Can Chickens Eat Millet? What You Need to Know

Can Chickens Eat Millet? (image by Martin Hetto)

Article Summary

  • Chickens can safely eat millet as part of their diet, providing them with essential nutrients like carbohydrates, fiber, protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.
  • While millet is nutritious, it should be fed in moderation, making up no more than 10% of a chicken’s total diet.
  • Incorporating millet into a chicken’s diet can be done in various ways, such as mixing it with other feeds, using it as scratch grains, sprinkling over fruit/vegetables, or even serving it for natural foraging behaviors.

Are you looking for healthy treats and additions to feed your backyard chickens? Can chickens eat millet? The millet may be an excellent and nutrient-rich option. This ancient cereal grain contains nutrients chickens need and provides energy.

Chickens can safely eat millet as part of a balanced diet. Let’s look at the benefits of feeding millet to chickens, how much to offer, and the best feeding methods. We’ll also cover what millet is, the types to choose, and any potential downsides.

What is Millet, and Why Do Chickens Like Eating It?

Millet refers to a group of small-seeded grasses mostly grown for livestock feed across Africa and Asia. There are various millet species, but most millet for chickens comes from pearl millet.

This hardy cereal crop thrives in hot, dry areas. It provides small seeds that chickens adore eating. Millet seeds contain plenty of carbohydrates that chickens can efficiently convert into energy.

Chickens eating millet receive antioxidants, boosting their immunity…

Chickens also get fiber, protein, essential fatty acids, and important vitamins and minerals like niacin, B6, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc from millet. Feed millet and chickens receive antioxidants to boost immunity as well.

Feeding Millet to Chickens: Health Benefits and Safety Tips

In moderation, chickens can eat millet as it is safe and nutritious. It offers many benefits:

  • High energy levels from carbohydrates
  • Protein for growth and egg production
  • Fiber for digestion
  • Essential fatty acids for absorption of fat-soluble vitamins
  • Antioxidants to remove harmful free radicals
  • Minerals for bone health and enzyme function
  • B vitamins for metabolism and nerve function

Since millet is very high in carbohydrates, don’t overfeed it. Too much can lead to obesity. Introduce millet slowly, and feed along with your chickens’ balanced diet.


Millet goes rancid quickly due to its high oil content. Store properly and provide chickens only what they’ll eat in a day or two. Don’t leave millet out in wet conditions.

How Much Millet Can You Offer Chickens?

Millet makes a tasty treat, so limit it to 10% or less of the total diet. Too much can lead to weight gain and nutritional imbalances.

Offer chickens around 1-2 tablespoons of millet per bird daily. Adjust amounts based on your chickens’ body condition. Limit millet for overweight birds. Increase for underweight chickens needing more calories.

For young chicks, offer 1 tablespoon or less per chick daily. Avoid feeding millet to chicks under 12 weeks old since their digestive systems may struggle to handle the high fiber content.

Tips for Feeding Millet to Chickens

Try these methods for safely incorporating millet into your chickens’ menu:

  • Mix into a balanced feed ration or pelleted feed
  • Offer as scratch grains mixed with corn, oats, wheat, and other grains
  • Sprinkle over fruit/veggie chop
  • Hide inside a treat ball for foraging
  • Sprout millet seeds for added nutrition
Pearl Millet Field (image by sarangib)
Pearl Millet Field

Serve millet at least one hour before or after any main meals. This prevents chickens from filling up only on millet.

Scatter millet in the run or coop to encourage natural foraging behaviors. Just be sure to remove any leftovers promptly.

Can Baby Chickens Enjoy Millet Too?

Wait until chicks are at least 12 weeks old before introducing millet. Their young digestive systems can’t handle the high fiber well.

Once past 12 weeks, start with just a pinch of millet once or twice a week. Slowly increase to 1 tablespoon daily over two to three weeks. Watch for any digestive upset and decrease amounts if necessary.

Always grind millet into a coarse crumble or mash for young chicks. The tiny, hard seeds can be choking hazards if served whole.

Speckled Sussex Rooster
Speckled Sussex Rooster

With proper precautions, millet makes a tasty, nourishing supplement for chickens of all ages. Follow feeding guidelines, store properly, and continue providing a balanced base diet. Then, enjoy watching your flock happily gobble up this nutritious plant treat!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do chickens eat white millet?

Yes, chickens do eat white millet. White millet is a common feed for poultry and is often included in commercial chicken feeds due to its nutritional value and affordability.

What kind of millet is best for chickens?

The best kind of millet for chickens is pearl millet. It provides a good balance of nutrients, including protein and carbohydrates, and is easily digestible for chickens. Pearl millet also has a lower risk of causing digestive issues than other millet types.

Can chickens eat millet seed?

Yes, chickens can eat millet seed. Millet seeds are a nutritious and energy-rich food source for chickens. They can be offered as part of a balanced diet to provide essential nutrients and promote healthy growth and egg production in chickens.

How to grow millet for chickens?

To grow millet for chickens, you can start by selecting a suitable variety like pearl millet. Prepare the soil by tilling and adding organic matter. Sow the millet seeds at the recommended depth and spacing, then water regularly and provide appropriate fertilization. Monitor for pests and diseases, and harvest the millet when the seeds are mature and dry. You can then store the harvested millet and feed it to your chickens as needed.

Is pearl millet good for chicken?

Yes, pearl millet is good for chickens. It is a nutritious and digestible grain that provides essential nutrients like protein, carbohydrates, and minerals. Pearl millet can support the overall health, growth, and egg production of chickens when included as part of a balanced diet.