Do Chickens Eat Cockroaches? Unearthing the Surprising Truth

Written By Jill Taylor

As I strolled through my backyard this morning, watching my chickens roam and forage, a question came to mind: do chickens eat cockroaches? As a chicken owner, it’s essential to understand what makes up the menu for our feathered friends. More importantly, knowing if these unexpected diet inclusions are beneficial or harmful to our hens and roosters is crucial.

For the curious minds, the answer is yes; chickens do eat cockroaches. Chickens are opportunistic omnivores, meaning they’re always on the hunt for a good protein source. From seeds to insects, they’ll peck and probe around for anything that could supplement their diet. So, if a cockroach happens to scuttle by, chances are, it will become a chicken snack.

However, establishing that chickens can and do eat cockroaches doesn’t complete the picture. As we dive deeper into this intriguing topic, we’ll explore their dietary habits, insects’ role in their diet, and the potential benefits and drawbacks of our fowl feasting on these critters.

do chickens eat cockroaches

Natural Dietary Habits of Chickens

If you’ve ever observed chickens roaming freely, you’ll notice they’re natural foragers. They explore their surroundings, poking and prodding at the ground for food. Their diet is, in fact, quite varied and includes seeds, grains, green vegetation, and small organisms.

Overview of a Chicken’s Diet

Chickens are omnivores by nature. This means they eat a combination of both plants and animals. In an ideal setting, a chicken’s diet includes a balanced mix of grains, vegetables, fruits, and proteins. The proteins often lead them to peck for small critters in the ground.

Natural Foraging Behaviour of Chickens

Their instinct to forage enables them to source a diverse range of nutrients. You might often see them scratching the ground with their feet to stir up insects, seeds, and other tasty morsels. This behavior is essential for their nutrition and provides mental stimulation, keeping them engaged and happy.


Role of Insects in a Chicken’s Diet

Insects form an important part of a chicken’s diet. They provide a natural and rich source of protein, aiding the chicken’s growth and egg production.

Importance of Insects in a Chicken’s Nutrition

The protein from insects is essential for chickens. It aids in muscle development, feather growth, and overall vitality. Insects also supply other nutrients like fats, which provide energy and minerals necessary for various physiological functions.

Common Insects Chickens Eat

Chickens will eat a wide variety of insects, including beetles, worms, grubs, ants, and more. Depending on the type of environment and season, the insect component of their diet can vary.

Chickens and Cockroaches: An Unlikely Snack

cockroaches crawling

It might seem like an odd combination, but yes, chickens do eat cockroaches.

Do Chickens Eat Cockroaches

Given the chance, chickens will readily eat cockroaches. It’s not their first choice, but a foraging chicken isn’t exactly picky. If it scuttles and provides protein, it’s fair game.

Factors Influencing Chickens to Eat Cockroaches

A chicken’s environment largely influences whether it will encounter and eat cockroaches. Availability is a significant factor here; in places where cockroaches are common, it’s more likely that chickens will eat them.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Chickens Eating Cockroaches

chicken feeding

Like most things, there are pros and cons to chickens eating cockroaches.

Nutritional Benefits of Cockroaches for Chickens

Cockroaches are surprisingly rich in protein and can serve as a substantial snack for chickens. Consuming cockroaches can contribute to a chicken’s protein intake and overall nutritional profile.

Potential Risks and Drawbacks

While they’re protein-rich, cockroaches can carry diseases and parasites. Cockroaches often inhabit unsanitary environments, increasing the risk of transmitting harmful pathogens to your chickens.

Using Chickens for Natural Pest Control

chickens standing

Chickens can play a crucial role in managing pests, and that includes cockroaches.

How Chickens Can Help Control Cockroach Population

If you have a cockroach problem, chickens can help. By eating cockroaches, chickens can aid in naturally controlling the population and limiting their spread. They can effectively patrol your yard, seeking out these pests.

Other Pests Chickens Can Help Control

Beyond cockroaches, chickens can help control a variety of other pests. They’ll eat ticks, beetles, and other bugs that might bother you. It’s a natural pest control service right in your backyard!

Safely Feeding Chickens Cockroaches

Although chickens can and do eat cockroaches, it’s crucial to consider safety measures to protect your chickens’ health.

Tips for Ensuring Cockroaches are Safe for Chickens to Eat

The primary concern with chickens eating cockroaches is the risk of disease or parasites. If you have a controlled environment where you’re certain the cockroaches aren’t carrying anything harmful, it’s generally safe. 

