If you keep chickens then you’ll no doubt want to feed them a range of foods in addition to their pellets and regular poultry feed and seeds can be one type of food that you might consider.
Chickens love sunflower seeds and they provide them with a healthy inexpensive source of protein. Using sunflower seeds as a treat for chickens is a great way to ensure that your flock has enough protein.
Benefits of Giving Sunflower Seeds to Chickens
There are many benefits to chickens for eating sunflower seeds. They are a great source of healthy protein and fat which can help chickens grow.
Sunflower seeds can help chickens to gain weight. Extra weight keeps chickens warm in the cold winter months.
Your chickens’ feathers will become shiny and glossy from the oils that are found in the seeds.
Hens that are fed sunflower seeds lay more eggs. The quality of the eggs is also improved.
Sunflower seeds offer many vitamins and minerals that are important to the health of your chickens. These are a great way to help produce higher quality poultry as well.
Vitamins and Minerals in Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds contain high levels of Vitamin E which help boost the chickens’ immune systems. This is the best protection against diseases like e-coli and bronchitis.
The oil that is contained in sunflower seeds has a high level of linoleic acid which helps chickens to gain weight and have an easier time in the winter months. It can also help the eggs to have additional nutrients and be larger.
Sunflower seeds are composed of about 26% protein which makes them a great choice for chickens in all seasons.
There are high levels of natural antioxidants in sunflower seeds that also help boost the immune system.
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A Look at the Two Types of Sunflower Seeds
There are two different types of sunflower seeds available to purchase. These are black oil sunflower seeds and striped sunflower seeds. Here is what you need to know about each of them:
Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
Black oil sunflower seeds are the healthiest option for your chickens.
They are hard to find, so many farmers suggest that you grow your own.
These seeds feature between 40% and 50% oil.
Striped Sunflower Seeds
Striped sunflower seeds are easier to find and readily available in most areas.
They contain about 25% oil.
How to Feed Chickens Sunflower Seeds
Chickens enjoy eating sunflower seeds. The best way to introduce and keep them as part of your chickens’ diet is to include a few handfuls each day.
Sprinkle these handfuls around the coop to ensure that all of your chickens can eat some for the benefits. Make sure that you purchase non-GMO sunflower seeds if at all possible.
Sunflower seeds can be given to your flock whole. This means that you do not have to shell them or grind them before you toss a few handfuls.
Sunflower seeds should never more than 1/3 of a chicken’s diet.
You can mix sunflower seeds in with other foods such as fruit or vegetables to make your chickens’ meal more nutritious.
How Many Sunflower Seeds Can Chickens Have?
Chickens do not need a large number of sunflower seeds to see the benefits.
Just a few handfuls of seeds spread between your flock are enough.
It is important to not overfeed chickens with sunflower seeds as they can lead to an increase in weight that is unhealthy for the chickens.
Always follow the rule of giving chickens less than 1/3 of their diet in sunflower seeds.
Busting Myths About Sunflower Seeds and Chickens
There is always going to be misinformation available.
A couple of persistent myths are that sunflower seeds can make a chicken’s feathers fall out, cause them to have weight issues and that they can cause crops to be impacted.
Since the vitamins, minerals, and oils improve the chicken’s feathers, they will not lose feathers from eating sunflower seeds.
Chickens will not be overweight if you do not overfeed them sunflower seeds.
As long as you are not only feeding your chickens sunflower seeds, crops will not be impacted.
Conclusion – Do chickens eat sunflower seeds?
Sunflower seeds make a great choice of additional food to give to your chickens.
They provide a range of nutritional benefits that will help your hens to stay fit and healthy and will also aid in the production of good eggs.
You can feed sunflower seeds to chickens in moderation as too many can result in overweight, unhealthy birds.