Can Chickens Eat Yogurt?

Once you start raising chickens, you’re going to find that there are a lot of things you don’t know, like what chickens can and can’t eat. You might have been shocked to see chicken keepers feeding their chickens yogurt. Can chickens eat yogurt? Is there any benefit to it and should you do the same?

Yes, chickens can eat yogurt — and it can boost their overall health. Yogurt has a lot of minerals, vitamins, and probiotics. However, there are some things you have to know before you decide to dish out some yogurt for your flock.

Which Yogurt Can Chickens Eat?

hens eating yogurt
Photo credit: Flickr

When you ask can chickens eat yogurt? you should also be asking what kind. There are a lot of yogurts on the supermarket shelves, and not all of them are ideal for even humans. You definitely don’t want to give Gogurt to your chickens. The best yogurt for chickens is plain Greek yogurt.

Greek yogurt is strained, meaning that the whey is removed. Regular yogurt isn’t strained and contains a large amount of lactose, too. Furthermore, Greek yogurt has a large amount of protein, fat, and vitamins.

Some of the healthiest brands of Greek yogurt for chickens include:

  • Chobani Plain Nonfat Greek Yogurt
  • Trader Joe’s Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt
  • Dannon Two Good Plain Greek Yogurt
  • Fage Total Plain Greek Yogurt
  • Maple Hill Plain 100% Grass-Fed Organic Greek Yogurt

Nutritional Benefits of Yogurt for Chickens

The digestive system of a chicken is not at all like a human’s. Because of this difference, many will argue that chickens don’t get the same benefits from yogurt as humans. Humans, for one, have a digestive system that can easily process yogurt (unless you’re lactose intolerant), but chickens don’t have the same enzymes to break down dairy.

Greek yogurt
Photo credit: Depositphotos

That doesn’t mean chickens can’t eat yogurt. All it means is that you have to control the portion size and not go overboard. When given Greek yogurt in moderation, chickens will be healthier.

Let’s have a look at the nutritional benefits of Greek yogurt for chicken:

Protein

A cup of plain yogurt contains an average of 8.5 grams of protein, amounting to around 3.5% protein per serving. Chickens need about 16% protein in their feed for maximum benefit and health. Compared to regular feed, yogurt is low in protein, but it can be a great protein supplement for your flock.

Fats

Plain Greek yogurt (not including the nonfat milk version) has about 8-10 g of fats. Chickens need a decent amount of fat in their diet for energy and health.

Calcium

Yogurt is made from milk and is, therefore, a great source of calcium. Most chicken keepers assume this is the chief benefit of giving their chickens yogurt, but it’s not. Chickens have a hard time digesting enough yogurt to get calcium from it. If you want your chickens to get more calcium, give them oyster shell grit and let them feed on fresh grass.

Probiotics

Chickens benefit from having healthy microflora in their digestive system, just like humans. Even a small amount of yogurt can boost your chicken’s gut bacteria and give them a stronger immune system.

Vitamins and Minerals

Yogurt is chock full of magnesium, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, and vitamins in small amounts. Chickens don’t get as many benefits from these vitamins and minerals as humans do, but it still increases their overall health.

How Can Chickens Eat Yogurt?

So you’ve decided to give your flock some yogurt. You’re probably wondering how. The best method for feeding chickens yogurt is to clean out some shallow bowls with a heavy bottom and put a little yogurt there. The chickens will peck at the yogurt, so it’s going to fly everywhere.

If watching yogurt splatter the chickens and their surroundings isn’t ideal, you can get creative and either make homemade yogurt treats. Again, you should always use plain store-bought Greek yogurt for your treats.

Grab a mold, be it a muffin tray, ice cube mold, or something else, and scoop in a small portion of yogurt into each space. Freeze the tray overnight. Store the yogurt in a freezer bag to keep it from getting burned. Toss a few of the treats to your chickens.

You can also mix in some beneficial ingredients, including:

Your chickens are bound to love this special treat!

Are There Yogurts That Are Bad For Chickens?

You asked, “Can chickens eat yogurt?” Now, you need to know what kind of yogurt they can’t eat.

Never give your chickens flavored yogurt. This is something that should be included on the list of dangerous foods. Flavored yogurt, even those that are organic, often contain an overwhelming amount of sugar, preservatives, food coloring, unsafe fruits, vegetable oil, milk powder (whey protein), flour, or anything concentrated.

Many of the ingredients in flavored yogurt are harmful to chickens and can cause diarrhea or other severe digestive problems.

Here are a few examples of yogurt you should never give a chicken:

  • Dannon Oikos Blueberry Greek Nonfat Yogurt – it has 24 grams of sugar in a single serving
  • Stonyfield Organic Smooth & Creamy – 29 grams of added sugars
  • Dannon Activia – this is loaded with a bunch of fillers and additives, as well as 19 grams of sugar
  • Chobani Blended Greek Yogurts
  • Yoplait Whips – these contain corn syrup and food coloring

Also, never give your chickens spoiled yogurt. Even if the yogurt doesn’t smell foul, always give your chickens fresh yogurt. Even slightly turned yogurt can contain bacteria that is harmful to your flock.

How Much Yogurt Can a Chicken Eat?

If there is one thing that can’t be prefaced enough, it’s that you should never give too much yogurt to your chickens. Yogurt shouldn’t be an everyday thing but a treat they get to enjoy once in a while. Once or twice a week in small portions is perfectly fine. Aim for no more than a ¾ cup at a time.

Remember, chickens don’t have the same digestive enzymes for breaking down the sugars in milk. Too much, and they’ll get sick.

Will Chickens Lay Better Eggs After Eating Yogurt?

You might be thinking that the extra calcium in yogurt is going to be beneficial for your egg-laying hens. Well, you’d be wrong. Sorry. The best way to get better eggs is to give your chickens a supplemental grit.

Yogurt doesn’t have enough calcium per chicken-sized serving to serve as a replacement for calcium grit; and if you try to give your chickens too much yogurt, terrible things can happen. Since you don’t want your chickens to get an upset stomach, avoid giving them too much yogurt.

Wrapping Up

Can chickens eat yogurt? They can and certainly will! Chickens don’t get the same nutritional benefits as humans do, but they do enjoy plain Greek yogurt as a snack. You can give your chickens a small portion in a bowl or make them delicious frozen treats during hotter months. Just remember that yogurt is meant to be a treat only!

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