Can Chickens Eat Fodder? What You Need to Know

A Bowl of Fodder

Article Summary

  • Fodder refers to sprouted grains and seeds grown as feed for livestock, including chickens.
  • Fodder should be a supplement, not the sole diet for chickens.
  • Chickens can be given fodder daily as part of their routine diet; it’s advised to introduce it gradually, monitor for any issues, and avoid overfeeding.

Have you ever wondered if chickens can eat fodder? As a chicken owner, it’s important to understand what fodder is and whether it can be part of a healthy diet for your flock. In this article, we’ll dive into all the details around feeding fodder to chickens.

What is Fodder for Chickens?

Fodder refers to sprouted grains and seeds that are grown as feed for livestock. Sprouting grains like wheat, barley, oats, and rye makes them more nutritious and digestible for animals. The sprouting process increases the vitamins, minerals, and proteins available in the grains.

Common sprouts used for chicken fodder include wheat, barley, oats, mung beans…

Chicken fodder is simply sprouted grains grown specifically for feeding poultry. Common sprouts used for chicken fodder include wheat, barley, oats, mung beans, alfalfa, and radish. These contain nutrients like niacin, riboflavin, vitamin E, calcium, iron, and zinc.

Is it Safe to Feed Chickens Fodder?

Yes, feeding fodder to chickens is generally safe. Sprouted grains provide healthy nutrition for chickens. The sprouting process breaks down complex compounds into simpler, more bioavailable forms that chickens can easily digest.

It’s important to ensure the fodder is grown properly under sanitary conditions. Contaminated sprouts could potentially transmit bacteria like Salmonella or E. coli to your flock. Purchase fodder from reputable growers or grow your own using clean equipment and high-quality seed.

Always introduce fodder slowly, mixing it with their regular feed at first. This allows the chickens’ digestive systems to adjust. Monitor them for any issues as you transition their diet.

Can You Feed Chickens Just Fodder?

Chickens Eating Grains on the Ground
Chickens Eating Grains on the Ground

While nutritious on its own, fodder should not make up the entire diet for chickens. Fodder alone does not provide complete nutrition with all the vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats chickens need.

It’s best to feed fodder as a supplement to a balanced commercial feed or ration you prepare with other whole grains, seeds, vegetable scraps, insects, etc. Fodder can make up about 20-30% of their daily intake.

Free choice fodder allows chickens to self-regulate. Avoid overfeeding fodder as excess can lead to loose droppings. Also offer grit to help chickens grind and digest the sprouts.

How Often Can You Feed Chickens Fodder?

Most chickens enjoy fodder and will eat it readily when offered. You can provide fodder to chickens daily as part of their routine diet.

To ensure it stays fresh, only give chickens enough sprouts that they can finish within a few hours. Remove any leftovers promptly. Offer fodder at intervals throughout the day or allow free-choice access.

The exact amount to feed depends on the number and size of your chickens. Observe their intake and adjust quantities to prevent waste. Aim for each chicken to eat around 1/4 pound of fodder per day.

Can Baby Chickens Eat Fodder?

Yes, chicks can start eating fodder once they are 2-3 weeks old. The easily digestible sprouted grains offer a nutritional boost for growing chicks.

Introduce fodder slowly mixed into their starter feed. Be sure sprouts are chopped finely for baby chicks. Limit fodder to just a teaspoon or two per chick at first. Increase the amount as they get older.


Never feed fodder alone to chicks under 12 weeks old. The high fiber and enzyme content can upset their still-developing digestive systems. Always combine it with complete starter feed.

What’s the Best Chicken Fodder for Chickens?

The best fodder to feed chickens depends on availability, your climate, and nutritional goals. Here are some top options:

  • Wheat – Easy to sprout with high protein
  • Barley – Tolerates cold weather well
  • Oats – Provide protein and fiber
  • Alfalfa – Full of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes
  • Mung beans – High in niacin and iron
  • Radish – Adds vitamin C, phosphorus, and zinc

Try offering a mix of sprouts to provide a diverse nutritional profile. Rotate options to keep it interesting for your flock.

How to Grow Fodder Seeds for Chickens

Growing your own fodder can be easy and cost-effective using simple DIY systems at home. Here are some tips:

  • Use a plastic tray or bucket with drainage holes poked in the bottom and cheesecloth over top to hold seeds.
  • Soak seeds for 8-12 hours then drain well before transferring to the sprouting container.
  • Rinse and drain the sprouting seeds 2-3 times per day to prevent mold growth.
  • Provide air circulation with a fan to prevent dampness.
  • Harvest fodder in 5-7 days once sprouts are 2-3 inches tall.
  • Rinse and store freshly cut fodder in the fridge up to 5 days.

Growing fodder at home ensures your chickens get ultra-fresh sprouts packed with nutrition. It’s a great way to supplement their diet with homegrown greens.

Now that you know what fodder is and how chickens can benefit from eating sprouted grains, you can decide if adding it to your flock’s feeding regimen makes sense. Follow the guidelines here for safely incorporating fodder alongside a complete feed to support your chickens’ health.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Fodder Replace Chicken Feed?

While fodder can supplement a chicken’s diet, it’s not an ideal replacement for chicken feed. Chicken feed is specifically formulated to meet the nutritional needs of poultry, providing essential vitamins, minerals, and proteins. Fodder, typically sprouted grains or legumes, can offer additional nutrients but may lack the comprehensive balance found in specialized chicken feed. It’s advisable to use fodder as a supplementary source rather than a complete substitute for chicken feed to ensure optimal health and egg production in chickens.

What is the Difference Between Chicken Feed and Fodder?

The main distinction between chicken feed and fodder lies in their composition and purpose. Chicken feed is a commercially formulated blend of grains, proteins, and other nutrients designed to meet the dietary requirements of poultry at various life stages. Fodder, on the other hand, refers to sprouted grains or legumes that provide additional vitamins and minerals but may not offer the same comprehensive nutritional profile as chicken feed. While both contribute to a chicken’s diet, chicken feed is a complete and balanced meal, while fodder serves as a supplemental source of nutrition.

Can Chickens Eat Fodder Seeds?

Yes, chickens can eat fodder seeds. Fodder seeds, such as barley, wheat, or legumes, are commonly used to grow sprouted fodder. These sprouts are rich in nutrients and can be a valuable addition to a chicken’s diet. Ensure that the seeds are properly sprouted before feeding them to chickens, as sprouting enhances nutrient availability. However, it’s important to note that while chickens can benefit from the nutrients in fodder seeds, a well-balanced chicken feed remains a crucial component of their overall diet to meet their nutritional requirements.