Chickens can eat cashews, yes. You need to break the nuts into small pieces, make sure they’re unsalted, and be careful to not give them any of the shells.
Are Cashews Healthy for Chickens?
Like most nuts, cashews are a great source of protein, fats, and minerals.
According to MedicalNewsToday, 1 ounce of cashews provides around:
- 12 grams of fat
- 8.5 grams of carbohydrates
- 5 grams of protein
- 1.6 grams of sugar
- 1 gram of fiber
Plus a wide range of minerals, vitamins, and other nutritional content.
Obviously, this isn’t an ideal balance of nutrition for chickens. They need a diet much higher protein, which is why nuts and other foods we eat are only to be given as treats.
You should be providing a quality pelleted chicken feed for the bulk of their needs. Treats and scraps should typically not make up more than 10% of their overall diet. Despite how fun it is giving them different foods.
As for table scraps and such, cashews are pretty good as treats to round out their overall diets and give them some variation.
Why Chickens Can't Eat Cashew Shells, the Oil, or Smell the Fumes
This will come as a surprise to most people, as all we know is that when we buy a bag of cashew nuts they’re safe to eat.
But cashews are part of the same family as poison sumac and poison ivy. When first harvested and still in their shells, cashews contain some powerful poisons/chemicals known as anacardic acids.
Just by touching or eating the shell, we can experience some serious allergic reactions. Roasting cashews destroys the oils in the shell that contain the toxic substance and makes them safe to eat.
While they’re being roasted, the fumes will contain the toxins. I’ve read the fumes are strong enough to be fatal to chickens and other small animals, and will cause severe irritation to our lungs if we breathe it in.
Therefore, t’s best to leave the roasting of cashews to the factories that prepare them for our safe consumption. Then you know they’re fine for you and your chooks.
This also explains why you never have to crack open and shell cashews like you do other nuts. Which for me, is part of the fun.
Can You Feed Mixed Nuts to Chickens?
Mixed nuts should be fine. As long as you follow the same rules as for cashews; wash them if they’re salty, and break the larger nuts into smaller pieces.
Some people are concerned about giving their chickens peanuts. I’ve read about this and discussed it with some other chicken owners. It’s because peanuts can be harmful to small birds as they easily become contaminated and toxic if not stored properly.
I can’t find any evidence that this has caused an issue for chickens though. It seems to be more of a problem if nuts are left out for long periods and birds peck at them over time.
The golden rule of feeding chicks is to only feed them foods that are in date and in a condition you’d eat yourself. You should never feed them any foods that have mold on, will be out long enough to develop mold, or smell off.
If you’re looking at some food thinking you wouldn’t eat it, don’t give it to them. If foods hanging around long enough to turn bad, there must be something wrong it anyway as chicks don’t leave tasty food alone.
How to Feed Cashew Nuts to Chickens
Taking into account what I said above about the shells and oils in the shell of cashews being toxic, you now know to stay away from raw cashews in their shells.
Assuming you have prepared cashews you bought from the shop, they’re safe to feed to your chickens.
There are still a couple of things to be aware of. The first is the less seasoning and salt the better. Ideally, no added salt or preservatives at all, as these aren’t great for chickens and they don’t care about the taste as we do anyway.
All you need to do is break them up into smaller pieces so there is no risk of a bit of nut getting stuck in their throats. Either add some to their feed or scatter it to give them something to forage for, up to you.
What Should You Not Feed Chickens?
Cashews and other nuts are fine for chickens, but there are a lot of table scraps and human foods that aren’t.
Here are some of the most dangerous and toxic foods to avoid letting your chickens eat:
- Dried beans
- Green potatoes and tomatoes
- Candy, sweets, and sugary treats
- Raw eggs
- Avocado pits and skins
- Coffee grounds- here’s why coffee grounds are bad for chickens.
- Uncooked rice
Can Chickens Eat Hazelnuts?
Yes, hazelnuts are rich in calcium (which is great for strong eggs), vitamins, minerals, and unsaturated fats.
The same rule applies to hazelnuts as most nuts. Break them up, make sure they’re clean and as free from salt and flavorings as possible.
In Summary - Can Chickens Eat Cashews?
Nuts, in general, are one of the better foods we eat that we can share with backyard chickens.
Cashews are perfectly fine in small amounts and I’m my experience they’ll be munched up pretty quickly. They even provide some important nutritional content chickens need, such as protein and some of the vitamins and minerals.
Next time you have a bag share them with your chooks. You’ll see just how quickly they gobble them up.