Can Chickens Eat Sunflower Seeds?

If you have sunflowers growing in your garden or yard, you may wonder if your chickens can eat the seeds inside of it.

So, can chickens eat sunflower seeds? Yes, chickens can eat sunflower seeds. It contains a good amount of vitamins, minerals, and provides an excellent source of important oils. You can feed your chickens either raw or dried sunflower seeds.

Are Sunflower Seeds Safe For Your Chickens?

Sunflower seeds are safe for chickens to eat. It contains a lot of nutrition that’s healthy for them.

However, for baby chickens, sunflower seeds can be unsafe. The seeds of the sunflower plant are large and could cause them to choke on it. Chicks don’t have teeth to crush the seed. Instead, they will swallow the whole seed, and it will later get grind down in their crop.

Is It Healthy For Chickens To Eat Sunflower Seeds

There are many nutrients packed into each sunflower seed. It’s a good source of vitamin E and B6, protein, and fiber. With so many nutrients that the sunflower seeds offer, they make a healthy treat for chickens.

Nutrition Facts

1 ounce (30 grams or 1/4 cup) of shelled, dry-roasted sunflower seeds are:

  • Calories 163
  • Total fat, which includes: 14 grams
  • Protein 5.5 grams
  • Carbs 6.5 grams
  • Fiber 3 grams

Source: NutritionData

Below are some health benefits of feeding sunflower seeds to your chickens:

Prevent Cell Damage

Sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E and selenium. Both of these nutrients function as antioxidants in the body. The antioxidant is a compound that protects the cells from damages against free radicals.

When chickens get plenty of antioxidants in their diet, they are less likely to develop an illness or disease.

Improve Digestion

Sunflower seeds are a good source of fiber, which is important for the digestive system. The fiber helps improve the digestion of the chickens in many ways. For one, fiber helps bulks up the stool. This in turn will make the food the chicken eats move smoothly through the digestive tract.

Another way is that fiber helps maintain bowel health. A healthy digestive system improves the overall health of the chicken.

Can Baby Chickens Eat Sunflower Seeds?

Baby chickens should not be given any sunflower seeds until they are around 3 weeks old. Their digestive system has not developed enough to properly digest the seeds. If you try to feed them sunflower seeds, it could cause crop impaction.

Also, the sunflower seeds are large, which could cause them to choke on them.

Instead, baby chickens should be fed a diet of starter feed for the first few weeks. The feed is formulated specifically for baby chickens to help them grow strong and healthy.

Once the chicks are around 3 weeks, you can start to introduce sunflower seeds to them. You’ll need to break the shell open and give them just the seed inside. Make sure to crush the seeds into tiny pieces, so it will be easier for them to eat and digest.

Also, ensure you have plenty of grits for the chicks. The grits help grind and break down the seeds in their crop.

Can Chickens Eat Salted Sunflower Seeds?

Chickens can eat salted sunflower seeds, but I don’t recommend you give them any. The seeds themselves aren’t bad for them, but the salt that covers the seeds is. Salt is toxic for the chickens in large amounts.

A large amount of salt can lead to increase water intake, wet litter, difficulty walking, and even death can occur.

If you do have salted sunflower seeds and want to feed them, it’s best to remove the salt before serving them any.

Can Chickens Eat Sunflower Seeds With Shells?

Yes, chickens can eat sunflower seeds with the shells. Chickens will eat the entire seed since they are unable to break the seed with their beak.

When it gets eaten, the seed will be grounded in their crop. 

How Do You Feed Sunflower Seeds To Your Chickens

When it comes to sunflower seeds, there are several ways you can feed them to your chickens.

The first and simplest method is to toss the sunflower seeds onto the ground. The chicken

How Many Sunflower Seeds Should You Feed Your Chickens?

Feed sunflower seeds to your chickens in small amounts. While the seeds contain many vitamins and minerals, they also contain a high amount of fats. A lot of fats in their diet aren’t good for their health. It could lead to obesity, heart problems, and fatty liver.

For an adult chicken, you can give them a couple of sunflower seeds to eat.

As for baby chickens, you can give them a little more. Chicks need a lot of nutrition in their diet to support their fast growth.

How Often Should You Feed Sunflower Seeds To Your Chickens?

Sunflower seeds should be fed to them in moderation. Again, besides being nutritious, it also contains fats. When in large amounts, fats aren’t good for their health.

Sunflower seeds should only be given to them as a treat. Like most other treats, sunflower seeds should only make up 10% of their entire diet. The rest should come from quality commercial feeds. The feeds are formulated with the right amount of nutrition that’s specifically made for them so that they will stay healthy and strong.

Therefore, you should serve sunflower seeds to your chickens, once or twice per week.

During the winter months, you can give them more often. Chickens need a lot of fats in their diet to help keep them warm.

Other Seed That Chickens Can Eat

Bird Seed

Birdseed is a mixture of many seeds. The seeds are highly nutritious, which makes them a good treat for chickens. However, birdseed also has a high amount of fats. For that reason, only feed birdseed to your chickens in moderation to avoid any health issues.

Pumpkin Seed

Pumpkin seeds make a good treat for chickens. The seeds are high in vitamin A, which helps build a healthy chicken. The vitamin improves the health of the digestive tract, which, in turn, makes the chickens more resistant to diseases and prevents illness. You can either feed your chickens with raw or dried pumpkin seeds.

Sesame Seed

Sesame seeds are small and easy for the chickens to eat and digest. The seeds are also full of nutrition, especially protein. Most chicken owners will sprinkle the sesame seed onto other food such as fruits, vegetables, and even chicken feeds.

Related Questions

Can chickens eat sunflower leaves?

Sunflower leaves are safe for chickens to eat. The chickens will go crazy for them, as it’s edible and easy for them to eat and digest.

Can chickens eat sunflower stems?

The sunflower stems are a bit tough, but chickens will eat them. They may start to peck at the stem and eat pieces of it. This is a great way to keep them busy and avoid having to throw it away.