Out of all the animals that you can have in your backyard, chickens are by far the most entertaining ones. They’re energetic, affectionate, and fun to be around, not to forget the fresh eggs you can have for breakfast, all thanks to them. These birds can eat almost anything. But how would you enrich their diet nutritionally? What about sunflower seeds?
Can chickens eat sunflower seeds? Yes, chickens love to eat sunflower seeds and it is completely safe for them to do so. Sunflower seeds are rich in protein, healthy fats, and a number of other vitamins and minerals, which makes them a healthy treat for your feathered pets. Besides the seeds, chickens can also feed on the petals of the sunflower as well as the stalks of these plants. However, feeding them too many of these seeds can make them obese and invite other health problems.
Are you wondering which sunflower seeds are better for chickens: black or striped? Or do you worry that you won’t be able to store them properly for your pets? Whatever your concerns are, they will be resolved in this article.
Are sunflower seeds healthy for chickens?
If you’re choosing to introduce sunflower seeds to your chicken’s diet, you must first learn about the health benefits of these seeds for your feathered pets. Let’s begin by taking a quick glance at the nutritional composition of sunflower seeds:
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
|Vitamin B9 (Folates)
Serving size: 100 grams
Now, we’ll talk about how these nutrients help our pet birds:
Sunflower seeds boost productivity in chickens
The sunflower seeds play a key role in the egg production of your chickens. Feeding them these seeds when they are about to lay eggs doesn’t only increase their productivity but also the quality of the eggs.
Sunflower Seeds helps chickens gain weight
If your chickens are underweight, feeding them sunflower seeds would be great because of their high oil content that can add healthy fats to their body.
Sunflower Seeds Improves immune system in chickens
The Vitamin E in sunflower seeds strengthens the chickens’ immune system and prevents them from diseases like E.coli, Coccidiosis, and Bronchitis. Moreover, these seeds are also rich in natural antioxidants that promote their immunity.
Sunflower Seeds are rich in protein
Sunflower seeds are rich in protein (from 100 grams of these seeds, you can get over 20 grams of protein). Protein is essential for chickens when they are stressed, i.e., in the winters as well as during the time of their molting.
Black or striped sunflower seeds: which one is better for chickens?
There are two different types of sunflower seeds: black and striped. While both of them are packed with nutrients, they have certain differences. And to decide which one is better for your feathered pets, you will have to learn how they’re different from each other.
The black sunflower seeds are commonly referred to as “black oil sunflower seeds”. The name itself suggests that these seeds have a higher oil content than the striped ones; while the black seeds contain about 40-50% oil, the striped ones have only 25% of it.
However, if you compare their size, the striped seeds are larger than the former and have a thicker shell as well. The striped sunflower seeds are more expensive than the black oil ones but are more suited for your chickens due to their lower oil content.
Commercial or self-grown seeds?
When it comes to feeding your pets, home-grown plants are always a better alternative for their health. However, not all of us have enough space or time in our hands to go through the trouble of gardening, which is why we must resort to buying these seeds for the chickens.
If you’re going for store-bought seeds, here are a few things you should remember:
- Always buy the seeds that are solely meant for wild birds; the ones for human consumption can have added flavors and seasonings that are unsafe for your feathered pets.
- If you can find both striped and black seeds mixed in a packet, go for that one. If not, striped seeds should work just fine.
- Ensure that the supplier or brand you’re buying from is known for its authenticity and can be trusted.
Can chickens eat sunflower petals?
So, we know that sunflower seeds are healthy for chickens. But what about their petals? Are they edible to chickens as well?
Yes, certainly. The soft, yellowish petals of the sunflower contain no toxins and are completely safe for your chickens. And while they’re not as nutritious as the seeds, they’re still healthy for your feathered pets. They’re also extremely soft and, thus, easy for them to eat.
Can chickens eat sunflower stalks?
Once the sunflower gardening season is over and the seed harvesting has been done, what do you do with the remaining parts of the plant, i.e., the stem or stalk? Most of the time, the stalks go to waste. But not if you have chickens in your yard!
Many of you might not know this, but chickens can eat the stalk of sunflowers as well. But how, you ask? These stalks have tough fibrous cells that would be difficult to break down for your chickens. Therefore, to make eating it easier for them, you can cut them into smaller pieces.
However, if they’re in a playful mood, you can also give them the whole stalk and let them peck at it until a small part of it comes off for them to gobble up.
The impact of eating sunflower seeds on your chickens
Whether you have added sunflower seeds to your chickens’ regular diet or are feeding them these as a treat, they’re bound to bring about some changes in their body.
The first and most obvious change will be in their outward appearance. The oil content of the seeds will add a few extra pounds to their body and a gloss to their plumage. The best time to feed chickens these seeds is right before winters, when all that extra fat will keep warm as the climate turns harsher.
Myths about chickens and sunflower seeds: explained
Many of the chicken owners are afraid of feeding their pets sunflower seeds because of some or the other rumor they’ve heard flying around. But most of these rumors have no truth behind them. Today, we’re going to debunk some of the common myths associated with feeding sunflower seeds to chickens.
Sunflower seeds can kill chickens
The first and most commonly heard rumor is that these seeds can kill chickens. The explanation behind it is, any high-fat food, including the seeds, makes the chicken fat, and fat has often been known to cause sudden death in chickens.
But does this mean that you can’t feed them sunflower seeds? Certainly not. As long as you’re feeding them these seeds in moderation, you have nothing to be worried about.
Sunflower seeds can lead to the crops being impacted
The only instance where the sunflower seeds can lead to the crops being impacted is when you feed them too many of these seeds without adding any grit to their diet. But when they have access to plenty of grit and are feeding on these seeds as a treat, they’re completely safe.
How to serve sunflower seeds to chickens?
Feeding sunflower seeds to the chickens doesn’t need a lot of effort. You can simply sprinkle these seeds in your backyard and let your chickens strut around pecking at them.
Unlike other bird species that break out the seed from their shell in order to eat it, the chickens have no problem eating it with their shell intact. You can also serve your chickens these seeds in a tray feeder for more convenience.
Storing sunflower seeds for chickens
Did you know that your chickens are not the only ones that love sunflower seeds? Rodents like mice and rats are crazy about them as well. To prevent these seeds from the infestation of rodents, you must always store them in rodent-proof containers.
The sunflower seeds are also prone to developing molds if they’re kept in a damp place. Therefore, they should always be stored in a cool and dry place; that way, they will last for about three months. However, if you’re storing them in a refrigerator, these seeds can even last up to a year.
Conclusion: Can chickens eat sunflower seeds?
To sum it up, we can safely say that adding sunflower seeds to your chicken’s diet has several health benefits for them. It promotes their egg production, boosts their immune system, and adds healthy fats to their body. Feeding them these seeds right before they are about to lay eggs as well as in the winter season is most beneficial.