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Can Chickens Eat Peanuts? Are Peanuts a Safe Food?

Raising healthy chickens means getting more eggs and meat from your birds. But in order to keep your flock happy, healthy, and laying plenty of eggs, you need to give them a proper diet. Since chickens are incredibly active, they need foods that are rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals. As you may know, peanuts are a wonderful source of those things, but can chickens eat peanuts? And are peanuts safe?

Let’s find out.

Can Chickens Eat Raw Peanuts?

chickens eat peanuts

While chickens do love a good peanut, giving them raw ones is not advised. Yes, chickens have a monstrous appetite and will eat just about anything they can get their beaks around or in. It’s no wonder owners claim that their birds go nuts for these tasty legumes.

However, raw peanuts are not only difficult for chickens to break apart and swallow, but they also contain lectin, a dangerous enzyme. Trace amounts of trypsin have also been found in peanuts. Trypsin is deadly for fowl and small animals. Lastly, while there hasn’t been much research on this, it is said that the green parts of peanuts may contain solanine, another toxic chemical.

Therefore, if you are concerned about keeping your chickens healthy, you should avoid giving them raw peanuts.

Can Chickens Eat Roasted Peanuts?

Yes, roasted peanuts are safe — and healthy. There are two things to be cautious of, however. You do not want to roast the peanuts in any butter or oil, as this will add to the fat content and could upset your chickens’ stomachs. Furthermore, do not let your chickens eat the roasted peanuts until they have cooled down. The peanuts could burn a chicken’s mouth, preventing it from eating anything at all.

Also, if you are going to buy roasted peanuts from the supermarket, avoid the ones with salt on them. Although chickens need salt, they get their essential amount from their chicken feed. Anything else could be harmful to their health. For this reason, it is best to roast your own peanuts at home (it saves you some money, too).

What About Boiled Peanuts For Chickens?

Did you know that boiled peanuts have way more bioavailable nutrients than raw or roasted peanuts? It’s true. Boiled peanuts are good for you and your chickens. Therefore, boiling peanuts as a treat for your flock is one of the best methods. As with roasting peanuts, do not use any oil or butter on the boiled peanuts.

The downside to giving your chickens boiled peanuts is that they may gain a lot of weight; this is true with any kind of nut, though.

Can Chickens Eat Peanut Leaves and Plants?

peanut with leaves and plants

Are you growing peanuts in your garden? Do your chickens have access to that area of yard? You may have noticed that your chickens will peck at some of the foliage. Since peanuts contain some toxins in the legume part, you may be wondering if such plants are a danger to your birds.

The above-ground leaves and stems are safe. However, you should ensure that your chickens are not getting a hold of the raw legumes or roots. Those two things contain the enzymes that may make your chickens either very sick or kill them.

It may be best to keep your chickens far away from your garden, just in case.

Is Peanut Butter Okay To Give Chickens?

Depending on the peanut butter you purchase, peanut butter could be an excellent treat for your chickens. Some brands, namely those that are organic or all-natural, can have up to 25% protein per serving. Since laying hens need about 16% protein a day to continue up egg production. Also, if you go with organic peanut butter, there are no additional ingredients but roasted peanuts. Just make sure you choose unsalted varieties.

Keep in mind that peanut butter should be a treat and nothing more. If you plant on giving your chickens peanut butter, mix the PB with other foods to make it less sticky. This could be seeds, cereal, and fruits. Peanut butter can also be spread on a whole grain slice of bread.

Can Chickens Eat Salted Peanuts?

Absolutely not. Chickens should never be given salt. This is one of the things you need to know as a chicken owner — that salt is unsafe for chickens. Also, any flavorings are bad for your chickens. Avoid any peanuts from the store that have been honey roasted or dusted with salts and pepper.

Therefore, you should not give your chickens anything with salt on it, be it a peanut or something else.

Can Chickens Eat Peanut Shells or Hulls?

peanut shells

Now that you know that chickens can eat peanuts, you may be wondering if it is fine to give your flock the hulls and shells, too. The answer is yes and no. Peanut shells and hulls are indeed safe and non-toxic. Plus, your chickens may love pecking through the shells, keeping them entertained for hours on end. Additionally, peanut shells also have some nutritional benefits. The shells are rich in cellulose, fiber, and protein.

