There are loads of advantages and fun reasons for keeping backyard chickens - and pest control is one of them!
If you have a termite problem and you’re wondering, “do chickens eat termites?”
The answer is yes, they do.
Chickens will eat termites and all kinds of bugs and insects. You can’t rely on them to take care of an infestation, but they’ll certainly gobble up every little insect they can get a hold of.
Is It Good for Chickens to Eat Termites?
Generally speaking, insects are a good source of nutrition for chickens.
There are a number of different species of termites, but according to ScienceDirect, most are a rich source of protein, zinc, fat, and iron.
In some parts of the world, humans eat termites for this reason. It’s not something I could bring myself to do though!
Hunting for bugs also encourages a chicken’s natural foraging and scratching behavior, which keeps them interested and busy.
I know from watching my girls that they’re at their happiest finding and chasing bugs, so I always enjoy watching them forage.
We have a serious ant problem every summer. I dread to think what would happen if I didn’t have chickens, I’d certainly have to do something about them myself.
But it balances out perfectly. My chickens get a constant supply of ants to chase and eat, and by the end of summer, there is almost no sign of an ant.
What Type of Bugs Do Chickens Eat?
It’s easier to list what types of bugs chickens don’t eat - or at least the bugs and insects they shouldn’t eat.
This basically includes any insects that are known to be harmful, poisonous, or toxic in any way. Which typically isn’t many if you live in the U.S.
There are some scorpions that might pose a threat. Or some little insects like caterpillars or spiders that are known to be poisonous, but they are few and far between.
In regards to insects that chickens love the most, they’ll happily munch up:
- Crickets and grasshoppers
- All kinds of beetles, ladybugs, etc
- Ants, such as carpenter ants and fire ants
- Even stink bugs (ewww these really do stink!)
If you have creepy crawlies in your yard sharing space with your chickens, there’s a good chance they are going to end up in their gizzards at some point.
Will Chickens Help With a Termite Infestation?
You need to find a nice balance between allowing enough insects to populate your yard to keep your chickens satisfied, while not letting an infestation take over.
Termites, in particular, can multiply in numbers at an incredible rate. They also feed on wood and plant matter, meaning they can cause some serious damage to your chicken’s coop, your plants, and even your home.
In fact, it’s estimated that homeowners across the U.S. spend more than $5 billion a year controlling the spread of termites and dealing with the damage they cause.
Pretty scary stuff!
If you’ve been spotting an increasing number of termites, I suggest at least calling out pest control to come and take a look so you know if you’re facing a problem.
It’s not like an infestation of beetles or slugs. These little insects will cause damage to your property if they start to grow in numbers.
I joke that chickens are great pest control, and they are. But you can’t expect them to eat their way through an infestation and defend your home!
Can Termites Harm Chickens?
Termites do not pose any real threat to your chickens, or to you if you’re wondering.
They are capable of biting anything they come into contact with, but they are not known for biting pets, humans, and other living animals.
As I mentioned above, they feed on wood and plant matter. They’d much rather be eating a hole into your chicken’s coop than nibbling on their legs.
Neither of which is something you want.
In Summary - Do Chickens Eat Termites?
Chickens do eat termites, yes. It’s good for them to get some bugs and insects in their overall diet, they provide some key nutrients.
They’re very good at finding and eating most bugs and insects. But as I explained above, don’t rely on them to gobble up every single insect in your yard.
In the case of an insect like a termite, which can potentially cause damage to their coop and your home, it’s a good idea to get rid of them before they become a serious problem.
Nutrient composition of four species of winged termites - ScienceDirect