Earthworms are found across all over the world. If you have backyard chickens, you may wonder if your chickens can eat earthworms.
Can chickens eat earthworms? Yes, chickens can eat earthworms. It’s one of their favorite food to eat, and they will eat it as much as they can find or provide to them. Earthworms are nutritious, especially protein and fats. You can let them free-range, which they’ll scratch the ground looking for earthworms. You can also purchase the worms from your local pet stores or online.
Do Chickens Like Earthworms?
When it comes to earthworms, chickens love to eat them. The larger the worm is, the more they will enjoy eating it.
In the wild, insects make up the bulk of their diet. They will search for insects above and below ground.
Backyard chickens are no different. If you allow your chickens to free roam, they will spend most of their day foraging for food. They’ll scratch the ground and if there’s an earthworm present, they’ll pull it out of the ground and eat it.
Are Earthworms Safe For Your Chickens?
Earthworms are safe for chickens to eat since they don’t contain anything harmful.
However, since earthworms live in the soil, they often carry parasites inside them. This will could harm your chicken when they do eat it.
One of the parasites that are commonly found in earthworms is gapeworms. Gapeworms are parasites that live in the soil waiting for a host to come along. When the host slithers by, the gapeworms will attach and bury themselves into the earthworm.
When the chickens eat a worm infected with the parasite, it will stay in the trachea area. This will cause difficulties breathing for the chickens. As gape worms start to get bigger and multiply, they will block the throat. The result will restrict air from getting to the chicken’s lungs and will eventually cause them to die.
Therefore, it’s important to always get the entire flock wormed regularly.
Is It Healthy For Chickens To Eat Earthworms?
Earthworms are dense in nutrients. The worms are rich in proteins, minerals, and fats. All of these nutrients are essential to the health of the chickens.
Below are some of the health benefits of feeding earthworms to your chickens:
Earthworms are rich in protein. Protein is important for the body to function properly. It is a part of every cell in the body. Protein helps the body build and repair cells and tissues.
As for egg-laying hens, protein is essential to their health and their eggs. Enough protein in their diet will produce quality eggs and keep the hen healthy and strong.
Earthworms are a good source of calcium. Calcium is needed to maintain strong bones and help other parts of the body function properly. Chickens that get plenty of calcium in their diet will be less prone to bone diseases.
Calcium is also important for hens that are laying eggs. Eggshells are entirely made of calcium and hens need a lot of calcium in their diet for strong eggs.
Earthworms are high in fat content. Chickens need fat to keep their body warm, especially during the winter months. In the fall, some owners will feed their chickens a lot of food that is high in fat content.
Can Baby Chickens Eat Earthworms?
Yes, baby chickens can eat earthworms. Some will start eating the worms from day 1. Their mother will teach them how to catch and eat them.
In addition to the earthworms, make sure to provide them with plenty of starter feed. Earthworms won’t provide them with all the nutrition that they will need. Starter feeds are formulated with the proper amount of nutrition to meet the chick’s dietary needs.
If the chicks seem to enjoy eating earthworms, be sure to worm them regularly. This will prevent any parasites from infecting the baby chickens.
Can Chickens Eat Dead Earthworms?
Dead earthworms should never be fed to the chickens. When the worm dies, it will start to be contaminated with harmful bacteria and parasites.
If you try to feed dead earthworms to your chickens, they will usually not eat it. Dead worms will give off an awful smell that will prevent them from eating it.
If for some reason, the chickens do eat the dead worms, they will probably get sick from them.
Where To Find Earthworms?
When it comes to earthworms, you can pretty much find them where ever there’s soil. Free-ranging chickens will dig the soil looking for earthworms and other insects all day long.
You can dig up the earthworms from your backyard to feed your chickens as well. A good way to get the earthworms to come up above ground is to hose the area with a lot of water. Do this in the evening since earthworms usually come out at night. By nighttime, the worms will start to slither out of the ground and make it easier for you to catch them.
Another place to find earthworms is at pet stores or purchase them online. You’ll find quality earthworms that are big and nutritious for your chickens to eat.
How Many Earthworms Should You Feed Your Chickens?
It depends on how you’re feeding your chickens. If you let them free-range, there’s no need to worry about how much they will eat. Since the chickens will have to forage for earthworms, it will take them some time to find them. They won’t find and eat enough in a day to cause harm to their health.
On the other hand, if you’re providing them with earthworms, then you should limit the amount. Chickens will eat as many worms that are given to them. You’ll want to feed them other food as well, so they’ll get the proper amount of nutrition in their body.
How Often Should You Feed Earthworms To Your Chickens?
In the wild, 90% of their diet is made up of insects. This means if your chickens are free-ranging, they can eat earthworms every day.
On the other hand, if the chickens are not allowed to roam freely, you can feed them earthworms every day too, but not too many. Limit the number of worms daily, so they will eat other food, especially chicken feed.
Other Worms That Chickens Can Eat
Hornworms are caterpillars that feed on tomato plants. You’ll see many of them in your garden when the tomato plants start growing. While the hornworm themselves don’t have any toxin, the tomato plant that they eat has a toxin known as solanine. This toxin is harmful to the chickens and could even kill them if they eat a lot of it. To ensure your chicken doesn’t get poisoned by the hornworms, it’s best to buy them or raise them yourself by letting them eat other plants besides tomato plants.
Mealworms are loaded with nutrition, especially protein. For hens and baby chickens, offering mealworms to them can help them greatly. Chicks require a lot of protein in their diet to help them grow strong and healthy. For egg-laying hens, they need protein to produce quality eggs. You can feed both live or dried mealworms to your chickens.
Silkworms make a great snack for your chickens. They are high a source of calcium, protein, iron, magnesium, sodium, and vitamins B1, B2, B3. Chickens will naturally find and eat silkworms on their own. You can also buy silkworms to feed your chickens.
Earthworms are one of the chicken’s favorite food. They will scratch and dig up the dirt trying to find these delicious worms to eat. Earthworms are high in many nutrients that your chickens need.