Can Chickens Eat Mushrooms? What You Need to Know

Oyster Mushrooms in The Wild (image by NatureFriend, Pixabay)

Article Summary

  • Most commercially grown mushrooms, such as white button, cremini, portobello, shiitake, oyster, enoki, and maitake, are safe for chickens.
  • Mushrooms like Amanitas, inky caps, and webcaps should always be avoided as they are toxic.
  • Portion sizes of mushrooms for your flock depend on the chicken’s age, with careful monitoring not to exceed 10% of the total daily feed intake.

Have you ever wondered if you can share your mushroom omelet with your feathered friends? Mushrooms offer some potential health benefits for chickens, but not all fungi are safe for birds. This definitive guide covers everything you need to know about feeding mushrooms to chickens.

Is it Safe for Chickens to Eat Mushrooms?

Most mushrooms are safe for chickens to eat. The notable exceptions are poisonous wild mushrooms, which should always be avoided. Store-bought mushrooms like buttons, creminis, portabellas, and shiitakes are perfectly fine for chickens. Even highly-prized porcini and chanterelle wild mushrooms are non-toxic for birds.

The main safety concern is choking. Large mushroom caps or whole mushrooms may pose a choking hazard, especially for younger chickens. It’s best to chop or slice mushrooms into bite-sized pieces before feeding them to your flock. This prevents choking and allows more birds to enjoy the treat.

Loss of appetite, lethargy, or diarrhea after eating mushrooms can signal a sensitivity…

When first introducing mushrooms, feed them in moderation. Start with a few small pieces per chicken and watch for any adverse reactions. Loss of appetite, lethargy, or diarrhea after eating mushrooms can signal a sensitivity or allergy. Discontinue mushrooms if any of these symptoms appear.

What are the Benefits of Feeding Mushrooms to Chickens?

Mushrooms offer a nutritious boost to your chickens’ diet. Here are some of the top benefits:

  • Protein – Mushrooms contain 2-3 grams of protein per 100 grams. This helps supplement vegetarian diets.
  • Vitamin D – One of the only non-animal sources of vitamin D. Helps egg production.
  • B Vitamins – High levels of riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid support energy and metabolism.
  • Antioxidants – Mushrooms have antioxidants like ergothioneine and selenium. Bolsters immune health.
  • Prebiotics – Compounds like chitin provide food for healthy gut bacteria. Supports digestion.
  • Minerals – Good source of potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and copper. Aids bone strength and development.
  • Enriched Eggs – Some studies show mushrooms can enrich the vitamin D content of eggs when fed to laying hens.

The modest protein and nutrient content of mushrooms makes them a useful supplemental feed rather than a staple feed. Feed mushrooms in addition to poultry feed and treats like mealworms.

What are the Risks of Feeding Mushrooms to Chickens?

When feeding your flock safe, store-bought varieties, there are minimal risks associated with mushrooms. Here are a few potential downsides to consider:

  • Allergies or sensitivities – Very rare in chickens, but possible. Introduce new treats slowly.
  • Choking hazard – Whole mushrooms or large pieces may pose risks for baby chicks. Chop thoroughly.
  • Diarrhea – Too much of a new treat could briefly upset sensitive digestion.
  • Interactions with medications – Unlikely to be an issue, but consult a veterinarian if unsure.
  • Dirty or rotten mushrooms – Only feed fresh, clean mushrooms to avoid illness.
  • Poisonous mushrooms – Wild mushrooms must be identified as an edible species first.
Fly Agaric Mushrooms in The Wild (image by stux, Pixabay)
Fly Agaric is one of the poisonous mushroom species.

With proper precautions regarding preparation and portion size, mushrooms make a nutritious and low-risk addition to a backyard flock’s diet.

What Type of Mushrooms Can Chickens Eat?

Chickens can safely eat most commercially grown mushroom varieties, including:

  • White button mushrooms
  • Cremini mushrooms
  • Portobello mushrooms
  • Shiitake mushrooms
  • Oyster mushrooms
  • Enoki mushrooms
  • Maitake mushrooms

Store-bought mushrooms from the grocery store or farmer’s market are a good option…

Store-bought mushrooms from the grocery store or farmer’s market are a good option since they are grown in controlled conditions. This prevents contamination from bacteria or chemicals.

Foraging or growing your own mushrooms opens up more variety but requires careful identification. Make absolutely certain of edible mushroom species before feeding them to your flock.

Can Chickens Eat Raw Mushrooms?

Chickens can eat mushrooms raw or cooked. Raw mushrooms may retain more vitamin content, but cooking makes mushrooms softer and easier to chew.

