If you are thinking about the diet of your chickens, you may have wondered about mushrooms. Are these safe to provide and are there any benefits in doing so? What about the differences between wild and cultivated store-bought mushrooms? Is there a difference and what should you be aware of? Intrigued, I decided to conduct some research. I would like to present this here to you today.
So, can chickens eat mushrooms? Chickens can eat most types of mushrooms, particularly cultivated and store-bought varieties like button and morel mushrooms. However, some wild mushrooms are toxic and should not be eaten.
Therefore, we must familiarize ourselves with the different types of mushrooms that grow, where they do so and if our chickens can access them when roaming.
And its going to take a bit of work.
There are over 10,000 types of known mushrooms in the world.
So we can devise a simple rule.
That being said, toxic mushrooms do exist and can grow freely in different areas.
We should therefore monitor our property to ensure no potentially harmful mushrooms are growing and are accessible by our flock.
Can Chickens Eat Store Bought Mushrooms?
Mushrooms that you find in the store are perfectly safe for chickens to consume. This is because they are safe varieties, free from toxins and poisons and they have been grown under controlled conditions.
Before any vegetable or fruit becomes widely available in a store, it undergoes extensive research to ensure that it is safe.
Moreover, the entire growth, production, and picking are handled by experts who specialize in the identification and detection of safe/unsafe mushrooms.
Some of the best store-bought varieties of mushrooms to offer include Button, Chestnut, and Oyster Mushrooms.
These are widely available and you can often purchase organic varieties for cost-effective prices.
Organic is preferable, if possible, as this will ensure no pesticides or herbicides are consumed by your birds.
How To Feed Your Chickens Store-Bought Mushrooms
The best way to feed store-bought mushrooms to your flock is to chop them up into small pieces; uncooked mushrooms can be a bit hard to digest, so it is best to cook them before serving them to your birds.
Never feed mushrooms that have been fried in oil, butter, or another form of fat.
Chickens struggle to digest high-fat meals, and if a sufficient serving is consumed it can cause them to become backed up.
Instead, you can boil mushrooms in hot water for 10-20 minutes to soften them up.
Equally, if you did want to fry them you can do so in water.
Once this water evaporates, you’ll notice the mushrooms begin to shrink – making them easier for your birds to consume.
You may notice that your birds do not like to eat mushrooms when provided.
There is nothing wrong here; some birds will like them whereas other will not. Each bird will have their own tastes and preferences.
Just be sure to monitor any uneaten foods, such as mushrooms.
These should be cleaned and cleared out of the coop after a day to ensure that it does not attract vermin or other pests, like mice and rats which can bring illness and disease.
How Many Store-Bought Mushrooms Can Your Chickens Eat?
Chickens should eat store-bought mushrooms in moderation, consider them more as a treat.
Too many mushrooms, even the safe varieties, could lead to nutritional imbalance.
A small portion mixed with their regular feed, perhaps a few times a week, is generally considered safe.
Can Chickens Eat Wild Mushrooms?
Chickens can eat wild mushrooms, so long as they are not poisonous. However, as 20% of wild mushrooms are typically poisonous, it is essential that you inspect them first before letting your flock eat them.
Some mushrooms grown in the wild are safe for poultry birds to eat; however, you will be relieved to know that chickens do not seek out mushrooms instinctively.
Chickens are attracted by food that is easy to eat, and fungi do not fall into such a category.
Raw mushrooms have a rubbery surface, which is not desirable to these birds.
Therefore, for the most part, you should be safe to assume that even if your chickens were to encounter and come across some wild mushrooms – they would not attempt to eat them.
This gives us chicken owners great confidence, especially when it comes to letting them out to free roam.
That being said its always a good idea to remain cautious.
How To Keep Your Chickens Safe From Poisonous Wild Mushrooms
The best way to keep your flock safe from eating poisonous mushrooms is to walk around the area they will be in each morning as most varieties pop up overnight.
All you must do is to cut and dispose of these mushrooms. Throw them away appropriately, or onto a compost heap if you have one.
There are some recognizable varieties of wild mushrooms that you can harvest and offer to your flock.
