Out of all the backyard pets you can keep, chickens are not only the most beneficial ones (for the eggs they lay) but are also the most entertaining. You can spend hours simply looking at them, running around in the yard, pecking at random things. Most of you must already know that these poultry birds are omnivores and tend to eat basically anything small enough to fit in their mouth that they can find in their surroundings. But what about slugs?
Do chickens eat slugs? Yes, slugs, along with several other bugs and insects, have been a part of their diet in the wild for a long time. If your chickens are eating slugs occasionally as a snack, you have nothing to worry about. But if the slugs have found a way into your yard and are now constantly consumed by your feathered pets, you have to be careful. These little mollusks can carry toxic chemicals as well as parasites that can make your pets very sick.
Even if your chickens live in your backyard, it isn’t easy to keep track of what they’re putting into their mouth. That’s why it is essential that you keep slugs out of your garden, for they can harm both your plants and your pets.
If you are keen on feeding your chickens slugs as snacks, you should buy them from a reputed supplier. For the answers to all your doubts and queries about feeding slugs to chickens, keep reading.
Will chickens eat slugs if they come across them?
Chickens are among one of the least picky birds of all time. They hardly care about what they are eating unless it is too big to fit into their mouth. Slugs are often relatively larger in size, which is there are chances that your feathered pets might leave these mollusks alone if they come across them. However, if your pets are hungry, there’s no telling what they would do.
Is it safe for chickens to eat slugs?
Due to the slugs’ large size, many chicken-owners are concerned about their pets trying to eat them. However, as long as your chickens can chew down every bite properly, there is no harm in eating slugs here and there.
However, you must keep in check the number of slugs they eat because chickens are small birds and, thus, have a smaller diet than other pets. This is why it is essential to fit in all the nutrients they need in their diet. You should make sure they’re following their regular diet, and slugs don’t become a part of it.
Risks involved with chickens eating slugs
There are three essential threats that you should be worried about while feeding slugs to your feathered pets:
Gapeworms are parasitic nematode worms that often infest the pheasants and poultry birds. Insects like slugs, earthworms, and snails can become hosts to these worms. And when your chickens eat them, they get into their body, inhabiting their trachea. If too many of these worms infest your pets, they can potentially die of suffocation.
Some of the common symptoms that you can look out for are:
- Tracheal rattle, which sounds very much like gurgling.
- Difficulty in breathing; gasping for breath.
- Stretching their neck or shaking their head frequently.
Angiostrongylus cantonensis, commonly known as the Rat Lungworm, is a parasitic nematode that inhabits the arteries of rats, which lends them their name.
Rats transfer the larvae of these worms through their poop, which the slugs eat. Therefore, they become hosts to these worms. If your chickens eat an infected slug, these worms can get inside their body and damage it from within.
As we mentioned earlier, slugs are larger in size than earthworms, which are commonly eaten by chickens. These mollusks will not fit inside the small mouths of your pets at once and are, thus, a choking hazard to them.
How should you feed slugs to chickens?
Although there are certain risks involved with chickens eating slugs, it is also an undeniable fact that insects like slugs add much-needed protein to their diet. Moreover, there is a safe way to feed slugs to your feathered pets without causing them any harm.
First and foremost, you must avoid hunting down slugs yourself, from your garden or neighborhood. These slugs might contain harmful chemicals that can be detrimental to the health of your chickens. They can also act as hosts to parasites that are dangerous for them. Instead, you should buy slugs from a trusted supplier.
Once you have healthy slugs for your chickens, it is time to prepare them for feeding. For this, you needn’t do much. Simply cutting them into smaller pieces would do so that your pets can gobble them down without any risk of choking.
Is it safe for baby chicks to eat slugs?
Most chicken-owners, particularly those who are new or have little experience, are often confused about feeding the baby chicks. Thus, it is natural to wonder if they can eat slugs safely.
Chicks are much smaller in size than adult chickens and have a weaker, more fragile internal system as well. If they eat an infected slug by mistake, the consequences would be dire. These little birds can choke on slugs more easily as well. Therefore, it is best to keep them away from slugs until they grow up.
Other snacks you can feed your chickens
Chickens are one of those pets that absolutely love variety in their meals. Keeping their meals interesting by feeding them new snacks occasionally is a sure way to win their hearts. Slugs are not the only snack that can keep these birds happy.
Let’s take a look at other food that can work well as a snack for your feathered pet:
Bugs and insects
Other than slugs, there are many other bugs and insects that are a part of your pet’s natural diet in the wild. Even in your backyard, your chickens often feed on any bugs that they can find around.
Some of their personal favorites are earthworms, mealworms, termites, snails, beetles, crickets, grubs, etc. You can easily find these insects around your house. However, if you don’t want to go looking for them or are afraid they might be infected, you can buy these treats from your local pet stores as well as online.
Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables add many healthy nutrients to your chicken’s diet and can safely be offered to them as snacks. Some of your best choices are bananas, apples, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, celery, grapes, etc. All you need to be careful about is not feeding them the peels of the fruits or any citrus fruits.
Although it is surprising for most of the chicken-owners, chickens can eat meat. In fact, feeding them meat in moderation can even be healthy for them. However, you must remove the excess fat from it and serve it to them unseasoned and without salt.
Other human foods
Apart from these, you can also share with your pet some of your own food in moderation. For example, they can eat yogurt, popcorn, corns, peanut butter, pasta, uncooked oatmeal, ham, etc.
Frequently asked questions
Can I feed avocados to my chickens?
No, it is best not to feed avocados to chickens. Although the flesh of the fruit is safe for them, the outer skin, as well as the pit, contains a toxic element called persin, which can be lethal to most animals, particularly birds.
Are chicken noisy birds?
Yes. The roosters are very noisy and crow all day long, and not just in the morning, as most people believe. On the contrary, the hens are much quieter and only crow when they’re laying eggs or are threatened.
Can cats attack chickens?
Contrary to popular belief, the instances of cats attacking chickens are very few. Cats are usually more intimidated by full-grown chickens, especially roosters than they are of them. If you have baby chicks at home, you might want to keep them protected, but the adults are under no threat.
Do chickens eat slugs? (final thoughts)
To sum it up, let us get back to our first question: can chickens eat slugs? Yes, chickens can eat slugs occasionally. Slugs are a rich source of protein for your feathered pets and can prove to be healthy for them when fed as a snack.
However, the most important part of feeding them slugs is finding the right slugs.
You must not pick random slugs off your neighbor’s or your own backyard. It is because these slugs are most likely to carry toxic chemicals or parasites that can do a great deal of damage to your pet’s health.
When feeding them slugs, or other insects, your safest choice is to rely on a trusted supplier. You can even buy freeze-dried slugs for them online.
Also, cut these slugs into smaller, bite-sized pieces so that your chickens do not choke on them. Lastly, keep in mind that chickens are fond of variety. If you want to keep them happy, keep mixing up their diet every now and then.