One defining thing that has been easily mistaken about chickens is their kind of animal. If you are raising one of them, it could be a no-brainer pick. For those who don’t do their research or just don’t own any chicken at all, telling what kind of animal they are might get a little bit confusing.
As for many trivia quizzes, we are here to bring an answer to a not-quite-easily question: “are chickens omnivores?”
Table of Contents
*This post may have affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please read my disclaimer for additional details.
Are chickens omnivores, herbivores, or carnivores?
Chickens are neither herbivores nor carnivores. They are omnivores, no doubt, no dilemma, they are as omnivores as you and me. It means that they are able to eat and survive on both animals and plants.
Many people may find it hard to accept that aside from grass, seeds, and grains, etc… these cute, healthful birds also enrich their diet with loads of animal foods as well. Well, knowing that these little chicks are in fact the modern descendant of T-Rex (the scary tyrant dinosaur) might help a little.
Good thing is, chickens are quite easygoing on eating. They are not picky eaters at all. Unlike us humans or dogs and cats, chickens are more likely to rely on sight than taste. That explains whenever you give them something small enough to swallow, they would just eat it immediately.
Chickens can really eat meat without teeth
Some might say that chickens are herbivores as they have no teeth. It’s just not true. They still can eat meat by pecking it into smaller pieces. They can’t chew obviously, the real “chewing” thing would occur in their gizzard.
In the gizzard, food will be mashed with oyster shells or any kind of grit your chickens swallowed before. That process helps them to digest almost any kind of meat.
There is a trend of feeding chickens with just plant-based food. Some might call it a vegetarian-fed or vegetarian diet. We have to emphasise that it would be unhealthy for your chicks and troublesome for you to do so.
The fact that they are omnivores makes it is undeniable to provide them both plant-based protein and animal protein. In addition, chickens fed vegetarian diets can suffer from short falls in amino acids, which must be complemented.
On your part, you can struggle to balance the calcium and protein that lost from their diet. Removing animal protein from their feed would just bring down the eggs and meat quality, according to scientists. Just because we can feed them a vegetarian way doesn’t mean we should do.
Should chickens be fed much on protein?
Now we know chickens can eat meat, insects, and in some rare cases, even other chickens in its flock. Does that make them carnivores?
Carnivores are creatures that mostly consume meat from other animals to survive. Their bodies are built to survive off meat and cannot handle plants effectively. So, no! Chickens can eat meat, but they are not carnivores.
Mistaken that they are carnivores drives some owners to feed them a large amount of meat. Remember that they only have a small stomach, eating too much meat would cause them to fill up a lot without regard for the true nutrient they need to survive on.
What to feed chickens?
Definitely not a vegetarian diet. It could be commercial chickens fed which mixed with several kinds of ingredients. This food delivers energy, protein, mineral, and other nutrients that your chickens need to strongly develop.
It could be grains, seeds, nuts, veggies, berries, with the addition of bugs, larvae, insects, ect… You could also give them your leftover. Most foods we eat are fine, but there are a few that are toxic for your chickens, such as chocolate, coffee grounds.
One of the fanciest things you can feed them is eggs. Yes, eggs. They love them. All parts of them can be used to serve. This is for sure one of the best sources of protein for both humans and chickens.
Even though your chickens can eat almost anything, we still suggest the gradual introduction and adaptation of your flocks to any new food or feed.
In summary, there is only one correct answer to the question: are chickens omnivores, herbivores, or carnivores?
Chickens are certainly omnivores.
Pretty much regardless of the diet offered to them, they would consume both meat and vegetables. Whatever you choose to feed them, just remember to keep everything in moderation. Giving them comfortably running space is an ideal way to make sure that they devour a wide range of plants and animals (mostly insects).