Is It Really All Good to Give Your Chickens Chicken Broth?



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You ain’t gonna believe what happened to me last weekend.

I was out in the coop around 5pm on Saturday feedin’ the girls their supper.

Normally this is one of my favorite times of the day cause the girls are always so excited fluttering around my feet waitin’ for their grub.

But this day was about to take an unexpected turn.

As I was scoopin’ scratch into their trough, I realized with a sinking feeling in my stomach that the bag was bone dry! Now usually I prided myself on keepin’ close track of their food supply but I guess all the excitement of the college football games I’d been watchin’ had me distracted.

The hens started squawkin’ louder than a flock of seagulls, flappin’ their wings and peckin’ at each other in a full on panic.

“Oh man” I thought, “I gotta think of somethin’ fast or there’s gonna be a revolt in this coop!”.

In a flash of inspiration, I remembered the big pot of chicken noodle soup I’d made the night before.

While the noodles were all gone, there was still a good few cups of broth leftover languishing in the fridge.

Hey, chickens love any scrap of grub right? So I grabbed the pot and dashed out to the coop.

The girls went absolutely bonkers for it! They were dippin’ their beaks right in, lappin’ it up like their lives depended on it. Crisis averted! Or so I thought…

Chickens can safely eat chicken broth on occasion as a snack or supplement to their regular feed.

But as I was about to discover the hard way, too much of a good thing is never a good idea for a chicken’s sensitive system.

Read on to find out what happened after my unexpected “soup kitchen” experiment!

What’s in Chicken Broth Anyway?


Good question! To truly understand what went down, we gotta break down just what’s in that broth I was doling out.

Chicken broth is basically water that’s been simmered for hours with chicken bones, and sometimes a few veggies like carrots, celery and onions are tossed in too. The long slow cooking pulls all those minerals, proteins and flavors out of the bones and into the liquid.

Broths are low in calories but high in nutrients. For example, a cup of broth contains around 20% of your daily calcium needs. The primary proteins come from collagen too – that’s the connective tissue found in chicken skin and bones. Collagen’s important for strong bones, joints and gut health in both chickens and people.

Beyond the nutrients, there’s also salts like phosphorus and amino acids leached from the bones. Now you gotta remember chickens evolved to get most of their hydration from their foods, not liquid. So a splash of broth is usually fine but something tells me those girls got more than a splash from my soup pot!

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Can My Chickens Safely Enjoy Broth As a Treat?


In small amounts, the answer is definitely yes – broth can be a real treat for your flock. I’m talking 1/4 to 1/2 a cup max per 5 birds, mixed right into their regular feed.

Those minerals, proteins and flavors add extra nutrition and pizzazz. It’s like chicken fast food for them! The salts perk them up and that collagen is great for strong eggshells. Just don’t go overboard, like I clearly did.

Too much liquid can disrupt their crop and digestion since their systems aren’t built for guzzlin’ gulps of broth.

Start small, see how their tummies handle it. If no runny poops or off behavior, slowly increase the amount over a few weeks.

And definitely don’t make it a daily thing – once or twice a week as a snack or supplement is plenty. Always have proper feed and scratch available as the main part of their diet. Follow those guidelines and a splash of broth is A-OK as a special chicken treat.

What Happened After My Soup Delivery?


Buddy, you aren’t gonna believe the mess I woke up to the next morning! Those sweet little chickens I’d gone to bed with? Overnight they’d transformed into a flock of demons straight from hell.

They were pacing back and forth in frantic circles, clucking louder than a scarecrow and, well let’s just say their gift packages were anything but gift-wrapped.

The whole coop was a Jackson Pollock painting of poop, and reeked worse than a port-a-potty in August. It looked like a crime scene from one of them CSI shows!

Clearly their sensitive crop and guts were not prepared to handle the influx of sodium, minerals and straight up liquid I’d delivered in that broth. It was like pumping pure grain alcohol into their systems instead of milk.

Within an hour their insides were in an uproar. By morning the resulting fiasco spoke for itself. I suddenly understood chickens have a whole different digestive process than humans. What goes down smooth for me ain’t the same for a bird!

Tips for Serving Broth Safely

So after my debacle, I did some research to better understand how to properly mix a little broth into the girls’ diet without upsetting their world. Here’s what I learned:

  • Stick with plain, low-sodium chicken or veggie broth with no added herbs or seasonings. Keep it simple!
  • Start by mixing 1/4 cup broth into their feed for every 5 birds. Go slow so you don’t shock their systems.
  • Wait a full week then slowly increase the amount by another 1/4 cup each time to let their crops adjust gradually.
  • Only offer broth about 1-2 times per week as a snack or supplement. Don’t replace their regular feed.
  • Always have plenty of the normal scratch, mash or pellets available as their main diet. Broth is a treat, not a meal.
  • Watch for any runny poops or odd behavior as a sign to back off the broth amount a little.
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How to Make Your Own Nutritious Broth

Since store bought broths can be high in sodium, making your own is a healthier option to feed your flock occasionally.

