When people think about feeding chickens, the image of a farmer reaching into a bucket of grains and tossing it to the chickens often comes to mind. What else do chickens eat? They will eat a variety of things. What about meat? Yes, chickens will eat meat. Chickens are omnivores, meaning they will be both meat and plant products.
Chickens also do not seem to be picky eaters. They will eat almost anything! However, is meat good for chickens? This article goes over if you should feed your chickens meat as part of their diets or if eating meat is harmful to their overall health.
Can chickens safely eat meat?
Yes! Since chickens are omnivores, they will find various things to eat when they forage outside that will meet their nutritional needs – including other animals to eat. Seeds, vegetation, and insects are typical meals for foraging chickens. Chickens will even munch on toads, frogs, small snakes, or skinks. Even mice are on the menu for chickens if they catch one! Those are all forms of meat and are safe for chickens to consume. Those animals provide chickens with the protein they need for healthy body function and egg production.
How much meat should I feed my chicken?
Chickens are omnivores, not carnivores. Never put your chicken on an all-meat diet. Meat does not provide your chicken with the other nutrients they need to stay healthy. If you control what your chickens eat or cannot allow them to forage outside, it is a good idea to include meat in their daily meals. If you have a flock of dozen chickens, provide them with the rough equivalent of 4 tablespoons of meat chunks or minced meat along with their feed.
Feed (also known as pellets or crumbles) is an essential part of their diet. Quality chicken feed contains wheat, oats, cracked corn, soybean meal, or a combination of those foods as the main ingredient. Recipes also contain a type of oil for necessary fats. Some formulas may even contain ground oyster shells or bone meal for additional calcium and protein. Nutrients from the feed, some vegetables, and small portions of meat are what chickens need to grow healthily.
What kind of meat can I give my chickens?
When it comes to what kind of meat to give your chickens, anything goes! Well, that is not entirely true. Chickens can eat most meats safely, but there are some considerations:
Feeding your chickens meat is one way to ensure they get the proteins and some fats that they need to have a balanced diet. The best kind of meat to give them should be unprocessed, unfried, and not overly seasoned. The meat can be on the bone, as chickens will have no problem pecking away at the carcass to get to the good stuff.
What about eggs?
It is not a good idea to feed your chickens raw eggs or eggshells. Why? They might develop a taste for them and start eating the eggs laid in their coop. If you are trying to hatch chicks, you might find that the now egg-loving chickens are making that impossible. Instead, you can scramble the eggs and then give them to your chickens.
What is a balanced diet for a chicken?
All animals need a balanced diet, and this includes chickens. For chickens, they need to have a balance of water, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, as well as vitamins and minerals.
In addition to water, carbs, fats, and proteins, chickens need vitamins and minerals. Vitamins are needed for egg production, muscle health, carbohydrate metabolism, and overall growth. Minerals, such as calcium and phosphorus, are needed for healthy bones and healthy metabolism. Many brands of chicken feed are fortified with extra vitamins and minerals that can assist with egg production.
Chickens can consume most meat safely. If you allow your chickens to forage, and they come across a frog, mouse, or small lizard, they will have them as part of their meal. Meat is beneficial for chickens as it is a source of protein. Chickens will significantly benefit from having a small amount of meat in their diet.
- Related read: Do Chickens Eat Mice? Are Mice Bad for Chickens?
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