Can Chickens Eat Hemp Seeds? What You Need to Know

A Close Look at Hemp Seeds

Article Summary

  • Hemp seeds are generally considered safe and beneficial for chickens in moderation, as they are a rich source of complete protein, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
  • Benefits of feeding hemp seeds to chickens include boosting immune system health, improving feather condition, potentially increasing egg production, and providing a balanced ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.
  • The recommended amount of hemp seeds for chickens is 1-2 teaspoons per chicken per day, with gradual increases while monitoring consumption.

Hemp seeds have become an increasingly popular supplement for humans in recent years, prized for their high protein content and healthy fats. But can chickens also benefit from these nutritious little seeds? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of feeding hemp seeds to chickens.

Are Hemp Seeds Safe for Chickens?

The short answer is yes, hemp seeds are generally considered safe and even beneficial for chickens in moderation. The seeds contain all nine essential amino acids, making them a complete protein source. They are also high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which support skin and feather health.

Hemp seeds do not contain THC, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana. So feeding chickens hemp seeds will not make them “high.”

When introducing any new treat or supplement to chickens, it’s wise to start slowly and watch for any adverse reactions. But hemp seeds are well-tolerated by most chickens.

Are Hemp Seeds Good for Chickens?

In addition to being a excellent source of protein and healthy fats, hemp seeds offer other benefits for chickens:

  • Boost immune system health – Hemp seeds contain antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and electrolytes which can strengthen the immune system.
  • Improve feather condition – The omega fatty acids support production of lustrous feathers.
  • Increase egg production – The protein and nutrients may slightly boost egg-laying.
  • Provide omega balance – The optimal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids in hemp seeds helps reduce inflammation.

So in moderation, hemp seeds are absolutely a healthy treat for chickens. They provide high quality nutrition in a small package.

Can Chickens Eat Hemp Seeds Raw?

Yes, chickens can eat hemp seeds raw without any issues. Some people sprout or soak hemp seeds before feeding to make them softer and more digestible. But it’s fine to simply toss some raw hemp seeds into the chicken run as a supplement.


Introduce hemp seeds gradually, at least a tablespoon per chicken daily. Then, gradually increase the amount if the chickens tolerate it well.

Can Chickens Eat Hemp Leaves and Bedding?

While hemp seeds are perfectly safe for chickens, fresh hemp leaves and stalks are not recommended. They contain higher levels of THC (the main psychoactive compound found in cannabis/marijuana), which could potentially cause toxicity.

Hemp bedding or litter is also not advised for chickens. It can harbor mold or bacteria that chickens could ingest while scratching. Stick to food-grade hemp products designed specifically for animal consumption.

Can Chickens Eat Hemp Hearts?

Hemp hearts, also known as hemp seed hearts, are shelled hemp seeds. They are the tender inner kernel of the hemp seed, without the crunchy outer shell.

Hemp hearts offer the same nutritional content as whole hemp seeds, but are easier for chickens to digest. They can be fed to chickens raw or soaked and are an excellent source of protein and omega fatty acids. Start with small amounts and gradually increase.

How Much Hemp Seeds Should You Feed Chickens?

A good rule of thumb is 1-2 teaspoons of hemp seeds per chicken, per day. Start on the low end and slowly work up to higher amounts while monitoring your flock’s consumption and droppings.

Hemp seeds are safe to feed free-choice as well, letting chickens self-regulate. But be conservative until you see how much your flock actually eats. As with any seeds, treat, or supplement for your chicken, moderation is key.

What Happens If You Feed Hemp Seed Meal to Laying Hens?

Hemp seed meal is the leftover byproduct after hemp seeds have been pressed to extract their oil. It’s often used as livestock feed.

Laying hens can benefit from hemp seed meal which provides high quality protein, fiber, minerals…

Laying hens can benefit from hemp seed meal which provides high quality protein, fiber, minerals and healthy fats. It can be fed dry or soaked. Start with one tablespoon per hen daily and gradually increase by half tablespoon increments.

When fed to layers, hemp seed meal may help boost egg production thanks to its complete amino acid profile. The omega fatty acids also result in eggs higher in these healthy fats.

Can Baby Chicks Eat Hemp Seeds?

Once chicks are 2-3 weeks old and eating starter feed well, they can be offered hemp seeds in moderation. The protein and omega oils support rapid growth and development.

Introduce just a pinch of hemp seeds at first to avoid digestive upset. Slowly increase the amount every few days. For the first 4-6 weeks, no more than 1/2 teaspoon per chick daily is recommended.

Resting Baby Chicks

Always provide chick starter feed as the primary diet and treat hemp seeds as just a supplemental nibble for baby chicks.

Hemp seeds show excellent potential as a supplemental treat for chickens of all ages. In moderation, they provide a powerhouse dose of complete protein, fiber, vitamins and fatty acids. As with any new food, start slowly and watch for any issues before increasing the amount you offer your flock. Happy hemp feeding!

Frequently Asked Questions

Are hemp seeds safe for chickens?

Yes, hemp seeds are generally safe for chickens. They are a nutritious source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and other essential nutrients. However, moderation is key, and it’s important to introduce hemp seeds gradually into their diet to monitor any adverse reactions.

What is the effect of feeding hemp seed meal to laying hens?

Feeding hemp seed meal to laying hens can have positive effects on egg production and quality. Hemp seed meal is rich in protein, amino acids, and omega-3 fatty acids, which can contribute to healthier eggs. It’s essential to balance the hemp seed meal with other feed to ensure a well-rounded diet for optimal results.

Does hemp seed calm chickens?

There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that hemp seed may have a calming effect on chickens. Hemp seeds contain compounds like omega-3 fatty acids and amino acids, which are associated with promoting overall well-being. While some poultry owners report observing a calming influence on their chickens when fed hemp seeds, scientific studies on this specific effect are limited. As with any dietary changes, it’s advisable to introduce hemp seeds gradually and monitor the behavior of the chickens for individual responses.