Chickens are fun backyard pets and effective producers on family farms. Not all chickens are created equal when it comes to personality and temperament, as there are hundreds of breeds in existence today. One thing that all chicken breeds have in common (aside from the fact that they are all chickens) is that they eat the same things, like scratch, which is a mix of grains and seeds.
Chickens also tend to find snacks to eat in the yard while exploring. So, do chickens eat ants? All chickens might not eat ants but they can. However, just because chickens are able to eat ants, it’s important to know if they should. Here is what you should know about chickens eating ants and other bugs.
Do Chickens Eat Carpenter Ants?
The carpenter ant is a common type of ant that chickens seem to love munching down on. Luckily, carpenter ants are safe for chickens to eat as snacks, even on a daily basis. Carpenter ants usually live within large colonies, so they are easy for chickens to find. In fact, a chicken can make an entire meal out of a colony of ants in no time.
Do Chickens Eat Black Ants?
Black ants are safe for chickens to eat. They are small and usually do not have an effective exit plan when cornered by a chicken. These ants are not typically found in large colonies like carpenter ants are, but there are usually plenty of them found in the average yard for chickens to snack on. Black ants are the ones that tend to make their way into our homes, so when allowed to hunt for them, chickens can act as an awesome pest control system.
Do Chickens Eat Leafcutter Ants?
Leafcutter ants are larger than most other types of ants. They will work together to attack their enemies, so they do not typically run from chickens but instead, run toward them as an attack effort. However, not even the mighty carpenter ant is a match for a chicken. Chickens can and will easily snatch a carpenter ant up and eat it.
Do Chickens Eat Red Ants?
Red ants are a different story than many other ants. While a chicken can eat a red ant, it can be dangerous. Red ants sting their enemies and predators with a toxin that causes a great deal of pain. If a small chicken comes upon a colony of red ants, the ants can attack the chicken all at the same time and cause serious injury, if not death.
What Other Kinds of Insects and Bugs Do Chickens Eat?
Ants are not the only critters that chickens will eat while foraging in the yard. Chickens can and will eat all kinds of things, including cockroaches, slugs, termites, beetles, mosquitoes, ticks, crickets, and even small rats. All these insects and bugs have two things in common: They are pests to most homeowners, and they are full of beneficial protein for chickens to take advantage of.
Possible Side Effects of Chickens Eating Ants and Other Insects and Bugs
While it is generally safe for chickens to eat ants, there is a possibility that the ants and other insects and bugs can pass along parasites to chickens. It is impossible to stop a chicken from eating whatever bugs and insects that they come across while traversing the yard or exploring the coop, but you can avoid the possibility of parasite infections by having your chickens vaccinated and ensuring that they receive a well-balanced diet. You can also take steps to control the insect and pest populations in the areas where your chickens spend their time free-ranging.
Yes, chickens can eat ants. However, ants should be nothing more than occasional treats found in the yard. Chickens should never be left to fend for themselves and eat nothing but insects and bugs. A commercial chicken feed product should always be offered as the main option at mealtime. Kitchen scraps and time in the yard for bug hunting are great supplemental options.
Featured Image Credit: SandeepHanda, Pixabay