The safflower was originally grown for its flowers but has now vast uses, most commonly for safflower oil. However, along with all this increased production, safflower has made its way into the bird-feed industry and is here to stay.
So, if you’ve found yourself with excess safflower seeds, have seen them at the shops, or when inspecting the back of a birdseed mix to find out its contents and noticed them as an ingredient then you may be curious – can chickens eat safflower seeds?
Here we go through if chickens can eat safflower seeds, what nutritional benefits they offer your chooks, and how much safflower seed or meal your chickens can eat.
Can Chickens Eat Safflower Seeds?
It’s no secret that birds love seeds. But, have you noticed that when you feed your chickens a seed mix they will actively pick out their favorites and often leave some types in the feeder for last priority? Well, not safflower seeds, as they tend to be a common favorite among backyard chickens and other poultry and birds too.
In the process of making safflower oil, the seeds are pressed or have their solvent extracted. The byproduct is called safflower meal, which is primarily used for poultry feeding as it’s high in protein and is relatively cost-efficient.
However, it’s said that the raw seed form contains a much higher nutritional value before any extraction has occurred. So, although they aren’t the most common seed variety, chickens can eat safflower seeds and safflower seed meal, both of which are actually considered healthy for chickens.
Safflower seeds are high in protein and energy and contain several important nutrients essential for a busy chicken’s diet. This array of health benefits extends to other birds too, which is why you’ll often find safflower seeds in parakeet food, or game bird feed too.
Nutritional Benefits Of Safflower Seeds For Chickens
Safflower seeds, or safflower seed meal, are considered to have high nutritional value for poultry. Both for commercial broiler chicken use and for everyday backyard farm use.
Safflower seeds contain vitamin E and K, and they’re high in Omega 6 fatty acids. Generally, they’re loaded with vitamins and minerals, and they’re healthy for your chickens. They’re also known for their high phosphorus, zinc, and iron content.
Comparatively speaking, safflower seed meal is high in protein, reaching up to 40% of its entire make-up in some cases without the hulls. It also contains calcium which is essential for a laying chicken’s regular diet.
How Much Safflower Seeds To Feed Chickens
There is no known substance within safflower seeds that will cause harm to your chickens in moderate doses. So, safflower seeds can be used as a chicken-safe treat, or even added into their regular diet, supplementing their chicken seed mix or layer pellets.
Just like when feeding your chickens chia seeds or poppy seed, a simple handful tossed into the backyard is a perfectly safe and healthy way to feed safflower seeds to your chickens – and will encourage foraging behavior which is great for if you have overweight chickens.
Otherwise, add a cup of safflower seeds to your normal chicken seed mix to bolster it and add additional protein and energy. You can also add a handful of safflower seeds to your next table scrap meal, or add it in to a scrambled egg mix, and your chickens will gobble them all up, believe me, I’ve tried it and they love it.
What Other Seeds Can Chickens Eat?
There are not too many seeds chickens can’t eat safely, but some are considered more healthy than others. If there isn’t much nutritional content in any food, you should generally avoid feeding it to your chickens.
Here’s a brief list of some great seeds you can feed your chickens as treats, snacks, or part of their regular diet.
Chickens love to eat flax seed. These are clearly quite beneficial for the growth and wellbeing of chickens. The omega 3 fatty acid actually enriches the egg yolk too.
Watermelon seeds are high in protein, packing around 15%–17%, making them a healthy snack for chickens. If you don’t like throwing them out after eating watermelon, you can save them for your flock.
Sunflower seeds are a favorite of chicken and birds in general. You’ll find them in all backyard feeders, and most chicken owners depend on them for feeding their flock. They’re 21% protein, so it’s no wonder they’re a healthy snack.
Pepper seeds are safe for chickens because these fellas don’t have the same taste receptors as we do. Chickens can eat spicy peppers, seeds and all, and they won’t get that spicy flavor, so they can enjoy the benefits without the heat!
So, it’s completely safe for chickens to eat safflower seeds. It’s even considered healthy as they have considerable nutritional value, and are known to be great for birds’ health, from farm poultry to budgies, parrots, and parakeets.
Just like anything, you don’t want to allow your chickens to overindulge in any one food, however. A simple handful of safflower seeds thrown in the yard added to their regular seed mix, or in a table-scrap meal will go a long way for your chicken’s health!