Can Chickens Eat Beans? The Ultimate Guide

A Closeup View of Raw Red Beans
Raw Red Beans

Article Summary

  • Both dried and fresh beans are beneficial for chickens, containing essential nutrients such as protein, fiber, calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium.
  • Beans should be fed in moderation as they contain compounds like lectins and phytic acid, which can be challenging for chickens to digest.
  • Chickens generally relish the taste and texture of beans, including fresh green beans, sprouted beans, and soaked or cooked dried beans.

Beans can be a healthy and nutritious treat for chickens in moderation. Here’s what you need to know about feeding beans to chickens.

Can You Feed Chickens Beans?

Yes, chickens can eat beans! Both dried and fresh beans contain nutrients that are beneficial for chickens. Beans are a good source of protein, fiber, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and more.

However, beans also contain compounds like lectins and phytic acid that can be difficult for chickens to digest. So beans should be fed in moderation.

Do Chickens Like Beans?

Chickens do enjoy eating beans! The texture and taste seems to appeal to them. Chickens will readily eat fresh green beans, sprouted beans, and soaked or cooked dried beans.

Of course, every chicken has their own preferences. Some may love beans, while others aren’t as interested. But most chickens do seem to relish beans as part of their diet.

What Type of Beans Can Chickens Eat?

Chickens can eat most common bean varieties including:

  • Black beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Lima beans
  • Navy beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • Cranberry beans
  • Great northern beans
  • Light and dark red kidney beans
  • Pink beans
  • Small red beans

Green beans, or string beans, are also safe for chickens to eat fresh or dried. Bean sprouts and leaves from beans are also edible and nutritious for chickens.

Are Raw, Dried Beans Safe for Chickens?

Raw, dried beans are not recommended for chicken feed. Uncooked beans contain lectins and phytic acid that can cause digestive upset in chickens.

Soaked, sprouted, or cooked beans are safer options. The soaking and cooking process helps neutralize the lectins and phytic acid, making the beans easier to digest.

NOTE

If feeding raw beans, limit to very small amounts occasionally as a treat.

Are Bean Sprouts and Leaves Safe for Chickens?

Yes, bean sprouts and leaves are totally safe and healthy for chickens to eat.

Sprouting helps reduce lectins and other anti-nutrients in beans. Bean sprouts and leaves are highly nutritious, containing vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and protein.

Chickens can eat alfalfa, mung bean, lentil, and other sprouted beans. The sprouts can be fed fresh or dried. Bean leaves can also be fed fresh or dried as chicken feed.

Health Benefits of Beans for Chickens

When fed properly, beans can provide lots of important nutrients for chickens, including:

  • Protein – Beans are high in plant-based protein, providing amino acids.
  • Fiber – The fiber in beans supports healthy digestion.
  • Iron – Beans contain iron to prevent anemia and support blood health.
  • Potassium – Important for fluid balance and muscle/nerve function.
  • Magnesium – Helps chickens absorb calcium and supports egg production.
  • B vitamins – For energy and metabolism. Beans have folate, thiamine, niacin.
  • Antioxidants – Compounds that reduce inflammation and boost immunity.

So beans can be a valuable addition to a balanced chicken diet in moderation. They provide key nutrients that benefit chicken health.

How to Feed Beans to Chickens

Here are some tips for safely feeding beans to chickens:

  • Limit dried beans to 1-2 times per week. Overfeeding can cause digestive issues.
  • Soak dried beans for 8-12 hours before cooking to neutralize lectins and phytic acid.
  • Cook dried beans thoroughly until very soft before feeding. This improves digestibility.
  • Sprout beans to reduce lectins and make them more nutritious.
  • Chop or mash cooked beans into smaller pieces for easier eating.
  • Mix bean feed with other ingredients like grains or greens.
  • Feed bean scraps from the kitchen in moderation. Avoid giving moldy leftovers.
  • Introduce bean feeds slowly and watch for signs of tummy trouble.
  • Provide insoluble grit to help chickens grind beans in their gizzard.

Can You Feed Beans to Chickens Every Day?

It’s best not to feed beans to chickens daily. Beans should be limited to a few times a week at most.

When overfed, the anti-nutrients and digestive inhibitors in beans could potentially cause upset stomach, diarrhea, intestinal discomfort, and other issues in chickens.

Beans are healthy for chickens, but only in moderation as part of a varied diet. Frequent large portions of beans could disrupt their digestive balance.

For daily nutrition, focus on feeds like grains, veggies, greens, fruits, and insects. Then supplement with small servings of bean feed several times a week at most.

Can Baby Chickens Eat Beans?

Bean feeds are not usually recommended for newly-hatched chicks under 4 weeks old. The lectins and other compounds can be hard for delicate young digestive systems to manage.

Once chicks are 4-8 weeks old, they can start being introduced to very small amounts of well-cooked bean mash or sprouts. But beans should stay a very occasional treat until chickens are mature.

When in doubt, avoid beans for young chicks altogether. Wait until chickens are grown before slowly incorporating limited bean feeds. Focus on chick starter feed and appropriate proteins.

In summary, beans can be a beneficial addition to a chicken’s diet when fed properly in moderation. Soak, sprout or cook beans to reduce anti-nutrients. Limit bean feeds to a few times a week to avoid tummy issues. Enjoy feeding your chickens a variety of healthy fruits, veggies, and grains for balanced nutrition.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can my chickens eat cooked beans?

Yes, chickens can eat cooked beans in moderation. Cooking helps break down some of the compounds that may be difficult for chickens to digest in raw beans. However, avoid using excessive seasoning or additives, as they may not be suitable for chickens.

Can chickens eat sprouted pinto beans?

While sprouting can increase the nutritional value of beans, it’s generally not recommended to feed chickens sprouted pinto beans. Sprouting may not eliminate all anti-nutritional factors, and pinto beans contain lectins that can be harmful to chickens even after sprouting.

What vegetables can’t chickens eat?

Chickens should avoid certain vegetables, such as onions, garlic, and potatoes, as they contain compounds that can be harmful to them. Additionally, avoid feeding them highly processed or salty foods, as they may not be suitable for chicken consumption.

Can chickens eat carrots and beans?

Yes, chickens can eat carrots in moderation, as they are a good source of vitamins. Similarly, cooked beans are generally safe for chickens, but it’s essential to ensure they are plain and not seasoned with ingredients harmful to chickens.

What beans are safe for chickens?

Chickens can safely consume a variety of beans, including black beans, kidney beans, and navy beans. However, it’s crucial to cook them thoroughly, as raw beans contain compounds that can be harmful. Avoid feeding chickens large quantities and always introduce new foods gradually to monitor their reactions.