I always wondered whether chickens could eat oats. In fact, I had never heard of anyone who had tried this until a couple of weeks ago when a friend asked the same question. Earlier this week, I was browsing videos on Youtube when I stumbled upon a video about chickens eating oats. The topic is quite intriguing so I thought of sharing it with you all.
Can chickens eat oats? Oats are high in carbohydrates and can benefit your chicken’s health if fed in moderation. They should not be used as a replacement for regular feed. When consumed in excess, oat consumption can increase the risk of fatty liver syndrome and constipation in chickens.
Oats being a great source of vitamins, minerals, protein, and carbohydrates, make excellent treats for your chickens. Plus, their high fiber content makes them a great addition to your chicken’s regular feed. However, in excess, they can cause digestive problems.
It is no secret to us that chickens are quite the overeaters and would gorge on many foods until stopped. Therefore, it would be wise for you to learn all about the impact of oats on their health before adding it to their diet. It will help you understand what to expect and prepare accordingly.
Stay with us till the end to know more about feeding oats to your chickens.
Can oats add to the health of chickens?
The health benefits of oats are tried and tested for humans. It is the go-to food for people who want to lose weight or maintain their fitness, as well as the ones who are trying to have a nutrient-rich diet.
But what about your little feathered pets? Can oats be as healthy for them as they are for us? Let’s find out.
First, we will go through the table given below containing the information about the nutritional breakdown of oats. Check it out:
The nutritional value of Oats
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||0.763 mg|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.139 mg|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||0.961 mg|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)||1.349 mg|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)||0.12 mcg|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)||56 mcg|
|Calcium, Ca||54 mg|
|Iron, Fe||5 mg|
|Magnesium, Mg||177 mg|
|Manganese, Mn||4.9 mg|
|Phosphorous, P||523 mg|
|Potassium, K||429 mg|
|Sodium, Na||2 mg|
|Zinc, Zn||4 mg|
|Dietary Fibre||10.6 g|
Serving size: 100 grams
Vitamins and Minerals
The table gives us a thorough idea of all the vitamins and minerals present in oats. Now, it’s time for us to learn their significance in our pet’s health:
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) is responsible for promoting a healthy appetite in chickens. If your pets do not consume enough of it, they could lose their appetite either temporarily or permanently (based on the intensity of the deficiency) and become malnourished.
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) builds their immunity specifically against the disease of Curly-toe Paralysis. Additionally, it is also involved in the maintenance of their egg quality.
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin) has anti-inflammatory properties that can prevent all birds, including chickens, from inflammatory diseases such as Mouth Cavity Inflammation.
- The function of Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid) in your chicken’s body is to keep their skin healthy, protecting them from common skin problems like Dermatitis and Feet and Mouth Lesions.
- Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) helps chickens produce neurotransmitters (the chemicals that carry nerve signals from one nerve cell to another). Moreover, it is also necessary for many enzymes, particularly the ones that break down amino acids. The deficiency of this vitamin could result in Chondrodystrophy, a disorder that interferes with the proper growth and development of their skeletal structure.
- Vitamin B9 (Folates) aids the production of their body’s DNA, RNA, and genetic material. Additionally, folates are also essential in maintaining their emotional and mental stability. Its deficiency can lead to poor feathering, lethargy, anemic appearance, as well as reduced hatch rates of their offspring.
- Calcium and Phosphorus are both necessary for the strength and maintenance of the bones and muscles of your chickens. Also, they play a vital role in their egg production rate and quality. Their deficiency often leads to weaker bones of your chickens and poor hatchability of their eggs.
Rich in antioxidants
How many of you have heard of Avenanthramides? For those of you who haven’t, these are rare antioxidants present in the whole oats and have strong anti-inflammatory activities.
The consumption of these antioxidants is extremely beneficial for your chickens. But why, you ask? It is because inflammation ranks quite high among the leading health issues found in backyard chickens.
Apart from avenanthramides, Ferulic Acid (another antioxidant) is also found in abundance in oats.
The abundance of carbs and protein
Did you know that roughly 60% of oats are purely made of carbs? And because carbs are the primary source of energy for the chickens, it is a major plus.
