Chickens can eat pine nuts, yes. In fact, like most nuts pine nuts are a great source of protein and other important vitamins and minerals which are beneficial to backyard chickens.
Are Pine Nuts Healthy for Chickens?
Pine nuts are healthy for chickens, and us. According to VeryWellFit, a 1-ounce serving provides the following nutritional content:
- 3.9 grams of protein
- 1 gram of sugars
- 3.7 grams of carbohydrates
- 19 grams of fat
And as I mentioned, a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Obviously, this isn’t ideal nutrition for chickens. A good chicken feed for laying hens will be around 16% protein, 5% calcium, and 2.5% fat.
As a treat food, however, nuts are great for a protein-boosting snack food. Plus, because nuts are hard, they’re great for scattering to encourage your chick’s natural foraging behavior.
Why Are Pine Nuts so Expensive?
Pine nuts are considered quite the treat as they’re one of the most expensive nuts in the world.
This is because there are only around 18 pine trees in the world that produce the right type of pines. On top of this, it takes trees 6-8 years to mature, and another 2-3 years to start producing the pines.
Most owners end up feeding them to their chooks because they buy some and don’t like them. If you’ve gone out of your way to buy some for your girls, you’re spoiling them for sure!
What Other Nuts Are Good for Chickens?
Most nuts are high in protein and packed with good nutrition. Here are some of the other types you should try with your flock:
Pistachios – Pistachios are great for chickens, just discard the shell and you’re good to go.
Cashews – You can read more about why cashews are a great treat food here (but the shells are not).
Hazelnuts – Not the most common nut around here, but a tasty and healthy treat for chickens.
Walnuts – You can read more about the benefits of walnuts here.
Almonds – I love almonds, so not much chance of me sharing. They’re great for chickens though, you can find out more here.
How to Feed Pine Nuts to Chickens
There are a few things to be aware of when feeding nuts to chickens. These are:
- That the nuts are fresh and have been stored properly. Nuts that are stored in damp conditions are susceptible to mold which is toxic to chickens.
- Check they don’t have any salt or seasoning on. If they’re intended for human consumption, they might be seasoned. A quick wash will be needed if so.
- Break them up into smaller bite-sized pieces. I say bite, but chickens don’t actually have teeth. Which is why you need to break them up into smaller bits for easier digestion.
Then you can either scatter some for your chooks to forage and scratch for, or just add them in with their feed. Either way, I’ve never met a chicken that wouldn’t gobble up nuts as quickly as they find them.
What Should You Not Feed Chickens?
Pine nuts and most other nuts are fine, but there are some common foods that are not fine for chickens.
It’s important you’re aware of foods that are toxic or potentially harmful. Here are some of the foods to avoid giving to chickens:
- Avocado Pit/Skin – The flesh is fine, but the skin and stone is toxic to most pets and small animals.
- Raw or undercooked beans – Unless properly cooked, beans contain harmful lectins that can be fatal.
- Tea and coffee – Caffeine is toxic to chickens so no morning brews (or access to composting matter with coffee grounds or tea bags in).
- Chocolate – There are a couple of compounds in chocolate that are toxic so never share a choc bar or any foods with chocolate in.
- Sugary treats – Soda, candy, and sweet stuff is not good for them and can cause some digestive issues.
- Green potatoes and tomatoes – Some plants in the nightshade family produce toxins that are harmful to chickens.*
*Solanine is usually only present tomatoes and potatoes are green. Red tomatoes are fine, as are fresh white potatoes. It’s something to always be mindful of when dealing with this family of plants.
In Summary – Can Chickens Eat Pine Nuts?
Yes, pine nuts are an awesome, protein-rich snack food for chickens. As are most nuts as I’ve explained in this article.
Do keep in mind that you should have a good commercial feed available for your chickens throughout the day.
They should be getting around 90% of their dietary intake from their daily feed. Pine nuts and other foods are treats. Feeding treats is a way to bond with your chooks and add some variety to their diets, so I do recommend doing so.
Pine Nut Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits – VeryWellFit.com
The 10 Most Expensive Types of Nuts in the World – MoneyInc.com