During the fall, acorns will start to fall from the oak tree. With all the acorns on the ground, you may be tempted to feed your chickens.
Can chickens eat acorns? Yes, chickens can eat acorns, but only when they are soaked or boiled in water first. Acorns contain tannin, which is toxic to the chickens. After it’s boiled or soaked, the tannins leach out of the acorns, making them safe for chickens to eat.
Is It Healthy For Chickens To Eat Acorns?
Acorns contain an abundance of nutrition, which makes them healthy for chickens to eat. The acorns are high in potassium, iron, vitamin A and E, and several other minerals.
Below are some health benefits of feeding acorns to your chickens:
Improve Gut Health
Acorns are a great source of fiber, which helps improve the gut health of the chicken. It nourishes beneficial gut bacteria and keeps them balanced. An imbalance of these bacteria can lead to obesity, gut diseases, and health problems.
Also, since fiber cannot be absorbed by the body, it helps bulk up the stool. This will make it easier for the food the chickens eat to move through the digestive tract smoothly.
Rich in Antioxidants
Acorns are a good source of antioxidants. This compound helps defend the cells from being damaged by harmful molecules called free radicals.
If there are too many free radicals in the body, it could lead to illness and diseases.
Can Baby Chickens Eat Acorns?
Baby chickens can eat acorns, but it’s best to wait until they are at least 3 weeks old. At this age, their digestive system has not developed properly. Feeding them acorns could cause crop impaction.
Instead, the bulk of their diet should consist of starter feed. The feed has all the nutrition that the chicks need to grow strong and healthy. Starter feed should be fed to them until they are at least 8 weeks old. Then you can start to feed them grower feed.
Once the chicks are 3 weeks old, you can introduce acorns to them. After preparing the acorns to remove the tannins, crush them into small pieces.
Then place them next to the chicks. If their mother is around, she will teach them how to eat it.
How Are Acorns Toxic To Chickens?
It is the consumption of tannins that are the most concerning when letting your chickens eat fallen acorns. Some species of acorn contain more tannins than others, such as red oaks, and if consumed excessively, tannins can build up to harmful levels.
Your chicken will have a lower weight and feed intake when they consume a high amount of tannin.
It will also affect your chicken’s gut health negatively. Your chicken may suffer from diarrhea, constipation, ulcers, damaged renal tubules, and renal failure. The worst-case scenario is that it will be fatal.
Tannin Levels For Different Oak Tree
- White Oak: Very low tannic level
- Black Oak: Medium to high tannic level
- Bur Oak: Medium to high tannic level
- Red Oak: Medium tannic level
- Live Oak: High tannic level
- Pin Oak: Low to medium tannic level
Can Chickens Eat Oak Leaves?
Avoid the leaves of the oak tree. Like the acorn itself, the leaves contain tannins, which are toxic to the chickens.
If you have oak trees growing in your yard, make sure the chickens don’t get near them, especially during the autumn when the leaves start to fall.
How Do You Prepare Acorns For Your Chickens
A few steps can be taken to make acorns safer for chickens to consume if you want to feed them acorns.
Below are some of the steps you can take:
- You may notice your chicken taking an overly eager interest in acorns when they seem to be dropping from the tree every few seconds during the fall. If you notice your chicken eating them too much, then you should remove them.
- Prepare the acorns by soaking them. You can remove tannin and any other major concerns from the acorns by soaking them in water before letting your chickens pecking at them.
How Many Acorns Should You Feed Your Chickens?
During the fall, acorns will start to fall from the oak tree, and wondering how much you can feed them. Acorns should be fed to them in small amounts. While it’s nutritious, it doesn’t contain all the nutrients that the chicken needs to stay healthy.
Therefore, for an adult chicken, you can give them a couple of acorns. For baby chickens, one acorn is enough for them, and make sure it’s crushed into pieces.
How Often Should You Feed Acorns To Your Chickens?
With all the acorns dropping on the ground each day, you may be tempted to feed them every day. Acorns are safe to give them every day, but you should only do so in small amounts.
Like any other treats for chickens, acorns should only make up 10% of their entire diet. The rest should come from quality commercial chicken feed. The feed is formulated with the right amount of nutrition to support the overall health of the chicken.
Other Nuts Your Chickens Can Eat
Chickens can eat almonds, but chop them into small pieces first. This will prevent choking and crop impaction. Also, almond flour can be fed to the chickens as well.
Pecans are a good source of protein and many other nutrients. Be sure to slice or chop the pecan into small pieces.
Walnuts are rich in fiber, protein, and other nutrients. Be sure to only feed them the nut inside. The shell of the walnut is hard and difficult for the chickens to digest.
Acorns are safe for chickens to eat, only after soaking in water or boiling them. This will remove the tannins from the acorns. Tannin is toxic to the chickens, and in large amounts, it can kill them.
Therefore, always ensure the acorns are soaked in water first to prevent poisoning your chickens.