With raw mushrooms, it’s extra important to remove any dirt and chop them into small pieces appropriate for a chicken’s throat size. The firm texture of raw mushrooms poses a higher choking risk.

One technique is to soften raw mushrooms before feeding. Soak chopped mushrooms in water for 20-30 minutes to make them less chewy before serving to chickens.

Can Chickens Eat Cooked Mushrooms?

Cooked mushrooms are perfectly fine for chickens. Lightly sautΓ©ing or steaming mushrooms softens them up while retaining some nutrients.

Take care not to overcook mushrooms into mush. Some texture is still important for beaks to grasp. Cook just until mushrooms are softened but not disintegrating.

The cooking liquid may also contain beneficial compounds. Let mushrooms cool to an appropriate temperature before feeding the broth to chickens along with the solids.

Can Chickens Eat Shiitake Mushrooms?

Shiitake mushrooms are an excellent choice for chickens. They contain all the classic mushroom nutrients plus some unique benefits:

  • Provide immune-boosting polysaccharides
  • Containing antiviral and anti-inflammatory lentinan
  • High in B vitamins for energy
  • Research shows compounds may benefit egg cholesterol levels
Dried Shiitake Mushrooms (image by 6437364, Pixabay)
Dried Shiitake Mushrooms

The meaty, savory flavor of shiitakes makes them enticing for chickens to eat. The mild taste and fibrous texture are also a nice change of pace from standard chicken feed.

Shiitakes are safe for chickens when store-bought or grown yourself using mushroom plugs. Only feed raw wild shiitakes after identifying them with 100% certainty.

Can Chickens Eat Mushrooms Growing in My Yard?

Letting chickens forage for mushrooms in the yard is risky. While chickens have some natural foraging instincts, they are also indiscriminate eaters.

Many toxic mushroom species thrive in the temperate climate of backyards and gardens. Consuming even a few bites of a death cap mushroom, for example, can be lethal.

Unless you are a trained mycologist, it is safest to keep chickens away from unattended mushrooms growing in the yard. Supervise foraging and only allow chickens to eat mushrooms you have identified and deemed safe.

Can Chickens Eat Wild Mushrooms?

Chickens can forage on many edible wild mushroom species if properly identified. These include:

  • Chanterelles
  • Chicken of the Woods
  • Hen of the Woods (Maitake)
  • Oyster mushrooms
  • Porcini mushrooms
  • Puffballs

Avoid any old or rotten wild mushrooms. Only permit foraging after positively identifying wild mushrooms and confirming they are a non-toxic type.

Consider growing your own edible mushrooms, like oyster or shiitake varieties, instead of wild foraging. This eliminates the risk of mistaken identity.

Can Chickens Eat Baby Bella Mushrooms?

Baby Bella mushrooms, also called cremini mushrooms, make a great poultry treat. They are low in fat and contain B vitamins and trace minerals chickens need.

The small size and tender texture of Baby Bellas reduce choking risk compared to large portobello caps. Simply slice into quarters or eighths to feed safely.

Baby Bellas offer mild and savory flavors that chickens love. They will gobble down these bite-sized mushrooms! Leftover cooked baby bellas also make excellent chicken feed.

Can Chickens Eat Canned Mushrooms?

Canned Mushrooms on The Table (image by Regenwolke0, Pixabay)
Canned Mushrooms

Canned mushrooms are fine for chickens in moderation. Rinse canned mushrooms well to remove excess sodium from the brine or broth they are packed in.

Chop canned mushrooms into small pieces before feeding them to chickens. The soft texture poses an increased choking risk if left whole or in large chunks.

Canned mushrooms contain less vitamin D than fresh but still offer antioxidants like selenium. Feed canned mushrooms as the occasional treat, varying with fresh mushrooms and other healthy snacks.

Can Chickens Eat Oyster Mushrooms?

The oyster mushroom is a fantastic choice for chickens. Benefits include:

  • Contains anti-tumor polysaccharides to support immune function
  • Provides key B vitamins like riboflavin and folate
  • Generates vitamin D when exposed to UV light during growth
  • Has an appetizing taste poultry love
  • Grows in attractive cluster formation are easy to peck

Oyster mushrooms are one of the easiest mushroom varieties for beginners to cultivate at home. Growing your own ensures a safe, sustainable supplement to feed your flock.

Can Chickens Eat Button Mushrooms?

