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11 Seeds Chickens Love to Eat

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For people like you who raise chickens, a major challenge you can face is getting the right feed for your birds. Chicken feed can be quite expensive, so you are on the right track if you are looking for alternative sources of feed for your birds.

Here is a compilation of protein-rich seeds and grains that you can feed your chickens with:

1. Watermelon Seeds

Black watermelon seed

With a protein content of 14-17%, watermelon seeds are great for chickens. When you enjoy your watermelon, you should keep the seeds for your chickens. What’s more, chickens can eat watermelon rinds, so no part of a watermelon is a waste if you have chickens.

2. Pumpkin Seeds

If you have spare pumpkin seeds, you should feed your chickens with them as pumpkin seeds have around 19% protein. Pumpkin seeds are healthy, palatable, and delicious for your chickens. Give as many pumpkin seeds as you can to your chickens.

3. Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds have 21% crude protein. No wonder sunflower seeds are among the top seeds recommended when raising chickens with seeds.

Chickens love sunflower seeds and sunflower seeds have been proven to boost their growth and development. Sunflower seeds are the go-to seeds for chickens.

4. Peas and Beans

What are the best seeds for chickens if not legumes? Leguminous seeds such as peas and beans are known for their high protein values. Pigeon peas for example contain around 22% protein while boiled kidney beans have 24% proteins.

Peas and beans may be expensive, but if you have few to spare, you should give them to your chickens.

5. Pepper Seeds

black pepper seeds in a wooden bowl

Are pepper seeds safe for birds? Since pepper has a very spicy and hot taste, you may be discouraged to feed your birds with pepper seeds. Well, bell pepper (as well as other varieties) seeds are safe for birds.

Pepper seeds have 19% protein and are palatable to your chickens.

6. Papaya Seeds

One common fruit that we eat is papaya. While we enjoy papayas for their sweet taste and nutrients, we may be missing out on their protein-rich seeds. Papaya seeds contain around 27-28% protein and are very palatable for chickens.

Instead of throwing your papaya seeds away, you should feed them to your chicken.

7. Wheat

Grains of wheat in bags

We’ve been talking about seeds of popular fruits and flowers for a while, it is time to talk about grains.

Wheat is by far the most popular grain and its popularity is tied to its use in baking and other uses. While wheat has a lot of uses, you can feed your chickens with it (if you have enough).

Wheat contains around 16% proteins and has a lot of carbohydrates, so it is beneficial for fattening chickens.

8. Rye

Though not so popular as wheat, rye has many uses as well. Rye contains 9-15% protein and chickens enjoy rye seeds a lot. If you have some rye to spare, you should give them to your chickens.

9. Barley

Barley seeds in brewery

When it comes to chicken, barley is the most popular grain for feed because barley is easy and quick to cultivate, plus it is cheaper than wheat.

With a protein content of 12%, barley can be used as a supplement for chicken feed. In the winter, you should give your chickens a lot of barley to keep them active and warm.

10. Maize

Maize is yet another popular grain for chickens. While maize is popular, it is not the most recommended grain for young growing chickens as it contains 11% protein (which is the lowest so far).

Maize is recommended for older chickens that you want to fatten as maize contains a lot of carbohydrates.

11. Millet

Millet the organic grain

Millet is a common grain when raising animals since the millet plant is easy to grow and produces seeds quickly. Millet contains 7-12% protein for your birds.

Since millet grains are very tiny, you can feed them whole to your birds. It is, however, recommended that you feed powdered millet to your birds as the powdered form releases nutrients to chickens faster than whole millet.

What seed/grain will you feed your chickens with?

Some Seeds/Pits You Should Prevent Your Chickens from Eating

Please prevent your chickens from eating the following seeds:

1. Apple Seeds

Apple seeds contain traces of cyanide. Cyanide is a phytotoxin that can kill birds and other animals. While eating a few apple seeds may not harm your chickens, they can increase the chances of mortality (death) of your birds.

2. Cherry Pits

Cherry pits contain a lot of hydrogen cyanide and can be too toxic to your chickens. Eating too many cherry pits can cause seizures, difficulty in breathing, and loss of your birds. You should prevent your chickens from eating cherry pits.

3. Avocado Pits

Avocado pits have a phytotoxin called persin. Persin can cause heart problems for your birds and they can develop respiratory and circulatory problems when consumed. Do not feed your chickens with avocado seeds.

