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 for you today.
So, can chickens eat mushrooms? Yes, there are certain mushrooms that chickens can eat. Many cultivated and store bought varieties like button mushrooms and morel mushrooms are safe to feed along with many other cultivated varieties. However, wild mushrooms can be toxic and cannot always be fed. 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.
There are over 10,000 types of known mushroom in the world adding to the complexity of this question. Generally, if a mushroom is safe for a human to eat they should be safe for a chicken to eat.
Toxic mushrooms do exist, and can grow freely in different area. We should therefore learn which varieties are safe for chickens to eat and which ones are not safe. From there, we need to monitor our gardens/backyards 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 is handled by 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.
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
Can Chickens Eat Wild Mushrooms?
It is believed that up to 20% of wild mushrooms are indeed poisonous, some unsafe varieties are indistinguishable from the popular edible mushrooms. These are unsafe for both humans and chickens to consume.
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 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 comes 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. 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.
If you would like to supplement your chicken feed, you can always consider growing some mushrooms yourself. 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 mushroom 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.
Best Types Of Mushrooms
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. Or as outlined above, you can always purchase mushroom spawn and grow safe varieties yourself.
Many people are curious about mushrooms and want to know how you can tell poisonous mushrooms from edible mushrooms?
There is no easy answer to that question; it can be hard to tell them apart without classifying the individual mushroom you have discovered. Unfortunately, some mushrooms are fatal to consume, so you must be 100% accurate and sure when identifying.
If you are new to identifying mushrooms, there are a couple of good rules to apply for avoiding the poisonous kind:
#1: 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.
#2: 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
If you would like to make mushroom logs, mushroom spawn is available to purchase online. Many companies offer their expert advice as well as the tools to make mushroom logs from home.
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.
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 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 found 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.
Do chickens stop eating when they are full? Yes chickens stop eating when they are full and have had enough to eat. Chickens require a constant supply of food throughout the day. They will eat when they need to and should see out the day with a full crop. This will ensure they have enough energy during the night to produce eggs.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.