Moreover, oats also have a very low-fat content, which means that you needn’t worry about them gaining extra weight from eating oats.
As far the protein content is concerned, oats rank quite high among other cereal grains, containing over 10-15% of protein. Moreover, it is not any regular protein but avenalin protein, a high-quality protein source mostly found in legumes.
A warm treat for your Chickens during the winters
In the last section, we mentioned how oats are carb-rich foods that provide chickens with extra energy. That’s not the only benefit of carbs for your pets.
The digestion of carbs also produces internal heat in the chickens, which makes oats an ideal winter treat for them.
All the aforementioned health benefits of oats for chickens make them ideal treats for your feathered pets.
Risks involved with overfeeding Oats to Chickens
We can all agree that oats are indeed one of the healthiest and most nutritious snacks that you can find for your chickens. But if you want them to keep benefitting from eating oats, you must draw a line as to how much oats they should be eating.
Overconsumption of oats, just like any other food item, can have a disastrous impact on their health.
Some nutrients in oats can be detrimental to the chickens when overfed.
Before you make oats a part of your pet’s staple diet, let’s do a quick review of their nutritional content.
As we have recently learned, a large part of oats is pure carbohydrates, a nutrient that is the first one to be digested by your pets and burns up quickly.
In other words, the energy it provides to your chickens is more like a quick burst than a prolonged energy source; it cannot keep them energized throughout the day.
Other than carbs, oats are mostly fibers and starch (the resistant and slow to digest. This will only mean that the chickens will have a hard time digesting oats if they’re eating too much of it.
Moreover, oats also happen to have the highest oil content among all the other cereal grains. And although the oil is beneficial, it can also become a rich source of fat when fed in excess due to its unsaturated fatty acids.
Oats contains Beta-glucans
Like most of the other grains (rye, wheat, etc.), Oats are rich in beta-glucans, a form of indigestible fibers that can inhibit the digestion of nutrients in their body. It is because beta-glucan binds with water and any other nutrient present in the digestive tract of your chickens.
While in small amounts, it is harmless, the trouble begins when it begins to build up inside their body. These fibers can not only make your pets nutrient-deficit but might also lead to their death through an obstruction.
When should you feed oats to chickens?
It’s clear to us by now that oats are only beneficial to your feathered pets when fed as a treat. But besides its quantity, there’s another thing you might want to keep in mind while feeding them oats: the time.
The ideal time of feeding oats to your chickens is between the late afternoon to early evening, when your chickens are about to go in to roost.
But why? Because it would ensure that they’ve already eaten a majority of their feed beforehand and are less likely to try and fill up on oats. However, these treats might work best during winters when served in the morning, as they will keep your feathered pets warm.
How to feed oatmeal to chickens?
Preparing oatmeal is itself a fairly uncomplicated task. When you are preparing it for your pets, it only gets simpler.
The oatmeal you make for your feathered pets doesn’t need to be cooked like the one you make for yourself. In fact, you need not cook oats for them at all.
All you need to do is take out oats in a bowl (recommend adding 1 tablespoon oats for every chicken you own) and pour warm water on it. The amount of water should be moderate; enough to moisten the oats, but not too soupy.
Once you’ve added the water, let it sit for 15-20 minutes to absorb the water and cool down enough.
Always check the temperature of the oatmeal before serving it to your feathered pets. Chickens tend to eat in a frenzy and might end up burning the insides of their mouth if they eat even remotely hot food.
Conclusion: Can Chickens Eat Oats?
Sure, chickens can eat oats. In fact, they’re pretty darn good for them as treats!
Oats are highly nutritious cereal grains, and they offer many health benefits to chickens. This warm grain makes a great treat in the winter and an even better source of carbohydrates. However, it would be unwise to use oats as a regular feed for chickens; they can negatively affect their health when fed in excess.
In fact, some chicken keepers consider oats an optional but extremely healthy treat that works well to wean chicks and brooder chicks from their mama’s warm belly onto a regular chicken feed.
That brings us to the end of our article. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it. It really helps us when you share our articles on your social media and with friends if we have helped you in some way with our writing.
What other questions do you have about feeding your backyard chickens? Let us know.