Chickens can eat all sorts of things, including things that people would ordinarily eat. Fruits, vegetables, meats and even grains. One such grain that is enjoyed at breakfast tables around much of the world is oats.
In North America, quick oats are particularly popular since they are fast and easy to prepare. Can chickens eat quick oats too?
Yes, chickens may eat quick oats. Though you generally want to be sparing with any grains you serve to your chickens, quick oats are completely edible and generally nutritious, containing a good amount of protein, vitamins and minerals.
However, you’ll want to feed oats to chicks only rarely, if at all as they have trouble digesting it.
Quick oats are yet another wholesome and nutritious food that can serve as a good periodic supplement or occasional treat for your chickens.
So long as you feed it to them sparingly, they probably won’t have any problems with it. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about feeding quick oats to chickens.
What are Quick Oats? How do they Differ from Other Oats?
Quick oats are oats that have been cut thinner, usually chopped, and precooked compared with whole oats. This makes them much faster to prepare than other types of oats, such as rolled oats.
Because they are precooked quick oats are also more easily digestible than other types, and this makes them a good choice to feed to chickens, as they are less likely to experience digestive issues with quick oats than they might with rolled oats or other types of oats.
Nutritional Profile of Quick Oats
Quick oats are often touted as a healthy breakfast option for people, and it’s easy to see why. They’re packed with vitamins and minerals that can give your day a nutritious start.
|100g Quick Oats
|Total lipid (fat)
|Carbohydrate, by difference
|– Fiber, total dietary
|– Sugars, total including NLEA
|Lutein + zeaxanthin
|Fatty acids, total saturated
Quick oats contain vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5 and B6, as well as folate. They are also abundant with calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese phosphorus, potassium, and zinc and are a good source of fiber.
Health Benefits of Quick Oats for Chickens
The nutritional content of quick oats makes them a good occasional treat for chickens or periodic supplement.
As mentioned, they are a good source of nutrition and contain plenty of vitamins and minerals that can be beneficial to your chickens’ health.
The vitamin B1 in quick oats can help support your chickens’ nervous system, while the B2 can help them produce energy.
The B5 present in quick oats can help with tissue growth and maintenance, and the B6 is necessary for red blood cell function. Folate is used in DNA synthesis, so it’s important for cell growth.
The calcium in quick oats can help to strengthen your chickens’ bones and feathers, and also improve egg quality in laying hens while the iron supports red blood cell function.
Magnesium is necessary for energy production, manganese aids in metabolism and phosphorus is involved in cell growth.
Potassium helps with muscle function and water balance, and zinc strengthens the immune system.
The fiber present in quick oats can be beneficial to your chickens’ digestive health, and since they are pretty much all carbs they are wonderful for giving chickens a quick boost of energy.
Can Chickens Eat Quick Oats Raw?
Yes, chickens will happily eat quick oats when they are “raw.” Quick oats have been precooked, so you are really just giving your birds cooked oats that are cool and dry!
Can Chickens Eat Quick Oats Cooked?
Yes, they can. Cooking quick oats for your chickens is a great way to add a little interest to their food, though you should be careful as it is easy for them to make a mess with them.
Never Feed Quick Oats to Chickens that Has Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
Since we are talking about cooking up quick oats, it should be pointed out that you should never feed your chickens quick oats that have been prepared with ingredients that are harmful to them.
This means no sugar, salt, butter, or anything else that might be unhealthy for your birds.
So long as the oats are plain and simple, or given with other wholesome toppings they can have, they will be fine.
You will definitely want to avoid sugar, salt, butter, syrups and the like as all of these things are high calorie and low nutrition as far as your chickens are concerned.
In other words, they are the chicken equivalent of junk food and you should not be feeding them to your birds.
Sure, they might like the taste, but they will also be courting some serious weight gain, indigestion, or even more serious conditions like sour crop, fatty liver syndrome, sodium poisoning and more.
It might be funny to let your birds try “your” oatmeal, but you could wind up making them very ill!
How Often Can Chickens Have Quick Oats?
While quick oats are a nutritious food that can be given to chickens on occasion, they should not be fed to them too often as they are not a complete chicken feed.
While there are many health benefits associated with feeding quick oats to chickens, they are not nutritionally complete and so are relegated to “treat” or “supplement” status.
This means that 90% of your chicken’s calories should be coming from their usual chicken feed, with the remaining 10% made up of other wholesome stuff and the occasional treat. Oats should be only a part of that 10%.
Preparing Quick Oats for Your Flock
If you decide to give your chickens quick oats, there are a few of different ways that you can prepare them. The first is simply to put them in their feeder and let the birds have at it.
A better way to offer quick oats to your chickens is to give them a quick soak them in water for a few minutes until they have absorbed some moisture and then add them to your chickens’ usual food or other items as a mixture.
This can be messy, however, as chickens are not the neatest eaters in the world!
You can also cook up quick oats and then offer them to your chickens as a treat, perhaps with some berries or other things they enjoy.
Just remember that, cooked or uncooked, quick oats should only make up a small part of your chicken’s overall diet. Offer them in moderation.
Can Baby Chicks Have Quick Oats, Too?
Baby chicks can eat oats, but you’ll need to be cautious about feeding them, and only after they are a bit older.
Around 6 to 8 weeks is probably the right time to let your chicks try quick oats for the first time, and only a few small nibbles.
The trouble with quick oats is that they are tough for chickens, and especially chicks, to digest compared to other foods.
Chicks have a hard enough time digesting their regular feed, so adding in something as tough as oats can lead to digestive upset or constipation.
Quick oats can also pose a choking hazard for baby chicks. If you give your chicks quick oats, make sure that they are tiny, chopped morsels to make them easier to swallow.
Try to Clean Up Any Leftover Oats after Feeding Your Chickens
Make it a point to clean up any leftover oats after feeding your chickens.
Oats that have been sitting out in the open can quickly spoil and become moldy, which can make your chickens sick if they come around and eat them later.
Even worse, oats can attract pests, particularly mammals like rats, mice, raccoons and possums which might harm your birds or steal their eggs. Not good!
Keep an eye on your birds after feeding them quick oats so you can be ready to clean up any leftovers once they are done with them.
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.