If you have chickens, you know they can eat a bunch of food that people can eat. Fruits, veggies, grains, meats, seemingly nothing is off the table for these birds.
Speaking of grains, one of the most nutritious around that is enjoyed at breakfast tables across the world are oats. Can chickens eat oats, too?
Yes, chickens can eat oats, including instant oatmeal with a few restrictions. Oats are an extremely nutritious grain that chickens can benefit from in their diet. They are a good source of fiber, protein, and minerals, and can help chickens stay healthy and strong. Chickens also find oats delicious, so you won’t have much difficulty getting them to eat.
Not much of a surprise here. Oats make a great treat for chickens, but also a wonderful nutritional supplement.
That being said, you can overdo it, like most additions to your chickens’ diet. This is only a minor concern, however, and your birds will get a lot from this nutrient-packed grain. Keep reading to find out more.
Nutritional Profile of Oats
Oats are one of the best-rounded and most nutritionally complete oats around, and they also taste great.
Oats are carbohydrate-dense and contain tons of manganese, along with a good amount of magnesium, iron, phosphorous, and zinc.
They don’t do quite as well considering vitamins, but contain ample amounts of B1 and B5, along with useful amounts of B2, B3, and folate for your chickens.
Health Benefits of Oats for Chickens
Oats are a wonderful addition to your flock’s diet that the birds will thank you for. Oats are a ready source of carbohydrates that can give your birds quick energy and help them stay warm in cold weather.
The manganese in oats also helps support bone development, while magnesium and phosphorus promote a healthy metabolism.
The iron in oats is important for feathered friends as well, since it helps carry oxygen to cells and supports a healthy immune system.
Zinc is vital for enzyme function, cell growth, and the production of testosterone in male chickens.
The B-vitamins present overall also contribute to a healthy metabolism and help synthesize energy from the carbohydrates in the grain.
All of these nutrients working together make oats a real powerhouse for chickens. They are an excellent nutritional supplement that can help your flock stay healthy and strong.
Can Chickens Eat Raw Oats?
Yes, chickens can eat raw oats, including groats. This is the best way to give your chickens oats, since they will be able to get the most nutrition from them.
Can Chickens Eat Rolled Oats?
Yes, chickens can also have rolled oats. These oats are only lightly processed and still contain most of their nutrients.
Rolled oats are a good choice if you want to give your chickens a treat, since they will be able to digest them more easily than raw oats.
Can Chickens Eat Steel-cut Oats?
Yes, as chickens are cable of digesting the remaining husk or hull of the oat. They are denser and chewier than rolled oats, however, and can make for more filling fare for your chickens.
Can Chickens Eat Instant Oats?
Your chickens can have instant oats so long as they do not contain any other harmful additives, preservatives, or ingredients. See the next section.
Never Give Chickens Instant Oats with Unhealthy Ingredients
While chickens can have instant oats, you should never give them the kind that comes in packets with flavoring and other unhealthy ingredients.
These kinds of oats are full of sugar and other unhealthy additives that will be harmful to your chickens.
If you want to give your chickens instant oats make sure they are plain and simple with no added flavorings or sweeteners.
Can Chickens Eat Cooked Oats?
Chickens may have cooked oats so long as they don’t have any harmful ingredients as above.
However, it is generally best to give your chickens raw or lightly cooked oats whenever possible. This will ensure they get the most nutrition from the grain.
How Often Can Chickens Have Oats?
While oats are a highly nutritious grain for chickens, you should still feed them in moderation.
Oats are high in carbohydrates, which can lead to weight gain and obesity in chickens if they eat too much.
Too many carbohydrates can also cause chickens to develop health problems like heart disease and diabetes. Also consider that oats, despite being very healthy, are not nutritionally complete.
You should offer your chickens oats no more than once or twice a week as part of a balanced diet consisting of 90% chicken feed and 10% everything else, including oats.
This will give them the nutrition they need without overfeeding them on these tasty, carbohydrate-laden grains.
Preparing Oats for Your Chickens
The easiest way to prepare oats for your chickens is to simply scatter them in the yard or let them much on them out of bowls or trays.
You can also cook the oats or feed them pre-cooked oats if you prefer or have some leftovers, but this isn’t necessary.
Again, if you do feed them cooked oats, be sure not to add any salt, sugar, butter, or other unhealthy ingredients. Fruit and nuts are okay, though.
An alternate way to serve your flock oats is to mix it in with their usual feed as a tasty and filling supplement.
This is a great way to add some extra nutrition to their diet without changing things up too much.
Just be sure not to overdo it, as too many oats can lead to your chickens filling up on them instead of their feed!
Another good option that your chickens are sure to love, if you don’t mind a little extra mess, is to make snack balls from oats and healthy nut butter or honey combined with their feed that you can serve to your chickens.
Can Baby Chicks Have Oats?
Yes, but they will need processed (rolled, steel cut) oats as their young digestive systems have not developed enough to handle the husk or hull of the oat yet.
Waiting until the chicks are 4-6 weeks old will be beneficial. You can soak rolled oats in water for a few minutes before feeding them to your chicks to make them easier to digest.
You can also grind oats into a powder using a coffee grinder or food processor and add this to your chicks’ feed. This will give them the nutrition they need without the risk of indigestion.
Oats are a healthy and nutritious grain that your chicks will love, but be sure to feed them only in strict moderation as a treat with early-life chicken feed.
If you have any concerns about feeding oats to your chicks (or chickens) talk to a veterinarian or poultry expert for advice.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.