If you mix them up in the poultry feed, it will increase the likelihood of your chickens eating the mushrooms.
Best Types Of Mushrooms For Chickens
The best types of mushrooms for chickens to consume are ones that are free from toxins, poisons and other elements that can make them sick.
All store-bought mushrooms are perfectly safe to feed your flocks such as button mushrooms, portabello mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, porcini mushrooms, and shitake mushrooms.
Foraging for wild fungi can be an interesting and educational activity, and you can supply your birds with tasty treats.
You must do your research ahead of time. Thankfully, there are some excellent foraging resources to support you.
- Lincoff, Gary (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 208 Pages - 06/15/2017 (Publication Date) - Quarry Books (Publisher)
Searching for safe mushrooms in the wild can be tricky and time-consuming. Instead, feeding chickens store-bought mushrooms is risk-free and relatively quick.
If you are new to identifying mushrooms, there are a couple of good rules to apply for avoiding the poisonous kind:
- Keep away from mushrooms with white gills, rings, or a skirt on the stem and a bulbous sack base known as a volva. Mushrooms with these features belong to the deadly Amanita family.
- Keep away from mushrooms with red on the cap or stem, as these are poisonous.
Looking out for these clues does not mean that all other varieties of mushrooms are safe.
Some mushrooms are easy to classify, so as a novice mushroom picker, these are the ones to go for and safe to consume these include:
- Giant Puffball
- Cauliflower Fungus
- Dryads Saddle
- The Hedgehog Fungus
- Beefsteak Fungus
- Porcelain Fungus
Best Mushrooms To Harvest For Your Chickens
If you would like to supplement your chicken feed, you can always consider growing some mushrooms yourself.
The supplies you need are a few hardwood logs, about 36 inches in length, and the mushroom spawn. Relatively, if no tools are required, and the company can explain their use to you.
Mushrooms do not grow from seeds, but instead spores.
Perhaps the easiest way to purchase them is from Amazon. These Morel spores are easy to grow, and can be done so without equipment.
They are a safe variety of mushrooms to provide.
Mushrooms are easy and fun to harvest, and they grow quickly.
Certain varieties, like shitake mushrooms, can grow on logs that you can easily place in the chicken run.
You can even get syringes from Amazon that contain liquid culture that you can apply directly onto an area you would like.
Your birds will enjoy searching the logs for mushrooms and the pests they attract like mites, slugs, and flies.
Even if after all your work in growing mushrooms for your birds, there’s a chance, they may not like them.
If that is the case, you can eat the mushrooms yourself and treat your birds to the pests that grow on the logs.
Chickens are omnivores that can eat a wide array of meat, fruit, vegetables, plants, and insects.
Chickens love nothing more than being left to forage through grassy areas munching on sweet grass and juicy bugs, it gives them a great protein boost, and it helps them produce delicious eggs.
Certain foods are off-limits for chickens, because they are toxic, or they are just not healthy.
Generally speaking, poultry birds can eat the same foods as humans, by the same token, what we cannot eat neither should chickens.
So, while chickens can eat mushrooms; they cannot eat all mushrooms.
Unfortunately, so many wild mushrooms are unsafe to consume because they are poisonous.
All mushrooms that you find in the store are safe for humans and chickens alike.
Raw fungi are hard for your birds to digest and so it is best to cook them and chop them into small pieces before feeding them to your flock.
It is understandably a worry to see mushrooms growing near where you keep your chickens as you don’t know which ones are edible and which ones are poisonous.
Mushrooms grow overnight, and so you are advised to walk around your chicken area, and if you spot any mushrooms, cut, and dispose of them, it is always best to err on the side of caution.
Should You Cook Mushrooms Before Feeding Them To Chickens?
You do not need to cook mushrooms before serving them to your chickens. You do however need to cut them into small chunks for your chickens to swallow. That being said, chickens are not generally fond of the rubbery texture of raw mushrooms and are unlikely to consume them. Instead, it is better to fry mushrooms in water (never oil/butter), grill, or boil them in water. This will make them easier to eat and more enticing.
Wondering what else chickens can eat? Check out my comprehensive guide 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.