Chickens do eat ladybugs or ladybirds as they’re also called, yes. It’s perfectly fine for them, some types of ladybugs are capable of producing a foul-smelling odor as a defense mechanism – but it’s harmless.
What Are Ladybugs? Are They Pests?
There are few more iconic backyard insects than ladybugs. You can’t mistake their bright red bodies and those black spots.
The bright red ladybugs are one of the most popular colors, although there are actually more than 5,000 different species.
They come in a wide range of colors from yellow, orange, red, and black. They also vary in appearance and how they behave.
Personally, I love seeing ladybugs – and so do my chickens! It’s usually an indication that autumn is here where I live.
Ladybugs like to munch on plants and keep themselves to themselves for the most part. They don’t pose a threat to us or chickens, although some do produce a foul odor to try and deter predators.
Do Chickens Eat Ladybugs? Are They Toxic in Any Way?
Chickens will eat ladybugs, yes. In fact, if you own chickens you’re probably well aware that chickens will eat just about anything that moves and is small enough to be eaten.
The real question always revolves around if it’s safe for chickens to eat certain bugs and insects.
In the case of ladybugs, there are no concerns. These bright little beetles are not toxic or harmful in any way.
As I mentioned above, some species of ladybirds can produce a foul-smelling odor to try and deter predators. Most beetles are capable of doing this, I’ve smelled it myself and can confirm it’s pretty gross.
It’s harmless though.
While we’re talking about foul-smelling insects, you might want to read; Can chickens eat stink bugs? Now, they really do stink!
What Other Bugs and Insects Can Chickens Eat?
It’s no secret that backyard chickens are effective pest control units.
It’s actually beneficial for chickens to eat insects as part of their diet. Almost all insects are rich in a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and other good nutrition.
We’re not complaining either right? The fewer bugs in the yard, the better for us and our plants.
Some of the common insects chickens happily gobble up include:
The list goes on…if it has 6-8 legs and moves around or wriggles, it’s going to get eaten.
Another benefit of chickens eating bugs is they get to do what chickens do best – forage, scratch around, and peck at things.
Related – If you really want effective pest control backyard animals, check out Guinea Fowl.
How Many Bugs Do Chickens Eat a Day?
If you’re dealing with a serious bug infestation or outbreak, you might be wondering if chickens are the answer to getting rid of them.
I’m not suggesting using chickens as your only pest control method, but there’s no doubt that they help keep the numbers of insects in check.
I’ve done some research into this topic, and although the numbers varied a lot – all the studies I could find showed that chickens eat A LOT of bugs in a day.
I found a couple of studies reporting that a chicken will eat 300-400 an hour if given unlimited access!
Obviously, that number will be lower the more work they have to put in to catch the insects, and the more full the chicken gets (do chickens ever get full up!?)
But that does give you an idea of just how prolific chooks are when it comes to munching up insects.
There’s no way of knowing for sure what this means for the duration of a day. But I think it’s safe to say a chicken could eat thousands of insects in a day given the chance.
It’s perfectly safe and fine for chickens to eat ladybugs and most insects.
Which is fortunate as chickens are natural foragers and it’s impossible to stop them gobbling up creepy crawlies!
Image credits – Photos by Sarah Halliday, Dustin Humes, and Verstappen Photography on Unsplash
Ladybugs – NationalGeographic.com