There was also a study conducted on chickens eating the peanut shells. The researchers concluded that chickens could consume shells, though the benefits were less than eating the legume.

Of course, you don’t have to use the shells and hulls as food. Chickens love shells and hulls as their bedding. You can grind the shells down to almost dust to be scattered around the coop or among the bedding.

Are Peanuts Safe For Baby Chicks?

While adult chickens can eat just about anything to throw at them, the chicks are far less resilient when it comes to food. Baby chicks should never be given anything that is hard to swallow and digest, including peanuts. Give your baby chicks formulated food only.

Once the chicks get older and are confidently eating a variety of foods, you can then try a soft boiled peanut or two on them. Do not give too many peanuts to a baby chick.

Also, while raw peanuts can make older chickens sick, the trypsin found in the peanuts is near lethal to baby chicks. Keep them far away from the peanut plants and focus on the unsalted, boiled peanuts instead.

Do Peanuts Have Any Health Benefits For Chickens?

peanut background

Before you go roasting up peanuts to give to your feathered friends, take a moment to learn why you should. Peanuts can be an incredibly healthy treat, but they also have some disadvantages. There are indeed many other treats out there that are far more nutritionally beneficial to chickens.

For starters, peanuts lack vitamins A, C, E — all of which chickens need. This is why you should avoid giving your chickens too many peanuts (and other snacks). They could become malnourished. That said, peanuts do have a ton of minerals, such as potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, folate, and zinc. Many of these minerals are necessary for egg production.

Calcium and phosphorus, for example, build strong bones and fortify the eggs. Zinc promotes healthier feathers and skin, supports bone development, and prevents perosis.

Peanuts are also rich in B vitamins, including thiamine. Chickens require thiamine for appetite control. Without enough thiamine in their diet, chickens can sometimes become so malnourished, they die. Peanuts have riboflavin to ward off curly-toe paralysis.

How Many Peanuts Should You Feed a Chicken?

As with most chicken-friendly treats, peanuts should not exceed 10% of a chicken’s caloric intake. Even 10% may be too much, considering how many calories of fat are in peanuts. A couple of legumes per chicken will be no problem.

You can serve up a decent portion of peanuts to your flock a couple of ways:

  • Dry roasting your peanuts then tossing them around the yard for your chickens to find while foraging
  • Adding dry roasted or boiled peanuts to the morning serving of chicken feed
  • Mixing peanuts into a chicken-friendly trail mix that includes layering pellets, dried fruits, and vegetables
  • Serving chunky peanut butter straight from the jar (wait until the jar is down to the dregs)
  • Boiling peanuts (and keeping those shells on) then offering them on a serving platter
  • Hanging boiled peanuts with the shells on by string from low branches or elsewhere in the run
  • Smearing chunky peanut butter onto bananas, celery, apple chunks, and other chicken-friendly foods
  • Blending together peanuts, peanut butter (or another nut butter), seeds, dried fruits, and vegetables then spooning the mixture into ice cube trays. Let the blocks set in the freezer then place inside a suet change. Hang the suet change low enough for your chickens to peck at during the hotter months.

The Risks of Chickens Eating Peanuts

You know that chickens can eat peanuts and get some vitamins and minerals from the legumes. But what about the risks involved? Peanuts are rather safe when consumed in moderation. Roasting or boiling the legumes also takes care of any toxins that may be in raw peanuts, hulls, and shells.

The second risk comes from overeating peanuts. Remember, peanuts are high in fat Though these fats are considered healthy, they can be dangerous when eaten in excess. Chickens usually get all of their fat from their feed, which is why snacks should be given sparingly. Too much fatty foods, like peanuts, can be disastrous for your feathered friends.

Obesity is problematic for chickens. They can also get diseases like Fatty Liver Hemorrhagic Syndrome, which is when fat causes the liver to become soft and more likely to bleed. Many chickens die once this syndrome progresses past a certain point. You can prevent such health conditions by limiting the amount of fatty foods you give your chickens.

Go Nuts For Peanuts

To wrap up this article: can chickens eat peanuts? Yes, they can. Peanuts are an incredibly healthy snack when consumed in moderation. Make sure to avoid raw peanuts or any products that contain extra salt, butter, or oil. All of these things can harm your chickens. Therefore, if you plan on feeding your chickens some peanuts, make sure they have been roasted or boiled beforehand.