Can chickens eat crickets? Yes, absolutely. In fact, they love to go after them as crickets, and similar size insects represent a protein-rich snack for the avian cluckers. Obviously, too much of a good thing is bad, and generally, chickens should be fed a general staple diet.
That said, the occasional cricket spree would get the henhouse all riled up, especially once they get wind of the prize available that normally doesn’t appear so readily near them.
Chickens and Their Historical Background
It’s hard to imagine that today’s chicken actually came from a lizard background and dinosaur. The fact is, most birds can trace their species background to a lizard type progenitor, but the current cousin is obviously a lot smaller and a whole lot tastier for our human diets. Their present comical form has come a long way from their far more vicious ancestors.
When it comes to feeding chickens insects, feed, or anything else, a lot starts with their general care, protection, and treatment. Originally, chickens were domesticated and protected on farms centuries back, somehow figuring that humans weren’t too bad for the most part and could be trusted enough to live next to.
Otherwise, the more probable cause is that chickens are about as smart as a rock most times. In any case, they became a standard farm animal, along with cattle and pigs. At first, feeding chickens wasn’t really much of a thought. However, someone figured out chickens like to eat seeds and grains.
And that relationship immediately turned into how to fatten up a chicken for more output, namely more eggs and a fatter poultry product for the dinner table. So, the staple of chicken feed came into being, in one form or another, and the chickens prospered as well as the people living off of them. The rest is essentially history.
The above-said chickens go after insects just like any other bird, finding bugs and similar to be tasty add-ons to their regular diet. Chickens are quick to spot the critters moving and will quickly respond as well as zero in on how to grab the snack with legs if they can. As a result, chickens provide an added benefit of keeping the local insect population down as well.
Feeding Chickens at Different Ages
Clearly, chickens that are fed well provide any owner a great prize that just keeps on giving. No wonder farmers felt rich with a full henhouse. While the birds aren’t going to choke, chickens do well being able to feed daily and eat as much as they want.
When full, they will go about personal care, getting water, and resting. Age-wise, however, it’s important to understand what to feed chickens. Again, bugs don’t provide a sufficient enough staple diet. Wild chickens, for example, are extremely skinny and barely resemble their farm cousins.
At the chick stage, chickens need a lot of protein and building blocks with energy from carbohydrates. On the current market, chick starter feed is specifically formulated to give chicks both elements they need the most of with about 20 percent protein and 4 percent fat. This high-growth diet allows the chicks to bulk up quickly in their first few months versus staying scrawny.
Once reaching the full adult stage, the female chickens are then put on what is known as a laying diet. This mix provides the building blocks for the chickens fed to increase their egg production far more than what would normally occur.
That laying diet still has a substantial amount of protein at 16 percent, but there is also the added inclusion of calcium at about 3 to 5 percent of the diet. This helps with stronger eggshells, a key factor in the success of harvesting healthy eggs from the chickens on a regular basis.
Roosters, on the other hand, need a diet that needs to be limited for their fitness. To keep these animals fed but not overly fat and weighted, roosters are regularly fed a diet of diluted laying feed with fruits and vegetables mixed in as substitutes for fat and protein. The hard part, of course, is keeping the roosters away from the other chickens’ feed in the meantime.
Temperature and Food Storage
Crickets themselves generally don’t need to be stored in a fancy way. As long as they have a bit of food to work with, they survive long enough to be fed to chickens. However, many folks tend to keep them cool to reduce their activity and help the insects last longer in captivity.
When it comes to other food for chickens, which is going to be the bulk of what is stocked, it needs to be kept dry and away from moisture. Water, humidity, and moisture are the three issues that can spoil chicken feed very quickly.
They can also produce a very toxic mold that will kill chickens. Anything organic begins to decompose and rot when combined with moisture. Plus, even the best of chicken food has a limited shelf life. After that, the food stock starts to lose its nutritional value and becomes worthless. Also, make sure the containers the food is stored in are rodent-proof.
Chickens are not the only ones that will go nutty for a good meal of chicken feed. Mice and rats are extremely attracted to the smell and storage.
A Comfortable Home Makes Happy Chickens
Ultimately, keeping a henhouse in good condition, comfortable, and protected is going to go the farthest towards getting chickens to concentrate on eating. The henhouse shouldn’t be crowded, and it should be protected from any kind of predator or threat to the chickens.
The house should be hard for rodents to get inside as well. At a minimum, the house spacing should have enough room for each bird to move around comfortably. Use a concrete pad for the floor to make it easy to clean. Nest boxes and perches are ideal for hens.
What to Prevent Your Chickens From Eating
Unfortunately, chickens also have a bad habit of eating all sorts of other things they really shouldn’t. And that can include a lot of non-food objects that to the chicken’s eye look really interesting.
Any kind of small, manufactured items should be kept out and away from the chicken pen to avoid this problem. Additionally, where there is a lawn or plants, avoid using herbicides and similar. Chickens like to eat grass and plants and will ingest the chemicals along with the vegetation as well.
Monitoring your chickens daily is not a bad idea. In fact, it’s one of the smartest ways to catch a problem quickly before it starts to become serious. You get used to how the birds behave, and you also pick up quickly if they have been getting themselves into something harmful or negative to their overall health.
Chickens should be physically examined once a week, as well. They should not be thin or have problems with parasites. They shouldn’t be suffering from breathing problems or showing drying out of their legs.
All of these things signal diet problems as well as internal health issues that need to be dealt with to avoid things getting worse. If you’re not sure about your chicken’s condition, a farm veterinarian can help. Try to find a professional used to dealing with farm animals versus house pets. While all veterinarians know how to examine animals, those experienced with farm animals will do a better job of it from specific understanding and practice.
Worst Case Scenario
Suppose you find your chicken has died, but you have no idea why. It probably wasn’t from the crickets you fed it. Chickens tend to die due to age, disease, or eating something toxic.
The eating risk is probably the most likely with younger chickens, and a good scan of your chicken henhouse and range area may very well find the potential problem pretty quick, usually in the form of a chemical application that was missed and the birds got into. Even paint chips can be hazardous.
However, many times chickens can succumb to contagious diseases that birds spread to each other. Remember, where your chickens are, so are other birds too that fly in and out of the area. The avian disease can spread quickly inside a henhouse and wipe out all of your chickens in one batch, but these are signaled by breathing problems many times versus dietary issues or loss of weight.
If, on the other hand, you have no idea what the cause is, it’s best to place the dead chicken in a plastic bag and keep it cold, not frozen. Then the bird remains should be transported to a veterinarian or lab that can do a necropsy examination on the remains to determine the actual cause.
Do this quickly as soon after the bird has died as possible. Waiting too long can destroy valuable evidence in the chicken’s remains, and then it becomes much harder to figure out whether the bird ate something wrong or there was another reason for its sickness and termination.
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