Can Chickens Eat Bird Seed? 3 Fantastic Benefits

Written By Jill Taylor

Are you a fellow chicken lover always looking for new treats to keep your feathered friends happy and healthy? I know I am! And recently, I came across a question that got me thinking – can chickens eat bird seed? The answer is yes, and there’s so much more to this tasty treat than meets the eye. 

In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about feeding bird seed to your flock, from the benefits it offers to essential precautions and preparation tips.

So, if you’re excited to learn more about bird seed as a treat for your chickens, you’re in the right place. Whether you’re an experienced chicken owner, a homesteader, or a farmer, this article will help you navigate the world of bird seed, ensuring that your chickens enjoy a healthy and engaging snack. So, let’s dive in and discover how bird seed can be a fantastic addition to your chickens’ diet.

can chickens eat bird seed

Can chickens eat bird seed?

So, you’re curious if chickens can eat bird seed? Well, the short answer is yes, they can. Chickens are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and small animals. Bird seed is a mixture of various seeds, nuts, and grains, which are all part of a chicken’s natural diet. However, there are a few things you need to know before you go ahead and feed your flock bird seed.

You might wonder why bird seed is even worth considering for your chickens. Well, it turns out that bird seed can provide various benefits, such as nutritional value, mental stimulation, and promotion of natural foraging behaviors. But, like with any treat, it’s important to be aware of potential concerns and feed it in moderation. That’s why we’ll also cover what to watch out for and how to properly prepare bird seed for your clucky companions.


The benefits of eating bird seed for chickens

Are you considering adding bird seed to your chickens’ menu? You’re in the right place to learn about the perks of treating your flock to this delightful snack. Bird seed isn’t just for wild birds – it can provide a variety of benefits to your chickens, too! 

From nutritional advantages to promoting natural behaviors, incorporating bird seed into your chickens’ routine can lead to happier, healthier birds.

Nutritional value

Bird seed can provide a good source of nutrition for chickens. It’s packed with vitamins, minerals, and proteins that can help supplement their diet. Seeds such as sunflower, millet, and safflower are particularly high in nutrients that can benefit your chickens.

Encourages natural foraging behavior

Chickens love to scratch and peck at the ground in search of food. Scattering bird seeds on the ground can encourage this natural behavior, keeping them busy and happy.

Boredom buster

Feeding your chickens bird seed can help keep them entertained and prevent boredom-related behaviors, like feather-pecking or egg-eating. It’s an easy and inexpensive way to keep your flock engaged and satisfied.

Things to watch out for when feeding bird seed to chickens

fresh pumpkin seeds

As you consider the idea of treating your chickens to some bird seed, it’s important to be aware of a few potential concerns. While bird seed can offer many benefits, certain factors must be in mind to ensure your flock’s safety and well-being. In this section, we’ll cover some of the key things to watch out for when feeding bird seed to chickens. 

By staying informed and vigilant, you can ensure your chickens enjoy bird seed’s perks without any negative consequences.

Seed size

Some bird seeds can be too small for chickens, making it difficult for them to pick up and eat. If the seeds are too small, your chickens may eat a lot of dirt, which isn’t ideal. Make sure to choose bird seed with larger seeds that are easier for them to peck at.

Salt content

Be cautious about bird seed containing added salt, as it can harm chickens. Too much salt can cause health issues, such as kidney problems. Always opt for unsalted bird seed to be on the safe side.

Uneaten seeds

If your chickens aren’t eating certain seeds in the mix, it could be a sign that they don’t like them, or they could be harmful to your chickens. Monitor what they’re eating and adjust the bird seed mix accordingly.

How often should chickens eat bird seed?

Bird seed should be treated as a treat or supplement to your chickens’ diet rather than their main food source. Chickens need a balanced diet to stay healthy, and commercial chicken feed is formulated to provide all the necessary nutrients. Feeding bird seed too often can lead to nutritional imbalances.

A good rule of thumb is to offer bird seed once or twice a week, depending on the size of your flock and the amount of bird seed you’re providing. Monitor your chickens’ overall health and adjust their diet as needed.

How to prepare bird seed for feeding to chickens

chicken feeding

So, you’ve decided to try bird seed for your flock, and you’re eager to see how they’ll enjoy this tasty treat. But before you start scattering seeds around, knowing the proper way to prepare and serve bird seed to your chickens is crucial. In this section, we’ll guide you through the steps to ensure you provide the best possible experience for your feathered friends. 

From selecting the right mix to monitoring consumption, we’ll cover everything you need to know to make bird seed a healthy and enjoyable addition to your chickens’ diet.

Choose the right bird seed mix

Look for a mix containing larger seeds, like sunflower, millet, and safflower, and grains like cracked corn. Avoid mixes with added salt or other potentially harmful ingredients.

