Can Chickens Eat Buckwheat?

Can Chickens Eat Buckwheat?



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I still remember the day I first got my little flock of chickens.

I was so excited to have a fresh supply of eggs, but had no idea how much work it would be to keep the feathered ladies happy and healthy.

After just a few days, I realized I needed to learn a lot more about chicken care and feeding!

One of the first things I researched was what types of grains and seeds chickens can eat.

I wanted to make sure my girls were getting plenty of variety in their diet.

And I’ll admit, I had no idea what buckwheat was at the time!

What is Buckwheat?

Can Chickens Eat Buckwheat?

Buckwheat may sound like wheat, but it’s actually not a grain at all.

It’s the seed from a flowering plant that’s related to rhubarb and sorrel.

The seeds are triangular shaped and used similarly to grains.

It’s a great source of nutrients like manganese, magnesium, and fiber.

Buckwheat is most commonly used to make soba noodles and pancake mixes.

But it can also be fed as a treat to chickens in moderation.

When I first started researching chicken treats, I kept hearing about feeding them buckwheat.

I asked around to some fellow chicken owners and they all raved about how much their hens loved it.

But I still had no clue what buckwheat actually was or where to find it.

I figured it must be some type of wheat or grain.

So when I went to the feed store and couldn’t locate buckwheat with the other grains, I was totally confused.

I had to ask the shopkeeper, who explained that buckwheat isn’t really a wheat at all.

It’s actually the seed from a flowering plant called a buckwheat.

The seeds are triangle shaped, not long like grains of wheat or oats.

Once I saw a picture, I felt pretty silly for assuming buckwheat was a grain!

But now I know what to look for and can pick some up anytime as a healthy treat for my girls.

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The Nutritional Benefits of Buckwheat for Chickens

Can Chickens Eat Buckwheat?

Buckwheat has quite a few nutrients that are great for chicken health:

Protein – Helps chickens grow muscle and lay eggs

Amino acids – Important for egg production

Magnesium – Strengthens eggshells

Manganese – Boosts bone health

With benefits like these, it’s no wonder buckwheat makes a nutritious supplemental feed for chickens!

The protein and amino acids in buckwheat are especially helpful for laying hens.

Eggs are made up of a lot of protein, so my girls need a good protein source to keep producing them.

The older ladies in my flock sometimes get thin eggshells as they age.

So the magnesium in buckwheat helps keep their shells nice and strong.

I also have a couple bantam chickens who are prone to weak bones.

The manganese in buckwheat helps prevent bone issues for my smaller girls.

It’s been great seeing how buckwheat helps with different health needs for each chicken.

Some use the protein for laying, some strengthen their bones.

But they all go crazy for those tasty little triangle seeds!

How Much Buckwheat Should Chickens Eat?

Can Chickens Eat Buckwheat?

While buckwheat can be a healthy treat for chickens, you don’t want to go overboard.

Too much buckwheat could lead to loose droppings since it’s fairly high in fiber.

A good rule of thumb is to limit treats like buckwheat to 10% or less of your chickens’ total daily diet.

For most backyard chickens, 1-2 tablespoons of buckwheat per bird per day is plenty.

Mix it into their feeder to encourage foraging and provide variety.

Or hide it around their run so they can scratch and peck for the tasty seeds!

When I first got buckwheat for my flock, I had no idea how much to give them.

I starting tossing big handfuls into their run, thinking they’d love the bounty.

But then I noticed loose, watery poops – a sign I was overdoing it.

After asking other chicken keepers, I realized you only need a small amount as a supplemental treat.

Now I measure out a couple tablespoons per chicken and mix it into their feed.

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They have to forage through to find the buckwheat triangles.

It keeps them busy and happy without disrupting their digestion.

The variety seems to perk them up and get them laying more eggs too!

Where to Buy Buckwheat for Chickens

Now that I knew buckwheat made a great treat, I needed to find a source to buy it from.

At first I checked the same feed store where I get my regular chicken feed.

But I had no luck finding buckwheat there with the other grains.

Next I tried a health food store, since I know people sometimes eat buckwheat.

They had whole buckwheat groats for human consumption, but only in huge bulk bags.

Finally I found rolled buckwheat at my local farm supply store, sold in smaller 5 pound bags.

It’s meant as horse and livestock feed, but perfectly fine for chickens too.

The rolled variety makes it easier for the chickens to eat compared to whole groats.

Now I keep a bag handy and pick up a new one every month or two.

It took some searching, but now I’ve got an easy source for buckwheat as a treat!

How to Serve Buckwheat to Chickens

I like to mix up how I serve buckwheat to keep things interesting.

Stirring some into their feeder works well for ease.

But for something fun, I’ll hide buckwheat seeds around their run.

Watching the chickens scratch and peck for the treats keeps them active.

Sometimes I’ll also put seeds in a suet feeder or scatter them in a digging box.

The hens have to work a bit to get the buckwheat from these dispensers.

It satisfies their foraging instinct and stimulates natural behaviors.

I also give buckwheat as boredom busters on rainy days stuck inside.

Stirring a handful into a tub of pine shavings gives them something to do.

Switching up how it’s served keeps the chickens interested and motivated.

Sprouting Buckwheat for Chickens

Besides serving buckwheat seeds, I also sprout some for the chickens’ vegetables.

It’s easy to sprout buckwheat by just soaking the seeds overnight.

Drain off any excess water in the morning.

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Then rinse twice a day until little sprout tails appear after a few days.

The chickens love munching down the entire sprouted seed, tails and all.

Sprouting makes the seeds more nutritious and easier to digest.

It also gives my chickens some leafy greens along with their standard feed.

I like to sprout buckwheat once a week to give them a veggie boost.

Just a cup or two provides fresh sprouts for all the flock to share.

It’s simple, frugal and nutritional!

Feeding Buckwheat to Baby Chicks

I also use buckwheat when I have new baby chicks in the brooder.

Medicating baby chicks for coccidia can lead to loose poop.

A pinch of buckwheat in their feed helps bulk things up.

The triangle shape also encourages the chicks to peck and forage.

They learn important skills for finding food young.

I continue giving a bit of buckwheat as I transition chicks outside.

It provides some variety along with their starter feed.

The digestible protein ensures proper growth and feathering.

Soon they’ll be ready to join the adult flock and share the buckwheat treats!

Other Types of Poultry That Enjoy Buckwheat

All my poultry enjoy buckwheat, not just the chickens!

My ducks devour it and funnily nibble it seed by seed.

The turkeys will come sprinting for their share.

And my geese honk excitedly seeing me with the bag.

It helps round out nutritional gaps for waterfowl.

The guineas are very particular but enjoy it too.

Even the game birds like pheasant and quail relish buckwheat.

It seems all species recognize those tasty triangular seeds!

So if you have a mixed flock like me, buckwheat makes a great treat for all.

Just adjust serving sizes based on the type of bird.

But expect happy honks, gobbles and cackles at treat time!

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