But if you’re unsure, it’s best to be cautious. Always ensure the cleanliness of your chickens’ environment to minimize exposure to disease-carrying pests.

Alternative Insect-Based Food Sources for Chickens if Necessary

There are alternatives if you’re worried about the risks of feeding cockroaches to your chickens. You can choose mealworms, crickets, or other commercially available insect-based feeds. 

These provide the protein benefits of insects without the potential risks associated with cockroaches. They can be purchased from pet stores or online, and many chickens find them just as appealing as the real deal.

What Other Insects Can Chickens Eat Apart from Cockroaches?

fly on moss

With their opportunistic eating habits, Chickens enjoy a diverse menu that extends well beyond cockroaches. Several other insects make for a tasty and nutritious treat for our feathered friends. Let’s take a closer look at five such insects that can contribute to a chicken’s diet and the benefits they offer.


Ticks might be a nuisance to us and many animals, but they’re a welcome snack for chickens. By eating ticks, chickens help control these parasitic pests, potentially reducing the spread of tick-borne diseases. Plus, ticks are rich in protein, making them a healthy treat.

Read More: Do Chickens Eat Ticks? Unveiling Their Role In Pest Control


Chickens don’t shy away from these buzzing insects, either. Mosquitoes are an excellent source of protein and are easily caught during their flight, making them a quick grab-and-go snack. Also, by eating mosquitoes, chickens may help control their population, thus limiting the spread of mosquito-borne diseases in the area.

Read More: Do Chickens Eat Mosquitoes? Surprising Benefits Revealed


Maggots are a nutrient-rich food source that chickens readily devour. They are high in protein, aiding in the growth and development of the chicken’s body and egg production. Besides, their soft, easy-to-eat nature makes them an ideal food for younger chickens and chicks.

Read More: Do Chickens Eat Maggots? Unveiling The Surprising Benefits


These tiny, jumping insects are another addition to a chicken’s insectivorous diet. Fleas are rich in protein and are consumed as a part of the natural foraging behavior of chickens. This gives chickens a nutritional boost and assists in naturally controlling flea populations around your yard.

Read More: Do Chickens Eat Fleas? Your Backyard’s Secret Pest Patrol


Flies might be a nuisance to us, but they’re a delicious treat to chickens. Whether in their adult form or as larvae, chickens will happily eat flies. These insects are protein-rich and easy to catch for our poultry pals. By feasting on flies, chickens can help manage these pesky insects, keeping your surroundings more comfortable.

Read More: Do Chickens Eat Flies? Uncovering The Fascinating Truth

Other points to consider

Understanding Cockroach Behaviour and Its Impact on Chickens

Understanding the behavior of cockroaches could provide valuable insights into whether they make frequent appearances in your chickens’ diet. Cockroaches are primarily nocturnal creatures and prefer dark, damp, and warm places. Chickens, on the other hand, are active during the day. This divergence in their active hours might impact the frequency of chickens feeding on cockroaches.

Cockroach Infestations and Chicken Health

If you’re dealing with a cockroach infestation, letting your chickens go on a cockroach feast might be tempting. However, heavy infestations can signal unsanitary conditions that could harm your chickens’ health. Remember, while chickens can eat cockroaches, they shouldn’t form the majority of their diet. Chickens require a balanced diet to maintain their health and productivity.

Cockroach Control in Chicken Coops

Keeping the chicken coop clean can prevent cockroach infestations. Regular cleaning, proper food storage, and waste management can significantly deter cockroaches. If cockroaches invade the coop, consider using safe, natural pest control methods to avoid exposing your chickens to potentially harmful chemicals.

Do chickens eat cockroaches – final thoughts

From their natural foraging habits to insects’ role in their diet, we’ve seen that our feathered friends are far from fussy eaters. Yes, our main query – do chickens eat cockroaches – was true. But we also delved into how this snack option fits their nutritional needs, its potential risks, and how, surprisingly, chickens can act as a natural pest control unit against cockroaches and other unwanted critters.

So, the next time you see a chicken pecking away in your yard, remember – they’re not just mindlessly poking around. They’re on a mission, working hard to keep your garden bug-free and stay healthy. If there’s one thing we’ve learned, chickens certainly don’t shy away from a protein-packed cockroach lunch! But as responsible chicken owners, let’s keep a watchful eye to ensure they get a balanced and safe diet.

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