If you own chickens, you need to be careful about feeding certain foods to them. Things that are often healthy for humans may not always be healthy for our birds.
One question that has baffled many chicken caretakers is, ‘Can chickens eat peanuts with the shell?’ Are there any nutritional benefits to peanut shells for hens? Or will peanut shells harm our delicate birds’ digestive systems?
Let us crack open this topic and understand the best ways of feeding these tasty legumes to our flocks.
Can Chickens Eat Peanuts in Shell? (The Short Answer)
It is best not to feed shelled peanuts to hens, as the shells can pose a choking hazard due to their fibrous texture. Peanut shells also do not offer much nutritional value to hens.
In excess, the shells could also cause crop impaction or digestive issues in your birds due to their high fiber content. Furthermore, the shells could be contaminated with pesticides. This is why your hens are better off eating peanuts without their shells.
4 Possible Dangers of Feeding Peanut Shells to Chickens
Peanuts are tasty legumes that, while high in fat, also provide tons of protein to chickens. The peanut shell, on the other hand, does not provide much nutrition to hens. Moreover, peanut shells can pose the following dangers:
Peanut shells are quite complex, and they may not be easy for hens to peck at, eat, and digest. They have a fibrous texture that can get lodged in the hens’ throats, resulting in breathing difficulties, coughing, and choking.
Young hens are especially at greater risk of choking on peanut shells.
Fibrous foods like peanut shells, in excess, can cause crop impaction in hens. If a hen eats too many peanut shells, they could block the passage of food through the digestive system and the crop. This can cause their normal muscular contractions to fail and the food tends to remain lodged in the digestive system.
A hen with an impacted crop will have a hard crop in the morning. It could slowly starve to death as it cannot eat. Some hens even need surgery to remove the blockage.
While peanut shells may provide hens with fiber, they can also cause some digestive troubles, especially if a hen eats too many of them. One significant concern caused by eating peanut shells in excess is digestive trouble like gas, bloating, and abdominal discomfort. The affected hen might avoid food and may pace around restlessly.
Contamination From Pesticides
If you feed non-organic peanuts in shells to your hens, there is a possibility that the shells have traces of pesticides. Farmers spray pesticides over these legumes to protect them from insects and bugs. The shell prevents the chemicals from reaching inside and contaminating the peanuts.
But if you feed the shells to your hens, chances are that they could contain traces of these chemical agents. Your hens could eat the shells and may be at an increased risk of getting ill or even dying due to toxicosis.
Can Chickens Eat Raw Peanuts?
Chickens can eat raw peanuts, but moderation is key. Raw peanuts without their shells are nutritious for chickens, packed with protein crucial for growth and feather development, along with healthy fats that provide energy. However, hens must only eat raw peanuts in moderation, as excessive consumption might upset their digestive system.
Raw peanuts contain around 25% protein. They can aid in muscle and feather formation. Their healthy fats provide a good energy source. You can toss in a few raw peanuts, without their shells, for the birds to peck at.
Do not feed salted peanuts to chickens, as high salt levels can harm your birds’ health and result in salt toxicity.
It is important to gradually introduce peanuts into your hens’ diet. You must also ensure that they eat a balanced feed primarily composed of poultry feed, grains, vegetables, and fruits. Too many peanuts might imbalance their overall nutrient intake. Always monitor your hens’ reactions to new foods, and if any digestive issues arise, limit or stop their peanut consumption.
Can Chickens Eat Whole Peanuts?
Many homesteaders feed roasted peanuts to their chickens without the shells. Inorganic raw peanuts sometimes contain toxins that could harm your chickens and the peanut shells could pose choking hazards for the birds.
Whole, cooked peanuts are a good source of protein and healthy fats for your hens. They also contain many vitamins and minerals that hens need.
Remember that peanuts are quite calorie-dense, so moderation is key. In excess, they can cause weight gain in your hens. So, you may feed roasted or boiled peanuts to your hens but only as an occasional snack.
Can Chickens Eat Peanut Butter?
Chickens are omnivores and they eat almost everything that humans eat. You can feed your chickens peanut butter in moderation. You may mix it up with their feed and your birds will enjoy the variety of taste and the creamy texture of the butter.
Moderation is key here: peanut butter can be quite fattening and could result in weight gain in the birds. Also, peanut butter has a sticky texture, which could cause choking in some birds if it sticks to their throat and tongue.
Always choose unsweetened peanut butter that is free from additives like xylitol to feed your chickens.
Can Chickens Eat Cashews?
Yes, chickens can eat cashews in moderation. Cashews are packed with protein and fiber. They are also low in cholesterol and make a tasty treat for your pets.
Always remember to break the cashews into small pieces to make them easy for the birds to peck at. Do not feed them the outer covers or shells of cashews, as they could pose choking hazards to the birds and they are also devoid of any nourishment.
Never feed salted cashews to prevent salt toxicity in your flock.
Is Groundnut Good for Poultry Feed?
Groundnuts can be used for poultry meals but with caution. Nicholas M. Dale – an extension poultry scientist at the University of Georgia, advises caution while feeding groundnut meal to chickens due to potential aflatoxins, which can harm the birds.
Also, groundnuts have a different amino acid makeup than soybean meals commonly used in poultry feed. This is why he cautions poultry owners to be careful and consider alternatives to ensure their birds stay healthy.
Conclusion – Can Chickens Eat Peanuts in Shell?
Chickens could eat a few shells of peanuts but it is best not to do so. Peanut shells contain a lot of fiber, which, in excess, could cause crop impaction and digestive troubles in hens.
Moreover, too much fiber from the shells can also cause gas, bloating, and abdominal distress in hens. Sometimes, the peanut shells could contain traces of pesticides, which can be harmful to the hens. Shells could also pose choking hazards to the birds. Due to these reasons, it is best not to feed chickens peanuts with their outer shells.