Chickens are adventurous eaters. As long as they’re meeting their nutritional goals, they can be offered special treats and snacks – including insects such as crickets. But do chickens really like crickets, and are there any nutritional benefits to feeding these insects to the flock?
Chickens will eat just about anything, including crickets (and other insects). They’re packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals to promote a chicken’s overall well-being and egg production. However, crickets should be purchased rather than caught and served, as they may contain harmful substances or be infested.
If you’re considering surprising your flock with a bunch of crickets for an afternoon snack, you need to know the facts first – and that’s what this article is here to do. Below, you’ll find helpful information on whether or not chickens eat crickets, how they’re beneficial, and how to feed them to your chickens correctly.
Chickens are known for being adventurous eaters; they’ll eat almost anything. Unsurprisingly, this also means that the chicken will consume crickets, whether served as a snack or found while free-roaming.
Chickens eat crickets whether they’re dead or alive. Yet, they prefer to consume live crickets as this will also fulfill their natural desire to forage. It’s a win-win for the chicken.
Although it might seem simple enough to feed crickets to your chickens, there is actually a lot that goes into serving this treat to your flock.
After all, it’s not as simple as catching a few crickets in the wild to serve your birds. Wild crickets can carry parasites that transfer to your flock. They may also have ingested a harmful substance, such as an herbicide, which can be detrimental to your flock.
Rather than hunting for wild crickets, opt for purchased crickets from a reputable retailer. These crickets will be described as safe for consumption by pets, such as snakes, frogs, and chickens.
You can serve a handful of crickets to your flock of chickens. And while the crickets can be alive or freeze-dried, your birds will enjoy the “hunt” that a handful of live crickets produce.
Always ensure that crickets are fed along with a healthy and nutritious diet for your chickens. While crickets are packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals, they do not have all the components necessary for a chicken’s diet (source: aces.edu).
Note: Don’t panic if your chickens find wild crickets to nibble on! A small number of wild crickets in your chicken’s diet should be perfectly fine, as they likely won’t consume enough to be potentially harmed.
Here’s a video showing someone feeding crickets to chickens:
Crickets are another excellent snack to add to your list of “chicken-safe goodies.” But they’re not just a scrumptious treat for your flock. They also come with a number of different elements that not only enhance overall egg production but also encourage a strong and healthy flock.
Here are some of the noteworthy benefits a cricket has to offer your chicken:
- Are a complete protein (includes all nine essential amino acids)
- Packed with B-Vitamins, namely B12 and B2
- High in Vitamin A
- An impressive amount of magnesium
- Great source of iron
- High levels of calcium
- Good source of zinc
Crickets are an obvious top-notch snack for their chickens. But at this point, you might be wondering if this nutritious and delicious treat should be reserved for your adult birds or if the little ones can get in on the fun, too.
The good news is that baby chickens can eat crickets. However, there is one major factor at play: whether or not you have a broody hen or a hen that wants to sit on top of your eggs to hatch her eggs.
If a broody hen is present, you can give crickets to the baby chickens 48 hours after hatching. The hen will likely introduce the babies to bugs, such as crickets, at this point in time, anyhow.
When there is no broody hen, you should wait at least a week before serving crickets to the baby chickens. The last thing you want is your babies to get hooked on “treats” like crickets rather than their starter feed. Doing so can wreak havoc on their development!
Your flock isn’t picky – they will gladly consume freeze-dried crickets if live ones aren’t offered.
Nevertheless, you shouldn’t feed freeze-dried crickets to your flock willy-nilly. Although they’re 100% safe and have plenty of nutrients for your chickens, freeze-dried insects have less water content compared to live ones. So, you should do the following when serving freeze-dried crickets to your chickens:
- Serve fewer freeze-dried crickets
- Always offer plenty of fresh drinking water at the same time
Chickens will eat dead crickets – but that doesn’t mean that if you find a few dead crickets in your yard, you should toss them to your chickens for a midnight snack.
The problem here is that there is no way of knowing what caused the death of the cricket. What if it was ingesting too many pesticides? If so, serving these dead crickets could be harmful to your chicken’s health.
The better option is to purchase dead and freeze-dried crickets. They’re 100% safe, tasty, and nutritious!
Are crickets the only tasty insect that chickens like to munch on? Nope. Again, chickens are very ferocious and venturesome feeders, so they can easily (and gladly) consume a wide range of insects.
Some of the chicken favorites include: grasshoppers, cockroaches, termites, slugs, centipedes, spiders, scorpions, and even larvae from certain species like ants, termites, and moths.
Your chicken isn’t picky when it comes to crickets. They’ll consume crickets, dead or alive. However, you should purchase crickets from a supplier rather than catch wild ones, as they may carry harmful elements or parasites. Feed crickets alongside a healthy diet and in small amounts for your chickens to reap the health benefits.