Quinoa is one of many healthy foods that serve humans well. And with chickens, lots of human food can be enjoyed by them as well. So it makes sense that people may wonder if their flock can eat quinoa.
So, can they eat quinoa? Can chickens eat uncooked quinoa? In short, yes, they can enjoy quinoa. Quinoa is an excellent treat for your chickens, though it would be nice to cook it.
What is quinoa?
Even though technically, quinoa is a seed, it is classified as a whole grain. People grow it as a crop mostly because of its edible seeds.
Raw, uncooked quinoa contains water, carbohydrate, protein, and fat. It has sufficient amounts of 9 important amino acids. Quinoa also has lots of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
But most importantly, it is rich in protein (16%) and calcium, 2 crucial nutrients for chickens.
Compared to many other grains like wheat, corn, barley,… you can expect the most nutritional content out of quinoa. It could be used as a supplement for their diet just because of how nutritious it is.
Further reading: Can chickens eat uncooked oatmeal?
Can chickens eat uncooked quinoa?
The answer is yes, they absolutely can, but it would be nice if you can cook them. As mentioned, quinoa, whether cooked or uncooked, is rich in nutrients.
There are many ingredients you can add to the chicken diet to increase variety like ranges of nuts, nectar, flowers, berries, worms, berries, and more.
But of all those foods, chickens, or any poultry animal, enjoy grains the most. Grains make up most of the chickens’ diet. They are nutrient-rich and provide sufficient amounts of protein and carbohydrates.
Quinoa is by far the best grains you can feed to your chickens. It is one of the top foods you should include in the chicken diet. So how can quinoa benefit your chickens?
Quinoa’s health benefits:
Quinoa is rich in nutrients. It contains lots of protein, fiber, vitamins like vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, folate, and choline.
You can also find many great minerals like calcium, copper, iron, manganese, sodium zinc. It is especially rich in magnesium (197mg per 100g), phosphorus (457mg per 100g), and potassium (563mg per gram).
Quinoa has kaempferol and quercetin – 2 powerful flavonoids. They have anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant, and anti-cancer effects not only on chickens but also on humans.
Rich in fiber
The amount of fiber found in quinoa is more than most grains. The fiber in quinoa has the benefits of improving digestion in birds, lowering blood cholesterol levels, and reducing blood sugar levels.
Improve heart condition
Quinoa is low in cholesterol and helps lower cholesterol levels in a chicken’s body. There is also an omega-3 fatty acid, which is an unsaturated fatty acid to reduce coronary heart disease risk.
Rich in lysine
Quinoa is rich in lysine. It contains more lysine than most legumes and grains. Lysine is an amino acid that assists the retention of calcium and the synthesis of protein.
If your chickens don’t gain enough lysine, they could experience anemia, bloodshot eyes, reproduction problems, and tiredness. And quinoa can prevent all of those symptoms together.
Your chickens can enjoy quinoa, whether cooked or uncooked. But regardless of whether you want to cook it or not, you should soak it in water first to get rid of possible saponin seed coating, which makes quinoa bitter and less palatable.
But, it would be nice if the chickens can eat cooked quinoa. Quinoa can be cooked quickly; the cooking process is similar to when you cook rice.
And when serving quinoa for your chickens, try to add some healthy ingredients for more nutrients and taste. You can pick birdseed, corn, chopped zucchini, eggs, nuts, sweet potato, unsalted nuts, and more.
Alternatively, you can also sprout the quinoa before serving it to the chickens.
How to sprout quinoa
- Step 1: Place the quinoa in a large bowl, then rinse and drain it to remove dust and the saponin seed coating.
- Step 2: Soak the quinoa in water for 1 hour. Don’t perform this step before step 1 since the saponin seed coating may leach into the seed.
- Step 3: Rinse and drain the water, then put the quinoa into the jar for sprouting or a fine colander.
- Step 4: Now you can rinse the quinoa once every few hours. You can continue to sprout the quinoa more times to achieve softness.
Keep in mind that you can only store quinoa in an air-tight container for about a week, so try to feed them to your chickens to make sure they get the best-quality quinoa.
How does sprouted quinoa compare to normal quinoa?
Compared to normal quinoa, sprouted quinoa has more nutrients. This is because of the germinating process, where it breaks down some parts of the quinoa seeds.
This process breaks down some of the starch, so some nutrients’ percentage gets higher. Germinating also breaks down phytate to make the chicken’s body absorb vitamins and minerals better.
Some nutrients that gain increased percentages include folate, iron zinc, magnesium, vitamin C, and protein.
As a result, sprouted quinoa may have less starch and be easier for the chicken’s digestive system.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you should commit to sprouted quinoa all the way. Just like cooked quinoa, it is another option to make the quinoa more feasible for the chickens.
So, can chickens eat uncooked quinoa? Absolutely! Chickens can enjoy quinoa whether it is cooked or uncooked, although cooked quinoa and sprouted quinoa can help with the chickens’ digestion.
Quinoa contains tons of great nutrients like protein, vitamins, minerals, especially magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. It also has many health benefits like lowering cholesterol levels, reducing sugar levels, etc.
And remember, before serving the quinoa to your chickens, rinse them with water first to make the quinoa taste less palatable.