If you have backyard chickens you will likely have seen them eating anything that moves. If you’re looking for answers to – can chickens eat crickets? And, do they provide any nutritional benefit?
The short answer is, yes. Chickens can eat crickets, and most other bugs and insects. Crickets, in particular, provide some good nutrition as they’re rich in protein, calcium, and other important nutrients.
Are Crickets Good for Chickens?
First of all, and this came as a surprise to me, there are actually around 900 different species of crickets.
Because they range in size, color, and genetic makeup, they also vary in nutritional value.
Generally speaking, however, as far as insects go, crickets are considered a complete food protein.
They contain a good balance of essential and non-essential amino acids. They are high in protein and contain other important nutrients like calcium, iron, and fiber.
Most insects and bugs are fine for chickens to eat. You only really need to be concerned about any bugs that are known to be poisonous or toxic in some way.
What Types/Species of Crickets Are in Your Yard?
With so many different types of cricket, it’s hard to say what species are in your yard without seeing them.
The most common species found across the U.S. are:
- Mormon crickets
- Jerusalem crickets
- House crickets
- Australian Field crickets
- Camel crickets
It’s very likely you have one of these species in your area. It’s worth bringing up a picture and trying to identify what your chickens are eating if you can, just in case.
Can Chickens Eat Dead Crickets?
If you’re finding dead crickets in your yard, there is some cause for concern. What’s killing them? It may be that they are being poisoned or carrying some kind of disease.
Therefore I’d try and avoid letting your flock eat them.
If you’re talking about buying dead crickets, that’s fine. Crickets are commonly sold as food for reptiles and other animals due to their nutritional value.
If you want to buy them as a snack for your chickens, go ahead. If they can find them fresh in your yard, even better!
What Other Insects Do Chickens Eat?
It’s easier to tell you what insects chickens don’t eat – which there really aren’t any that I can think of.
If a bug or insect is small enough for them to get a grip of and peck at, they’re going to eat it. Or at least try to eat it!
Some of the more common bugs chickens gobble up includes:
As I mentioned above, you only really need to be concerned about bugs that are known to be dangerous. Which, depending on where you live, there probably aren’t many threats to be aware of.
If you needed any convincing, just check out how quickly a flock of chickens dealt with some crickets in this video:
Can Chickens Eat Grasshoppers?
I’ve always seen grasshoppers and crickets as the same thing.
I know the grasshoppers around here are typically green and camouflage themselves in the grass, while crickets are usually browner in color.
Both are part of the same family or order of insects called the Orthoptera order. This order also includes locusts, katydids, and other similar looking insects.
Researching them in a little more detail, they do some physical differences that you can use to tell them apart.
Crickets have longer antennae, and they also have a different “sing” noise (you know the chattering or clacking noise?). Crickets tend to be out at night too, as opposed to grasshoppers that are out during the day, and they also eat insects while grasshoppers stick to grass for the most part.
Either way, grasshopper or cricket, chickens can eat them both just the same. They both provide similar nutritional content too, so grasshoppers are just as good.
What Else Can Chickens Snack On?
The basic rules for feeding chickens are simple. They should get at least 90% of their dietary needs met by a good commercial feed.
You can leave feed out for them to graze on during the day. I top up their feeders in the morning and in the evening, and that keeps them happy.
In addition to their feed, your flock should add some variety to their diet by snacking on healthy table scraps and whatever they can find roaming your yard and scratching around.
Some of the best foods to feed your chickens if you’re looking to supplement their diet include:
Vegetables – Broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, spaghetti squash, most vegetables are a good source of vitamins and minerals.
Fruits – Most fruits are also fine and will provide some great nutrients. Try giving your chooks some apple, figs, berries, bananas, and melon.
Grains – Grains are a great “fuel” food, and they also give chickens something to forage and scratch for. Try quinoa, wheat, corn, and brown rice.
Chickens can eat most foods. There are some that are potentially toxic or pose a health risk, so it’s always a good idea to double-check before giving them anything for the first time.
Crickets or grasshoppers, both make for a tasty and healthy snack for your chickens.
Although it’s a bit gross to us – as are most things chickens do – it’s good for chickens and a perfectly normal and natural behavior.
Image credits – Pink cricket photo by Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash
Aketta crickets protein – Aketta.com