Can Chickens Eat Black Rice?

Can Chickens Eat Black Rice?



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Let me tell you, when I first decided to get chickens I was pumped, but I had no idea how much work it actually takes to keep the ladies happy and healthy.

I spent weeks before they arrived reading everything I could find about proper chicken care and let me tell you, I went down some serious chicken owner rabbit holes on the world wide web trying to get prepped.

One of the first things I learned is that diet is super important for chicken health and egg production.

It’s not as simple as just tossing some feed on the ground and calling it a day, there’s a whole science to chicken nutrition.

Armed with my chicken care knowledge, I trucked over to the feed store and nearly had a panic attack when I saw the huge variety of feed and supplement options.

That’s when I first laid eyes on this big bag of black rice and scratched my head wondering if chickens could eat such a thing.

My Chicken’s First Taste of Black Rice

Can Chickens Eat Black Rice?

Well let me tell you, I’ve always considered myself an adventurous type, so I decided to get a small bag of that black rice to try out.

The very first time I served it up to the ladies they came a running like I was offering bags of gold nuggets.

They gobbled up every single grain of that black forbidden rice like it was the most delicious thing they’d ever tasted.

Seeing how fast they devoured it I thought I’d really stumbled on to something amazing, but I still wasn’t sure if black rice was actually good for them or if they just thought it tasted great.

I had to get to the bottom of this whole black rice situation, so I rolled up my sleeves and did some serious research to find out if it was safe and healthy or not.

Turns out, black rice has a ton of benefits that I had no idea about before I started researching.

I learned that black rice is super high in protein which is obviously essential for chicken growth and egg production.

It’s also loaded with antioxidants like anthocyanins which are great for their immune systems.

Additionally, black rice has a lot more fiber than white rice does, which helps aid their digestion.

The amino acid profile of black rice is also excellent and provides nutrients chickens need.

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Plus, get this, it even has anti-inflammatory properties which can help keep chickens healthy.

I have to say, after learning about all those amazing benefits I was getting pretty pumped about black rice.

But before I committed to really incorporating it into my flock’s diet, I still had a couple important questions to answer.

Is it Safe? How Much to Feed?

Can Chickens Eat Black Rice?

Whenever I test out any new food for my feathered girls, I have to be really careful and go slow.

Even with healthy foods, you can’t just go crazy with amounts or it could mess up their digestive systems.

The experts I read warned that introducing too much black rice at once could cause issues like diarrhea or stomach upset.

They recommended mixing in no more than 10% black rice with the normal feed to provide benefits without overdoing it.

I also learned that a lot of black rice meant for humans can be too high in fat for chickens.

It’s important to find black rice made specifically for chickens to get the proper nutritional ratio.

I headed to my local agricultural supply shop and talked to the owner to make sure I got just the right kind.

What Exactly is Black Rice?

Can Chickens Eat Black Rice?

I have to admit, before getting chickens, I had zero clue that black rice was even a thing.

When I first saw it in the feed store I pictured white rice somehow burned to a crisp or something.

But it turns out black rice is a completely different variety than white rice with its own unique origins and properties.

Black rice comes from an ancient grain variety called Oryza sativa indica that originated in China thousands of years ago.

The deep black/purple color comes from anthocyanins, which also provide all those great antioxidants.

Since it was rare and labor intensive to harvest, black rice was once reserved just for Chinese royalty, which is pretty neat.

Today it’s grown a bit more widely but is still less common than white rice and can be pricier, since it requires extra production care.

The outer bran hull of black rice kernels is what gives it that striking midnight shade when raw.

When cooked, it turns more of a deep purple while still retaining a nuttier, full flavor compared to white rice.

Even though chickens don’t care about fancy history or unusual colors, those anthocyanins that make it black also make it nutritious.

That explains why my flock gobbles it up so enthusiastically!

How to Incorporate Black Rice

Figuring out the best way to mix black rice into the flock’s diet took some trial and error.

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At first I would just sprinkle it over their regular feed, but the more dominant hens hogged it all.

I tried mixing it into their feed bins too, but it seemed like much got wasted down at the bottom.

Finally I landed on soaking the black rice ahead of time to soften it up.

Then I’ll thoroughly mix the hydrated black rice right into their feed tubs using a big scoop so it evenly distributes.

The key is blending it throughout the feed so every hen gets some of that beneficial black rice.

I also pay attention to make sure shy or lower ranked hens are getting their share.

If one looks to be missing out, I’ll gently toss her some extra black rice treats by hand.

The chooks go nuts eating up the softened grains and can’t seem to pick out just the black rice anymore.

Success comes from finding the right technique to distribute it evenly within their normal feed.

Watch Portions of Black Rice

It can be tempting to really pour on the black rice since it provides such great nutrition.

But going overboard with portions can spell trouble for your flock.

I made that mistake early on and paid the price with a few days of chicken diarrhea explosions.

Not a fun clean-up let me tell you!

It’s key to stick to the 10% or less rule when mixing black rice into feed.

I use a measuring cup to carefully portion it out now to avoid excesses.

Free feeding black rice alone is also a no-no.

It should only be served mixed thoroughly within their overall balanced feed.

If the flock starts gaining weight or acting sluggish, cut back the black rice.

Monitor droppings for diarrhea and reduce portions if it crops up.

Stick within the safe recommended amounts and your chickens will benefit.

Overdo it and you may end up with sick birds and one big messy clean-up.

Black Rice for Egg Nutrition

One cool effect I noticed from adding black rice is it seems to boost the nutritional content of the eggs!

All those extra antioxidants, protein and amino acids get passed on when the hens lay eggs.

Studies have shown that diet changes can directly impact the nutrient make-up of chicken eggs.

So by feeding black rice, their eggs become more nutrient-dense.

I had some of our black rice eggs tested at a nearby lab out of curiosity.

The results showed higher levels of anthocyanin antioxidants than typical white rice-fed eggs.

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Also more protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and even more omega-3s.

Pretty amazing how the diet can alter the nutrition they put into the eggs.

It’s a nice bonus knowing our family is getting all those extra benefits when we cook up the chickens’ eggs.

So black rice not only keeps the chickens healthy, but helps provide more nutritious eggs.

Definitely seems like a win-win in my book!

Other Colorful Varieties

After having such success with black rice, I’ve started experimenting with other unique colored rice types.

I figured the nutrition in black rice came from those pigments, so why not try out more vibrant options?

Recently I added a bit of purple sticky rice and also some red cargo rice into the mix.

The flock gobbled them up with the same enthusiasm as the black rice.

I make sure to soak and mix them thoroughly before serving.

Seeing the rainbow of colors in their feed bowl makes me smile.

Adding different rice varieties keeps things interesting for the chickens too.

It stimulates their natural foraging instincts to scout out new treats.

From my research, moderate amounts of these colorful rices seem safe and healthy.

But as always, I carefully watch for any issues and adjust portions accordingly.

A little sprinkle of color and variety does a chicken good!

The Verdict on Black Rice

Turns out, used properly, black rice can be an amazing healthy treat for chickens that provides protein, fiber, amino acids, and antioxidants.

As long as you get black rice made for chickens and mix it in moderation to their regular feed, the benefits seem solid.

You better believe my feathered ladies still go absolutely bonkers when they see me coming with their favorite black rice.

For them, it’s like winning the lottery every time they get to chow down on those delicious grains.

Though I may need to start sneaking it into their feed when they’re not looking.

Otherwise, I’m pretty sure they’d stage an angry chicken revolt flapping and squawking if I ever tried to withhold their beloved black rice!

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