There are a lot of foods that are harmful to chickens. You’ll learn all about chickens and their ability to process cheese in this article. This is a crucial step to keep your chicken healthy and keep toxic foods away.
Yes, your chicken can eat and enjoy cheese as a treat. Like other treats, you need to make sure you limit the amount that they receive to keep them healthy. Cheese is not toxic or immediately dangerous to a chicken’s health.
Let’s learn more about how cheese and chickens react.
- Why Would Chickens Eat Unhealthy Food?
- The Best Cheese for your Chicken
The Nutrition of Cheese
The majority of cheese is made up of fats and protein. The protein in cheese is called casein, and it helps your chicken absorb nutrients from other sources. You can feed a food that’s high in nutrients right after cheese, and the chicken will absorb it all much easier.
Of course, you shouldn’t count on feeding cheese during every meal. There are some negative side effects of eating too much cheese. The truth is that cheese is an unhealthy snack for chickens.
The Problem with Too Much Cheese
Since cheese is a milk byproduct, there are some issues with digestion. Chickens aren’t naturally exposed to dairy products, so the cheese is foreign to them. Birds don’t have the enzyme that helps them break down dairy.
They can partially digest cheese, but too much cheese will block their system. The biggest problems associated with too much cheese revolve around the digestive tract.
You’ll notice diarrhea or constipation if your chicken eats too much cheese. They might also suffer a blockage that can lead to intestinal issues.
The extra fats in the cheese will lead to obesity in chickens. This comes with its own range of problems and should be avoided at all costs.
Why Would Chickens Eat Unhealthy Food?
You might wonder why a chicken would eat food that they know isn’t healthy for them. The same question can be posed to humans. We know that junk food isn’t nutritionally good for us, but we still enjoy a good brownie.
For that same reason, chickens can be tempted to eat unhealthy foods. Chickens can eat foods that are toxic to them too, so they can’t be the best judge in finding healthy foods. It’s up to their owners to make sure they’re fed foods they can process and handle.
Chickens and Dairy
Like most animals in the world, chickens have a really hard time processing dairy. When you think about it, it makes sense. In nature, a chicken will never be exposed to eating dairy products.
The way that cheese is processed actually makes cheese easier on a chicken’s system than other dairy products. As far as dairy products go, cheese is one of the better ones. It is always best to stay away from feeding dairy products to your animals.
Health Benefits of Cheese
So, what are some of the big health benefits of feeding cheese to your chicken? There are a couple of big ones that are worth mentioning.
Helping Underweight Chickens
Since we know that cheese will promote weight gain in chickens, this is especially useful for underweight chickens. Cheese is a healthier option when it comes to weight gain, and it will help pack some grams onto your chicken.
Getting bigger chickens for slaughter is always a good thing. Just be careful that you don’t feed them too much cheese and wind up with an obese chicken. Start out with a little cheese at a time to see how your chicken reacts. Slowly increase the amount they get until their desired weight is achieved.
Cheese is Good for Bone Health
Another great thing about cheese is there are a number of studies that suggest it promotes strong bones in chickens. That’s thanks to all the nutrients and vitamins present in cheese.
A lack of these nutrients and vitamins can lead to defects and fragility in chickens. An occasional feeding of cheese can help your chickens avoid easily fracturing their bones.
Great Source of Calcium
One of the big ingredients in cheese is calcium. It is one of the most important nutrients to keep chickens healthy. It promotes a number of great effects in chickens. A big benefit of high calcium intake is healthier eggs as a result.
Not enough calcium results in a really thin eggshell. If your hen is laying eggs that easily break on their own, you might consider adding more calcium to their diet. A great and healthy way to do that is to supplement their feed with a little bit of cheese.
A lot of people don’t realize that you lose calcium on a daily basis. If you aren’t eating calcium every day, then you’ll go into a deficit. The same is true for chickens. A little bit of cheese can go a long way.
Lots of Protein in Cheese
In addition to the other great nutrients in cheese, it has a lot of protein. Protein is the main player when it comes to regulating, repairing, protecting, and forming different parts of the body.
A lack of protein in chickens leads to underdevelopment and stunted growth. Their bodies can’t store protein, so they rely on a daily dose of it to keep things running smoothly. This is another good reason to add a little bit of cheese to your bird’s daily meal.
Cheese Helps the Immune System
The last benefit to mention is the impact on their immune system. Thanks to some of the nutrients in cheese, cheese is a great booster of the immune system.
Cheese is full of probiotics, which is the big player when it comes to the immune system. It has biotics that matches the biome of a typical chicken’s gut. When ingested, the cheese strengthens the gut and leads to a stronger immune system.
One of the best choices to boost your chicken’s immune system is gouda. This has one of the highest ratios of probiotics in a single serving when it comes to cheese.
The Best Cheese for your Chicken
Since chickens aren’t great at digesting dairy, a good type of cheese is goat cheese. Since this is made from goat’s milk, you avoid dairy altogether. Sure, the cheese might be a little smellier and more acidic, but it has no negative side effects for your flock.
Goat cheese also has more nutrients than cheese derived from cow’s milk. On top of that, it has a lower fat content, which is good news.
Another good type of cheese is shredded cheese. Since the pieces are small, it’s a lot easier for your chicken to peck at and eat at their own pace. It can be sprinkled in with their feed or put to the side. This type of cheese is typically drier than other cheeses, which makes it easier for the chicken’s body to process.
The best cheese to reach for is a softer type without getting into a wet cheese. Remember to always feed your chicken cheese in moderation and see how they react to the cheese before giving them more.
The overall best cheese that you can feed your chicken will have a low-fat content, high protein content, and be rich in different nutrients.
Cheeses to Avoid
Since your chickens are biologically designed for dry food, it’s always a good idea to avoid wet cheeses. Examples of wet cheeses are ricotta, cheese spreads, and cottage. On top of being wet foods, they are also much higher in fat than protein. This leads to another problem in chickens.
You should avoid any highly processed cheeses when it comes to feeding your chickens. Also, stay away from flavored cheese. These extra steps and ingredients can hurt your chickens.
Never give them a cheese that has herbs or seasonings because there are a lot of options that are toxic to chickens. It’s always better to play it safe and avoid unnecessary injury by feeding your chicken the wrong type of cheese.
Any type of melted or liquid cheese is bad for two reasons. First, as it was mentioned earlier, they are wet foods. Chickens really can’t process wet foods, and it will lead to a lot of problems. The second reason is that these cheeses are usually much worse nutritionally. They have extra ingredients, and steps added to make the cheese that make it a lot harsher on a chicken’s body – namely, there is a higher fat content.
Something to Remember
Keep in mind cheese should never take over your chicken’s diet. It can be added as a helpful supplement, but you should never find yourself feeding your chicken a primary cheese diet. As helpful as cheese is, it will hurt your chickens in the long run. It isn’t worth it to risk it. Stick with daily servings of chicken feed and add some cheese on the side to fill in the cracks of your chicken’s needs.
If your chicken starts ignoring its normal feed, that might be a sign that you’re feeding them too much cheese or other snacks, just like humans like to reach for brownies instead of vegetables. Make sure you’re keeping a healthy ratio of feed to snacks.
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