We always have leftover carrots. There’s just something about buying them; maybe its because they are so cheap, or because we buy them in big bags. I digress. But with my recent surplus of carrots, it got me thinking. Could I offer these as treats to my chickens? I have since spent some time researching the suitability of this root vegetable in the diet of these birds, and will be sharing all that I could find here today.
So, can chickens eat carrots? Chickens can eat carrots, but should do so only as a treat. Equally, raw carrots are naturally quite hard and difficult for a chicken to break up – so it comes strongly advised to either cook them first, or cut them up into more manageable chunks.
While they may not be so appetizing to you or I, carrots are often thoroughly enjoyed by chickens when provided.
There are many keepers who report that their birds love to consume both raw and cooked carrots.
Then there are chickens whom will only like it served to them in particular ways; such as if uncooked peelings have been offered.
In fact, 8/10 keepers I have spoken to stated their birds were more keen when they have been pre-cooked.
Either way, its a matter of offering and seeing how your birds respond.
But thankfully, carrots are cheap and there is little to lose.
With this all in mind, let us know take a closer look at the nutritional content of carrots, before looking at how often, and to feed them, if you did want to give them a try with your flock!
Are Carrots Healthy For Chickens?
Carrots are one of the healthiest treats you can look to offer your chickens.
This root vegetable is rich a number of important vitamins and minerals, while also being low in calories and sugar, while also being relatively high in fiber.
Let us now take a closer look at nutrition of carrots, before we explore how they can benefit your flock
Nutritional Content Of Carrots
|of which sugars||2.84 g|
|Vitamin K||7.92 µg|
|Vitamin C||3.54 mg|
|Vitamin A||501 µg|
|Vitamin B-6||1.38 mg|
First and foremost, we can see that a carrot is predominantly water.
In your average 60 gram carrot, 53 grams is water!
So, your birds will be naturally remain hydrated by eating them. It takes the pressure off your birds – not needing to visit the waterer, as often.
Then there is the fiber content.
Fiber is a essential poultry nutrient, serving important roles in the gastrointestinal tract. Plus, it helps to support the healthy functioning of the gizzard and even shown to reduce other unfavorable activities, such as feather pecking.
Then onto the specific vitamins and minerals.
Carrots provide valuable amounts of vitamin K, potassium and vitamin B-6.
But one particular vitamin of note, is Vitamin A – which is very high in carrots.
It comes in the form of beta-carotene, but its a very important antioxidant for poultry – playing a key role in growth, development and healthy immune system functioning.
In fact, there are several studies which outline the adverse effects chickens not getting enough of it.
And, chickens need quite a bit of Vitamin A in the diet; from 10,000-15,000 IU’s depending on their age [source]
Overall, the nutrition in carrots can help your chickens in numerous ways, from:
- Good eye health and vision,
- Successful growth of feathers,
- Immune system support,
- Liver health,
- Bone formation and strength
So, these are certainly the kind of treat you may want to feed!
How Many Carrots Can Chickens Eat?
Carrots can be offered to your chickens fairly regularly, with 3-4x per week being the sweet spot. In terms of serving sizes, you can look to offer 1 small carrot to a bird at a time.
While vegetables like carrots do offer a lot of nutrition and can benefit your birds in many ways, they are not a complete food.
In other words, they do not provide your birds with everything that they need to survive and thrive.
For instance, they are too low in protein, healthy fats, and generally do not provide enough calcium by themselves.
So, carrots should be added to a diet, that primarily consists of a high quality pelleted or mashed feed.
Such a feed should be in accordance with their age. I.e. if they are of laying age, they should be on a laying feed.
Carrots should never displace this feed, and your chickens should certainly not be fed carrots first.
If you did notice that after feeding carrots, your birds do not eat a sufficient amount of their feed, you may need to dial back the serving sizes until their appetite returns.
With a lot of water and a decent amount of fiber, carrots are filling.
And birds like chickens will keep eating with whatever treat you provide; so limiting serving sizes comes advised.
How Do You Feed Chickens Carrots?
You can look to feed carrots to your chickens in one of two ways; raw or cooked.
However, it is generally advised that you either shred or cut up the carrot ahead of serving.
This is especially true if you are offering raw carrot.
Besides, raw carrot is hard and is a challenge for chickens to peck at and break down. Without teeth, its a lot more work!
And then there is the risk of choking…
So, make it easy for your birds. Chop them up into small little pieces first.
You may even find that your chickens have a preference depending on how they are served.
Some chickens may be more keen for cooked carrots, others raw and shredded. Some may not go near raw chunks, but will happily eat cooked chunks.
There is an element of testing involved and finding out what your birds like best.
Just consider that while being more difficult to prepare and for your birds to digest, raw carrots generally contain more nutrients.
Cooking the carrot, or any vegetable for that matter, can destroy some of the nutrients.
While it will not make them completely nutritionally void, it is something to consider.
Equally, you want to ensure that you do not cook the carrots in any oils, or seasoned water. Boiling in plain fresh water is best.
Another important consideration irregardless of how you feed them is to ensure that they are thoroughly cleaned ahead of serving. Remove any dirt or debris that you find on the carrots.
This is perhaps more important if the carrots are not organic; so if you can seek out organic options.
Thankfully, they are not much more expensive at the store (depending on where you go).
When it comes to actually offering the carrot; you can either:
- Place them in the run or on the floor, so that your birds can forage, peck at and eat them when they want to.
- Place them in a separate bowl away from their main feed, so that they can eat both foods and you can gauge the reaction of your birds to the carrots,
- Mix in with other treats, such as other fruits and vegetables.
Either way, just be sure that you remove any uneaten carrot at the end of each day.
You do not want to attract or entice any predators, or pests on the lookout for food!
Chickens can eat carrots. This root vegetable is actually one of the best options out there when it comes to treats.
Better yet, chickens tend to thoroughly enjoy eating them. They are also versatile, cheap, and easy to store (without going off very quickly!)
So whether you grow your own, have some left over from the weekly shop, or are out and about looking for treats to purchase for your flock, do take these into consideration.
Just make sure you add these to their pre-existing diet, and do not offer them in excess. Their main pelleted feed should always come first.
Offer the carrots in a variety of ways and see what your birds like best.
Just be sure to clean and prepare them in advance.
And if you did want to learn more about feeding chickens, or raising them in general, be sure to take a look at our eBook.
Can Chickens Eat Carrot Tops?
Chickens can eat carrot tops, and these greens provide additional nutrition to your flock. In fact, chickens will often eat this part of a carrot first if given the chance. There are several reports from keepers whom noticed their chickens have devoured the tops when provided, or available.