Chickens have been called “two-legged pigs” by some, who will eat just about anything in front of them. Chickens will eat rapidly no matter what you give them because doing so is part of their natural behavior.
In the world of chicken keeping, one of the most frequently asked questions is whether or not hens can partake in the consumption of bread. We’ll discuss whether or not chickens can eat bread, along with a long list of other foods that shouldn’t be given to hens.
Avoid feeding the chickens the following common foods. You do not want the birds to overfill their crop with low-nutrient meals while missing out on the benefits of the high-nutrient ones.
Do chickens like bread?
It’s not uncommon for chicken owners to feed their poultry bread. Bread is bad for hens because it can quickly form a ball in the crop, which can lead to obstructions. Chickens can’t gizzard massive amounts of bread because it can choke them.
If eaten in excess, the yeasts & sugars in the bread ferment in the crop, raising the pH of the crop contents and transforming the bacteria as well as other microbiota that thrive in the gizzard & crop of the chicken. This can lead to chronic, difficult-to-treat cases of sour crops.
So, mainly it is not. It’s not a good idea to feed bread to chickens. It has little nutrient benefit, and if they eat too much of it, they may develop blockages or tangy crops. Chickens can be fed small amounts of stale bread, however, moldy bread should be avoided because it might cause respiratory irritation.
If you insist on giving your chickens bread, soak it in a mixture of apple cider water and vinegar for a whole night before giving it to them. It will become more acidic, making digestion easier, and the fibers will be broken up, reducing the likelihood of a clumping crop.
Too much bread is bad for ducks, too. Bread in moderation is fine for ducks, but shouldn’t be their main source of nutrition.
Here are three items that should never be given to hens –
- Milk and other dairy items
Some persons who come into contact with an abandoned baby chick may believe that the chick needs milk simply because it is a little creature. Baby chicks need to eat food that is made just for them.
In fact, hens have lactose intolerance. Milk is a good source of protein and other nutrients, but the lactose in it might cause digestive issues in the birds.
Milk products, especially cultured ones like yogurt and cheese, have far less lactose and should be given in very modest amounts.
- Oatmeal or porridge
Porridge or oatmeal in moderation is fine, although oats are very poor in fat and protein which hens require.
Although chickens enjoy oatmeal, it prevents them from consuming the high-nutrient meals they need.
Unfortunately for birds, oats are heavy in indigestible beta glucans & contain almost no vitamins A, D, or E. Beta glucans might cause intestinal obstructions if there are too many of them.
Usually used as a filler, oats in commercial chicken feed are crushed, uncooked, and whole oats.
- Uncooked Eggs
Backyard chicken eggs must never be fed to other chickens. Because of the high calcium content, some people recycle their eggshells into animal feed. But if you want to be absolutely sure, the best calcium source is oyster shell grits.
There are three reasons for this –
- It may cause the chickens to go out of their way to find and consume their own eggs.
- Salmonella is a disease that the hens have, and if your flock eats raw eggs that have been laid by infected chickens, the sickness will spread quickly.
- Scramble the eggs & cook them, along with the shells, in a preheated oven for at least twenty minutes to kill the bugs. This will make the egg shells unrecognizable to the birds within the coop.
The Reasons Why Chickens Shouldn’t eat the bread –
- Bread Suffocate a Chicken
Chickens have a bread addiction, just like ducks and other birds. In fact, they’ll probably go crazy if you provide them with seeded or brown bread. The bread could get lodged in the bird’s throat & cause it to choke if you feed it to them.
If the chicken wants to consume a large piece of dry bread, it may become obstructed in its throat because of its expansion in the chicken’s mouth. Bread doesn’t just get stuck in the throat; it can also obstruct the crop, the initial part of the digestive tract for a chicken. If you really want to treat your hens with bread, moisten the piece first.
- Not Even Suitable for Chicken Stomach Physiology
The crop serves as a holding pen for food before it is digested. A slice of bread is too huge for a chicken’s crop, but it can form a ball & cause a catastrophic obstruction if it consumes it.
A chicken’s gizzard is similarly unsuited to processing massive quantities of this type of food. The gizzard is responsible for preparing food for digestion, however, it does not have the grit necessary to digest foods like bread.
- Fermentation in a chicken’s body can be fatal.
The bread’s yeast & sugar content might cause fermentation in the crop, increasing the content’s PH. Bread can have the microbiome, also the kind of bacteria that thrive in the chicken’s gizzard and crop.
- The protein content is low
Don’t take the chance that your birds will gain any benefit from eating bread because it is nutritionally empty in chickens, ducks, as well as other birds. Chicks in particular have very high-protein meals so they can grow and develop properly.
While chickens may enjoy the taste of bread, it doesn’t provide them with any of the protein they require. The reason for this is that the two to three grams of protein found in a standard slice of white bread is enough to support the growth of these birds.
- Poor Quality of Eggshells
Bread is not only deficient in proteins, but also in calcium, which is a key nutrient for the quality of eggs. An all-bread diet, or even just a lot of bread, can make your chickens feel full for longer, leading to less intake of layer mash.
To lay eggs that are both healthy and durable, hens require a diet rich in calcium. Offering bread as feed for just a few days probably won’t harm the chickens, but if it’s all they get to eat for an extended period of time, the eggs may become more fragile than usual.
- Mycotoxins in Stale Bread
What, you think old bread is still good for your chickens? Don’t feed your chicken stale, moldy bread, even if many chicken keepers say they do so without incident.
Mycotoxins, found in any moldy food, are the culprit behind mycosis, also known as thrush in a chicken’s crop. Even though it can be treated, you shouldn’t expose your flock to it.
Degeneration of liver tissues due to mycotoxicosis can also reduce egg production by making it difficult for chickens to digest and use protein. Chickens that should not consume the molded bread that also may have trouble breathing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can the bread crumbs be fed to hens?
Never feed hens stale bread or food that has gone bad, such as leftovers that are heavy in fat or salt.
What occurs when chickens consume excessive quantities of bread?
The microbiome, including the bacteria that thrive in the gizzard with crops, can be used by consuming excessive amounts of bread.
Does bread cause choke in chickens?
The chickens are not immune to suffocating on bread. Bread has been known to grow in size during the crop stage of digestion. Your chicken could get deathly ill if it happens. To sum up, you need to either break up the bread into small pieces or wet it before feeding it to your hens.
Providing your chickens with fresh, crumbled bread is not a safe and healthy treat. Now that you understand how a chicken’s digestive tract functions, you can help it out by not relying so heavily on the gizzard and crop.