lawn as part of their daily scratching routine when it comes to providing food for their flock. In this way, the hens are kept occupied while looking for seeds, but they aren’t given an excessive amount of food at once.
Additionally, as previously said, some chicken owners mix birdseed with a little amount of cracked corn to aid their chickens in producing body heat during the cooler winter months.
Can Chickens Eat Wild Bird Seed?
Wild bird seed comes in many forms with many made up from:
- Sunflower seeds
- Cracked corn on occasion
As a result, sunflower seeds are found in virtually all birdseed mixtures. Many birdseed mixes include oats and other grains as fillers, although these grains have little nutritional benefit.
Birdseed is an excellent treat for modern domestic hens because it’s strong in fat and lacking in vitamins.
Best Wild Birdseed for Both Chickens and Birds
Much of the chicken feed solutions for egg-laying hens and chicken feed can depend on the type of chickens you have. Thus, can chickens eat wild bird seed?
Compared to domestic chickens that lay regularly, wild chickens may lay only a few eggs per year. Because of this, you can find specific wild bird seed suitable as the chicken feed is more suited to wild birds who don’t require lots of nutritional needs and vast amounts of calcium carbonate for strong shells. (Read Is Anthurium Toxic to Cats)
Here are some things you can use to feed your backyard chickens, love eating over the winter months, and offer eggs year-round.
1. Black Oil Sunflower Seeds: If you pick one seed during the winter, opt for the black oil sunflower seeds. Many species of birds eat them, and your chickens can eat them without worry.
Your birds will love eating the sunflower seeds whole. They adore sunflower seeds. However, sunflower seeds with additional seasonings are not safe for chickens.
2. Suet: Suet is totally fine as a winter treat for backyard hens and wild birds alike. That fat, protein and other nutrients will help your flock survive the winter.
Choose suet cakes with dried berries, oats, corn, and nuts. It’s easy to produce suet blocks or buy them at your local pet store.
3. Cracked Corn: Birds adore cracked corn, so many mixtures incorporate it. They’ll enjoy them,
but moderation is crucial. It can make your chickens fat. A handful can supply a lot of carbohydrates and energy to your chickens.
4. Safflower Seeds: Chickens adore them, whereas squirrels despise them. If you give them a handful, they’ll try to pick out the Safflower first. The best part is that they’re high in Omega 6 fatty acids and Vitamins E and K, all of which support a healthy immune system.
5. Niger Seed and Thistle: If you have a thistle feeder, remember to share it with your backyard chickens when you’re done filling it. They’re a fantastic blend of fat, fiber, and protein, making them the ideal comfort meal snack for backyard hens and birds over the winter.
The above seed mixes designed for wild birds can be suited to both your chickens and as bird feed on your bird tables. Wild birds will appreciate these as an addition to a well-balanced diet as much as your backyard chickens, who get it as a great treat to accompany their healthy diet.