If you are reading this, it will probably be because you have a few chickens running around the house. However, they are more than just some animals for you. They have become pets and you want to spoil them? And what is the best way to spoil your pets if not giving them treats from time to time? But what treats can chickens have? Can chickens eat bread? What other foods should we choose that will not interfere with their health in a negative manner? A lot of questions that are waiting for answers. This article is for the curious and concerned pet owners who wish to provide the best for their beloved pets.
Can Chickens Eat Bread?
As a matter of fact, bread is one of their favorite treats. They love to eat bread a lot and won’t stop until every crumb is gone so make sure that you give bread in moderation. You can feed them using your hand and throwing the bread around. They will run with an unimaginable speed and will eat it in almost no time. That’s how much they love it. However, keep in mind that moderation is the key. You don’t want to cause them any harm.
When Can They Get Treats?
We believe that every new chicken keeper is eager to find out when his/her cute little fluffy chicken babies will be able to eat treats. When they are little, the treats might interfere with the food you give them, so there might be an imbalance in the nutritional values that they get. Also, giving your chickens too many treats will turn upside down their ability to fight illnesses, as well as their growth and development. Even if the treats you choose to give them might be healthy, they could affect the chickens in a negative manner. It should be better to maintain a conservative approach when it comes to baby chicks and snacks.
Now, if the little chickens are fed with something else besides the starter food, they will need to have some small bits of sand or dirt to help them with their digestion. The starter food will be easily digested by saliva, but the rest of the snacks will require a bit more effort in the digesting process. And, this is where the grit – the sand or dirt – steps in.
Also, it is good to know that oyster shells should never be given to chicks or to the chickens which are not laying eggs, simply because it will interfere with the development of the bones and it will cause some damage to the organs.
Moderation is the Key
You’ve probably heard this saying for many times by now but it stands and it applies also in the case of chickens, especially when it comes to the feeding process. Remember that giving them a treat will not be considered a substitute for the body, all the nutritional values they get from the starter food will not be provided by the snacks you give them.
The starter food is prepared by specialists, people who know exactly the amount and the nutritional values a chicken should take in every day. The supplemental foods, on the other hand, will only get to replace a small amount of those essential nutritional values that are so much needed for the body.
Giving your chickens treats in excess, even if they are healthy, will trigger one of the following conditions:
- Heart problems
- Increased risk of heat stroke
- The reduced egg production
- Malformed eggs
- Protein deficiency
- Multiple yolked eggs
- Feather picking
- Vent prolapse
- Fatty liver syndrome
Keep in mind that treats should take up to no more than 5% of a chicken’s diet. In more concrete terms, this means that no more than 2 tablespoons of treats should be administrated weekly. Do not give your chickens treats every day because they might run the risk of becoming obese. Lately, this is an issue that has affected many backyard chickens.
It is not recommended to give them treats every day, but neither should these foods be taken out of their diet. Here are a few healthy alternatives to take into consideration:
- Proteins – beef, fish, insects, sunflower seeds with the shells on
- Fruits – apples, peeled bananas, pomegranate, strawberries, raisins
- Vegetables – asparagus, beans, cauliflower, beets, peas, peppers, squash, greens
- Whole grains – bread, cereal, pasta, oatmeal or sprouts.
Take into consideration these tips the next time you want to give treats to your pets. Chickens can eat bread and many other healthy treats, but only in moderation.