Can Chickens Eat Pecans? (Read This First!)

If you own fluffy, feathery chickens and you’re lucky enough to have a pecan tree in the backyard you will have definitely asked yourself this question before: can chickens eat pecans?

As we all know, chickens can eat almost anything. But, it’s our responsibility to be sure they are eating the right kinds of foods in the right amounts. After all, a healthy chicken is a happy chicken, right?

So, If you’ve got pecans in abundance and are wondering if you can put some in your next fruit and vegetable mix for your chickens, look no further.

Here we go through if chickens can eat pecans, if you have to remove the shells, and what nutritional benefits they offer our backyard chooks.

Can Chickens Eat Pecans?

Pecans have become widely popular in the US as a healthy snack and are often used in baking for a rich, sweet, nutty flavor.

No matter why you’ve got extra pecans in your house, they are certainly safe for your chickens to eat. In fact, not only can chickens eat pecans, but they contain an abundance of healthy nutrients and minerals, and are high in protein.

Nonetheless, pecans are also high in fat and don’t offer the balance a healthy hen will need to regularly lay and stay fit and healthy.

So, although pecans are considered healthy for your chickens, they should be fed only a treat or on an odd occasion, and shouldn’t be fed in place of their normal formulated chicken pellets or layer seed mix. 

Can Chickens Eat Pecan Shells?

If you’ve got a pecan tree in the backyard, or you have pecans that are still in their shell, you may be wondering if the pecan shells are safe for your chickens to eat too.

Well, both the pecan and the pecan’s shell are completely safe for your chickens to eat as they have quite powerful digestive systems. But, in my experience, my chickens won’t eat a pecan if it’s got the shell on, as the shell seems to be just a bit hard for them to peck through with ease.

If it’s been broken or halved, then the chickens will peck at it to get the pecan nut from the inside. It’s during these times that your chickens might consume some pecan shell. Luckily, a pecan shell does not pose any risks to your chickens but doesn’t really offer any health benefits to them either.

Nutritional Benefit Of Pecans For Chickens

As we know, pecans are considered to be a healthy snack, containing an abundance of vitamins, protein, fiber, and other helpful minerals.

Pecans, even in small amounts, offer your chickens:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • Folic Acid
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • B Vitamins (which is a frequent deficiency in chickens).
  • Plus many more.

Antioxidants are abundant in pecans. They keep hens healthy by protecting them from illnesses. Antioxidants also enhance the well-being of chickens and will keep the cells of their body from damage.

The fiber in pecans aids in digestion, which relieves constipation and promotes bowel movement. Plus, the amount of protein in pecans is a stimulant for chicken growth. 

Even though pecans are rather high in fat, feeding them to your chickens in winter can help them from getting too cold. Chickens require high-energy diets to keep warm throughout the winter.

But, feeding too many pecans to your chickens on a regular basis can lead to either overweight chickens or malnourished chickens as they are filling on nuts rather than their formulated feed.

How To Serve Pecans To Your Chickens?

It’s highly unlikely your chicken will try and swallow the whole pecan, and you’ll usually see them peck at it to destroy it first.

For this reason, it’s always best to grind or crush pecan into smaller pieces before serving it to your chickens. Since the shells don’t offer much in the way of benefits, de-shell your pecans before your crush them!

As for the method of serving it, you can choose whether you want to give your chickens a small handful of crushed pecans as a treat, or if you want to mix it in with other table scraps or a fruit and vegetable mix. 

Once a week you can add a small handful of crushed pecans to a mix of root vegetables like parsnips or radishes, seeds like chia seeds or flax seeds, and any chicken-safe fruits you have lying around the pantry or fridge.

You shouldn’t look to make it a habit to feed your chickens pecans on a daily basis, but a small amount once a week or bi-weekly with a fruit and vegetable mix will pose no risk to your chickens, and they will be able to benefit from the nutrients in pecans without overindulging!

Other Nuts That Are Safe For Chickens To Eat

Most nuts are high in protein, but also high in fat. For this reason, just like with most other human foods, nuts should be fed to your chickens in moderation. Never substitute their normal feed for any kind of nuts, as their normal feed has been specially formulated to cover all of your chicken’s nutritional needs!

Nonetheless, you can still offer your chickens small amounts of nuts, to which they will receive health benefits without any risk of missing out on important nutrients. Here are some other chicken-safe nuts you can feed to your flock in moderation:

  • Peanuts
  • Macadamia
  • Hazelnuts
  • Cashews
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds

Wrap Up

Just to confirm here. Chickens can eat pecans, and in small amounts they are actually considered healthy, containing high protein which is great for laying hens, as well as a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for a chicken’s health and wellbeing.

But, since they don’t offer the full range of nutrients a laying hen needs, and since they are relatively high in fat, they should only be offered to your chickens as a treat, or added to a healthy fruit and vegetable mix every second week or so.

Although pecan shells don’t pose a risk to your chickens, it’s best to take the shell off before feeding them to your chickens. It just makes things easier for them, and the shell doesn’t offer any health benefits.

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