Make sure to feed your chickens with only recommended seeds/grains.

Other Food and Treat Ideas for Chickens

Aside from seeds, here are some recommended food and treat ideas for your chickens:

1. Processed Feed

Processed feed is the best feed for chickens as it contains every nutrient needed. The processed feed contains just the right amount of needed proteins according to the age of your birds.

You can feed your chickens with processed feed for as long as you want. Make sure that there is always feed available for your birds.

2. Insects and Other Little Critters

closeup of a snail on a wooden plank

Insects are icky, right? Well, not for chickens. When you allow your chickens to forage for their feed, they will search for insects and other little critters that they can eat.

Insects are not just fun to eat and delicious for chickens, they are loaded with nutrients (proteins, fiber, fat, etc.). Examples of organisms that your chickens can eat are:

  • Insects
  • Spiders
  • Earthworms
  • Frogs
  • Reptiles
  • Nematodes
  • Snails and slugs

You should allow your chickens to find and eat as many insects and little critters as they can. You can also look for insect treats for your chickens in pet shops and feed mills.

3. Mealworms and Other Insect Larvae

If you do not want your chickens to search for their food or there are no insects available (perhaps because it’s winter), you can buy some insect larvae for your chickens. Examples of insect larvae that you can feed your chickens with are:

  • Mealworms
  • Palm Tree Weevils
  • Black Soldier Flies

While you can get most insect larvae from pet shops and feed mills, you can also cultivate yours by yourself. An example of a common insect larva that you can cultivate for your chickens is the mealworm larva.

4. Kitchen Scraps

Women scraps peels carrots vegetable

Chickens can eat some kitchen scraps. Make sure that you feed your chickens with the remains of only what you are sure that chickens can eat. Some examples of kitchen scraps that you can feed your chickens with are:

  • Bread
  • Fish
  • Fruit seeds and rinds
  • Boiled beans
  • Leaf remains

Please do not feed your chickens with dairy products or substances filled with oil.

5. Fruits and Vegetables

You should give your chickens some fruit and vegetable treats. Chickens love their fruits, but you should not give them too much as fruits contain too many sugars and carbohydrates.

As for vegetables, they are healthy for chickens, but they do not contain many proteins, so your chickens will not grow as quickly as they should if you feed them with only vegetables.

Some fruits and vegetables that you can feed your chickens with are:

  • Bananas
  • Mangoes
  • Broccoli
  • Lettuce
  • Oranges

Remember that you should not give too much fruit and vegetables to your chickens as fruits contain too many carbohydrates and vegetables do not contain as many proteins as your chickens need.

What will you be feeding your chickens with?

Related Questions and Answers

Got any questions?

1. Can You Raise Chickens with Only Seeds and Grains?

Most grains such as maize and wheat contain a lot of carbohydrates and very few proteins. To grow, chickens need a lot of proteins. A few seeds such as pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds contain proteins, but such seeds are usually expensive (when you consider raising your chickens with just the seeds).

Since grains and seeds are either too expensive or do not have enough proteins to raise chickens, it is advisable that you give grains and seeds to chickens as treats and not their actual meal.

2. Can Chickens Eat Fermented Grains?

Chickens can eat fermented grains and fermented grains are good for them. Some benefits of fermented grains for chickens are:

  • Faster Growth: Fermented grains have more proteins than regular grains as the microbes fermenting the grains add to the protein composition of the grains. This means that your chickens will grow faster with fermented grains than with regular grains.
  • Weightier Chickens: Fermented grains are very easy (and quick) to digest, so your chickens can get the nutrients very quickly from eating them. Since grains are rich in carbohydrates, fermented grains are great for chickens that are lacking in weight.
  • Natural Antibiotics: What makes fermented grains if not a load of beneficial bacteria? When your chickens eat fermented grains, they get these bacteria (and other microbes) that can help them digest food faster.

As you can see, chickens should (not just can) eat fermented grains.

3. Are Seeds and Grains the same?

All grains are seeds, but not all seeds are grains. A seed is the viable offspring of a plant. Seeds are the products of pollination and seeds can usually be found in pods or fruits. While grains are seeds, “grains” refer to the seeds of dicotyledons such as wheat, maize, barley, etc. which can be used as cereals.

Have you found the answer to your question?

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of seeds and grains that you can feed your chickens with. Seeds and grains are recommended chicken feed supplements and make great chicken treats, so you should always have seeds and grains on hand for your chickens.


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