can you feed birds chicken

Can chickens eat wild bird food? In the past decade, there have been a handful of times that I’ve looked out my kitchen window, expecting to see nuthatches and chickadees at the wild-bird feeders hanging on my deck, only to find one of my hens precariously perched on the deck rail, happily gobbling up bird seed. I was amused at first. But the hilarity curtailed quickly when I realized how much birdseed my Orpington oinkers cost me.

I eventually switched to squirrel-proof—and poultry-proof—feeders, which solved that situation. Still, whenever I haul out the sacks of feed to refill the wild-bird feeders, my chickens suddenly dash towards the deck, hoping to get some seeds scattered their way.

I shared this story with an old friend not too long ago. Karen doesn’t keep chickens, but all colors, shapes and sizes of wild-bird feeders literally bedazzle her deck. She smiled as she visualized my Buff Orpington hens gorging themselves at my tube feeder. She then asked me, “Well, why not?”

Why not? I schooled my expression and changed the subject. But once I was home I practically ranted at my husband, Jae, about this exchange.

Feeding chickens bird seed, I remarked. Can you imagine? Jae just looked at me and replied, “Well, why not? They’re already eating it.”

When he saw my bewildered expression, he continued that surely it would be easier to just buy more sunflower and safflower seed than to also buy starter, grower and layer rations.

One, my husband obviously was not reading all of my articles. Two, if Jae thought feeding our chickens a diet of bird seed was acceptable, then there surely must be other flock owners who might harbor the same mistaken notion.

Can chickens eat wild bird food? In addition to not having the right nutrients, wild bird feed is also high in fat and calories, neither of which are good for domestic chickens. A handful of sunflower seeds tossed to a flock every now and then as a treat is fine. Feeding chickens nothing but wild bird feed can start them down a dangerous path of bad health … or worse.

Depending on the manufacturer and the type of feed — starter, grower, or layer rations — a 50-pound sack of chicken feed costs approximately $17 (at least it does here in Michigan). A 40-pound bag of black-oil sunflower seed, however, costs $27. That may not seem like a huge difference, but it adds up. A 200-pound poultry feed purchase comes out to $68, while a 200-pound sunflower seed purchase totals $135. The wild-bird feed prices out at twice the cost of the poultry feed.

Migratory birds can carry and transmit such infectious bird diseases as Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) and exotic Newcastle disease (END) to backyard flocks. Research conducted by a team including Sonia Hernandez (professor of wildlife disease at the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine) detected 14 wild bird species—all considered at high risk for pathogen transmission—regularly entering backyard chicken coops to share the food and water meant for the flocks and a total of 72 species intermingling with chickens.

One can only assume that the contamination rate would only increase if backyard flocks were fed a diet intended for wild birds.

Poultry feed is scientifically formulated to provide chickens with the nutrition they need for proper growth and development at each stage of their life. If you’re wondering can chickens eat wild bird food, without the right balance of vitamins, minerals and nutrients, poultry can fail to thrive, suffer from deficiency-related conditions, and become incapacitated if affected severely enough.

It is crucial to provide chickens with the right diet to keep them healthy. It is for this same reason that our flocks cannot be fed scratch grains or any other supplement as their main nutritional source.

This story about can chickens eat wild bird food appeared at Hobby Farms online and is regularly updated for accuracy. Click here to subscribe.

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This is because, presumably, chicken feed contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs) because it contains corn.

I found that absurd, but she went on to defend it, pointing out that chickens are birds even though they eat bird seed.

Can chickens eat wild bird feed? Wild bird feed lacks the proper nutrients and is heavy in fat and calories, which are bad for domestic chickens. It’s okay to occasionally toss a handful of sunflower seeds as a treat to a flock. If hens are only fed wild bird feed, it could put them at risk for health problems or worse.

For chickens to remain healthy, it is essential to feed them the proper diet. Our flocks cannot be fed scratch grains or any other supplement as their primary source of nutrition for the same reason.

Feeding chickens bird seed, I remarked. Jae simply gave me a strange look and said, “Well, why not? They’re already eating it.” ”.

A 50-pound bag of chicken feed typically costs $17, depending on the manufacturer and the kind of feed—starter, grower, or layer rations, at least in Michigan). A 40-pound bag of black-oil sunflower seed, however, costs $27. Although it might not seem like much, that adds up. The cost of 200 pounds of poultry feed is $68, whereas the cost of 200 pounds of sunflower seeds is $135. The price of wild bird feed is double that of poultry feed.

I’ve looked out my kitchen window a few times in the last ten years, expecting to see nuthatches and chickadees at the wild-bird feeders hanging on my deck. Each time, however, I’ve found one of my hens perched precariously on the deck rail, happily gobbling up bird seed. Can chickens eat wild bird food? I was amused at first. But when I found out how much birdseed my Orpington oinkers cost me, the humor quickly subsided.

FAQ

Is it okay for birds to eat chicken?

Yes. And it’s not cannibalism. A parrot is about as closely related to a chicken as you are to a pig. Make sure the chicken is not seasoned or garnished with things that the parrot can’t have such as onion, garlic, or avocado (that includes avocado oil).

Can I feed chickens wild bird feed?

Remember, modern domestic chickens lay lots of eggs year-round, while wild birds may lay only a few eggs a year, seasonally. So seed mixes designed for wild birds just won’t make a good, well-balanced diet for your flock. So feel free to offer them wild birdseed. In moderation, as a treat, it can even be quite healthy!

Is it OK to feed birds meat?

Birds can have an occasional bite of lean, cooked meat, but they should not be offered heaping quantities of these fat-filled items, especially if they are small relative to the portion size.

Do birds and chickens eat the same food?

In addition to not having the right nutrients, wild bird feed is also high in fat and calories, neither of which are good for domestic chickens. A handful of sunflower seeds tossed to a flock every now and then as a treat is fine.