As a chicken keeper, 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, do chickens eat slugs? Chickens will attempt and will typically enjoy eating slugs, along with a whole host of other insects and bugs, if presented with the opportunity to do so.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can skip feeding your chickens altogether. A high-quality poultry pellet should be the mainstay of their diet.
Fresh fruit and 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!
Can Chickens Eat Slugs?
It is generally okay and safe for chickens to eat slugs, so long as they are not carrying harmful pesticides or other insecticides.
In fact, slugs are a rich source of protein and can offer variety for your birds.
When Is It Okay for Chickens to Eat Slugs?
It’s okay for chickens to eat slugs, so long as your (and neighboring gardens) are free of pesticides and toxic plants.
If your garden has a healthy slug population, your chickens can benefit from this all-natural, protein-rich snack.
Slugs can supplement their diet, helping them lay stronger eggs and keeping them active.
If you free-range your chickens, they’ll probably discover slugs on their own during their daily wanderings.
The damp mornings or after a rainfall are prime slug-hunting time.
What Are The Benefits Of Chickens Eating Slugs?
Promoting Foraging Behavior
Allowing chickens to hunt for slugs also encourages their natural foraging behavior.
This activity keeps them physically active and mentally stimulated, which contributes significantly to their overall health and wellbeing.
Source of Protein
This nutrient is essential for the health of your chickens, contributing to their growth, feather production, and egg-laying capabilities.
Reducing Slug Populations
Chickens can play a significant role in natural pest control. If your garden is plagued with an overpopulation of slugs, your flock can come to the rescue.
Chickens can help to maintain a balanced ecosystem in your garden, protecting your plants from these pesky invaders.
When Eating Slugs Could Be Harmful to Chickens
While chickens can technically eat slugs, they’re not always the safest snack.
Slugs, you see, are notorious for carrying parasites, notably the rat lungworm.
These tiny critters can potentially harm our birds if they eat a slug hosting such a pest.
Furthermore, if the slugs have been feasting on toxic plants or have come into contact with pesticides or slug bait, they could transmit these harmful substances to your chickens.
So, if you use any chemicals in your garden or have toxic plants, it’s best to prevent your chickens from eating slugs.
Lastly, there’s a risk of overindulgence.
A chicken that eats too many slugs might neglect other important aspects of its diet, leading to potential health issues down the line.
How Many Slugs Can Chickens Eat?
Chickens will typically eat as many slugs that they come across and have access to, though it is essential that any consumption does not displace their healthy feed.
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.
So, you must ensure that your birds are getting sufficient access to a high quality pelleted chicken feed, first and foremost.
This will be specially formulated to handle the dietary requirements for chickens.
Protein along with the proper concentrations of vitamins and minerals that keep your chicken laying eggs and being healthy.
For the most part, chickens can safely consume slugs.
In fact, eating slugs can promote natural foraging behavior and chickens will enjoy the hunt. Just like they do with other bugs and insects like worms.
Plus it can be a great, all natural pest control for your garden.
However, this all does come with a caveat.
This is assuming the slugs are not carrying parasites, or toxic compounds.
And for those, you will never know ahead of time.
So it’s not without its risks.
Ultimately, it’s essential to remember that you don’t need to go out of your way to ensure your chickens eat slugs.
If they fancy them, and your confident they are free from danger, great! If they don’t, there’s no need to worry.
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.