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Do Chickens Eat Mosquitoes? Is It Safe for Them?
People who are unfamiliar with chickens may think that all they eat are seeds and grains. While they will munch on them, these backyard birds are omnivores that will eat whatever they can find. Free-ranging animals will forage on a variety of foods, from daylilies growing in your flowerbeds to lettuce popping up in your garden. The question of whether chickens will eat mosquitoes is a resounding yes!
Nutritional Needs of Chickens
Like other animals, chickens need protein in their diet. They contain the building blocks called amino acids that will form their bones, feathers, connective tissue, skin, and other body components. Of course, the amount chickens require will vary whether they are egg-laying or not. Shells take a lot of protein to develop, hence, the higher needs for these birds.
Your chickens should get a higher percentage of protein, aka insects like mosquitoes, in their diet when it’s warmer outside and they’re not eating as much food. An 18-week-old chicken needs about 18% protein and amino acids in its diet to stay healthy. As much of a bane as mosquitoes are, many animals, including birds, depend on them for food.
Risks of Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes carry risks on both sides of the equation. Of course, there is a risk, albeit slight, that chickens ingesting insects sprayed with pesticides would get poisoned, depending on what chemical was used. That same caution applies to anything else that the birds may eat or drink that gets contaminated. Surprisingly, not having mosquitoes around also is a concern.
While these insects don’t make up a large percentage of a chicken’s diet, decreases in resident populations can potentially affect birds that do, such as Purple Martins. That tells us that the question of dealing with pests, like mosquitoes, isn’t a cut-and-dried matter.
Many consider mosquitoes the most dangerous organism on the planet. The litany of diseases they carry is reason enough to want to get rid of them. However, the risk to chickens is slight and not a significant cause for concern, whether it’s a bite or something on them. The greater worry is for people.
The Benefits of Chickens and Mosquitoes
If you have a mosquito problem in your yard, chickens can help get the situation under control. They aren’t picky, either. They’ll eat any insects they can find as they forage! These birds like to root around in the grass and will find them wherever they lurk.
Interestingly, chickens also have other unexpected benefits regarding mosquitoes. It turns out that these birds can repel some species of mosquitoes, particularly the malaria-carrying variety Anopheles arabiensis. This species doesn’t exist in North America, but it is widespread in areas where the disease occurs.
That seemingly lowly chicken scrounging around in your backyard can help control this sometimes-fatal disease. Of course, we know that chickens make delightful pets. This information just adds to the many reasons why you’d want a few in your yard.
We understand if having these pests in your backyard isn’t an option. One of the best ways to control mosquitoes is by eliminating any standing water in your yard. If you have a rain barrel or water feature, you can add mosquitoes dunks to them to control the issue that won’t harm wildlife or pets. Another option is to use diatomaceous earth. It can prevent moisture which is a breeding ground for pests.
Chickens do indeed eat mosquitoes—if they can get a hold of them. It won’t harm your birds if they do, either. You may even find that your chickens can help control a pest problem. However, like any treat, it shouldn’t make up more than 10% of your pets’ diet. In the meantime, let your chickens do their worst and enjoy the extra protein!
Featured Image Credit: WikiImages, Pixabay
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.