Scatter the bird seed

To encourage natural foraging behavior, scatter the bird seed on the ground, preferably in a grassy or dirt area where your chickens can easily scratch and peck at the seeds.

Monitor consumption

Keep an eye on how much bird seed your chickens consume, and ensure they’re still eating their regular feed. Adjust the amount of bird seed you provide based on their consumption and overall health.

Can baby chicks eat bird seed?

baby chick

It’s best to avoid giving bird seed to baby chicks. Their tiny beaks and digestive systems may not be able to handle the larger seeds and grains found in bird seed mixes. Instead, provide them with a specialized chick starter feed designed to meet their nutritional needs. Chick starter feed is formulated to provide the right balance of proteins, vitamins, and minerals that are essential for healthy growth and development.

As your chicks grow, you can gradually introduce treats and supplements to their diet, including bird seed. However, waiting until they are at least 8 to 10 weeks old is important before offering bird seed. They should be better equipped to handle the larger seeds and grains by this age.

Tips for introducing bird seed to older chicks and young chickens

Introducing bird seed to your older chicks and young chickens can be an exciting adventure, but it’s important to approach this new treat carefully. Ensuring a smooth and healthy transition is key to avoiding any potential issues that may arise.

Start with small amounts

When introducing bird seed to older chicks and young chickens, begin by offering small amounts. This will give them a chance to become familiar with the new food and allow you to observe their eating habits and preferences.

Monitor their health

Keep a close eye on your young chickens’ overall health as you introduce bird seed to their diet. Watch for any signs of digestive upset or changes in their eating habits. If you notice any issues, scale back on the bird seed or stop offering it until they’re older.

Gradually increase the amount

 As your chickens grow and become more accustomed to eating bird seed, you can gradually increase the amount you offer. Just remember to keep it as a treat or supplement and not a replacement for their regular feed.

What other seeds can chickens eat?

black oil sunflower seeds

In addition to bird seed, a variety of other seeds can be a nutritious and tasty treat for your chickens. Let’s explore four popular seeds that can be a great addition to your flock’s diet: sunflower seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, and buckwheat.

Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are a favorite among chickens and can provide an excellent source of protein, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals. These seeds are packed with nutrients like vitamin E, an antioxidant that can help support your chickens’ immune system. 

Additionally, sunflower seeds are high in unsaturated fats, which can contribute to the production of high-quality eggs with rich, golden yolks. Remember to feed sunflower seeds in moderation, as too much fat can lead to obesity and other health issues.

Read More: Can Chickens Eat Sunflower Seeds? 6 Fantastic Benefits

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds may be tiny, but they pack a powerful nutritional punch for your chickens. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and fiber, these little seeds can help support healthy feathers, strong eggshells, and a robust immune system. 

Chia seeds also contain essential minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, vital for strong bones and overall health. To feed chia seeds to your chickens, simply sprinkle a small amount over their regular feed or mix it in with other seeds.

Read More: Can Chickens Eat Chia Seeds? 5 Awesome Benefits

Flax Seeds

Flax seeds are another great option for your chickens, thanks to their high omega-3 fatty acid content. These healthy fats can help improve the quality of your chickens’ feathers and the nutritional value of their eggs. Flax seeds also contain lignans, antioxidants that can contribute to overall health and immunity. 

You can feed flax seeds whole or ground, but remember that ground flax seeds spoil more quickly, so only prepare what your chickens will eat in a short period.

Read More: Can Chickens Eat Flax Seeds? 5 Important Benefits


Buckwheat is a versatile seed that can provide a variety of health benefits for your chickens. It’s an excellent source of protein, fiber, and minerals like manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus. These nutrients can help support strong bones, healthy feathers, and good egg production. 

Plus, buckwheat is gluten-free and easy for your chickens to digest. To feed buckwheat to your flock, simply mix it with their regular feed or offer it as a standalone treat.

Read More: Can Chickens Eat Buckwheat? 6 Fantastic Benefits

By offering a variety of seeds to your chickens, you can help ensure they receive a well-rounded diet full of essential nutrients. Remember to always feed seeds in moderation, alongside a balanced commercial feed, to keep your chickens happy, healthy, and thriving.

Can chickens eat bird seed – final thoughts

In conclusion, we’ve learned that chickens can eat bird seed and be a delightful treat that offers a range of benefits to our feathered friends. From providing essential nutrients to encouraging natural foraging behaviors and busting boredom, bird seed can be a fantastic addition to your chickens’ diet. Remember to keep an eye on potential concerns, feed bird seed in moderation, and ensure that it complements their regular feed.

So, don’t hesitate to break out the bird seed next time you think about giving your flock a fun and nutritious treat! With the right mix and preparation, your chickens will be clucking with joy as they peck and scratch their way to a happier, healthier lifestyle.