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We’ve all heard the stories of wedding day disasters where birds eat uncooked rice and then they start dropping out of the air. Well, since chickens are birds too, can chickens eat rice?
Like I said, we’ve all heard those wedding day nightmare stories, but none of us have every actually been to one of those weddings. It’s because it isn’t true.
In fact, both uncooked and cooked, rice are not only safe for your chickens to eat, they actually really like it a lot.
Can Chickens Eat Rice?
Yes, chickens can eat rice. It is completely safe and healthy for them to do so, as well. Find out more as we continue.
Is Rice Safe For Chickens To Eat?
Yes, both cooked rice and uncooked rice is safe for your chickens to eat. It will not poison them, cause them to explode, or any other negative outcome.
Is It healthy?
For the most part, it is. It’s definitely not a replacement for their normal diet. Rice is very carb heavy with very little protein. Chickens need a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, as well as other nutrients. The best way to guarantee a healthy and balanced diet is to give them a reputable layer feed.
But, all in all, it is perfectly healthy for chickens to eat cooked rice and uncooked rice. In moderation, rice is a great economical food with many essential nutrients from the recommended nutritional scale. Rice adds nutrients to your chickens diet like B vitamins, fiber, folic acid, iron, potassium, magnesium, selenium, and zinc.
For the maximum nutritional benefit, we suggest feeding rice that has been through minimal processing. When minimally processed, many of the original nutrients are left intact instead of being bleached out or destroyed through some other means.
You will also want to only feed rice and other non-standard foods a few times a week and not daily. You will want to keep track of when and what they are eating so they do not have their nutritional balance thrown off.
Need some help keeping your chickens health and care taken care of? Check out the Organized Chicken Keeper for an easy to follow system.
Can Baby Chicks Eat Rice?
No. Chicks need a pretty precise diet when they are growing. It is best to keep them on a dedicated chick/starter feed until they are old enough to switch to adult feed. We suggest not allowing them to eat it at all, whether it’s cooked rice, uncooked rice, rice cakes, or crisp rice cereal/Rice Krispies; they should not have any of it.
Can Chickens Eat Uncooked Rice?
Yes, they can. Chickens won’t explode from rapidly expanding rice if they eat it prior to being cooked. We go a little more in detail to why that is later in this article.
Can Chickens Eat Rice Krispies/Puffed Rice Cereals?
Rice Krispies, and other rice based cereals are okay for your chickens to eat as a treat. You will want to keep the amount they eat low as they do contain added salts and sugars. Any excessive amount of either of those things can be detrimental to your chicken’s dietary health.
You will also want to avoid any flavored versions of Rice Krispie style cereals. That means no Cocoa Krispies or Strawberry Rice Krispies.
And Rice krispie Treats (or other cereal bars) are a big NO. The marshmallows that hold them together are not only a huge sugar dump, but the stickiness can also be harmful for your chicken.
Can Chickens Eat Rice Cakes?
Like Rice Krispies or other rice cereals, your chickens will be just fine if they eat rice cakes. Just avoid rice cakes that have extra salt or sugary toppings, like caramel.
Can Chickens Eat Rice Pudding?
Generally speaking, rice pudding should not be used as a chicken treat. Most recipes contain a higher amount of sugar than your chicken will likely be able to handle.
Can Chickens Eat Flavored Rice Mixes?
It is best to leave these in the kitchen. Chickens should not exceed a sodium level of more than 1%. Often times these prepackaged instant rice, uncooked rice meals, or already cooked rice dinners have a VERY high level of extra sodium, or salt.
Can Chickens Eat Spicey Rice Mixes?
Just like flavored and pre cooked rice mixes, the sodium content is just way too high for your chickens. This is also true for uncooked rice that is flavored, as well. When letting your chickens eat rice it is best to just stick with plain rice.
How To Feed Your Chickens Rice
You’ve probably heard the old urban legend where birds eat uncooked rice thrown at a wedding, it expands in their stomach, then they explode and die (or some variation).
Fortunately, that is a myth and entirely untrue. When a chicken eats their food is stored in their crop where it is broken down into smaller bits. Those broken down bits of food eventually make their way to the stomach to be fully digested.
So, uncooked rice, will never have the time (or boiling temperature, for that matter) to expand quickly enough to cause a chicken to explode.
That means you can give both cooked rice and uncooked rice to your chickens without fear of a messy, feathery explosion. Now, cooked rice is much easier for them to break down and digest. When chickens eat cooked rice it is much softer than uncooked rice and, thus, easier to eat without becoming a choking hazard.
What Rice Can Chickens Eat?
There are almost as many rice varieties as there are chicken breeds. These varieties include Basmati rice, brown rice, and white rice. Brown and wild rice are what we typically suggest because it has gone through minimal processing and will still hold the majority of essential nutrients.
As we mentioned earlier, it is okay for your chickens to eat cooked or raw rice. Just remember, when chickens eat raw rice, or uncooked rice, it will be a bit tougher for their digestive juices to break it down. Dry rice is also tougher for them to “chew”. Since they do not have teeth they have to peck and the harder, dry rice is does not crush as easily as cooked rice.
Quick Tips For Chicken Treats
Rice is just one of many different types of food you can give your chickens as a treat. Here are several categories of treats your chickens can eat and a few they should absolutely avoid!
Fruits have a load of sugar in them. They are okay to give to your flock, but only in small quantities. You will really want to monitor your chickens when they get fruit to make sure that one or a few chickens do not bully their way into eating way too much.
Dried fruit, like raisins, can be even worse. Since they have been dried, the moisture is all gone and you have an extremely high concentration of sugar. This level of sugar can really upset your chicken’s balanced diet and can lead to illness or, in extreme cases, death.
– Apples (not the seeds)
Vegetables & Gourdes
Vegetables do not contain quite the same amount of sugar that fruit does but still needs to be given sparingly.
Chickens love berries. But, just like with fruit, they should only be given in moderation; a few berries at a time. The reason is they also have a lot of sugar in them and can upset your chicken’s nutritional balance.
– Mountain Ash Berries
– Rowan Berries
Berries To Avoid
Both gooseberries and elderberries can be toxic to your chickens. Eating them can make them very sick or even kill them. Both should be avoided.
Foods To Avoid Feeding Your Chickens
Here are a few things your chickens should not eat.
- Acorns: tannins, or more accurately, tannic acid is prevalent in acorns and oak leaves. Chickens consuming these, even in small amounts, can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and even death.
- Alcohol: this should be a no brainer
- Apple seeds: they contain cyanide which can be lethal for your chickens
- candy: refined sugar is bad for your chickens and can be deadly
- chocolate: chocolate can have the same effect as candy
- dry beans: they have the toxin phytohaemagglutinin. All beans MUST be cooked, not just soaked, to be safely consumed by your chickens.
- jam, jelly, or preserves: same as chocolate or candy; sugar content is too high
- pesticides: it’s literally poison
- raw/green potato peels or skins: green potato skins contain the toxin solanin. It can be deadly when consumed by your chicken.
- tea bags: similar to acorns, tea bags contain tannins and can be very dangerous to your flock
If you need more help with taking care of your chickens, check out The Organized Chicken Keeper for a complete system for managing their health through keeping their supplies stocked and coop clean.