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Can Chickens Eat Bird Seed [4+ Seeds They Like]

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Chickens are common birds that people raise for many reasons, like keeping them as pets or using them for eggs and meat. 

They eat a mix of foods, including seeds, bugs, and small animals

Chickens like to live together in groups and communicate with each other by making sounds and using body movements. 

They also have their social order within the group.

These birds are pretty special because each one has its own personality, habits, and behaviours. 

They’re also pretty smart and good at finding food in their surroundings. 

But sometimes, people wonder if it’s okay for chickens to eat birdseed.

In this article, we’ll explore whether it’s safe for chickens to eat birdseed, covering topics like what types of birdseed they can have, how to feed them safely, and what other foods they should avoid. 

Let’s get started!

Can Chickens Eat Bird Seed?

chickens eating

You may be wondering, can chickens eat birdseed? The simple answer is yes, they can!

Birdseed is a common ingredient found in many types of chicken feed. 

However, there are a few important points to consider when feeding birdseed to your chickens.

Birdseed typically contains a mix of grains and seeds, which can offer chickens some extra nutrients and add variety to their diet. 

But it’s vital to make sure that the birdseed you give them is free from any additives, preservatives, or chemicals that could potentially harm their health.

While birdseed can make for a great addition to a chicken’s diet, it shouldn’t be the main source of their nutrition. 

Chickens need a well-rounded diet that includes a mix of grains, seeds, veggies, fruits, and proteins like insects or commercial feed.

When offering birdseed to your flock, it’s best to do it in moderation. 

Scatter the seeds on the ground or in a shallow dish to encourage their natural foraging behavior, which is not only good for their physical health but also provides mental stimulation and exercise. 

And of course, always ensure they have access to fresh water, especially when they’re munching on dry seeds.

While birdseed can be a tasty treat for chickens, it’s important to balance it with other nutritious foods to keep them happy and healthy.

Can Baby Chickens Eat Bird Seed?

The situation changes a bit when it comes to baby chicks. 

While grown-up chickens can manage birdseed without a hitch, it’s not advisable to give it to young chicks. 

Their digestive systems are still developing and may find it tough to handle the tough seeds in birdseed. 

It’s better to stick with a diet designed specifically for them, such as chick starter feed, until they’re a bit older and better able to handle a wider variety of foods. 

So, when caring for baby chicks, it’s best to avoid birdseed altogether and choose something easier on their delicate tummies.

What Types of Bird Food are Safe for Chickens to Eat?

When it comes to feeding your chickens, there’s a variety of bird foods that are not only safe but also beneficial for them. 

1. Grains: Chickens love grains like wheat, barley, oats, and corn. These grains pack carbohydrates and energy, keeping your flock active and satisfied.

2. Seeds: Beyond birdseed, chickens can munch on a variety of seeds such as sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame seeds. 

These tiny powerhouses deliver protein, healthy fats, and essential nutrients to your feathered friends.

3. Fruits: Treat your chickens to fruits like apples, berries, watermelons, and bananas.

These fruity delights serve up a dose of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, promoting their well-being.

4. Vegetables: From leafy greens such as spinach and kale to crunchy favorites like carrots, cucumbers, and bell peppers, chickens can devour a range of veggies. 

These colorful bites provide vital nutrients and spice up their diet.

5. Insects and Bugs: Chickens are natural bug hunters, so toss them some mealworms, crickets, or grasshoppers

These crunchy critters are packed with protein, making them perfect snacks to supplement your chickens’ diet.

6. Commercial Feed: Opt for high-quality commercial chicken feed designed to meet your flock’s nutritional needs. 

Choose feeds tailored for chickens and free from any harmful additives or preservatives.

By offering a mix of these bird foods, you’re ensuring your chickens enjoy a balanced diet that keeps them healthy and thriving. 

And don’t forget to keep their water bowls filled with fresh, clean water—it’s crucial for their overall well-being.

How to Feed Chickens?

1. Ensure a Balanced Diet: Make sure your chickens have a varied diet that includes grains, seeds, veggies, fruits, protein sources, and commercial feed. 

This guarantees they get all the essential nutrients they need to stay healthy and happy.

2. Keep Water Fresh and Accessible: Always provide your chickens with clean, fresh water around the clock. 

Hydration is key to their overall health and well-being, so make sure they have easy access to water whenever they need it.

3. Consistent Feeding Routine: Set up a reliable feeding schedule and stick to it. 

Chickens typically eat throughout the day, so it’s a good idea to offer food in the morning and evening.

4. Natural Feeding Style: Sprinkle feed on the ground or in a shallow dish to replicate their natural foraging instincts. 

This prompts them to peck and scratch, giving them mental stimulation and exercise.

5. Keep an Eye on Eating Habits: Pay attention to how much your chickens are eating. 

Adjust the food quantity based on their appetite and the size of their flock to avoid overfeeding or unnecessary waste.

