Nuts are the perfect blend of fiber, good fats, and protein. They are popular amongst humans, and, with so many health benefits, a chicken lover can’t help but to wonder, are nuts dangerous to chickens?
Are Nuts Dangerous to Chickens?
No, nuts can be an excellent snack to feed to your chickens! They are high in omega fats and essential nutrients that can make a substantial addition to their regular diet. However, the salt content is a concern, so make sure you don’t overdo it.
Chickens will eat it all! They are omnivores and will eat anything they can get their little beaks on, even things they really shouldn’t be getting into!
Their gizzards in their bodies break down practically everything safely, even nuts. Chickens that free-range tend to get a larger variety of vitamin-rich food to supplement their diet on their own.
Chickens that live in captivity may need help in reaching all nutritional needs. Nuts are an excellent supplement for your flock-to an extent. Always speak to your poultry veterinarian before changing your flock’s diet.
Nuts Nutritional Information
Let’s take a look at the nutritional values of a few of the most common nuts to get an idea of what they offer your chickens.
|Number of Nuts
|Number of Calories
Nutritional Benefits of Nuts
Nuts are packed with all the goods. They are high in fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, and good fats.
They are a snack that is better for you than other snacks. In most nuts, the fat content is fairly high, but most of this fat is the “good” kind, like avocados. Nuts contain unsaturated fats, which are known to be the good kind of fat.
Like fish, nuts also contain a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids that are great for the heart. Increasing omega-3 fatty acids in a chicken’s diet is known to improve your flock’s health and provide better eggs.
Walnuts are particularly high in omega-3 fatty acids. It has been proven that providing your chickens with omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent some common types of cancer common among chickens.
In humans, nuts help to reduce many risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. The same is true in chickens. In small amounts, nuts provide nutrition and act as a preventative for sicknesses and complications.
They also aid in digestion, supplement the brain, and even contain vitamin E, nutrient chickens can be deficient. Mentally, nuts can fight depression and lameness and will boost energy levels.
Calcium is also found in many nuts and can undoubtedly be beneficial to a chicken’s egg production. Boosts in calcium will ensure that your hens lay eggs with strong shells.
When chickens are low in calcium, they become prone to soft-shelled eggs, which can break when the hen lays them, or worse, inside the hen.
Will Chickens Like the Nuts?
Chickens are quite nutty- they like pretty much anything you feed them, and they get so excited when they see you coming out with a new treat in your hand.
They will typically gobble it down quickly without even enjoying it, or so it seems. Chickens tend to overindulge. They do not stop when they are full when they are eating treats. It is up to the chicken owner to ensure that they do not overfeed their chickens.
It is essential to know what is good for them and what is harmful because chickens do not know this for themselves!
What to do About Salted Nuts
Many nuts are salted for flavor. However, salt in large quantities can be dangerous for chickens. Salt intoxication occurs when a chicken ingests too much salt.
The effects that it has on your chickens depend on a variety of factors, including the amount of salt, the age of your chicken, and your chicken’s health. In some cases, it can lead to diarrhea, but it can even lead to death in other cases.
It is said that the recommended amount of salt in poultry food is 0.2%. No matter which type of nuts you decide to feed to your chickens, it is paramount that you avoid salted nuts at all costs and opt for the unsalted options.
Your chicken’s health depends on it! You may even consider thoroughly rinsing the nuts before giving them to your chickens to be sure.
Are There Any Types of Nuts to Avoid?
There are hundreds of different nuts on the market. Each will have different nutritional values from carbs, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, etc.
Always read the label and avoid feeding your chickens any flavored nuts such as spicy, candied, garlic, or other flavored nuts.
It should go without saying, but spoiled and moldy nuts can be very harmful to your chickens.
Take a look at how the nuts were cooked. Raw nuts are typically the best options to feed to your chickens. Nuts cooked in oil add unnecessary fat.
If you are looking to give your chickens the best of the best, avoid macadamia nuts and pecans.
These types of nuts are simply high in calories with the lowest content of protein. Their fat content is relatively high too. There isn’t much nutritional value here.
Do Chickens Have A Favorite Type of Nut to Eat?
Like humans, some chickens will prefer eating peanuts, while others will prefer eating almonds, or macadamia nuts.
I’d recommend breaking the shell off the peanut and give it to your chickens. They will probably grab the peanut and run around the chicken coop, with the rest of the flock chasing them.
If they are not interested in eating it, don’t force it on them. Many backyard chicken owners buy unsalted peanuts for their flock, because they gobble it up quickly.
Is There a Limit on How Many Nuts I Can Give My Chickens?
Just like with treats, chicken scratch, and cracked corn, there is a limit. Chickens can have as much chicken feed as they wish, but overdoing it on the snacks can pose potential health risks.
Too many nuts can increase fat and weight gain, which is not suitable for chickens. Obesity in chickens can lead to fat building up around their liver, which leaves the liver exposed to potential issues.
Try to limit the nuts to a handful or two for your flock. It is said that chickens typically eat 1/2 cup of feed a day. Their treat consumption should not exceed 10% of their daily food intake!
Simply put, a majority of a chicken’s diet should consist of high-grain chicken feed.
To put this into perspective for you, a half-cup comes out to be eight tablespoons. 10% of eight tablespoons is 8/10 of a tablespoon. So, just under a tablespoon of nuts per chicken is the correct amount to feed them.
If you have ten chickens, this means that about nine tablespoons should be the number to aim for when serving up treats for your flock!
Complications From Too Many Nuts
As mentioned, too many nuts can lead to weight gain, which brings on tons of other potential issues in your chickens.
Adding too much fat to their diet leaves them more prone to cardiovascular issues, fatty liver, high cholesterol, and even certain cancers.
Obesity, just like in humans, can also weigh heavy on chicken’s joints and bones and may even slow down mobility. Having healthy chickens is the goal. Go light on the nuts!
Other Foods to Feed Your Chickens
Many people who own backyard chickens will feed them chicken scraps, vegetables, fruits, etc. If you’re not comfortable feeding them nuts, because of the potential choking hazards, consider some of these other foods that can be great for your flock.
Overall, nuts can be a great addition to your backyard chicken’s snacks if fed in moderation and small amounts at a time.
Monitor your chickens closely to ensure they don’t have any allergic reactions.
We now know that salted nuts can be harmful to chickens, so it is vital to check that they are unsalted and to wash them before dispersing them out to your chickens.
The health benefits of nuts are too great to pass up as long as you are a good chicken parent and check the nuts over before handing them out! Your chickens will thank you!