Cockroaches in the coop. Never a good find. Regardless of whether you are squeamish or not, I think it is fair to say the cockroach is not usually very welcome. But will your birds eat them? Are there any benefits or risks of doing so? I spent some time researching to find out!
So, do chickens eat cockroaches? Chickens will eat cockroaches if they are available to them, and they can be attracted to the coop in the pursuit of food, warmth, and shelter. So long as roaches have not been sprayed with poison or other harmful chemicals, they should generally be safe for your birds to consume and will even provide some nutrition.
Cockroaches know what they like; an environment that is warm, dark, and wet. It comes as no surprise that a chicken coop therefore could make quite the home for them.
Depending on where you live, and your current coop setup, they could even become quite the problem.
They are considered pests for a reason!
Let us now take a closer look at how enthusiastic chickens generally are about consuming these critters before turning to whether keeping chickens actually attract them.
We will finish up with some proactive and safe ways to get rid of cockroaches from a coop. So, if they do become a prolonged issue, you’ll know exactly how to wipe them out – for good!
Will Chickens Eat Cockroaches
Chickens will eat cockroaches give the chance. They are insects, after all.
In fact, it comes very natural to these birds.
Chickens will instinctively forage and it’s entirely normal behavior for them to consume a range of different insects, bugs, worms, and other grubs that they come accross.
Whether they are eaten from the coop, the run, or from your property when let out to roam, it is something that every keeper should expect.
And doing so is actually highly advantageous.
Cockroaches, like many other insects, are actually very nutritious.
So much so that several different research institutions are looking into insects as the food of the future.
Ands what’s come of the research so far..
Well, despite sounding quite disgusting to you and me, a cockroach is actually loaded full of different vitamins and minerals.
I’ve done a bit of digging as its not actually very each to find the exact nutrition of cockroaches, but I was able to find something. Let us look below:
Nutrition of Cockroaches
In fact, this particular study looked specifically at the nutrient composition and mineral contents of the American cockroach. Here is what they found:
|Nutrient||% Composition of Cockroach|
|Mineral||Mineral Composition (mg/100g)|
So as you can see, cockroaches are abundant in many important different nutrients.
From protein, all the way through to calcium.
And as we know these two are both so essential to the health of chickens.
Metabolic functions, egg production – need I go on.
And if its the eggs of your chickens you are looking for, then any opportunity to boost their calcium intake is great.
Besides, it’s the key component of eggshells and is required in greater amounts during times of stress, illness, or during the colder, darker, winter months.
Do Chickens Attract Cockroaches?
Chickens by themselves will not attract cockroaches, although their coop can and will if it is left unkempt.
Cockroaches are opportunists and will actively seek out a place for shelter, food and warmth.
If your coop can provide this, then there is no reason why they would not look to settle down there.
And quite a full chicken keepers have seen their fair share of cockroaches in the coop.
For the most part, cockroaches will be attracted by any spilled feed, leftover food, poop or any dirty bedding that has not be cleaned away for some time.
And as we have looked at in the section above, chickens will eat cockroaches should they come across them.
So chances are, if you notice roaches in the coop, its likely that you have an infestation (or at least more than you think!)
Besides, they’re very good at getting in the nooks and crannies and generally concealing themselves from view.
It’s only logical to assume that they are in some part, aware, of being vulnerable prey to what is for them, a massive pecking monster.
With the above information in mind, keeping cockroaches away from the coop is all about practicing good housekeeping.
Something that will benefit your flock, either way.
How Do I Get Rid Of Roaches In My Chicken Coop?
Getting rid of roaches in your chicken coop is relatively straightforward. There are in fact, multiple different ways to do it.
Of course, prevention is always better than cure.
So, first ensure that you are not inadvertently inviting cockroaches into the coop.
This could be something as simple as leaving a pile of leaves near the coop, which can harbor cockroaches and other pests such as mice.
But lets assume you have quite a significant infestation. Or your housekeeping is already in good shape. What can you do?
