Quinoa is one of the most popular health foods in the world. It’s also a grain so it seems like it would be an excellent choice for backyard chickens, doesn’t it?
Can chickens eat quinoa? Yes, quinoa is an excellent choice of food for your chickens to eat. It’s commonly used in general bird feed as it is nutritionally-dense, high in protein, calcium, and some vitamins and minerals.
What Is Quinoa?
Quinoa is referred to as a grain, but technically speaking it’s a seed.
It’s one of the few plant foods that has sufficient amounts of all nine essential amino acids. It’s also rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and importantly for chickens, protein, and calcium (source).
Of all the grains, such as corn, wheat, barley, etc. quinoa delivers the best nutritional content.
If it sounds like a huge fan, it’s because I am. If you eat quinoa on a regular basis, you should share a little with your flock each time too.
Can Chickens Eat Quinoa?
Yes, chickens can eat quinoa.
In fact, it’s one of the few foods I recommend going out of your way to give to them to supplement their diet as it’s so nutritionally rich.
Can Chickens Have Uncooked Quinoa?
They probably can have it uncooked, but it’s much better for them if you cook or sprout it.
Much like I explained how to sprout lentils, if you have an unhulled and untreated form of quinoa, you can sprout it for your flock.
Simply soak the seeds for at least 8 hours. Then drain, place in a jar, store in a warm location, and drain and rinse three times a day for three.
You will start to see sprouts shooting out of the seeds. This is well worth the effort as you now have an even healthier treat for your chickens that they will gobble up in a hurry for sure.
How to Feed Quinoa to Your Chickens
Because quinoa is a grain, you can throw some into their run or an area where they roam if your flock is free-range and they’ll scratch for it.
Or, you can just add it to their feed and it’ll disappear just as quick as their feed.
However you want to get it to your chickens, go with that method. If you’ve owned backyard chickens for any length of time you’ll know they’re experts at finding and eating food they enjoy.
What Can Chickens Not Eat List:
Quinoa is great for chickens, but there are a lot of foods that are not. Here is a list of some of the foods - which may come as a surprise - that are toxic and potentially deadly to chickens:
Raw Beans - Would you believe that raw beans are one of the most toxic and potentially dangerous foods for chickens?
Raw beans contain a toxin called phytohaemagglutinin, which unless cooked for a minimum time and temperature, poses a serious health threat.
Chocolate - Most pet owners are aware they need to keep chocolate away from their dogs, and the same applies to their chickens.
Although, it’s a little easier with chickens as they don’t help themselves when you’re out of the house as my dachshund does!
Tea and Coffee - Luckily, chickens are partial to a morning coffee or a cuppa in the afternoon!
Tea and coffee contain compounds called theobromine and caffeine. Both of these are toxic to chickens - and present in chocolate which is why they can’t eat choc too.
Avocado Skin and Pit - The flesh of an avocado is delicious, I love it. It’s a different story for the skin and the large stone inside, however.
These parts of the fruit actually contain a toxin called persin which is toxic to chickens. So, don’t be tempted to try and recycle the skins by throwing them to your flock!
Green Potatoes and Tomatoes - When potatoes and tomatoes are green they contain a toxin called solanine, as do other vegetables and plants in the nightshade family.
Solanine poisoning is dangerous, even fatal to chickens, so it’s something to be very careful about.
Related content - Can chickens eat potato peels? (Yes, here’s why)
Other Foods Chickens Can Eat List:
Now you know the foods to avoid giving your chickens, here is a list of some of the foods that are fine for them.
Just remember to keep table scraps and other foods as treats. As a general rule, around 90% of their diet should come from their formulated feed
Herbs - Herbs have some interesting health benefits and make for a great addition to a chick’s diet. Some are laying stimulants, some help to repel bugs, some are good for their immune system, etc.
Grains - Grains are rich in starch and energy, and they also give chickens something to scratch around at the ground for. Try quinoa, barley, wheat, oats, etc.
Cooked Foods - Some foods need to be cooked before giving it to chickens, such as meat and pasta. You can also give them some rice, lentils, and other foods that don’t contain any of the foods they can’t eat.
Quinoa is one of the best foods you can give to your chickens, so I recommend giving them some to see how they like it.
It’s super nutrient-rich, easy to prepare, relatively inexpensive, and makes for an excellent supplement to their diet.