White button mushrooms are a safe, nutritious mushroom to feed chickens. Benefits include:

  • The mild flavor that chickens accept readily
  • Dense source of niacin for digestion
  • Provides pantothenic acid for energy metabolism
  • Low risk of allergies or adverse reaction
  • Small size and tender texture reduces choking hazard

Button mushrooms are so commonly grown and affordable from the grocery store. Keep a bag in the refrigerator to slice up and mix into chicken feed anytime.

What Mushrooms to Avoid Feeding Chickens?

These mushroom species should always be avoided:

  • Amanitas – Extremely toxic and deadly. Destroy on sight.
  • Inky caps – This may cause gastrointestinal upset.
  • Webcaps – Contain muscarine toxins.

RECOMMENDATION

Avoid any wild-foraged mushrooms unless you have experience positively identifying edible species. Also, do not feed chickens old, rotting mushrooms full of bacteria.

How Much Mushrooms Can Chickens Eat?

Mushrooms are best fed as an occasional treat or supplement, not a daily mushroom feast. Around 2-3 times per week is ideal.

When feeding mushrooms, portions depend on the size of your chickens:

  • Baby chicks – 0.1 ounces (3 grams) of chopped mushrooms
  • Young chickens – 0.25 ounces (7 grams)
  • Full-grown chickens – 0.5-1 ounce (15-30 grams)

Monitor to ensure the amount does not exceed 10% of the total daily feed intake. Overindulging in any new treat can cause digestive upset.

How to Feed Mushrooms to Chickens?

Follow these tips for safely feeding mushrooms:

  • Start with store-bought mushrooms to avoid toxic varieties
  • Always wash mushrooms to remove dirt or debris
  • Trim off and discard any bruised or rotten parts
  • Use a sharp knife to chop mushrooms into small pieces
  • Add mushrooms into feed, serve free choice in a separate dish, or hand feed for bonding
  • Introduce slowly and watch for signs of allergies or sensitivity
  • Cook mushrooms, if preferred, to soften their texture
  • Pair feeding mushrooms with access to fresh water
  • Clean up any uneaten mushrooms within a few hours
Chickens Foraging on Plants (image by Kim Gorga)
Chickens Foraging on Plants

How Often to Feed Mushrooms to Chickens?

The ideal mushroom feeding frequency is 2-3 times per week. This provides health benefits without overdoing it.

Monitor your flock’s appetite when first introducing mushrooms. Decreased feed intake or loose droppings mean to scale back or discontinue mushrooms.

Aim to offer mushrooms as part of a varied diet. Rotate with other healthy treats like mealworms, fruits, greens, and yogurt. Variety ensures balanced nutrition.

Can Baby Chickens Eat Mushrooms?

Mushrooms are safe for chicks starting around 3-4 weeks old as their digestive system matures.

Special preparation is needed for baby chicks:

  • Chop or grind mushrooms into tiny crumb-sized pieces
  • Cook mushrooms to soften for easier eating and digestion
  • Mix just a pinch of mushrooms into the feed the first few times
  • Slowly increase small amounts as chicks grow

Close supervision is important when feeding chicks new foods. Monitor them while eating to be sure mushrooms are swallowed properly and not inhaled into the trachea.

With prudent preparation and gradual introduction, mushrooms make a nutritious supplement even for young chickens.

Young Chicks Inside The Coop

Mushrooms offer a tasty treat for chickens that provides protein, key vitamins, and health-boosting compounds. With some basic preparation and safety precautions, chickens can safely feast on fungi! Start with small amounts of store-bought varieties and watch for any adverse reactions before considering trying wild mushrooms. Follow these guidelines to make mushrooms a nutritious addition to your flock’s buffet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can chickens eat mushrooms raw?

Yes, chickens can eat mushrooms raw. Mushrooms are a nutritious treat for chickens and can be offered either fresh or cooked. However, it’s essential to ensure that the mushrooms are safe for consumption and free from any harmful contaminants.

Can laying hens eat mushrooms?

Yes, laying hens can eat mushrooms. Mushrooms can be a healthy addition to a chicken’s diet, providing essential nutrients. It’s important to introduce them gradually and in moderation, monitoring the chickens’ reactions to ensure they tolerate the new treat well.

Can chickens eat mushroom gills?

Chickens can eat mushroom gills. The gills are a natural part of the mushroom and are safe for chickens to consume. As with any new food, introduce mushrooms slowly into their diet and observe their response to ensure they don’t have any adverse reactions.

Can chickens have moldy mushrooms?

No, chickens should not be given moldy mushrooms. Mold can produce toxins harmful to chickens, leading to health issues or even death. Always provide fresh and uncontaminated mushrooms to ensure the well-being of your chickens. Regularly check for signs of mold or spoilage before offering mushrooms as a treat.