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Can Chickens Eat Almonds? Is It Safe?

Almonds may be your favorite nut, but are they good for other animals, like your chickens? While chickens are omnivorous birds with a diverse diet, there are some things they just shouldn’t eat. When it comes to almonds, there are some safety issues and health risks to keep in mind, even though almonds are generally considered safe. In other words, if you want to treat your chickens to some almonds, you are going to want to read up on the facts presented in this article. So, let’s get started.

What are Almonds?


Almonds are edible nuts that are native to the Middle East, specifically Iran and surrounding regions. They come from the Prunus dulcis tree, which is a species of tree in the Rosaceae family. Almonds have been cultivated for thousands of years and are now grown in various parts of the world, including the United States, Spain, Italy, and Australia.

Almonds have a hard, outer shell that encloses a seed. The seed is the part that is consumed and commonly referred to as the almond nut. Almonds have a distinct oval shape and a brown, woody outer covering. When the outer shell is removed, the inner nut is revealed, which has a light tan color.

Almonds can be consumed in various forms, including raw, roasted, blanched (skin removed), sliced, slivered, or ground into almond flour or almond butter.

Can Chickens Eat Almonds?

The short answer is yes, chickens can eat almonds. Should they? That is up to some debate. Almonds are not harmful to chickens, and they do have some vitamins and minerals that boost your flock’s overall health. That said, almonds should not replace your chicken’s regular diet, nor should they make up a large portion of their diet. Instead, you should focus on giving your chickens high quality chicken feed, along with a balanced offering of fruits, vegetables, and grains.

Can Chickens Eat Almond Shells?

Yes, chickens can have the shells of almonds. The shell will get crushed up and digested as it moves through the chicken’s body. The only caveat with giving your chickens both the almond flesh and shell is that the shells tend to cause egg binding or boredom after a while.

Can Chickens Any Part of the Almond Tree?

almond tree

If you are growing almonds from a tree in your backyard, you may be wondering if any part aside from the nut is safe for your chickens to consume or to be around. Here is what you need to know: The tree contains toxins. The bark of the almond tree, for example, contains cyanogenic glycosides. Though the level of this toxin present in the bark is not enough to harm your chickens, too much exposure could be harmful. The same is true for the flowers. The toxicity level is high, so your chickens cannot consume them. The leaves, on the other hand, are relatively safe for your chickens to nibble on.

That said, it is better to be safe than sorry. You may wish to fence off your almond tree to keep your curious flock from pecking at something that could give them a stomachache.

Are Almonds Safe for Chickens?

Almonds are edible, but that does not mean there are some risks involved. First and foremost, the size of raw almonds may be too big for your chickens to swallow whole. It is important that you either crush or grind down the almonds to make them more bite-size for your flock.

Almond butter and almond flour are two ways you can feed your chickens almonds without any choking involved.

The other issue stems from what almonds contain. Being that almonds are nuts, they contain a high amount of fat. While these fats are considered healthy and essential to humans, birds do not need as much fat as people do. For chickens, eating too much fat can lead to health issues, including obesity, fatty liver syndrome, and reduced egg production.

Watch the chickens peck at Almond Meal:

What About Cyanide in Almonds?

While it’s true that bitter almonds contain a small amount of cyanide, it is not typically dangerous to chickens when almonds are fed in moderation. Additionally, most almonds sold in stores are “sweet almonds,” which contain little to no cyanide compounds at all.

Furthermore, chickens have a robust digestive system that can tolerate small amounts of the amygdalin in almond skin. Amygdalin itself is not toxic, but when it comes into contact with enzymes and bacteria in the digestive tract, it can break down into hydrogen cyanide. However, the amount of amygdalin and cyanide in almonds is generally considered to be too low to cause significant harm to chickens when consumed in reasonable quantities.

This is part of the reason why you do not want to give your chickens more almonds than necessary. Excessive amounts of almonds will still make your chickens sick, even if it is not from the cyanide.

Do Almonds Have Any Nutritional Value for Chickens?

One of the reasons people opt to give their flock almonds is for the amount of protein. Chickens, as you may already know, require enough protein to keep themselves healthy and, in the case of hens, also produce plenty of eggs. Protein is also essential for baby chicks during their first couple weeks of life. However, you do not want to give almonds to baby chicks, at least not until they are around 6-8 weeks of age.

Almonds are known for their high content of healthy fats, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats provide energy and support various bodily functions in chickens. Fats also help with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.

Speaking of vitamins, almonds have several that benefit your chickens. Vitamin E is particularly notable, as it acts as an antioxidant, supports immune function, and plays a role in reproductive health. Almonds also provide minerals such as magnesium and calcium. Magnesium is important for bone health, nerve function, and enzyme activity in chickens. Calcium is crucial for eggshell formation, muscle function, and skeletal health.

How to Give Almonds to Your Chickens

If you have decided that you would like to give your chickens some almonds, preparation is key. It’s best to chop or grind the almonds before offering them to chickens. This helps with digestion and reduces the risk of choking. Avoid feeding whole almonds, especially if they are large or hard, as they can pose a choking hazard and may be difficult for chickens to swallow. Remember that roasted almonds, slivered almonds, and almond flour are also viable options.

After introducing almonds into their diet, observe your chickens for any signs of digestive issues, such as diarrhea. If any problems arise, discontinue feeding almonds and consult a veterinarian if necessary.

Final Thoughts on Almonds for Chickens

Chickens can eat almonds, but almonds may not be the most healthy snack for your feathered friends. Almonds should only be offered as an occasional treat, because they can be difficult to eat when not chopped or ground and also have a high amount of fat. As such, a couple of kernels here and there are fine. Just don’t make a habit of feeding almonds to your chickens. Knowing this, you can avoid the potential risks while keeping your flock happy and healthy!