If you are thinking of ways to spice up your chicken’s diet by adding mushrooms, one question that comes to mind is can chickens eat mushrooms?
Chickens can eat mushrooms; however, you need to be wary of the type of mushrooms you feed your flock as not all mushrooms are good for consumption. In addition to this, you would also need to learn how to prepare the mushrooms in a manner that is not only delicious but also nutritional to your little gremlins.
Read on to learn all about what kind of mushrooms you should feed your chickens and the species to avoid.
Reasons Why You Should Feed Mushrooms to Chickens
Generally, mushrooms are considered healthy food options as they are low-calorie and fat-free. Hence, if your chicken is on a diet, mushrooms would be a perfect food option. The specific nutritional value of each mushroom may vary with different species, but overall, they are packed with nutrients that are beneficial for your chicken’s growth.
Here are some of the reasons why mushrooms are beneficial to chickens.
1. Enhances Gut Health
Due to their fibrous nature, mushrooms enhance gut health by promoting proper digestion. It helps limit digestive disorders, allowing your chickens to retain more vitamins and minerals from the feed they eat.
If your chicken struggles with irregular stooling and other symptoms of an unhealthy gut, mushrooms might help to relieve such disorders. Mushrooms possess high anti-inflammatory properties and will reduce inflammation in your chicken’s gut lining, leading to a healthier gut.
2. Antioxidant Properties
Mushrooms are also highly antioxidant and can boost immunity in chickens. They serve as protectors against oxidative damage and help to prevent bacterial infections that often lead to sickly and weak chickens.
3. Excellent Energy Source
Besides being an antioxidant, mushrooms contain essential vitamins like phosphorus, magnesium, copper, and selenium. This makes it a great energy source for chickens. It also promotes and suppresses the formation of dangerous pathogens.
4. Boosts Egg Quality
Several hen trials show that mushrooms have a positive influence on laying performance and the overall quality of eggs. This is because mushrooms are rich in secondary metabolites, a vital ingredient for improving the development of yolk lipids and promoting the formation of healthy eggs.
Simply put, your chicken will grow well and look healthy when you incorporate mushrooms into its diet.
Types of Mushrooms to Avoid
Although only about 80 species of mushrooms are inedible, they can bear uncanny resemblances to edible mushrooms and may be fatal. If you’re struggling to tell the difference between edible and inedible mushrooms, here are some examples of toxic mushroom species with tips on how to avoid them:
1. Death Cap
Often described as one of the deadliest mushroom species, Death Cap closely resembles some edible varieties like straw mushrooms and Caesar mushrooms. It withstands high cooking temperatures and can cause a rapid loss of fluid within six to twelve hours of consumption.
2. Destroying Angels
As the name implies, these mushrooms will cause damage to the intestinal tract when ingested and can lead to death within a few hours. They bear an uncanny resemblance to button mushrooms and meadow mushrooms and have often been mistaken for them.
This variety of mushrooms comes in two subspecies, both fatal when consumed. As the name suggests, Webcaps can be easily identified with multiple lines on their caps. Symptoms may take weeks to appear in humans but can be much faster in chickens.
How to Feed Mushrooms to Chickens?
If you plan to make mushrooms a regular part of your chickens’ diet and not just a one-time treat, you should be careful about introducing them to your chickens, as not all animals do well with new food.
An excellent way to gradually warm your chickens to mushrooms is by mixing bits and pieces with their regular feed and increasing the quantity at every meal time. Additionally, it is safe to feed every part of edible mushrooms to your chickens, including the stem and skin.
Chickens can consume mushrooms either raw or cooked. However, it is advised that mushrooms should be boiled first for about 10 to 20 minutes to make them more digestible, as chickens are not always fans of the rubbery texture of raw mushrooms.
Here is a simple recipe you can follow:
- Wash the mushrooms with clean water to remove dirt, bacteria, or gardening residue.
- Heat a non-stick pan or skillet over low to medium heat. (Please note that you cannot use a regular pan as mushrooms tend to stick to the bottom of the pan when heated. It would be best if you also tried not to use any form of oil or spices while cooking them as this makes it a not-so-healthy food option for your chickens.)
- After cutting the mushrooms into bite sizes, cook them until tender.
- Allow them to cool before mixing with your chickens’ regular feed, and watch them gobble it all up.
Pro tip: You can store cooked mushrooms in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days to maintain freshness.
However, the minute mushrooms start to get slimy, it is an indicator that you need to throw them out. If they’re not good enough for you to eat, they’re not good for your chickens, either!
Help! My Chicken Has Eaten a Wild Mushroom
Do you suspect your chicken may have eaten a wild mushroom while foraging? Don’t panic just yet. If you’ve sighted some poisonous mushrooms in your yard and are wondering if your chicken has ingested them, they probably haven’t.
Chickens are peckers who naturally peck at their food before eating it. Doing this helps them avoid anything dangerous to their health, wild mushrooms included. You might be in the clear if your chicken is not showing signs of ill health.
To avoid future wild mushroom-ingestion occurrences, pull out the dangerous mushrooms from your chickens’ foraging space. Do not forget to wear protective gloves while doing this, as some wild mushrooms can trigger nasty reactions.
However, if you’re still concerned about your pet’s health, do not hesitate to contact your vet. The vet will let you know any telltale signs to look out for that might indicate your chicken is in danger.
How Often Should I Feed My Chicken Mushrooms?
As healthy as they are, mushrooms should not replace the primary feed in your chicken’s diet. Just like regular treats, they should be served in moderation.
You’re doing it wrong if mushrooms make up more than 10% of your chicken’s diet.
An excellent way to keep this in check is by feeding mushrooms to your chicken twice a week. Any more than this, you’re putting your chicken at risk of developing digestive issues and other health complications due to the highly fibrous nature of mushrooms.
Alternative Healthy Food Options for Chickens
Have you prepared mushrooms as best as you can, yet, your chicken still won’t touch them? Don’t fret; just like our tastes vary, chickens’ tastes vary too. After all, mushrooms can be pretty bland sometimes.
So instead of trying to force-feed your pet, here are some other healthy food options your chicken will love:
While we’re here, here are some other food options that are toxic to chickens and should not be fed to them as treats or whole food in any way:
How To Grow Mushrooms for My Chicken at Home?
Are you thinking of skipping the store-bought mushrooms and growing them at home? Good news! Growing mushrooms at home is easy.
One of the advantages of growing mushrooms at home is how easily you can regulate what your foraging chickens eat. Additionally, it saves you a few bucks and a trip to the store.
All you need for this are hardwood logs with the barks still intact, mushroom plugs, and candelilla wax.
- Start by clearing out the section of your yard sufficiently shaded by the sun.
- Place your hardwood log horizontally and drill about 25 holes of 1.5-inch depth, 4 inches apart.
- Using a hammer, drive the plugs into the wood until all the holes are filled. Doing this helps the mushroom plugs feed directly from the wood.
- Use candelilla wax or other organic waxes to plug up the holes and keep insects away.
- Over time, healthy mushrooms will sprout, and your chickens can peck at them all day.
To conclude, we recommend that to save yourself the trouble of distinguishing between edible and wild mushrooms by using store-bought mushrooms, which are always safe to eat. Also, cooking mushrooms for about 10 minutes until they are tender will make them more easily digestible for chickens when compared to raw mushrooms.
Finally, if you’d like, you can grow some healthy, edible mushrooms at home. You only need hardwood logs, candelilla wax, and mushroom spawns or plugs.
Do you still have more questions about what you should or should not feed your pet? Leave a comment below!