Yes, chickens can eat walnuts. You just need to make sure they’re fresh, unsalted and break them up for your flock. Walnuts are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making them a nice healthy snack food.
Are Walnuts Healthy for Chickens?
Yes, like most nuts, walnuts are a great source of protein, fats, and other good nutrition.
According to Healthline, a 1-ounce serving contains:
- 4.3 grams of protein
- 1.9 grams of fiber
- 18.5 grams of fat
- And a wide range of other good minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and other good nutrition.
While chickens have different dietary requirements to us, they’re going to benefit from the wide range of good nutrition in walnuts.
You can definitely put them down as a high-protein snack food for laying or molting hens.
Why Walnuts Get a Bad Rap for Toxicity
Walnuts and nuts, in general, get a bad rap for being toxic to some pets and small animals.
This is because raw nuts that have fallen from a tree and left on the ground for some time, or nuts that have been stored in damp/poor conditions can grow mold.
It’s caused by fungi; particularly; Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Alternaria. This is more common in nuts over other foods because their shells often split when they’re ripe, and insects are drawn to the flesh of the nut.
As long as you’re buying from a store and your nuts have been stored properly, are in date etc it’s fine to feed them to your flock.
If they look good enough for you to eat, they’re good enough for your backyard friends.
What Other Nuts Are Good for Chickens?
Something most nuts share in common - they’re an awesome source of nutrition, especially protein.
You can do a lot worse than to feed your chickens nuts on a regular basis. If you want to try some other types, here are a few of their favorites:
Hazelnuts - A tasty treat for chickens, and a personal favorite of mine too!
Pistachios - You can read more about the benefits of pistachios here.
Cashews - You can read more about why cashews are a great treat food here.
Almonds - You can read more about the benefits of sweet almonds here.
Pine Nuts - Not the most common nut, but they’re great for chickens (read more here).
How to Feed Walnuts (and other nuts) to Chickens
There are two rules when feeding nuts to chickens:
- One is to make sure they’re not salted or seasoned. If they are, just give them a wash and they should be fine.
- The other is to remove the shells and break up the nuts if they could possibly cause digestive issues.
That’s all there is to it. You can then feed them however you want to. Either put some in their feeder, let them peck bits out of your hands if you’re feeling brave, or scatter some around for them to forage for.
What Should You Not Feed Chickens?
So, now you know nuts are safe. As are most fruits, vegetables, and grains (although it’s always a good idea to check first).
It’s just as important to know which foods are toxic or potentially harmful to chickens. Here are some of the most common problem foods:
- Raw or undercooked beans - Unless properly cooked, beans contain harmful lectins that can be fatal even in small doses.
- Green potatoes and tomatoes - Some plants in the nightshade family produce a toxin called solanine to warn off predators, and this is also harmful to chickens (and us).
- When tomatoes and potatoes are green, for example, they are producing solanine. Something to be mindful of if you’re growing tomatoes as the leaves, plant and unripe fruit is dangerous.
- Tea and coffee - Caffeine is one of the compounds that is toxic to chickens.
- Chocolate - There are a couple of compounds in chocolate that are toxic, caffeine being one of them.
- Sugary treats - Soda, candy, and other sweet stuff is easy for them to digest.
- Avocado - Only the large pit inside and the skin is toxic so discard these if feeding avocado.
Related - Can chickens eat French fries? (A couple won’t hurt)
In Summary - Can Chickens Eat Walnuts?
Yes, they can. Like most nuts, walnuts (English and Black) are a great source of protein and other vitamins and minerals for chickens.
Do remember that while it’s fun treating your hungry backyard munching machines, nuts, fruits, vegetables, tables scraps etc are treats.
Chickens should get at least 90% of their diet from a good commercial feed. This leaves you some room to treat them with other healthy foods like walnuts.
13 Proven Health Benefits of Walnuts - Healthline.com