Sunflower seed is currently one of the most common and popular crops, which many poultry farmers use as food for their chickens because of its known nutritional properties.
As this plant’s seeds contain a large amount of vitamins, essential fats and other valuable nutrients, as you may know.
However, some poultry farmers do not like the idea and are very careful to incorporate sunflower seeds into the diet of their chickens.
They believe that it is an excessively caloric product and can be detrimental to the long-term health of the poultry.
In this article, let’s have a detailed look at the potential benefits and risks of sunflower seeds for the chickens’ diet, and get acquainted with the basic rules of their rational use in poultry feeding.
Can you feed chickens with sunflower seeds?
Basically yes, a chicken can eat sunflower seeds, this seems to be a simple question with a short answer, but in reality, this question hides a concern.
As well as its derivatives, sunflower seeds are widely used by people everywhere. A diverse variety of foodstuffs can be prepared from them.
Among the foods derived from the sunflower seed are; roasted sunflower seed, without skin, with salt, oil, butter and more.
Due to their nutritional properties, size and shape, sunflower seeds are suitable and used as a base for the preparation of food for farm animals.
However not all these foods are beneficial to the animals’ bodies, including poultry, particularly after preliminary thermal, mechanical, and other types of processing.
What Age Can chickens eat sunflower seeds?
Normally, normal raw seeds are used very frequently to feed chickens of races both for meat and eggs, so it is possible to incorporate them as part of the diet without any concern for the health of the chickens.
But you must take into account the fact that the sunflower fruits have a high enough caloric content, as also a high content of oil compounds.
Consequently, this product is suited for adult chickens exclusively. For this reason, the sunflower seeds cannot be included in the diet of the chickens before 25-30 days after hatching.
Gradually add the sunflower seed to the chicks’ diet as an additional feed in mixed feed, the amount of product should not exceed 1% of the daily consumption rate, but over time the volume could increase to approximately 15%.
The right time to introduce sunflower seeds as chicken feed
To feed chickens with sunflower seeds the recommended seasons are fall and mid-winter. Sunflower seeds in spring and summer are not recommended in the chickens’ diet, as they can lead to bird obesity.
The reason for introducing sunflower seed as food in certain months is because sunflower food is the main source of energy and also allows the bird to accumulate a layer of fat for a safe wintering, which is particularly important for regions with a severely cold climate.
Nutritional benefits of sunflower seed for chickens
It is a well-known fact that sunflower seeds contain a large amount of minerals and vitamins, which is why they are recognized as a super food for chickens.
About 20% of the total mass of sunflower seeds is protein, besides containing amino acids that are valuable and necessary for the development of the chicken, as well as for its satisfactory productivity.
It is also important to note that raw sunflower seeds contain a large amount of antioxidants, various microelements (calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, manganese, iron, selenium, zinc) and vitamins (A, B1, B2, B5), B6, B9, E).
The introduction of seeds into a bird’s diet therefore improves overall health and immunity and also increases the chickens’ tone and productivity.
Can chickens eat roasted sunflower seeds?
Although roasted sunflower seeds differ in special flavors and are more attractive to chickens in comparison to raw sunflower seeds, it is not recommended to use this product as food for the chickens.
seeds lose a significant amount of nutrients and vitamins during heat treatment, and fats are transformed into more complex compounds which are difficult for the digestive system.
As a result, roasted seeds may cause irritation to the gastrointestinal tract that can cause all kinds of indigestion to the chicken.
Can chickens eat sunflower seeds with shells?
The shells of the sunflower seed have a smooth texture but it is a little hard and because it is thin it can have edges with a little bit of sharpness.
It is really not recommended to consume the sunflower seeds with everything and shell because the shell could be something complicated to digest.
Especially in a bird such as a chicken, you could suffer internal injuries by eating sunflower seed shells.
Contraindications and harm of sunflowers seeds
Sunflower seeds are generally accepted as safe and healthy food for the health of poultry and consequently have practically no potential negative effects.
They should, however, be incorporated into the diet. It is highly recommended that sunflower seeds should not be used to feed young chicks and offspring less than 25-30 days old.
The reason for this is the high fat content of these seeds, which frequently has a detrimental effect on the weak digestive system of the chicks. In these cases, the seeds can lead to severe diarrhea and many other digestive disorders.
Do not overuse the seeds when feeding the adult chickens. As a direct result of too much fat consumption, the feed can lead to serious obesity. This not only threatens health problems, but also the chickens’ productivity.