Lentil is a great plant with one of the main benefits of reducing blood cholesterol. Since chickens can eat most of the human food, people started asking whether we can feed chickens lentil.
Can chickens eat lentil? In short, they can, but only if it is not raw, and it should be fed at the right amount. You can have the lentil cooked or sprouted. So how can lentils benefit chickens? Let’s find out.
What is a lentil?
Lentil is one of many edible legumes, which are plants that belong in the family Fabaceae. It is an annual plant that has lens-shaped seeds, and the seeds grow in pods with usually 2 seeds each.
Lentil consist of 3 main types, each type has lots of variants with distinct names. They are Red, small green or brown, medium green or brown, large green or brown, and other types like beluga, macchiatos, and puy lentils.
Lentil comes with great amounts of some nutrients, with many vitamins, minerals, and protein. You can also find in lentils antioxidant and folate. While it is not as nutritious as quinoa, chickens still enjoy it.
Can chickens eat lentils?
Just like other legume plants, lentil is safe and healthy to eat for chickens as long as it is not raw. And when serving lentils, sprouting lentils is the best option since it helps your chickens digest easier.
Also, while lentil is safe and healthy for your chickens, it is not suitable for replacing chickens’ normal feed entirely, only for a treat. It should be fed using a moderate amount since it has fiber.
If you want to feed your flock lentils or any type of legume, first you should soak them in cold water. After 5 or more hours, take the lentils out of the water, rinse them off, and then boil them.
Regardless, lentils still provide your chickens a lot of great health benefits. Sprouted lentils are even healthier and can be a superfood for chickens’ diet. Here are some of the benefits:
The benefits of lentils to chickens’ health
Source of nutrients
Lentils contain lots of nutrients. They include vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamins B6, vitamin E, etc., and minerals like calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, etc.
For minerals, lentils have these minerals at a high amount per 100g. They are phosphorus at 180mg per 100g, potassium at 369mg per 100g, and sodium at 238mg per 100g.
A high amount of folate
Lentil sprouts contain a high amount of folate – a nutrient that chickens often lack. An insufficient amount of folate may result in embryo loss in incubation’s late stage.
The protein amount in 100g of lentils is about 9.02g. This figure is higher in the case of sprouted lentils. Protein helps with muscle growth in chickens.
Low amount of fat
There is only 0.38g of fat per 100g of lentils, so it is not too big of a deal when your chicks eat too much.
Lentils are good for chickens, and chickens also seem to enjoy them as well. If you want sprouted lentils, opt for the green and brown variants because the red one doesn’t usually sprout too much.
See more: Can chickens eat uncooked quinoa?
How many lentils can you feed your flock?
For your chickens, some servings per week should be enough, as a way to vary the chickens’ diet. You can feed the lentils after your chickens finish their main feed, or you can mix lentils in their main feed.
While lentils are healthy and delicious to chickens, they don’t have the sufficient amount of nutrients to be served as a standalone feed. You need a main dish that is rich in protein and has complete nutrition.
For providing extra nutritional content, lentil is an excellent choice. A quick note: you should clean up leftover foods when your chickens finish eating since they can rot and attract rodent animals like rats.
How to sprout lentils for your chickens?
As mentioned above quite a lot of times, sprouted lentil is more nutrient-rich than normal lentils. This is thanks to the germination process that breaks down some of the starch.
While sprouting lentils may take lots of time, it is totally worth it to provide your chickens the treat they deserve. When picking lentils to sprout, opt for green and brown lentils since red lentils sprout harder and split lentils don’t sprout.
Here are the steps for sprouting lentils
- Step 1: Put the fresh lentils in a cup and wash them thoroughly. You can also rinse the lentils by putting them in a strainer and let the water run through them for a few minutes.
- Step 2: Soak the lentils in a bowl or jar for about 8 hours or more. The water level should be about 2 inches above the lentils. Then rinse and change the water after about 4 hours.
- Step 3: Now drain the lentils, rinse them well, then repeat the process a few times.
- Step 4: Now we repeat step 2, which is lentils in a jar or bowl. But this time, don’t use water, place a piece of cloth on the top of the jar or bowl and secure it using a rubber band.
- Step 5: Flip the jar or bowl upside down to let the excess water drain out of it. This is important since wet lentils can grow moldy, which is bad for chickens.
- Step 6: Repeat rinsing and draining steps about twice a day. After 3 to 5 days, you should see the result of the lentils growing leaves. And then you are good to go.
So, can chickens eat lentils? They can, but don’t feed them raw or dried lentils. Though lentils have great nutrients, they should be used as a treat at the right amount only.
Also, if you serve lentils to your chickens, spend some time and sprout the lentils. It will be worth it.