Bread is a staple food that is made from baking a dough of water and flour. It is one of the oldest man-made foods and has been a prominent food in large parts of the world, with many shapes, styles, textures, colors, etc.
Since chickens can eat most human foods, it makes sense that people may wonder whether they can feed chickens bread. Can chickens eat bread? In short, yes, they can, but only use fresh or stale, and avoid moldy bread.
Read more: Can chickens eat cheese?
Can chickens eat bread?
Yes, chickens can eat bread. It is a nice treat for chickens and chickens seem to love it. They are not usually picky when it comes to food. You can feed them white bread, stale bread, wheat bread, or fresh bread just fine.
Particularly, with whole-grain bread, chickens will absolutely love it since it contains lots of yummy little seeds.
With that being said, however, bread doesn’t offer enough nutrients for your chickens. Even though it is great as a nice treat, try not to feed it as the main source of food for your chickens’ diet.
As a treat, bread has a decent amount of nutrients. You can find in bread vitamins like vitamins A, vitamin D, vitamin E, thiamin, niacin, and riboflavin.
There are also minerals like calcium (for promoting bone health and egg production), iron, sodium, potassium, and dietary fiber (for improving digestion, blood sugar decreasing, and cholesterol level decreasing.
Don’t feed too much bread for baby chicks
Bread – Image credits – Photo by Vicky Ng on Unsplash
Since bread’s nutritional value is quite low, you should not feed it to baby chicks. Baby chicks need a diet with high protein amounts in order to grow properly.
Although bread is great as a treatment for adult chickens, its protein level is lacking for baby chicks. For example, there are only about 2 to 3 grams of protein per white bread slice.
Protein helps regulate, repair, form, protect vital parts in the chicken’s body, help form the immune system, growth of fathers, and fluid balance. A lack of protein may cause fluid retention and tissue shrinkages.
Compared to chick starters with 18 to 20% protein, bread typically has a low protein level, for example, 7.3% for white bread, 9.1% for wheat bread, 7.7 to 8.8% for multi-grain bread, 9.6% for Italian bread, and 9.6% for oat bread. See more here.
Do not feed your chickens moldy bread
When picking bread to feed your chickens, try to avoid those that are spoiled or molded. Even if you hear many people doing so and their chickens turn out fine, the risk isn’t worth it.
This is because moldy foods contain mycotoxin, which causes many health problems for your chickens. It can cause thrush in the crop or mycosis according to the Mississippi State University.
The mold can also harm your chickens simply through breathing. It can cause serious infection not just to chickens, but to humans as well.
When exposed to mycotoxin continuously for 3 weeks, even at a small amount, your hens’ egg productions would decrease. This is likely because of the liver tissues’ degeneration, which leads to not being able to utilize protein as well.
Even though the amount of calcium in bread is higher than other minerals in it, it is still considered low. Calcium helps with the development of strong bones for growing up without deformities.
A lack of calcium may cause weak, porous, and fragile bones, which may cause fractures in chicken bones, especially in adult roosters or hens.
Calcium has more function than just promoting chicken bones’ health. It also regulates vascular function, nerve transmission, muscle function, and hormone secretion.
Calcium is also very important in egg production, and a lack of calcium in laying hens will result in poor-quality eggshells. The eggs can be more brittle than usual if the chickens are constantly fed with bread as the main diet.
Don’t think that you could make up for the calcium lack by feeding more bread. Too much bread will make the chickens full and lower their consumption on layer mash.
How should you feed your chickens bread?
Bread is OK as a treat for chickens
Even though the nutritional contents in bread are too low to be a sole ingredient in the chickens’ main diet, it is OK to feed bread as a treat. You could mix the bread into the chickens’ main diet in many ways.
Here’s how you can use bread as a treat for your chickens:
Warm bread mash
To make warm bread mash, simply mix the bread in your normal feed and add warm water. This would be great for your flock on a really cold morning.
You can also add more safe chicken food like cucumbers, pumpkins, and many other healthy veggies. You can also add eggshells for extra calcium.
Homemade chicken bread
If you have already been making bread at home, try to put some effort and make a special kind of bread for chickens. You can mix some ingredients into the bread like seeds, veggies, fruit, and grains.
Homemade flock block
Flock block is a great chicken treat that gives something for your flock to peck and looks at, therefore reducing their boredom. Whether in a small area or free-range, your chickens will appreciate it.
Yes, chickens can eat bread? bread is OK for chickens. However, you should only feed in moderation and as a treat only. Try not to use it as the sole ingredient for your chickens’ main diet.
This is because the nutritional contents of bread are not enough for a chicken’s dietary requirements. While it’s fine for adult chickens, avoid feeding bread to baby chicks since they need lots of nutrients to grow up properly.
When picking bread to feed your flock, you can choose wheat bread, white bread, or fresh bread, but do not feed your chickens moldy bread since it contains mycotoxins.