Milk is a liquid food with rich nutrients produced by mammals. This has been one of many healthy treats to enjoy by mammals and humans in general.
Milk is an important liquid food to almost any mammals. Baby mammals receive this healthy treat through breastfeeding for protein, vitamins, minerals,…before they can digest normal food.
But that isn’t completely the same for chickens or birds in general. So it makes sense that people may wonder if the birds, or in this case: chickens, can also enjoy this healthy treat’s benefits.
So, do chickens drink milk? In short, the answer is: no, milk is not a treat for poultry like chickens. They can, but not a lot. How does milk affect chickens? If they don’t drink milk, what can they consume? Let’s find out.
Can chickens digest milk?
Chickens, or poultry in general, are lactose-intolerant. They don’t possess enough of the right enzymes to properly digest milk or milk products like cheese, butter, yogurt, etc.
If you feed too much milk to poultry, it will cause issues like diarrhea, and diarrhea in hot weather can be fatal for poultry. Even unpasteurised milk might give them trouble. However, small amounts of milk for poultry are fine.
Usually, owners mix milk with normal poultry diets to give them milk rather than liquid milk.
Is milk good for chickens?
Since milk is a tasty treat to humans and a good source of protein and minerals, people may think feeding milk to chickens is beneficial.
Although milk contains 2 important nutrients for chickens: calcium and protein, you need to consider that chickens can only have a small milk quantity. So milk is not one of many proteins treats to feed to chickens.
For context, cow’s milk only contains 3.4% protein. Considering that chickens need 12% to 20% protein in their daily diet, and they can’t have much milk, the milk protein level isn’t sufficient for a chicken’s diet.
For calcium, there is 124mg of calcium in 100g milk. Laying hens need as much as 3-4 grams of calcium per day for egg production. There are much better safe treats available with sufficient amounts of calcium.
Is cheese good for chickens?
If you have wondered about milk for chickens, you may also wonder if you can add cheese to the list of ingredients to feed to chickens.
Cheese is one of many dairy products, but it contains less lactose and more protein than milk. So technically, it is easier to digest cheese than milk. It is still not good though since it’s high in fats.
Further reading: Can chickens eat wheat?
What else shouldn’t chickens consume?
While it’s fine to feed milk or cheese to your flock, don’t feed this list of food to the chickens:
Green potato skins:
It may contain solanine. Solanine is a defense against pests when potatoes are exposed to light, but that also makes it harmful to chickens or even humans. Solanine can cause diarrhea, vomiting, headache, etc.
When serving raw potatoes, sweet potatoes, or cooked potatoes to your flock, check if you see green spots on the potatoes, especially at the potato peels or eyes. If yes, then your potatoes have solanine.
Chocolate is bad for your flock since chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine. Chocolate can cause heart problems and potentially death, so keep them for yourself.
Some parts of avocados are toxic to chickens. Avocados pits and avocados skins are bad since they contain the toxin persin, while avocados’ flesh is fine.
Persin is toxic to chickens since persin causes heart problems and makes the chicken hard to breathe.
They contain the hemagglutinin chemical compound. This compound causes digestion problems. Another harmful compound in raw beans is phytohemagglutinin.
Onions may be yummy to humans, but it’s not good for chickens since it has thiosulphate. Onions’ health risks far outweigh the benefits it brings to chickens.
Rhubarb leaves are toxic to chickens and humans as well. They contain oxalate, which can make you ill or even kill you if too much is consumed.
What can chickens consume?
Here’s a list of what chickens can actually consume:
People often overlook cabbage for some unknown reasons. But cabbage has lots of great nutrients for your chicks.
Cabbage contains many vitamins like C, B6, K, and minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium. Vitamin B6 and folate in cabbage enhance energy metabolism. Vitamin C in cabbage protects against heart disease and enhances vision.
Cabbage also has large amounts of fibers and antioxidants. They help fight the free radicals to prevent cell destruction.
When you feed cabbage to chickens, consider raw cabbage. Cooked cabbage may have some nutrient losses. So raw cabbage is a better choice.
Just like cabbage, broccoli is rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals. You can serve raw broccoli or cooked broccoli to chickens, though raw broccoli is better. Just remember to chop the broccoli since it is a bit tough.
Broccoli is a nice treat for chickens since it improves chickens’ health in many ways. In addition to the numerous nutrients like cabbage, broccoli can fight potentially harmful bacteria, combat E.coli, and more.
Just adding broccoli at 3-6% to feed helps improve growth in meat birds in general. Broccoli can as well replace antibiotics in animal feed.
While some people don’t enjoy broccoli, it’s fine for chickens as they can’t taste as well as humans, so they won’t bother about the broccoli.
Some more ingredients
Here’s the list of some more ingredients to add to your chicken feed: pears, garlic, turkey, tuna fish, grains, flaxseed, carrots, apples, cinnamon, and more.
So do chicken drink milk? They can, but not a lot since they can’t properly digest dairy products. Feeding your flocks with milk, or other forms of milk, isn’t recommended, and neither are chocolate, raw beans, alcohol, and avocados.
Instead, you should include cabbage, broccoli, and some other vegetables if you want the best healthy treats for your chickens. Some meat like tuna fish or turkey is good as well.