If there is one type of food that you were going to associate with birds of any kind, not just chickens, what would it be? If you answered seeds or nuts, give yourself a pat on the back.
It’s true that pretty much every kind of bird out there, including our faithful feathered friends here, love both, and when it comes to nuts one of the most nutritious is the humble almond.
But assumptions can lead to problems when it comes to food safety: is it safe for chickens to eat almonds?
Yes, chickens may safely eat almonds as long as they are plain, not salted or seasoned. Almonds contain lots of vitamins and minerals that chickens need, and they can make for an effective and tasty supplement.
Not to get too nerdy or anything, but almonds aren’t actually nuts. They are technically seeds! That’s a fun fact and all, but I can also promise you that your chickens won’t care one iota.
All you need to know in this regard is how to feed almonds to your chickens effectively and safely, and in what quantities.
I’ll tell you that and a lot more, like what almonds can do for your chickens, below.
What Benefits Do Almonds Have for Chickens?
Almonds have so many micro and macronutrients that chickens need, it is no surprise the health benefits are huge.
Their vitamins are proven to boost overall immune system function, and also eliminate free radicals in the body that can degrade cellular health and organ function.
The rest of the vitamins are used in all sorts of cellular processes and also in establishing a proper metabolic rate.
From nervous system health to the growth, function and repair of muscles and nerves, almonds have it all.
But even more than this, almonds have the protein and minerals needed for growth and energy, and they can have many benefits for skeletal health and repair, feathering, and even egg production in laying hens.
Almonds can help hens produce eggs with thick, sturdy egg shells they can prevent mishaps during laying and also improve the viability of the egg whether or not it is fertilized.
No matter how you slice it, the humble almond is a wonderful addition to a chicken’s diet!
Almond Nutritional Info
Almonds are little nutritional powerhouses, with a wonderful complement of macro- and micronutrients alike.
Almonds have an ideal blend of protein, fat and carbohydrates to provide chickens with a short-term boost of energy that will likewise last a long time.
Looking at the vitamins, we see that the B complex is here in abundance, with thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, B6 and folate all being accounted for.
Almonds contain tons of vitamin E and also a good shot of choline to round things out.
The mineral content is similarly very impressive with stellar amounts of manganese, magnesium and phosphorus along with lots of copper, calcium, iron, potassium and zinc.
Almonds also have a little bit of selenium and very little sodium.
Are Almonds Safe for Chickens Raw?
Yes, almonds are completely safe for chickens when raw, and this is the best way to serve them if your chickens will eat them.
Raw almonds contain the maximum amount of nutrition possible, both vitamins and minerals.
Cooking almonds, even gently toasting them, results in nutrient loss with losses being proportional to the intensity and time of cooking.
Can You Cook Almonds to Give Them to Chickens?
Yes, you can, and this is a good way to potentially soften almonds or make them more appealing to picky birds.
As mentioned just above, cooking will reduce the nutrition level somewhat, but hardly enough to make almonds unhealthy or not worth serving.
Be Careful: Bitter Almonds are Dangerous
If you’re going to give almonds to your chickens, you must be cautious of bitter almonds. Bitter almonds are only very rarely encountered among store-bought ones but are much more common with wild-sourced almonds.
A bitter almond contains far, far more cyanide compared to the typical sweet almond cultivars that are sold for human consumption.
In fact, the levels are so much higher than a typical sweet almond, that just a few bites of bitter almond might be enough to kill a chicken.
Always keep your eyes peeled, and remove any almonds that appear odd: bitter almonds are usually noticeably wider and shorter than typical sweet almonds, so make it a point to discard any that look peculiar. You might be saving your birds from a painful death!
Are Almonds Still Safe for Baby Chicks?
Yes, almonds are entirely safe for chicks with just a few precautions. First, only serve almonds to chicks that are about 4 weeks old or a little older.
Their systems need time to develop, and even though almonds are highly nutritious they might cause a digestive upset which can be major trouble for a chick.
Also, never give your baby chicks whole almonds. Even the softest almond is going to be too much work for a chick to pick apart, and if they try to swallow a large hunk they might choke.
This is an easy problem to solve simply by crushing the almonds into tiny, bite-size pieces. Go for a consistency that is like coarse sand, and your chicks will love it.
But despite being healthy, you cannot feed chicks on almonds alone! There are only a treat and should be treated as such…
How Frequently Can Almonds be Fed to Chickens?
Almonds are extremely healthy, and there is no doubt that they will improve the health of your chickens. Even so, there are supplemental items to their usual diet at best.
Almonds are too rich in calories to be a mainstay even if their nutritional deficits could be covered. Because of this, only give your flock a few almonds apiece no more than twice a week for best results.
What’s the Best Way to Serve Almonds to Your Flock?
Serving almonds to your chickens is mostly a matter of rendering them down to a size they can handle. Only the largest chickens should even attempt to swallow an almond whole, but you don’t want to risk it.
Either roughly chop them into halves or quarters, or crush them up in a food processor to make a sort of coarse feed. Lacking this, you can put them in a plastic bag and crush them with a heavy pan or a rolling pin.
Once this is done, you can simply scatter the almond bits, load them into a feeder, or mix them in with other food. Just remember to mind the quantity, don’t overdo it.
Salted Almonds are Not Safe for Chickens
Almonds are great for your chickens, but you don’t want to serve them salted ones. Too much salt in a chicken’s diet can quickly mean trouble, potentially resulting in fatal salt intoxication.
Stick with plain, unsalted almonds and your chickens will thank you for it.
Don’t Feed Specially Seasoned Almonds to Chickens
I would hope that I don’t need to point this out, but in the interests of safety, I will: don’t feed your chickens any seasoned, flavored, or other special almonds.
Aside from having a lot more salt, these mixes often contain sugar, preservatives, and other ingredients that are just not good for chickens or any other birds.
Once more for the folks who skipped to the end: only feed your chickens plain, unsalted, non-flavored almonds!
Don’t Leave Almonds Around the Run or Coop
And one last tip. If you’re going to scatter almonds around for your chickens, don’t scatter so many that they won’t find or eat them all, and in all other cases make sure you clean up when they are done with them.
Almonds can easily attract rodents, and whether it is rats or mice that show up that is going to spell trouble for your flock.
Eggs and young chicks will be in danger, and in the case of larger rats potentially even adult chickens.
In all cases, these nasty critters will spread parasites and diseases that can decimate your flock.
Don’t let this happen: clean up when your chickens are done with the almonds.
Tim is a farm boy with vast experience on homesteads, and with survival and prepping. He lives a self-reliant lifestyle along with his aging mother in a quiet and very conservative little town in Ohio. He teaches folks about security, prepping and self-sufficiency not just through his witty writing, but also in person.