Yes, chickens can eat quinoa and every other grain found in your kitchen. In fact, feeding quinoa to backyard chickens is an excellent choice because of the nutritional benefits.
Quinoa is a nutritionally-dense grain, high in protein, calcium, and many vitamins and minerals. As a poultry owner, you must encourage your flock to eat this nutritionally rich grain to get various essential minerals that your chicken’s diet may otherwise lack.
But if you are concerned about how much quinoa to add to chicken feed, then here is a low down on can chickens eat quinoa, tips on serving quinoa, and the nutritional value of the grain.
What is Quinoa? What are the Nutritional Benefits of this Grain?
Quinoa is a gluten free food that is loaded with amazing health benefits. Technically, it is a seed but is commonly referred to as a grain.
It is one of those few healthy foods with sufficient quantities of all the nine essential amino acids. Quinoa is also loaded with fiber, protein, calcium, vitamins and minerals (Source). Of all the different grains, such as barley, wheat, corn, etc., quinoa has the maximum essential nutrients.
If you include quinoa in your meals regularly, you can incorporate quinoa in your chickens diet as well.
Nutritional Benefits of Quinoa
The major vitamins and minerals found in quinoa are:
Calcium is an essential nutrient that benefits the overall health of egg laying hens. Calcium is also necessary to produce hard eggshells. As a chicken enthusiast, you must make baby chicks eat quinoa for stronger bones and better overall development.
Iron is important in a chicken diet to transport oxygen, maintain egg production, and for the same benefits as in humans.
Magnesium helps in the healthy functioning of several processes in a chicken’s body. It regulates carbohydrate metabolism, boosts the activation of many enzymes, and assists with bone formation. There is 197mg of magnesium per 100gm of uncooked quinoa.
Manganese plays an important role in healing wounds, eggshell formation, nutrient absorption, and the reproduction process.
Phosphorus is required in sufficient quantities to keep chickens healthy and to ensure overall well-being. There is 457 mg of phosphorus per 100gm of uncooked quinoa.
Egg laying hens required a minimum of 150 mg of potassium for healthy cell functioning and to metabolize calcium. There is 563 mg of potassium per 100gm of uncooked quinoa.
- Vitamin E
Vitamin E boosts egg production capacity, fertility, and hatchability in chickens.
Quinoa provides two powerful flavonoids – quercetin and kaempferol. These have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and antidepressant effects on chickens.
Quinoa is rich in lysine. These edible seeds have more lysine than most grains and legumes. Lysine is an amino acid that helps in the synthesis of protein. Lack of lysine can lead to anemia, fatigue, and bloodshot eyes in your flock.
All this nutritional content in quinoa makes it a superfood for baby chicks as well as your owned backyard chickens.
Can Chickens Eat Uncooked Quinoa?
If you are wondering whether to serve quinoa cooked or uncooked to your flock, then you must know that chickens can have it in both ways. Although the cooking process kills a few nutrients, cooked foods are easier to digest.
You can make your chickens eat cooked quinoa occasionally and eat uncooked quinoa alternatively. This way, they can get the maximum health benefits.
Chickens can have raw quinoa, but it is better to feed them sprouted quinoa. Quinoa seeds, when sprouted, have the maximum health benefits.
To sprout quinoa, simply soak the quinoa seeds in water for 8 hours. Then drain the water and rinse the seeds thrice a day to maintain hydration. Repeat the process for three days until you notice the tender sprouts shooting out the seeds.
How to Feed Quinoa to Chickens?
There are several ways of making chickens eat quinoa:
- Scatter a few seeds of uncooked quinoa on their foraging area. Free-range chickens will roam about and peck on these seeds.
- Make your flock eat quinoa that has been cooked once or twice a week. Alternate their feed with cooked quinoa once a week to ensure they get diverse nutrients from chicken feeds.
- Make your flock eat quinoa seeds that have been sprouted. You can mix quinoa that has been sprouted with other foods in your chickens diet.
Although chickens can eat quinoa without any worry, too much quinoa can harm your flock. A handful of these plant foods can be given twice a week, but you must not feed quinoa to your chickens in place of their regular feed.
There are several benefits of quinoa. This grain can be fed along with other grains as table scraps or mixed with other foods. Quinoa for chickens can be sprouted, cooked, or uncooked. The nutritional value of sprouted quinoa is the maximum compared to cooked or raw quinoa.
Feeding quinoa to your chickens provides many health benefits and other essential minerals. It regulates their cholesterol levels and boosts their vitamin C and E levels.