As a chicken owner, one of the things you will need to consider is what they may attempt to eat when they roam. What about slugs? Can a chicken safely consume them, or will they pay the price? Perhaps you have observed one of your chickens eating one, or maybe you are concerned about the consequences. Either way, is there anything to worry about?
So, can chickens eat slugs? Chickens can safely consume slugs. Slugs are one of several bugs that a chicken will attempt to and enjoy consuming. However, you need to ensure that your chickens do not choke from attempting to eat slugs that are too large. You also need to ensure that you/a neighbor uses any slug repellent/chemical control close nearby. Slugs may transfer toxic chemicals in such products which can prove fatal to your flock if consumed.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can skip feeding your chickens all together. A high quality poultry pellet should be the mainstay of their diet. Fresh fruit, vegetables are worthy additions too (here’s a good list of potential vegetables) .
That being said, free-roaming chickens that consume bugs, insects and other live fare generally produce healthier and tastier eggs! This includes slugs.
Let us now take a closer look at the subject at hand so you are confident in your knowledge of what your chickens can and cannot eat!
Will Chickens Eat Slugs?
A chicken will peck at virtually anything moving or stationary in front of them. One of the better questions is, what will a chicken not eat?
As a rule of thumb, if it looks like it can fit into a chicken’s mouth, it will probably attempt to eat it.
This could mean that there are some chunky slugs that your chicken would leave alone. However, it is likely that a hungry chicken will just go for literally anything they want.
Is It Okay For Chickens To Eat Slugs?
Yes, in the wild, these are the kind of things that birds eat in general. You shouldn’t need to worry if your chicken is chowing down on these in your backyard.
What can make this a little difficult is the curious nature of a chicken. As any chicken parent will tell you, they will peck and try to eat virtually anything. Rather than wait to see if that little speck on the ground is a piece of corn or poisonous insect – they just go for it.
It can be alarming for some pet owners who fear that their little birds will end up biting off more than they can chew. In terms of your typical household pests, there are generally no problems. Chickens are able to eat most bugs you find in your garden, including slugs. In fact, it can actually be a great thing for you.
Some people enjoy having chickens for their wonderful pest control abilities. Instead of needing to use toxic pesticides or go in there yourself, setting your chickens free in your yard to find some snacks is a great, natural way to rid your garden of pests.
Just be sure that they are not tearing away at your plants in the garden as they may find many fruits and vegetables a little enticing.
It is also important that you make sure that you do not use any dangerous chemicals in the area you intend to raise your chickens in. This is because what is harmful to a bug may be harmful to your bird. It is better not to let your chickens roam around areas where you have recently used harmful pesticides or herbicides.
Things like roundup can be deadly to them. Your chickens will not be taking the time to rinse off all the bugs before they nibble on them.
You also need to be sure that a slug has not carried toxic chemicals onto your property before being eaten by your chickens. They may not die straight away and may actually bring these chemicals from a neighbors property.
While this is not something you can effectively control, it is something to consider and be wary of if you are looking to let your chickens completely free roam.
Are Slugs And Bugs Enough To Feed Your Chickens?
It is hard for you to ever really know just how much your chicken is savaging for in the wild. It is also difficult to try to estimate how much nutrition is coming from this.
Instead of relying off of what they find out in the garden, it is safer to take the time and actually invest in real high quality pelleted chicken feed. Real chicken feed is specially formulated to handle the dietary requirements for chickens.
It is also an assured method in which you are able to feed your chickens and know exactly what you’re getting.
A high-quality pellet is an essential part of any chicken’s diet. It is a great and healthy source of protein that is balanced with the proper concentrations of vitamins and minerals that keep your chicken laying eggs and being healthy.
For the most part, the formulas are made up of certain ingredients that make up an important part of a chicken’s diet. These would be things such as wheat, salt, corn, sunflower seeds, and oats. Of course, if you have experience and understand what you are doing, you can substitute the pellets for the real thing.
Feeding them pellets is still the recommended alternative as it is safer, faster, and easier to do. They are incredibly essential to the diets of chickens in the colder months when they are forced indoors and don’t have the access to the natural resources which would help replenish these nutrients.
This is the brand that I get for my flock and that has excellent reviews and write-ups from other chicken owners on Amazon:
- All Natural, Ingredients Sourced out of the Pacific Northwest
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Best Snacks for Your Pet Chickens
This doesn’t mean that you should only feed your chicken the pellets from the bag. Imagine if you had to sit there and enjoy the same bland meal every day and night for the entirety of your life. Just like humans, animals like variety.
Even if it is not nutritionally necessary, it is still a great thing to add to any diet for fun. Consider adding these to your chickens snacking time.
- Bugs: There are a lot of bugs and pests that chickens eat naturally. If you let them roam free in the garden, you may see your chickens getting some extra protein through some unlucky bugs that happen to be passing by. While not all bugs will make it onto your pet’s menu, there are some that happen to be personal favorites including mealworms, slugs, grubs, and earthworms. This doesn’t mean that their selection will be limited to just these, but these particular wormy creatures tend to be crowd-pleasers. If you notice that your chicken really likes them and you want to get them some additional bugs, you can even consider foraging for them yourselves. If you don’t want to / cannot forage, you can always purchase them directly from Amazon where you can pick them up freeze-dried.
- Grains: This snack should go without saying as this is what is actually in the pellets you feed them. Giving them some corn or wheat outside of their typical pellets adds some extra variety and gives them something to peck at. Even if it is made up of the same thing, they will probably enjoy the chance at something new. Other grains you can give them are oatmeal, pasta, and bread! Just remember to do so in moderation when it comes to things like bread and pasta as they have a lot of carbs and aren’t high in nutritional value.
- Fruits/Veggies: Chickens have rather strong stomachs and you can pretty much feed them any fruits or vegetables so long as you avoid raw green peels (such as with green potatoes) or citrus fruits (like oranges and grapefruit). They enjoy a lot of foods that you would find at your typical dining tables such as carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, celery, grapes, apples, and bananas. They are full of healthy vitamins and minerals. Your chickens will thank you and it is likely that you can even give them some of your table scraps from cooking.
- Meat: Chickens can eat meat – even if it seems a bit disturbing. You can sparingly give them meat as a little bit of a treat. You should make sure that excess fat has been taken off and there it is unseasoned without salt. Some people even let them finish off the rest of the meat on the carcass of a cooked chicken or turkey. They can also on very rare occasions eat the occasional dog or cat food pellet so long as the rest of the ingredients are safe. Chickens do not need to eat as much meat as a cat or dog so you should really make sure to not give it to them often or rely on it as a main source of food.
- Other snacks: There are some other things your chicken may enjoy in moderation such as beans, popcorn, garlic, and raisins.
If you are ever curious to know whether the food you are giving your chicken is safe or not, you can always consult with a vet.
Chickens can safely consume slugs. Insofar as that they have not been killed with any roundup or pest control product and that they are not too big that will cause choking!
Thankfully, chickens are intelligent creatures so will typically not attempt to eat anything that it suspects it will struggle to swallow. Pest control on the other hand is a silent and deadly killer. You need to be vigilant.
That being said, it is normally completely safe. In fact, eating live slugs promotes natural foraging behavior and chickens generally enjoy the process. Just like they do with other bugs and insects like worms.
Letting your chickens naturally and freely roam can serve as your own pest control; you’ll notice happier chickens and better quality eggs too!
So, if you have tried to prevent your chickens eating slugs up to know; perhaps you should let your chickens give them a try!
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.