Yes, chickens can eat alfalfa. Alfalfa is packed with good nutrition and offers some great nutritional benefits. Try some alfalfa hay, seeds, pellets, sprouts, whatever type you have will make a good addition to their diet.
What Is Alfalfa - Is It Healthy for Chickens?
Alfalfa is a plant that has been grown for animal consumption for hundreds of years and is the staple diet for so many pets, livestock, and other commercially produced animals.
It checks all the boxes compared to other food options; it’s quick and easy to grow, packed with good nutrition, and animals love it.
Alfalfa has an extremely dense nutritional profile, it's packed with Vitamins A, B, C, and K, as well as being a good source of protein and other key minerals like calcium.
Interestingly, it also has a history of being used as a medicinal herb for humans.
Even if you've only just heard of alfalfa or didn't know what it was - you've probably eaten it in some form!
How Do You Feed Chickens Alfalfa?
There are a number of ways you can feed your chickens alfalfa. The method you choose will come down to either what's most convenient for you, or most effective.
Chickens aren't typically big hey eaters. Although, if you leave out a bale of alfalfa, there is a good chance they will peck away at it.
I think most owners use commercially produced pellets, cubes, or meal. This is much easier as they stay fresh longer, and you can just dish it out as much as you want when you want to.
Can Chickens Eat Alfalfa Pellets?
Yes, chickens can eat alfalfa pellets. You just need to be careful when purchasing pallets that they aren't too large.
Some pellets designed for larger animals are quite large. If you can't break them up, you can soak them in a little bit of water and that usually does the trick.
Either way, alfalfa pellets are great for chickens. They get all of the good nutrition, in little bite-sized pellets they can peck away at.
Can Chickens Eat Alfalfa Sprouts?
Yes, shy kins can also eat alfalfa sprouts. And, in my opinion, will gobble them up pretty quickly given the chance.
Alfalfa sprouts are the shoots of the plant that have been harvested before they become fully grown, mature plants.
In some areas, the sprouts are readily available. If you can get your hands on some, I recommend supplementing your chicken's diet with this super-healthy snack.
Feeding Dehydrated Alfalfa to Chickens
Yes, chickens can also eat dehydrated alfalfa. Dehydrated alfalfa is a meal product made by rapidly drying alfalfa.
It comes in various shapes, sizes, and forms, but essentially is just a meal made from alfalfa and has all the good nutritional benefits.
Related - Here is a look at why cereals are good for chickens.
Other Foods That Chickens Can Eat; Table Scraps, Treats, Etc
Chickens come in handy if you want to reduce wastage and ‘recycle’ some of your leftovers or parts of veggies and fruits you don’t eat.
On a serious note, there are plenty of foods that help provide some additional nutrition and complement a chickens’ diet.
Here are some of the common foods you can safely give to your flock:
Vegetables – Most vegetables are fine chickens and it’s a great way to cut down on wastage and recycle scraps. Things like sweet potatoes, carrots, cabbage, jicama, etc provide a nice range of nutrition.
Fruits – Almost all fruits are packed with loads of good nutrition that chickens can benefit from. Fresh, dried, it doesn’t matter. Berries make for an awesome snack. You can also try feeding your flock some mango, pomegranate, apples, etc. you’ll see how quickly it gets gobbled up.
Grains – Grains are a staple of most chicken feeds and foods that chickens would naturally find and eat in the wild. It also gives them something to scratch around for, which chickens love doing. Wheat, quinoa, corn, oatmeal, etc., are all super good for chickens.
Some Foods That You Should NOT Feed Chickens
Not everything is edible to chickens, and it’s our job to make sure that they don’t get their beaks into anything that could potentially cause them some health concerns.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but here are some of the worst offending foods as confirmed by the RSPCA:
Avocado skins and pits – There is a fungicidal toxin present in these parts of an avocado.
Green potatoes and some nightshade foods – There is a toxin called solanine present in this food group that is harmful to chooks (like eggplant).
Chocolate – I love chocolate, so I’m happy to keep it to myself. Jokes aside, there are a couple of compounds in chocolate called theobromine and caffeine that are harmful to chickens, dogs, cats, and some other pets.
Tea and coffee – It’s not like you’d offer your chickens a brew, but some people compost tea bags and coffee grounds in their yard.
Any moldy or spoiled foods – You wouldn’t eat moldy foods, would you? Mold spores are toxic and potentially harmful.
Foods high in fat or salt, greasy fast foods, etc – Keep junk food off the menu for your chickens, they need quality nutrition to maintain optimal health.
Candy and other sugary treats, soda, etc. – Keep the sugary treats for yourself as they’re hard for chickens to digest and do not provide any good nutritional content!
If you're looking for a nutritionally rich supplement for your chickens to promote optimal health, alfalfa is up there with one of the best foods to give them.
It's available in various forms, such as hey, pellets, meal, etc, and is affordable and easy to get a hold of.
You can't go wrong adding some alfalfa to their diets, I recommend picking some up and seeing how quickly it disappears!
Image credits - Photo by Sven Hornburg on Unsplash