The latter two in particular make great healthy treats for chickens. But it rarely fails that most owners want to give their birds something special, and by special I mean the same kinds of foods that they eat themselves…
Some “people foods” are reasonably okay for chickens but others definitely aren’t! How about pasta? It seems a little silly, but can they eat pasta safely?
Yes, chickens may eat pasta safely but only occasionally. The pasta should be cooked plain with no added salt, sauces, or ingredients since these are bad for them. Raw pasta is also difficult for them to digest.
Pasta is, surprisingly, okay for chickens but only in very small quantities and very occasionally. It is a decent source of energy for them and believe it or not it has vitamins and minerals along with macronutrients that they need.
But as you are surely expecting, it isn’t good for chickens long-term; it’s purely junk food, a treat, not something that they should have on a regular basis. Keep that in mind, and you can give them a little bit now and then. Keep reading and I’ll tell you more.
Nutritional Profile of Pasta
The nutritional profile of pasta will change depending on what type it is, but assuming you’re looking at most types of unenriched, cooked pasta with no added salt or other ingredients, you’ll find it has tons of carbs, with almost all of it in the form of starch and a little dietary fiber, with a surprising amount of protein and a little fat.
Chickens can definitely make use of the protein, for sure, but they don’t need that much starch in their diet.
It’s like this, pasta has a few B-complex vitamins, namely B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and folate along with a nearly non-existent amount of vitamin E. Mineral content is significantly better, however, with tons of manganese and a good amount of phosphorus, zinc and magnesium with a little bit of calcium, iron and potassium.
Note that pasta contains very little sodium naturally assuming that it’s unenriched and none was added to the water during cooking.
Benefits of Pasta for Chickens
While pasta cannot be said to be truly healthy for you birds, it can supply energy and protein, and the vitamin and mineral content is definitely useful to them. In this way, a small amount of pasta as a rare treat can still supply needed nutrition.
The vitamins and minerals in pasta can improve their metabolism, enhance feathering, skeletal growth and healing, circulation, organ function, and much more besides.
Once again, make no mistake: pasta should never, ever be a regular part of their diet.
Excess starch in a chicken’s diet is notorious for causing indigestion, diarrhea, and a host of other health problems. That’s why pasta should only ever be given to them in small quantities as a treat.
Can Chickens Eat Pasta Raw?
They can, but this is not a good idea. Raw pasta is very hard for chickens to digest, and even though their gizzard can break it down ,it has a tendency to slow down their digestive tract and that can cause serious problems.
A little bit of raw pasta is unlikely to cause an issue, but give them a large quantity or give them raw pasta regularly and they will start to suffer from serious indigestion or even gut stasis.
Can Chickens Eat Pasta Cooked?
Yes, they can, and in my view, this is the only way to consider serving pasta to them. Cooked pasta is much easier for them to eat and digest, but take care with long noodles because they can be a choking and crop impaction hazard.
Are Ramen Noodles Okay for Chickens?
Yes, but only the noodles: no seasoning packets, no sauce, no veggies, and no little bits of meat. All have way too much salt and other strange ingredients that chickens should not have. Plain ramen noodles need to be cooked prior to serving to your flock.
Can Chickens Eat Pasta Sauces?
Never. Every kind of pasta sauce, no matter what kind and no matter what color, contains way too much salt and likely sugar to be healthy for chickens and that’s not even getting to oil, butter, and other stuff that they shouldn’t be eating.
This stuff is guaranteed to cause diarrhea and major digestive problems. Don’t do it, not even once!
Never Serve Chickens Seasoned Noodles!
I mentioned it up above when talking about ramen noodles, but I’m repeating it here because there are lots of different noodle products out there, from the freezer section and in the instant noodle or soup category.
No matter what kind of noodles we are talking about, you must never give any sort of seasoned noodle product or dinner to your chickens. All of these things are way too salty for them to eat.
Excess salt intake in one sitting or even over several days can send chickens into hypernatremia- sodium poisoning- a condition where they have way too much salt in their bloodstream.
This can lead to seizures, organ failure, and death. Serious business, so never give this stuff to your birds if you care about them.
How Often Can Chickens Have Pasta?
Rarely. A tiny serving no more than once a week, and preferably not even that often, is acceptable. I recommend that no more than 5% of their daily calorie intake comes from pasta in any serving.
Preparing Pasta for Your Flock
Any pasta that you prepare for your chickens should be cooked, but it doesn’t have to be cooked totally soft. If it’s a little firm, al dente, that’s just fine as chickens can easily pick it apart.
Note that long noodles like spaghetti, angel hair, fettuccine, or anything like that should be cut into small pieces before or after cooking to reduce the risk of choking.
Those noodles have a tendency to get caught in a chicken’s throat or block up their crop, and that can also turn life-threatening.
Can Baby Chicks Have Pasta, Too?
Yes, but you’ll definitely want to wait until they are properly into adolescence, I recommend at least seven weeks old. It’s too easy for chicks to get an upset stomach from all the starch, and diarrhea can dehydrate them severely enough to kill them at this vulnerable stage of life.
A few nibbles of pasta once they are old enough are probably not going to cause problems, but you must keep an eye on them: any signs of trouble, stop feeding them pasta entirely.
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.