Many chicken owners are concerned about what their chickens eat when they roam around in the compound. What about slugs? Is it safe for chickens to eat slugs, and what happens if they eat slugs? If you have seen your chicken eat a slug from time to time and are concerned about the repercussions, is there cause to worry?
Chickens will eat anything that looks like it can fit in its mouth, which means that your chickens, if hungry, will eat just about anything, even slugs. As such, chickens eat slugs, they peck from the garden, just like any other bugs. However, there are some risks involved with feeding slugs to your chickens, even though the stories of chickens getting parasites from slugs are few and far between.
Can Chickens Eat Slugs?
Yes, chickens can eat slugs, as long as the slug is not too large to cause the chicken to choke. If you decide to feed your chickens slugs, it is advisable to have a slug repellent control nearby because slugs can transfer toxic chemicals that are dangerous to your chickens if consumed.
Chickens that are allowed to roam freely and consume bugs and insects, slugs included, seem to produce tastier and healthier eggs, so a slug from time to time won’t hurt.
As to whether it is safe for chickens to eat slugs, these are the type of things birds eat in the wild, so don’t worry if your chicken is chowing down on some slugs in the backyard. You might worry about if it is safe because chickens are known to peck at virtually everything because of their curious nature, poisonous or not. Chickens can eat most of the bugs found in your garden, which includes slugs, which can become an advantage to you even.
Will Chickens Eat Slugs?
Generally, most chickens can eat slugs, but not all will want to eat them. Slugs are one of the many bugs that chickens try to and even enjoy to eat, but some chickens will prefer not to eat the slugs at all even when they come across them.
The fact that most chickens will eat slugs doesn’t mean that you should neglect or skip feeding your poultry and leave them to find slugs in the backyard. Chickens require a high-quality poultry pellet to ensure that their diet is healthy and balanced enough with more than treats. Chickens are known to peck at virtually anything in front of them, moving or stationary, so the better question is, what will chickens not eat?
What Happens When Chickens Eat Slugs?
Chickens in the garden will devour anything that moves, grasshopper or slug. As chicken roam around, they make frequent checks of garden piles, refusing to peck up slugs and aphids. Generally, slugs are poorly studied as a species, making it challenging to know what viruses and parasites they are capable of tolerating.
At first glance, slugs appear to be very harmless for chickens and all poultry alike, even though they damage garden greens and are parasites carriers. It is known to many chicken keepers that chickens fall ill with tape pressure after eating slugs, but this isn’t always the case.
Slugs are hosts to a number of parasites that are potentially harmful to your chickens, with the particular ones being gapeworm and rat lungworm. Gapeworm is a type of roundworm that is potentially harmful to chickens.
Gapeworms are nasty parasites living in the chickens’ windpipes and sometimes travel to the lungs, where they lead to breathing difficulties. These worms are responsible for causing respiratory issues in chickens and can often lead to death by suffocation.
Chickens affected by gapeworms have a tracheal rattle in their breathing if you listen keenly. Gapeworm parasites are dangerous for chickens, and the affected hen gets a gaping when breathing through the mouth, coughs, and makes gurgling noises.
Chickens affected by gapeworm parasites also tend to have a large and squishy crop. These worms can be devastating to a hen and subsequently to the entire flock if left to spread. When there are enough worms to block off young chickens’ trachea, their breathing is completely occluded, and they might even die.
Gapeworms grow to many centimeters long and lead to such issues as breathing difficulties, lethargic behavior in chickens, and general signs of discomfort.
Although gapeworm seems scary and potentially life-threatening to chickens, it is not a very common issue in backyard flocks. Gapeworms can be contracted from feeding infected slugs to your chickens, so this slight risk shouldn’t stop you from letting them enjoy these squirming, squishy, wiggling treats.
Rat lungworms, as the name suggests, is found in rats mostly. When rats pass the worm larvae out through their poop, slugs, snails, and other insects eat it; they become potential hosts of the lungworm parasite. The chickens get infected by consuming an infected slug, and the parasite is transferred to the chicken’s body.
Is It Okay for Your Chickens to Eat Slugs?
Birds are used to eating such things as slugs in the wild, so you shouldn’t be very concerned about your chickens eating slugs. However, chickens tend to peck at everything at sight, with no regard for whether that little speck on the ground is a poisonous insect or a piece of corn.
As such, some chicken keepers worry that their birds will end up ingesting things that are harmful to them, but for typical household pests, there is no cause for alarm. It is okay for chickens to eat most bugs found in your garden, slugs inclusive, and it might even end up being advantageous for you!
Different people have chickens for different reasons, and the fact that chickens are great pest controllers is one. Some people get chickens to help them get rid of unwanted pests in the house instead of using toxic pesticides, and slugs in the backyard are no exception. Some chickens prefer to eat the slugs first thing in the morning when the slugs are freshly covered in dew.
Slugs, just like snails and earthworms, can transmit Gapeworm parasite to your chickens, but should that stop you from allowing your chickens to enjoy these nutritious treats once in a while? You can set your chicken free in your yard to help you get rid of pests instead of going there yourself. Your chickens also get to enjoy a treat, especially if there are bugs in the yard.
Is It Safe to Feed Your Chickens Slugs?
It is almost impossible to know what chickens are scavenging for in the world, so you can’t tell if the chickens are getting the right nutrition. Instead of depending on what chickens find in the garden, it is important to take time and invest in a chicken feed that is real and high quality for nutritional value.
Chickens need to have a real pelleted feed specially formulated to take care of all the dietary needs for chickens as it is an essential part of the chickens’ growth. This, however, doesn’t mean that you should feed your chickens only the high-quality pellets from the bag, it can get monotonous, and they stop enjoying it.
Chickens will want to have a variety of their meals, and even if it might not be for nutritional reasons, it is good to let them have such treats as slugs added to snacking time.
If you let your chickens roam free in the yard, they are bound to eat bugs and pests very naturally, which could add them to some extra proteins. If you notice that your chickens enjoy a selection or just specific bugs from the garden, you might consider getting them some additional bugs and even foraging for them yourself.
Protecting Your Chickens from Toxins from Slugs
It is important to ensure that there are no dangerous chemicals where you raise your chickens. As they eat bugs a lot, any toxic chemical that is harmful to a bug might be harmful to our chickens as well, so keep them away from herbicides and pesticides. Remember that your chickens don’t take time to rinse off the bugs before nibbling on them, so what you use is what they consume.
If possible, ensure that slugs don’t carry any toxic chemicals to your property from your neighbor’s property before your chickens eat it. Even though the chickens don’t die immediately, they could still be affected and probably die. You may not control what your chickens feed on fully, but it is good to try to look after them even when you leave them to roam freely in the yard.
Mostly, pullets under eight weeks old are the most susceptible to gapeworm, but chickens of any age have been reported to contract gapeworm. You can try to protect your chickens by adding cider vinegar, fresh minced garlic, and food-grade Diatomaceous Earth to their diet. This helps guard the chickens against worm infestations. Verm-X, a natural wormer, along with VetRx, helps treat respiratory issues naturally should your chickens contract them from their treats.
Careful When Using Slug Pellets and Poisons
The first thing that comes to mind after learning of slugs’ dangers to chickens is to get rid of all of them, except you need slug pellets to do that.
When you use slug pellets and poisons to get rid of slugs, your chickens could accidentally consume the slug pellets or even the slugs that have ingested these pellets.
Slug pellets have an ingredient called metaldehyde that kills slugs, and even though some people believe it takes a substantial amount of poison to kill chickens, best avoid slug pellets and poisons around your chickens.
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