Maggots are the larvae of houseflies and these are found naturally in the environment. Around the dumpster or where’s there’s a lot of rotten foods, you’ll find maggots. Since maggots are found naturally, you may wonder if chickens can eat them.
So, can chickens eat maggots? Yes, chickens can eat maggots. These larvae are rich in protein and provide them with a nutritious snack. Chickens will usually find maggots on their own as they are found naturally. If you’ve cultivated maggots just for the purpose of feeding your chickens, feed them only in moderation. Maggots contain a lot of proteins and if too much of it is fed to them, it could harm the chickens.
Is It Safe For Chickens To Eat Maggots?
Botulism is a severe illness that is caused by a toxin that damages the body’s nerve system. Chickens that are infected with botulism will have symptoms such as weakness of the muscles throughout the body.
You won’t need to worry about it much as botulism is rare. In order for it to survive, it needs the correct conditions that include low-salt, low-acid, low-sugar environment at ambient temperatures.
If the chickens are infected with botulism, it is not contagious and does not spread from chicken to chicken. Instead, it spread from birds when they consume maggots infected with the toxin.
Maggots become infected by feeding on substrates and material on the ground that host the Type C BoNt. The chances of maggots becoming infected are rare and don’t usually happen. However, you should always take precautions when you allow chickens to feed on maggots.
Health Benefits of Maggots for Chickens
Maggots are high in protein, fiber, and calcium. All of these nutrients are what the chickens need on a daily basis to keep them healthy and strong.
One average size maggots will contain the following nutrient:
- Crude protein 50.4% DM
- Crude fiber 5.7% DM
- Calcium 4.7 g/kg DM
- Phosphorus 16.0 g/kg DM
- Potassium 5.7 g/kg DM
- Sodium 5.2g/kg DM
- Magnesium 3.4 g/kg DM
- Manganese 91 mg/kg DM
- Zinc 119 mg/kg DM
- Copper 27 mg/kg DM
- Iron 995 mg/kg DM
The above data is from Feedipedia
Below are some of the health benefits of feeding maggots to chickens:
Maggots are a good source of fiber, which helps keep the digestive system healthy. Fiber is important for the chicken as it promotes regular bowel movement and prevents constipation. A healthy digestive system will help move food along the digestive tract smoothly.
Keeps Bone Strong
Calcium is abundant in maggots. Bones require calcium to keep them strong and healthy. For young chickens, it’s important they get plenty of calcium as it’s needed for proper bone development.
For hens that lay eggs, calcium is important not only for producing quality eggs, but it helps prevent their bone from becoming brittle.
Produce Quality Eggs
Eggs require both calcium and protein for quality. When hens are given a lot of these nutrients during egg production, they will produce bigger and better-tasting eggs. Also, the hens require around 16% protein content to help them stay strong and healthy. Otherwise, they’ll become weak and the result will be eggs decreasing in quality.
Can Baby Chickens Eat Maggots?
Yes, baby chickens can maggots. It’s healthy for them and provides a lot of protein that they require to grow healthy and strong.
However, we advise against letting chicks under 2 weeks eat maggots. Their digestive system isn’t developed enough to digest maggots yet.
How To Feed Maggots To Chickens
To feed maggots to your chickens, simply toss them on the ground. The chickens will start to peck and eat them.
Another way to feed maggots to the chickens is to mix them with their feeds. This will give their feed an added nutrition.
Add a handful of maggots to their feed and mix it together. Then place it into their feeding bowl or place it onto the ground.
How Many Maggots To Feed Chickens
If the maggots are found naturally, the chickens can feed on them as much as they want. Usually, there will not be enough maggots for your entire flock to eat. For that reason, you won’t need to worry about it.
On the other hand, if you’re cultivating maggots for the purpose of feeding your chickens, you should feed them in moderation. Maggots are high in fat content which can cause issues for the chickens.
About 10 maggots for every chicken is enough for them to eat.
Other Worms That Chickens Can Eat
Earthworms are naturally found in soil. These worms are packed with nutrition that’s healthy for the chickens. When it rains, earthworms will come out from the ground and chickens will go after them.
Mealworms are high in protein, which makes them an excellent food for chickens. You can either feed live or dried mealworms. Both make a tasty treat for chickens.
Hornworms are naturally found during the summer months. They are abundant in the garden, especially on tomato plants. The chicken will instinctively pick them off the plant when they get a chance to.
Maggots make an excellent treat for chickens due to their high protein content, especially for hens that are laying eggs. Chickens will usually find maggots on their own and eat as much as they can find. If you cultivate maggots just for feeding the chickens, feed them in moderation as too much protein could cause them health issues.