6. Maintain Cleanliness: Keep feeding areas tidy and devoid of any contaminants to prevent diseases from spreading. 

Regularly clean feeders and waterers to uphold good hygiene standards.

7. Adjust for the Seasons: Take into account the changing needs of your chickens as the seasons shift. 

For instance, they might need more protein when molting or extra energy during colder weather.

8. Be Mindful of Treats: While treats can be a delightful treat for your chickens, it’s best to give them in moderation. 

Too many treats can upset their diet balance and potentially cause health problems.

What are the Disadvantages of Feeding Chickens Bird Seed?

Despite having many benefits, there are a few disadvantages of feeding chickens bird seed. Some of the disadvantages include:

1. Birdseed can be expensive.

2. Birdseed can attract pests such as rodents and birds.

3. Birdseed can be messy.

4. If not fed in moderation, birdseed can cause chickens to become overweight.

5. Some types of bird seeds, such as sunflower seeds, are high in fat and not as nutritionally dense as other types.

Nutritional Supplements for Chickens


Nutritional supplements can be like little boosts of goodness added to your chickens’ meals, giving them extra vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients to keep them healthy and happy. 

Here are some common ones:

1. Calcium

This is super important for laying hens because it helps with making strong eggshells and keeping their bones healthy. 

You can give them calcium by crushing up eggshells, using oyster shells, or getting special calcium supplements.

2. Grit

Grit aids in the digestion of food in chickens’ gizzards by grinding down food particles. 

It’s particularly important for chickens that don’t have access to coarse materials for natural grit consumption.

3. Probiotics

These are like little helpers for your chickens’ tummies, keeping their gut bacteria healthy and making digestion smoother. 

You can mix probiotic supplements into their water or food.

4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

These are good fats that can help boost your chickens’ immune systems and make their eggs extra nice. 

You can give them omega-3s by adding flaxseed or fish oil to their feed.

5. Vitamins

Just like people, chickens sometimes need a little extra boost of vitamins to stay healthy.

Vitamins A, D, and E are particularly important for things like keeping their immune systems strong, bones healthy, and eggs coming. 

You can add vitamin supplements to their food or water if needed.

6. Electrolytes

These are like natural body salts that help keep your chickens hydrated and balanced, especially during hot weather or when they’re feeling under the weather. 

You can add electrolyte supplements to their water to give them a little extra boost.

Remember, it’s always a good idea to talk to a vet or poultry expert before adding any supplements to your chickens’ diet to make sure you’re giving them the right stuff in the right amounts. 

And supplements should never replace their regular balanced diet but just give them a little extra help where needed.

Things You Should Avoid Feeding Chickens

Despite chickens being versatile eaters, there are specific foods and substances you should steer clear of:

1. Toxic Plants: Be cautious not to feed chickens plants that are toxic to them, such as rhubarb leaves, avocados, and plants from the nightshade family.

2. Salty or Sugary Foods: Excessive salt or sugar can disrupt the electrolyte balance of chickens, leading to potential health issues. 

It’s best to avoid feeding them processed foods or snacks high in salt or sugar.

3. Moldy or Spoiled Foods: Moldy or spoiled foods can contain harmful toxins that may jeopardize chickens’ health. 

Always discard any food displaying signs of spoilage or contamination.

4. Medications and Chemicals: Avoid feeding chickens medications or chemicals designed for humans or other animals without first consulting a veterinarian. 

These substances can be toxic to chickens or disrupt their health.


To sum up, chickens can eat birdseed safely as long as it’s part of a varied diet, without any extra stuff added, and given in reasonable amounts. 

Grown-up chickens can handle birdseed well, but it’s not good for baby chicks because their stomachs are sensitive. 

By feeding them right, giving them extra nutrients when needed, and avoiding anything harmful, you can keep your chickens healthy and happy.


What seeds can chickens not eat?

Chickens should avoid consuming seeds from plants that are toxic to them.
Some examples include seeds from apple cores, cherry pits, and seeds from plants of the nightshade family like tomatoes and potatoes.
Always research to ensure the seeds you offer your chickens are safe for them to eat.

Can chickens eat parrot food?

Chickens can technically eat parrot food, but it’s not the best choice for their diet.
Parrot food is specifically formulated for the nutritional needs of parrots and may not provide the right balance of nutrients for chickens.
It’s better to stick to feeds designed specifically for chickens.

What is toxic to chickens?

Several common foods and substances are toxic to chickens and should be avoided.
Some examples include avocados, rhubarb leaves, chocolate, caffeine, and alcohol.
Additionally, certain plants and flowers, such as azaleas and daffodils, can be harmful if ingested by chickens.

Can chickens eat bird eggs?

Chickens can eat eggs, but it’s not advisable to feed them their eggs.
Consuming their eggs can encourage egg-eating behavior, which can become a difficult habit to break.
However, if you provide eggs from other sources, such as cooked eggs or eggshells, they can be a nutritious addition to a chicken’s diet.

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