Lentils are one of those foods that you always seem to have plenty of and you always seem to cook too much! So, what about providing these leftovers for your chickens? Is this safe? We know that our birds can and love to eat grains and seeds, but where do Lentils fall? Can you offer them and is there anything you need to do beforehand? Lets find out!
So, can chickens eat Lentils? Chickens can eat Lentils, but should only do so in moderation, as a treat, and if they have been properly prepared. Lentils, like other legumes, require sprouting first to make them more easily digestible and to ensure the nutrition becomes available to your birds.
For lentils, and other legumes, to be safe to eat they should be soaked in cold water for at least five hours.
After that, discard the water they were soaking in, rinse them off, and then bring them to a boil.
Lentils are very rich in fiber, so it must be noted that they should never be overfed or ahead of their regular feed.
It’s important we do not make our chickens full; preventing them from wanting to eat what they need to thrive.
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Let us now take a closer look at Lentils and how they can have a place in your flock’s diet.
We will be covering the main questions relating to the topic, including whether they are healthy, how many to feed, sprouting, and how to offer this versatile legume. So be sure to keep on reading!
Are Lentils Healthy for Chickens?
Lentils, when prepared properly, are very good for chickens to eat. If sprouted they become even healthier and turn into a superfood for the poultry.
Chickens are omnivores so they eat meat, vegetables, fruit, and grains. Actually, chickens will eat just about everything, and sometimes it might not be food.
In addition to raw lentils not being safe for your chickens, you shouldn’t serve them dried lentils either.
Sprouted lentils provide the most health benefits, over just the lentil seeds, as sprouts are great antioxidants and help your chicken’s immune system.
There are other benefits to sprouts as well, including:
- Lentil sprouts are high in folate, something that chickens lack and can be a cause for them to lose their embryos in the late stages of incubation.
- One cup of sprouts has about 7 grams of protein, which helps with muscle growth.
- In that same cup there is less than half a gram of fat, so you don’t have to worry about your chickens eating too much.
Not only are they good for chickens, but chickens seem to like them as well.
If you want to sprout them you will probably have better luck with green and brown lentils, as the red ones don’t usually sprout as well.
Sprouted Lentils Nutrition
Below, you can see the many nutrients and vitamins that 100 grams of sprouted lentils contain.
As you can see, these are great to offer to your birds, to provide them with the nutrition they need.
How Many Lentils Can Chickens Eat?
Chickens can eat a couple of servings of Lentils per week; as part of a varied diet. They should always be fed once their primary feed has been consumed, or mixed together.
Nevertheless, chickens should have a continuous supply of food throughout the day as they need to consume a lot of calories to gather the energy to lay eggs.
A general rule of thumb is ¼ pound of food per chicken, per day.
While the core of the diet should be a high-quality feed, that is rich in protein and provides complete nutrition, other foods can be offered.
Many chicken keepers like to offer table scraps and treat in moderation to provide further nutrition to their flock. Lentils fall into this category.
Even if your chickens are free-range, meaning that they don’t just live in a coop, they will need the extra food even though they will forage for whatever they can find like grass, small insects, worms, etc.
For Lentils, while they are very healthy they do not provide enough nutrition as a standalone meal.
Either way, any left foods should be quickly removed from the coop. Food that begins to rot and spoil can attract unwanted visitors to your birds, especially rodents like rats.
In addition to food, chickens actually need to be fed grit, which consists of small rocks or seashells.
This sounds strange, I know, but it’s necessary in order for chickens to be able to digest their food properly.
It’s quite possible that they won’t be able to find enough grit on their own, so it’s important you provide them with some in addition to what they may come across naturally.
This Poultry Grit from Amazon is one of the best to get for your flock. It has hundreds of positive reviews and is proven to support digestion for all classes of poultry.
How Do You Sprout Lentils for Chickens?
Sprouting lentils is a bit labor-intensive for a few days but incredibly worth the time and effort it takes to provide your chickens with a healthy food option that they love.
Some quick tips before you get started sprouting lentils for your chickens.
Full brown and green lentils work best when sprouting. Red lentils have a harder time sprouting properly and split lentils won’t sprout at all.
Each individual probably has their own specific way of sprouting lentils, but for the most part, this is the process:
- Take a cup of fresh, full lentils and wash thoroughly. It might help to put them in a strainer and run them under the tap for a few minutes, ensuring that they are all getting a good rinse.
