Although a chicken’s diet isn’t necessarily complicated, there are a few things to get right.
When it comes to balancing a chicken’s needs for protein, carbohydrates, fats, amino acids, minerals, and vitamins, you can’t go wrong with a high-quality layer feed.
But, this isn’t the only way to enrich your chicken’s diet, no no.
Some owners like to make their own seed and grain mixes, and most like to supplement a chicken’s normal diet with a variety of nutritious goodies.
So, whether you’re looking to make your own chicken feed mix or you’re wanting to add some variety to your chicken’s diet, here’s whether chickens can eat wheat berries or even whole wheat, what benefits it actually has to your flock, and how to best serve it to your chickens!
Can Chickens Eat Wheat Berries?
Wheat berries can sometimes be referred to as whole grain wheat. But, more specifically, wheat berries are the actual wheat grain kernels after the outer husks have been removed.
We know that chickens can eat grass, most kinds of hay, and a handful of other grains, so it’s no surprise that chickens can safely eat wheat berries.
Moreover, wheat berries themselves are incredibly rich in beneficial nutrients for chickens – which is why it’s so common to find them amongst chicken feed or scratch mixes!
So not only can chickens eat wheat berries, but they are one of the truly well-balanced and nutritious foods to include in a chicken’s daily diet!
You can feed them unprocessed to your chickens, use them to make your own feed mix, or simply use them as a supplement to a chicken’s normal diet.
Can Chickens Eat Whole Wheat
Although some parts of the wheat plant contain less nutritional value, chickens can eat whole wheat, from the stems to the husks, to the wheat berries within.
However, it’s not encouraged to go out of your way to feed the whole wheat plant to your chickens. If they consume too much of the fibrous stems there’s a chance it can lead to a crop impaction.
You see, chickens don’t generally throw up – they usually have to digest whatever they’ve eaten!
In saying that, chickens who graze on whole wheat will often limit their intake. So, in these normal, moderate amounts whole wheat is completely safe for chickens to eat.
What Are The Benefits Of Wheat Berries For Chickens?
Wheat has been a part of poultry diets pretty much since the dawn of chicken farming – and for good reason!
Since wheat berries are the least processed form of the plant, they generally retain most of their true nutritional value.
Amongst the general goodness of the protein and balanced macronutrients, wheat berries contain methionine, an amino acid that is vitally important to poultry growth.
What more is their high fiber content helps your chicken with digestion too. These fibers also slow down the absorption of sugar, preventing unhealthy blood sugar rapid surges.
Of all the amazing vitamins and minerals, wheat berries contain calcium and phosphorus, which are needed for bone formation.
Finally, owing to their high vitamin C levels, wheat berries enhance iron absorption from the chicken’s intestines.
For all the benefits in detail check out the Poultry Extensions guide for wheat in poultry diets.
How To Serve Wheat Berries To Your Chickens?
There are two effective ways to serve wheat berries to your chickens. Both with varying benefits!
Although feeding your chickens raw, hard wheat berries is incredibly nutritious, and can be fed by itself as a supplement or within a homemade feed mix, feeding your chickens sprouted wheat berries are actually more nutritious!
Although this process is more time-consuming, it does see the nutritional value increase!
Here are the steps to take to sprout your own wheat berries for your flock.
Step One: Soak the Wheat Berries
Fill a jar or sealable container halfway with wheat berries and cover them with fresh, clean water. Now leave them to soak for eight to twelve hours.
Step Two: Wash the Wheat Berries, Then Soak Again
Drain the water from the jar and wash the wheat berries. Then soak them again in a fresh batch of clean water.
After about two to four days the wheat berries will have sprouted.
Yes, I did say you need to be patient here!
Step Three: Feed The Wheat Sprouts To Your Chicken
When all the wheat berries have sprouted and their sprouts are between 1 and 2 inches long they are ready to be served to your chickens.
Sprouted wheat berries last several days in the refrigerator too, so you can make quite a number of nutritious snack meals for your beloved chooks.
Do You Have To Sprout Wheat Berries First?
Not everyone has the patience for sprouting wheat berries.
Although the process does bring out and develop more nutrient content in the wheat berries, it’s not essential to sprout wheat berries before feeding them to your flock!
So, if you have leftover or spare raw wheat berries you can simply throw a bunch into your yard for your chickens to forage over, or you can mix them in with your next seed mix or table scrap meal.
Other highly nutritious seeds to add to a mix include flax seeds, chia seeds, or even poppy seeds. Most seeds are good here!
Finally a low-cost, highly nutritious food you can feed to your chickens: wheat berries.
Whether you’ve harvested them yourself or have some fresh from the market, chickens CAN eat wheat berries. In fact, chickens can eat whole wheat in normal moderate amounts, so it’s no surprise that the highly nutritious wheat berry is safe and healthy for them to consume.
If you want to go the extra mile, I would recommend trying to sprout them first. They are not only more nutritious but it gives a good wholesome feeling.
Believe me, your chickens will thank you for their eggs and their happy, chirpy personalities.