Cheese is delicious food that is derived from milk with a wide range of styles, textures, and flavors depending on the origins of the milk. There are over a thousand types of cheese from all over the world.
Since chickens can eat most human foods, it makes sense that people may wonder if they can feed their chickens cheese. Can chickens eat cheese? In short, they can, but not too much, and not every type of cheese is safe.
Can chickens eat cheese?
Chickens can enjoy cheese just like we humans. But since it is a dairy product, try to feed them the right amount only. It would be an excellent treat for your chickens.
Cheese is one of the dairy products that your chickens can enjoy easily. Cheese contains fat and protein, and different types of cheese have different levels of those 2 ingredients.
It is a great source of many essential nutrients that will help your chickens be happy, productive, and stay healthy. The level of these nutrients also varies widely, but they are still high amounts.
It contains many types of vitamins like vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, choline, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K.
Of all those vitamins, there is folate that helps prevent embryo loss during the incubation’s late state. So it would make a nice treat for laying hens.
There are also lots of minerals, such as iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium, sodium, copper, manganese, and minerals with high amounts like calcium (79mg in 100g of Swiss cheese) and phosphorus (57mg in 100g of Swiss cheese).
Cheese’s health benefits
Here are some more benefits your chickens can get from cheese:
Promote bone health
Those above nutrients all can contribute to healthy bones and bone development in humans and chickens as well. Cheese can also prevent osteoporosis – a bone condition.
Calcium and vitamin D are present in cheese in a high amount. They will help with the development of strong bones for growing up without deformities.
A lack of calcium and vitamin D may cause weak, porous, and fragile bones, which may cause fractures in chicken bones, especially in old or adult chickens.
It is well known that too much weight is dangerous for chickens, and too much cheese will not end up well for your chickens. But, with the right amount, you can help your chickens gain some weight.
This is especially useful for broilers since they need weight and muscle gain early so that their price on the market can increase.
Also, cheese contains lots of calories, so you can feed them to your chickens as an energy-dense treat.
And, keep in mind that too much cheese will lead to obesity. So don’t use it as the main diet and try to balance the cheese with other healthy and low-calorie food, like vegetables or fruits, depending on their dietary requirements.
A great dietary source of calcium
Calcium has more function than just promoting chicken bones’ health. It also regulates vascular function, nerve transmission, muscle function, and hormone secretion.
It is also very important in egg production, and a lack of calcium in laying hens will result in poor-quality eggshells or even small eggs.
Calcium is not what a chicken body can produce itself, and the body also loses calcium every day. So, cheese is a great option to gain more calcium.
A source of protein
Protein is important for any animal, not just chickens. It 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, so try to provide your chickens with enough protein in their daily diet. About 2 to 3 servings should be enough to meet the requirements.
When picking a type of cheese for your chickens’ feed, opt for the low-moisture one like the Parmesan cheese. Try to avoid wet cheese like ricotta or cottage since they are high in fat but low in protein.
Promote immune system
Because of how the cheese is made, it has a large number of probiotic bacteria, which helps boost your chickens’ immune system.
Probiotics can be found mostly in the stomach to help break down food. And by entering the stomach and breaking down, cheese releases probiotic bacteria into the stomach and makes the immune system stronger.
Cheese is a great treat for chickens
Further reading: Can chickens eat pearl barleys?
What cheese to choose for your chickens?
Many types of cheese are different depending on the original milk that is used to make them. With that being said, try to get cheese that is made from goat milk.
Goat milk is totally safe for chickens compared to cow milk, even though it is slightly aromatic and acidic.
Also, you can feed your chickens’ shredded cheese. For example, mozzarella is less acidic and comes shredded for you. It is also easy to eat since the pieces are small. Another type of cheese you can feed your chickens is cottage cheese.
Can chickens consume milk?
While cheese is a great dairy product for chicken feed, you shouldn’t let your chickens consume other dairy products like milk. Chickens are lactose-intolerant, so too much cheese may cause them diarrhea.
So, can chickens eat cheese? Yes, they can. As long as the cheese is at the right amount as a treat, cheese should be beneficial to your chickens.
Cheese contains a high amount of protein and fat, which help their body function normally and gain some weight if they need to. You can also add cheese as an energy source for the chickens.
Cheese also contains many other essential nutrients for various health benefits like promoting bone health, a source of calcium, and promoting the immune system.
Also, when choosing a type of cheese to feed the chicks, avoid wet cheese and try to get cheese from goat milk or shredded cheese.
Image credits – Photo on Unsplash