- Put the lentils in a bowl, or jar, and add water until the point that it is about two inches above the top of the lentils.
- Let them soak for at least 8 hours, rinsing and changing the water after about 4 hours.
- After the 8 or so hours, you should notice that they have plumped up a bit.
- Drain the lentils and rinse well, then drain again.
- Put the lentils back into a bowl or jar and add a light piece of cloth overtop and keep in place with a rubber band. Cheese cloth works well for this.
- Tip the jar upside down, or propped up on its side, so that any excess water can drain. If the sprouts are wet, they can grow mouldy and this can be fatal to your chickens.
- You will need to repeat the rinse and drain steps, twice a day, for about three to five days.
- Between days three to five you should see them growing leaves and this means they’re ready!
How To Feed Lentils To Chickens
Cooked or sprouted lentils can be fed to chickens through a feeder or tossed around their enclosure so that they have to forage for them and can also turn them into compost.
When using a feeder, it is best practice to use one that gives each chicken about a three-inch space on which they can feed on.
This will prevent, or at least cut down on, competition between the birds to get to the food.
In addition, you need to ensure you are feeding your chickens other fruits, vegetables, chicken feed, etc., and that the lentils aren’t the only source of food.
And don’t forget the grit and calcium, which are usually found in the form of oyster shells.
Both grit and calcium for chickens can be found easily online at Marketplaces like Amazon and are readily available.
With Prime, you can get these delivered by the next day.
These, and the food, are important to have available for your chickens, even if they are free-range on your land as they may not be able to find enough variety and grit for them to remain healthy.
Other Good Foods For Chickens
There are many good foods that you can give to your chickens. Some of them should be given in moderation, however.
With others, you may need to be careful about which variety or part of the food you feed your chickens.
Avocados, for example, many people are against feeding chickens avocado because of the fact that they carry persin, which is toxic to chickens.
In actuality, the skin, pit, and leaves of the avocado are where the persin is produced.
The flesh of the avocado will contain small levels of persin but it is safe for chickens to eat as they would need to consume a lot for it to become a problem.
The same goes for apples. Apples are a great food for chickens and one which they love.
Some people are concerned due to the fact that apple seeds contain arsenic in them.
Chickens would need to have a huge quantity of apple seeds for it to become an issue with them, so apples are also safe and good for chickens.
Potatoes are good in moderation, just like for humans, and a popular way of feeding them to chickens is mashed.
One thing to watch out for is to never feed your chickens green potatoes or green tomatoes for that matter.
Green potatoes carry the toxins solanine and chaconine, which can be found in the peel, flesh, and sprout of the potatoes.
Citrus fruits, berries of all varieties, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, zucchini, carrots, and dandelions all make good food for chickens.
Of course, chicken feed, including seeds, and other types that you can purchase is good for your chickens as well.
It’s important that your chicken receive a variety of foods as one thing won’t be enough to sustain them and give them all the energy and nutrients that they will need.
This is especially true if you expect them to lay eggs.
Not only can chickens eat lentils, but when sprouted, the lentils are a superfood providing added nutritional benefits, such as antioxidants that help their immune system.
Word of caution, however, you need to prepare the lentils properly in order for them to be safe for your chickens to eat.
You will need to wash the lentils thoroughly and then either boil them and feed the cooked seeds to your chickens or soak them for days and feed your chickens the sprouts.
Chickens are omnivores and will eat meat, vegetables, and grain. Generally, the meat for chickens comes in the form of worms and other bugs, not in a steak dinner.
It’s important for chickens to receive a variety of foods so that they can receive the proper nutrients.
Some foods that are good for chickens include berries, citrus, apples, pears, potatoes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, and many more fruits and vegetables.
In addition to eating food, chickens will also need to be fed grit and calcium, which are small stones and seashells.
This helps aid in the chicken’s digestion as it will break down some of the larger items the chickens have eaten.
Feeding your chickens may seem like it can be labor-intensive, especially when preparing sprouts, but it will be worth it.
Chickens are loyal animals who love their owners and will oftentimes follow them around like a puppy.
Not to mention the benefit of the regular eggs!
Wondering what else chickens can eat? Check out my other chicken feeding guides below!
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.