Approved by Dr. Lorna Whittemore

It’s no secret that chickens love to eat, but not everything is suitable for them. If you have a flock of chickens, they always come up to you for their daily goodies. It might seem completely safe when you have something like oatmeal, but you want to cover your bases.

We absolutely don’t blame you and encourage you to keep doing this for your pets. So we’re here to assure you that oatmeal is a safe snack for your chickens and healthy as an occasional treat. Granted, it’s no substitute for daily grain, but it definitely packs a wallop of benefits for your chicken.

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Oatmeal Nutrition Facts

Serving Size:1 Cup, cooked
Carbohydrates:27 g
Fat:3.2 g
Sodium:115 mg
Potassium:143 mg
Fiber:4 g
Sugar:1.1 g
Protein:6 g
  • Calcium plays a significant role in egg production. Calcium helps not only your chicken’s bones to grow healthy and strong, but it also provides the same benefit to the shells of their eggs.
  • Magnesium plays a really huge role in heart health. It also has anti-inflammatory benefits to soothe your chickens’ joints and muscles.
  • Thiamine is also referred to as vitamin B1, which helps the brain, heart, stomach, and nervous systems.
  • Riboflavin helps the body break down carbs, fats, and proteins, turning them into energy.
  • Zinc plays a significant role in immune cell development, skin health, DNA synthesis, metabolism, and digestion.
  • Iron is a huge part of the hemoglobin in red blood cells, helping them carry oxygen to all body parts.

Types of Oats

You might see a few different types of oats in the store. These are quick cook, oat bran, steel cut, old-fashioned, and instant. You might also see whole oat groats or hull-less oats, which can also be beneficial to your flock.

On their own, none of these oat forms are harmful to chickens in moderate amounts. However, with some instant oatmeal, they come pre-flavored with all sorts of different preservatives and additives. We recommend plain oats only.

a jar of oatmeal
Image Credit: sunxiaoji, Pixabay

Does Organic Matter?

When possible, it’s always best to feed your chickens organic oats. This just ensures that there are no pesticides that can harm them when you serve.

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Oatmeal Health Benefits for Chickens

As we mentioned, oatmeal serves as a wonderful snack for your flock. It has tons of super valuable nutrients that can enhance your chickens’ health and improve overall production.

Oatmeal can be a nutritious snack that your whole flock can enjoy but only in small amounts and on occasion. A series of health benefits are thought to strengthen your chicken’s immunity by providing vitamins, minerals and protein.

In addition, oatmeal is full of antioxidants, which help to fight free radicals in the body. Because oatmeal is so full of fiber, it’s so good in the digestive tract to produce good gut flora and aid in digestion.

Downsides to Oats

There are studies showing that glucan in oats and barley is not well digested by birds and that it results in a gel layer forming in the intestines which may interfere with nutrient absorption. Oats are considered an anti-nutrient when present in large amounts in chicken food, so don’t overdo it.

Also chickens don’t eat large volumes but graze throughout the day.  It is important that they don’t fill themselves with oats in favor of eating complete and balanced chicken foods.

Cream Legbar Chicken
Image Credit: Racheal Carpenter, Shutterstock

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Oatmeal Considerations for Chickens

We want to point out that oatmeal is not meant to substitute for your chickens’ regular meals. Oatmeal alone cannot provide the nutrients necessary to keep your chicken’s bodies healthy and egg production strong.

Also, never feed your chickens any flavored oatmeal, especially those with chocolate and other items. Your chicken should have a clean natural diet free of any human foods as much as you can help it. Oatmeal is fine on its own and needs no additional additives to be more delicious to your flock.

And in fact, some artificial preservatives and colors can damage your chickens’ health, and specific ingredients can also be toxic. Also, chocolate is a huge no-no for chickens, too. The theobromine and caffeine in chocolate are toxic to them, so you should steer clear of that at all costs.

Integrating Oatmeal into Your Chicken’s Diet

You don’t have to get fancy when you offer your oatmeal to your chickens. You can just scoop up some handfuls of raw oats and toss them on the ground. Or, you can also serve them cooked oats. After serving them both ways, you might find that your chickens might have a preference. So you can use that moving forward when you give oatmeal to your chickens.

chicken eating seeds
Image Credit: schubbel, Shutterstock

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So now you know that your chickens can delight in oatmeal from time to time. They can eat it fresh or cooked with water; either is perfectly safe. Buying organic when possible is a terrific idea to prevent pesticides that might be lurking on this easy-to-digest grain.

You can add oatmeal to your chicken’s diet a few times a week. Just be mindful of portions. Some little chickies could overeat, depleting themselves of other vital nutrients.