Well, we know that chickens will eat roaches. So we can use this to our advantage.
In fact, if we are careful not to overfeed our chickens, they will be much more willing to seek them out!
But in the dark, when chickens eyesight is non-existent and they are up on the roost sleeping, cockroaches are usually free to explore. This is when they typically come out. Your chickens may not always be able to see, or around to eat them.
So, we need to be a little bit strategic.
You might be tempted to try and poison the cockroaches in an effort to kill them off. This is not a good idea.
Consider that any dead and poisoned roach could easily be consumed by one of your birds.
This could be very dangerous and harmful to your birds.
Thankfully, there are some cost-effective home remedies and certain products that are much safer to use around chickens, and that can take out these insects.
Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
Diatomaceous earth is a powerful natural powder that is very effective at killing bugs. This includes cockroaches, fleas and ticks – so its a wonderful non-toxic product to have around.
Its actually a sand, extracted from earth, and contains microscopic organisms that have fossilized over millions of years.
DE is actually very abrasive, and works by breaking down the cockroaches exoskeleton – which ultimately kills it through dehydration.
One important caveat here is that it needs to be food-grade. This essentially means that your chickens, and you and I, can safely consume it.
Thankfully, I found a great product on Amazon that meets this criteria:
- Natural Product - Composed of 10lbs of 100% ground freshwater diatomaceous earth with absolutely no additives or fillers.
- OMRI Listed - Listed with the Organic Minerals Research Institute, a non-profit organization that reviews products against organic standards.
- Powder Duster Included - Powder duster in the bag for easy and efficient application of diatomaceous earth on animal feed
- Supports a Great Cause - Harris donates 10% of profits to support the local Etowah Valley Humane Society.
- Made in the USA – Mined in Nevada and packaged in Georgia
Use Baking Soda and Sugar
Perhaps the ultimate home remedy!
Its very quick, simple, cost-effective and ruthless against cockroaches.
All you need to do is mix a solution of equal parts baking soda, sugar, and water together.
Then, place this in a box or a container, with holes big enough for the roaches to enter, but too small for your chickens, into the coop.
The sugar will entice the cockroaches, and they will begin eating the solution.
This will create a lot of gas inside the cockroaches, and they will ultimately blow up because they are unable to pass it.
Perhaps not the most humane, but very effective nonetheless.
The trickiest part is getting the cockroaches to consume it, so a few containers of the solution may be required.
Thankfully, baking soda will not cause your chickens to suffer from the same fate – if they were to consume it.
Its even used by some poultry farmers for medicinal purposes in their flock, due to its alkalinity.
Nonetheless, make sure your chickens cannot access this mixture, as they will likely consume it and prevent the cockroaches from being able to.
Not the intended goal!
Bowl Of Fruit Juice
Another safe DIY solution is to get a bowl of fruit juice.
Again, you need to be mindful of where you place it as you do not want your chickens drinking it up!
All you need to do here though is leave a bowl or dish of fruit juice where the cockroaches are likely to go.
They will be enticed by the sugar, get in, and drown.
So it does need to be sufficiently deep.
Once some cockroaches are dead, you can pour them onto the ground for your chickens to consume.
Just be mindful of how much you offer your chickens as the sugar content can soon add up!
Chickens can, and likely will, eat cockroaches if given the chance.
And the majority of the time – it should be perfectly fine for them to do so.
By looking at the nutrition on offer, we can quite certainly make the argument that it is even beneficial.
Cockroaches are insects loaded with nutrition after all.
But this certainly should not mean that we should not take an infestation seriously, nor actively promote their presence in the coop.
So if you are noticing more and more roaches, you should look to do something about it.
First, review your husbandry and ensure that your coop is clean, and not attracting these kinds of pests.
From there, you can use a number of different safe options.
Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is probably the most effective, but there are other DIY home solutions to try.
All in all, just be sure to keep your flock safe.
While it can be tempting to use poison – its really not a good idea.
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.