Chickens often share their surroundings with carpenter ants as they predominantly live outside, but do chickens enjoy eating carpenter ants alongside their diet of grain and seeds?
Chickens do eat carpenter ants, and they seem to enjoy eating them too. Carpenter ants are safe for chickens to eat; some chickens even eat them on a daily basis. As carpenter ants tend to live in large colonies, they’re easy for chickens to find and many chickens enjoy them as a tasty snack.
Keep reading to see what else there is to know about chickens eating carpenter ants and other information on this topic.
What Kind of Ants Can Chickens Eat?
Chickens enjoy eating many different types of ants. Many farmers and other people who keep chickens often say the main reason for getting the chickens in the first place was because they’re great for ridding your garden of ants and other small insects.
So, what kind of ants can chickens eat?
Carpenter ants are arguably the most common type of ants that chickens eat. They are readily available in outside areas and inside chicken coops/runs, plus they’re slightly bigger than normal ants which give chickens more to keep their stomachs fuller for longer.
However, it does depend on the individual tastes of each chicken – some chickens love carpenter ants while others aren’t so fussed by them. Most chickens will happily peck away at the ground and will often pick up a few carpenter ants to snack on as they do so.
Some chickens have been known to eat fire ants, otherwise known as red ants. However, many chickens do their best to avoid fire ants as sometimes their sting can deposit venom into their victims.
A smaller chicken or chick may stand less of a chance with a fire ant, so would stick to eating carpenter ants unless there’s absolutely no other food available.
Black ants are very small and generally provide a safe snack for chickens to eat. They aren’t usually found in large colonies, but they’re very common in outside areas, so chickens usually find plenty of them to eat.
If you find you have an ant infestation in your garden or home, getting a chicken or two may help with your ant problem.
Leafcutter ants are significantly larger than other types of ants. Despite this, chickens will still eat leafcutter ants despite them being quite brave and trying to attack chickens that attempt to eat them.
Generally, ants are no match for a chicken, and the chicken will be able to eat them with no issues.
Here’s a fun video showing chickens eating hundreds of ants:
Do Chickens Like to Eat Ants?
As far as we know chickens do enjoy ants, as they’ve been seen to eat lots of ants in their path despite having recently been fed grain or seeds.
Ants provide chicken with a great source of protein, which is an essential part of a chicken’s diet for good health and producing quality eggs. Ants also provide the following minerals that are good for a chicken’s nutritional health:
How Do I Get Rid of Carpenter Ants in My Chicken Coop?
If your chickens aren’t eating enough of the carpenter ants in your chicken coop and you want to get rid of some, there are some steps you can take.
Some people like to use a chemical repellent, however, there are downsides to using chemicals as it can negatively affect the ground your chickens live on or the chickens themselves if they come into contact with it.
A homemade solution of vinegar and water is a preferred choice, as this keeps ants at bay without harming chickens or your garden.
You may also get fewer carpenter ants in your chicken coop if you remove uneaten food and broken eggs regularly, as these are known to attract carpenter ants to your chicken coop.
The Dangers of Eating Ants
Chickens generally can eat ants very safely, however, there are some reasons why chickens should be careful of eating ants.
Here are a few issues chickens can experience when consuming ants.
Stings from Fire Ants
Fire ants can cause chickens a problem depending on their size. Fire ants can be vicious and sting the inside of a chicken’s throat once they’ve been eaten.
As chickens find it difficult to spit food out, they may struggle to get rid of fire ants once they’ve eaten some. Ants also attack small chicks that try to eat them which could be very dangerous, as chicks will have less of a chance of fighting off fire ants than adult chickens would.
Unfortunately, chickens will continue to eat fire ants despite these dangers. For this reason, many chicken owners and farmers choose to dispose of fire ants’ nests to avoid their chickens coming to harm.
Ants can carry parasites that can be passed onto chickens during eating.
These can include the following:
- Cecal Worm
These parasites can survive within a chicken’s digestive tract, degrading its intestines and causing other diseases. Roundworm is the most common intestinal parasite found in both backyard and free-range chickens and are regularly found in chickens that eat ants as the main part of their diet.
Parasites can be avoided by feeding chickens a well-rounded diet including grains, vegetables, and ants.
What Else do Chickens Like to Eat?
A Chicken’s diet mainly consists of seeds and grain provided to them by humans. They also enjoy eating green vegetables such as lettuce, kale, turnip greens, and chard, plus fruit including watermelon, strawberries, and blueberries.
Chickens do have sensitive stomachs so they should consume fruit and vegetables in moderation.
Chickens also enjoy eating other insects apart from ants such as earwigs, cockroaches, beetles, mosquitos, ticks, slugs, termites, and crickets. They seem to prefer to eat ants as these are more readily available to them and are easy to eat.
In summary, chickens do eat carpenter ants because they’re readily available and provide chickens with a good source of protein. Chickens also eat other types of ants including black ants and leafcutter ants which are all safe to eat, however, they sometimes eat fire ants which can sting them and can be fatal to small chickens and chicks.