If you are raising chickens, you may have a number of questions regarding what you can give your chickens to eat and what you can’t. In order to properly care for animals, it is necessary to have a full knowledge of which foods they can safely ingest and which are harmful to them.
One of the many foods that poultry owners wonder about is cheese. Can chickens eat cheese? Moreover, is it safe?
Definitely one of the more obscure foods to think about for birds, and the short answer is…a bit.
In fact, a small amount of dairy products in their diet is certainly beneficial. Just a little bit. You can also feed products such as cheese puffs, popcorn, pizza, and more.
This is because it is an excellent source of protein, which is very beneficial for chickens as they need an insane amount of protein to lay good-quality eggs.
In this article, we will find out how a chicken’s diet is affected by cheese.
To make cheese, milk proteins are coagulated, and the curds are separated from the whey. It generally comes in two forms: aged and fresh.
Pasteurized milk is used to make fresh cheese, whereas raw milk is used to make the aged version.
After pasteurization, beneficial bacteria, also known as cultures, are added to test the flavor and texture. To make it harder, the same curds are cooked at a relatively high temperature.
In order to remove the curds from the casein (a type of protein), the milk proteins are thickened with rennet, a milk-clotting enzyme, or a kind of citric acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar. During this process, the cheese is cut into slices to aid in the separation of curds from the whey.
While cooking, the curds are stirred frequently to obtain the right firmness and temperature. The whey is then drained away, leaving a well-formed curd. Before pressing for 3 to 12 hours, the curds undergo a transformation. After the transformation is complete, the curd is left to cure for several weeks and even years.
There are a lot of benefits of feeding chickens cheese. Some of them are:
Keeps Bones Strong
It is a good source of vitamin D and calcium. They’ll aid in the formation of strong bones, which will ensure a healthy childhood free of deformities.
Bone fractures in chickens, particularly the older or more mature ones, can be caused by porous, fragile bones caused by a deficiency in calcium and vitamin D.
Great Source of Protein
As mentioned above, chickens need high levels of protein in their diets because it helps in their molting process. In addition, chickens are dependent on protein supplements because their bodies are incapable of storing them. Casein found in cheese lowers blood pressure and helps chickens better absorb minerals.
Rich in Vitamins and Minerals
It also contains Vitamin A, vitamin D, and phosphorus, which are excellent for chickens’ health.
Helps in Weight Gain
Being a rich source of fat, protein, and other beneficial nutrients, cheese can help chickens in gaining weight.
However, you must take caution when feeding them. Consuming large amounts can lead to obesity, which can be harmful to a chicken’s body. Keep them healthy by alternating high-energy foods. To meet their nutritional requirements, make sure they eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Boosts the Immune System
Antioxidants can help chickens maintain a healthy immune system and ward off the onset of age-related health issues.
Antioxidant-rich variants, such as cheddar cheese, can help keep chickens healthy and disease-free.
Types You Can Feed Chickens
When it comes to feeding cheese to backyard chickens, there are a lot of options you can choose from.
Your birds may benefit from goat cheese since it is made from goat milk. Goat’s milk is completely safe for your birds and better than cow’s milk. There is very little acidic and aromatic content, so it’s no problem with them.
You can also feed them shredded cheese. It is completely safe for them to eat and also comes in various forms. In addition, the shredded form, such as mozzarella, is a lot easier to consume.
Another great option is cottage cheese, which is a lumpy and very soft cheese and is great for your birds.
Other types that are good for chickens are gouda, cream, and blue cheese.
Some of them contain harmful additives, such as artificial colors or flavors. If you are unsure about a particular type, it’s better not to include them in the chickens’ diet.
Apart from the shredded form, here are some more ways of making chickens eat cheese:
Cut it into small chunks and give them to your chickens to enjoy. You can also make spreads and place them on bread or crackers.
Another way to make chickens eat cheese is to slice it. This way, they eat more efficiently and are prevented from eating moldy and rotten parts.
Turning it into crumbles is a great way to feed and also allows for easy nutrient absorption.
Mixing with Feed
A simple way is to mix it with their feed. You use a feed mixer to mix it. It will make sure that even picky birds get an adequate amount of this dairy product each day.
Other Dairy Products They Can Consume
Now that you know that cheese is safe for chickens, the question arises, “Are other dairy products safe too?” The answer is no. Lactose can cause diarrhea, stomach pain, and other digestive issues in chickens because their anatomy isn’t designed to break that down.
If you want, you can feed them with lactose-free milk or skimmed low-fat milk. Also, treat them with raw milk instead of pasteurized milk. You can also give them yogurt, which is a healthy source of probiotic bacteria.
If you are worried about the high amount of calcium consumption, you can also feed them oyster shells, which are soft shells that have low calcium content.
Apart from the above, there are some additional concerns that people may have, such as:
Can I add other products with cheese?
Yes, definitely! You can either combine it with scrambled eggs or a piece of bread. Chickens love to eat that.
What about butter?
As mentioned above, not all forms of dairy products are beneficial for them, and butter is one of them. So, it is best to add butter to chickens’ diet.
How much cheese can chickens digest at once?
It is advisable to give them only a small amount, like a block of cheese, so that they can easily digest it.
We hope that through this article, you have found the answer to the question, “Can chickens eat cheese?” We discussed some of the most important points that could help you feed cheese to your feather birds in the right way.
Also, make sure not to feed them too much since it can have an adverse effect on their health. Moderation is key, and too much of anything is not good, is it?