Oak trees are abundant and can be found across the entire country. These trees produce a fruit known as acorns. If you have an oak tree growing in your backyard, since the acorns growing on each oak tree is so plentiful, you may be wondering if chickens can eat them.
Can chickens eat acorns? Acorns are not safe for chickens to eat because they contain tannic acid. This toxin is found in the acorns and leaves of the oak tree. The toxin is known to cause digestive issues that include diarrhea, upset stomach, vomiting, and even death. However, if the acorns are leached first, then yes, you can feed the acorns to the chickens. Leaching removes the tannin acid from the acorns.
Health Benefits of Acorns for Chickens
Once the acorns are leached to remove all the toxins from it, acorns are actually very rich in nutrition. They contain a large amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. In addition, it also has calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamin niacin.
Rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds that help the cells from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals.
Chickens that are fed a high diet of antioxidant food will help keep them healthy than chickens that are not.
Maintain and repair muscle. Acorns contain proteins, which can help with muscle development. Beside that, protein are needed to produce strong and healthy eggs.
Are Acorns Toxic to Chickens?
Acorns in its raw form are toxic to chickens and other animals as well. The acorns are covered in tannic acid, which has a bitter taste.
Raw acorns are not only toxic to chickens, but to humans as well. The symptoms for both humans and chickens will be stomach pain, constipation, and vomiting.
Therefore, never feed raw acorns to chickens.
Are Acorn Leaves Toxic?
Like the acorns, the leaves are also toxic. Chickens that peck and eat a small amount of the leaves will not have any effect on them. However, if they eat a lot of the leaves, they may start to develop the symptom of poisoning.
Can Chickens Eat Acorn Leaves?
The acorn leaves should not be fed to the chickens. The leaves contain tannins as well but in small quantities. Feeding them to the chickens might not cause any health issues, but a large amount can.
Can Baby Chickens Eat Acorns?
Baby chickens can eat acorns, but they must be leached first. This will help remove all the toxins from the acorn so it’ll be safe for them to eat.
Do not give baby chickens any fresh raw acorns as the toxin could kill them.
How To Feed Acorns To Chickens
Feeding acorns to the chickens is fairly easy as they tend to eat anything that’s given to them. Before feeding acorns to the chickens, make sure to leach them first to remove all the tannins. If not, the toxin can make the chickens very ill and can even cause death if they consume enough of it.
Once you’ve leached the acorns, crush them into a bit of piece. As the chickens are feeding, sprinkle them over the ground.
Another way is to mix the pieces of the acorns with their feeds. Doing so will increase the nutritional value of their feeds.
Again, if you’re planning to feed them acorns, you must leach the acorns first. Below are the instructions to leach acorns:
How to Leach Acorns
Make sure to remove the shells and caps from your acorns before leaching them. Do not eat the raw meat of the acorns until you leach them first.
- Start by boiling water in two different pots. They don’t have to be the same size, but large enough to hold all the acorns you have.
- Drop the raw, shell-less acorns into one pot.
- Let them boil for about 10 minutes or until the water starts to darken.
- Once the water is dark, strain the nuts through a colander.
- After all the water is drained, put the nuts into the second pot of boiling water.
- In the first pot, refill the water to a boil again.
- Repeat the process until the water boils clear. This may take about an hour or more, depending on the variety of the acorn you have.
If you’re in a hurry to feed them to the chickens, you can use this other method to leach the acorns. It will take a couple of days though.
- In a large container, pour cold water half full.
- Drop the raw shell-less acorns into the container.
- Let them soak in the water to leach the tannins out.
- Change the water when the color starts to turn darker.
- Repeat the process until the water no longer turns to a dark color.
This process will take a couple of days to remove all the tannins from the acorns.
How Much And How Often To Feed Acorns To Chickens
The acorns are plentiful for those who have oak trees in their yard, but the problem is preparing them so it’s safe for the chickens to eat them. It takes a while to remove all toxins from them so most people tend to not bother with feeding chickens the acorns.
However, if you’re one of those who want to feed acorns to the chicken, they can benefit a lot of nutrition from it.
If you’re planning to feed acorns to the flocks, it should only be fed to the chickens in moderation. These should be given to them as treats and it should make up 10% of their diet. The rest should come from the commercial feeds.