If you’ve owned chickens for any length of time, you already know that they enjoy eating all sorts of plant matter, and particularly seeds and various cereals. One kind of pseudo cereal that has exploded in popularity in the past few years is quinoa.
Greatly loved for its good taste and tremendous nutritional content, this might be just the thing to invigorate the diet of your chickens.
But will chickens eat quinoa, and more importantly is it safe for them?
Yes, chickens can eat quinoa safely. Quinoa is an excellent source of nutrition for chickens and has many important vitamins and minerals that they need, among them B-complex vitamins, vitamin E, iron, and more.
There’s no reason why you can’t give your chickens quinoa, and compared to many other grains that we commonly feed them this stuff is clearly superior. But as good as it is, quinoa is not nutritionally complete for chickens, though that is no reason to forgo it.
Read on, and I’ll tell you everything you need to know about giving quinoa to your flock…
What Benefits Does Quinoa Have for Chickens?
As I mentioned above, quinoa is absolutely packed with vitamins and minerals of all kinds, and plenty of macronutrients besides.
Although it isn’t really a grain, and is instead a seed, quinoa is used like we would use any other grain, and in that regard is especially noteworthy for providing lots of protein in addition to carbohydrates.
This makes it wonderful for providing a quick boost of energy for chickens that will subsist for a while and has many other benefits throughout the body.
Quinoa can greatly improve skeletal health, both in terms of growth and healing but it also boosts every sort of cellular function in the body, and you can improve the function and condition of organs as well.
Particularly, the cardiovascular system and kidneys both benefit from quinoa, as it can help chickens absorb more iron which is vital to the production of red blood cells and the oxygenation of the blood supply.
But quinoa can also improve skin condition, repair the nervous system tissues, and even feathering in chickens, which is important if they lose feathers due to fighting or other injuries, or are just going through their yearly molt.
Quinoa also has great benefits for laying hens since it will improve laying overall by promoting the formation of strong, healthy eggshells.
This makes eggs more viable, of course, but it also helps keep hands safe and healthy by reducing the chances of a mishap during laying.
This could result in her becoming egg-bound or even breaking an egg while in the oviduct, either of which can have fatal consequences.
All and all, the benefits of quinoa are just too great to ignore and it’s definitely a worthy inclusion in the diet of your chickens.
Quinoa Nutritional Info
Looking at the vitamin lineup present in quinoa, we see that it has most of the B-complex vitamins, including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate, and B6.
But more than this it has a great amount of vitamin E, though only trace amounts of vitamin A.
The mineral content is likewise extremely impressive, with tremendous amounts of manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium along with great amounts of iron, copper, and zinc.
This is backed up by a good shot of potassium and a meaningful amount of calcium.
Notably, quinoa is very low in sodium so you won’t have to worry too much about your chickens’ salt levels as long as you’re only feeding it to them as a supplement.
Is Quinoa Safe for Chickens Raw?
Yes, raw quinoa is completely safe for chickens and highly beneficial, too. But the thing with raw quinoa is that it loses a huge amount of its nutritional value when heated.
Quinoa, as mentioned, is not really a grain. It is a seed, but one that we use much like other typical cereal grains.
So, while you can safely feed it to your chickens raw – and should if possible – you don’t have to worry about any digestion issues since chickens can digest raw seeds just fine.
Raw is best, put bluntly, but if for whatever reason you need to make it a bit easier for chickens to eat, you can consider sprouting it.
What Colors of Quinoa are Safe for Chickens?
Chickens can eat all common varieties of quinoa safely, including red, white, black and tri-color mixes.
There’s no difference in terms of safety between the colors, however, there will be a slight difference in nutritional value depending on which one you choose.
For example, red quinoa has slightly higher levels of protein than white quinoa while white quinoa has more carbs than its counterparts.
But these differences are slight, and all are super-healthy for chickens, so don’t worry too much about which to get and just buy what is available.
Is Sprouted Quinoa Safe for Chickens?
Yes, totally safe and like raw quinoa extremely nutritious. Sprouted quinoa is also slightly easier for most chickens to digest while keeping all nutrients highly bioavailable.
That said, you don’t need to sprout quinoa to feed it to chickens. Raw is fine most of the time.
Can You Cook Quinoa to Give it To Chickens?
Yes, you can, and this is a great way to incorporate quinoa into other foods for serving your chickens.
However, as mentioned above, cooking does significantly reduce the nutritional value so you should only do it if absolutely necessary.
Is Quinoa Still Safe for Baby Chicks?
Yes, quinoa is safe for chicks, though this is a healthy treat you should let them try only once they are a bit older, around 4 weeks of age.
As good as quinoa is, it’s still capable of upsetting a chick’s stomach and is not nutritionally complete like their starter feed is. Once they grow up just a bit, let them have a tiny bit of quinoa and see how they do.
How Frequently Can Quinoa be Fed to Chickens?
Quinoa is a healthy treat and a wonderful supplement, but not a perfect replacement for the complete nutrition chickens get from their usual feed.
As such, you should only give it to them a few times a week as part of a balanced diet.
A sprinkle of raw or sprouted quinoa mixed in with their regular feed or by itself will give them all of the benefits it has to offer while ensuring they get plenty of nutrition from the usual sources.
What’s the Best Way to Serve Quinoa to Your Flock?
Your chickens should like quinoa just as it is, raw. You can serve it to them as a treat on its own or mix it in with their feed to get the added nutrition. It can also be sprouted, which will make it easier for some chickens to eat and digest.
As discussed previously, cooking quinoa is an option though not a great one; it will lose much of its stellar nutritional profile, though not all.
Quinoa Is Safe, But Only Safe By Itself: No People Food!
Quinoa has taken much of the Western world by storm in recent years, and not just for the health benefits: the stuff is delicious in all sorts of dishes, both sweet and savory!
Accordingly, you can see quinoa pop up in everything from oatmeal-like porridge with syrup and fruit to some truly delicious risottos. But as amazing as they things are, your chickens don’t need them and shouldn’t have them.
Ingredients like butter, salt, sugar, oil, and the like are not at all safe for chickens in the quantities we use for cooking.
Avoid giving your flock quinoa in fancy dishes or as leftovers of your own meals. Stick to raw seeds or sprouts only.
Don’t Leave Quinoa Scraps Around the Run or Coop
And one last tip when it comes to quinoa: don’t leave excess amounts lying around the coop or run.
Quinoa, like so many seeds and grains, is highly attractive to rodents. If left around, it may draw unwelcome visitors to your property, who can then cause issues for your flock directly or indirectly.
Mice and rats spread disease, and can directly prey on chicks or eggs, and sometimes smaller adult chickens in the case of rats.
To be safe, don’t leave extra quinoa out when your chickens are finished with it.
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.