All you need are leftover chicken carcasses, bones or wings along with some veggies. Throw everything into a big pot and fill with water, covering by an inch or two. Bring to a gentle simmer for at least 6 hours, skimming off any foam that rises. The longer it simmers, the richer the flavors and nutrients extracted. For extra gut benefits, add chopped garlic or ginger to the pot too.

Once finished, strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve into another pot or large jars, pressing on the solids to extract all the deliciousness. Refrigerate overnight so any excess fat rises to the top and solidifies, which you can then remove.

Homemade broth will keep in the fridge for 3-5 days or can be frozen in ice cube trays for up to 3 months. Just pop out a cube or two and mix into the chickens’ feed when wanted as a special treat. The bones provide minerals and collagen while veggies add vitamins – it’s win-win for their health!

Serving Broth to Baby Chicks

New baby chicks have even more delicate digestive systems than adults. Their crops are tiny so they need food and water presented in small, frequent portions. Broth can still be part of their diet but requires more care.

The best approach is to dampen chick starter mash just until moist throughout by mixing in broth a tablespoon at a time. This allows them to easily pick at and consume the soaked feed rather than attempting to drink straight broth. Always have clean, fresh water available too.

Start by offering this moistened feed 3-4 times per day in small batches they can finish within 15 minutes. Gradually decrease broth additions as they grow over 4-6 weeks until transitioning to dry feed by 8 weeks.

Watch that feed and bedding stay dry in between feedings. Slow, consistent introductions of moisture will nurture belly development without taxing immature crops. With patience, baby chicks can healthfully enjoy broth-enriched feed from a young age.

Adjusting Broth for Different Life Stages

Chickens have changing nutritional needs throughout their life, from birth to old age. While broth provides flexible benefits, some adjustments should be made based on flock age and production.

For example, pullets and laying hens require extra calcium and protein for strong eggshells. Stir a teaspoon of powdered calcium or oyster shell into each quart of broth before mixing into feed. This time of rapid growth and production puts extra demands on their systems.

For older chickens in their later years, broth can help soothe sore joints and add nourishment as activity levels decline. Turmeric, ginger or garlic are especially gentle yet effective anti-inflammatory spices that pair nicely. Or mix a mashed soft boiled egg or two into the broth, providing easy-to-digest protein and nutrients. Little tweaks help broth meet changing needs across all flock life stages for optimum health and productivity.

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Flavoring Broths Naturally for Enjoyment

While seasoning should be limited when broth makes up a significant portion of feed, spicing things up a touch promotes interest and enjoyment. Dried herbs like thyme, oregano and rosemary contribute flavors without sodium.

Ground flax or hemp seeds add nutrition too. Finely minced garlic or ginger from the garden pack powerful yet gentle antioxidants. Chicken also love the aromatic zest of citrus fruits like oranges and lemons.

Save peels and zest from cooking to add a refreshing note during simmering. Just a pinch of dried red pepper lends a pleasant tingle without heat. The more interest and pleasure chickens take in licking up broth, the less waste and mess as well. A little creativity with natural, low-sodium flavors makes broth something for them to anticipate rather than just another supplement in their diet.

Broth Variations for Year-Round Wellness

Diversity ensures chickens get a wide range of nutrients, especially during seasonal changes when fresh foods vary. So think beyond plain chicken broth. In summer, simmer veggie scraps like kale stems, bean pods and carrot tops for a mineral-rich bonus.

Come fall, roast chicken carcasses with butternut squash or parsnips for a comforting warmth. During winter, simmer whole bones overnight to fully extract every last compound. Each variation subtly changes the balance of broth benefits.

Meaty bones from ham or turkey provide extra protein, calcium and fat when allowed to simmer extra long. Crab, shrimp or fish shells add vital minerals like iodine, zinc and magnesium depending on your areas’ offerings.

Rotate ingredients biweekly to cover nutritional bases. Broths freeze beautifully too so you can batch prep seasonally. With a freezer stocked with homemade broths, your flock’s wellness stays supported all year long.

Broth Recipes to Satisfy Every Palate

Just like people, chickens’ tastes change depending on mood or season too. Keep them interested in broth with new recipes now and then. Herb broth combines rosemary, oregano and thyme for robust flavor. Gingery carrot soup warms on chilly days. For a spicy kick, blend chicken stock with avocado or mango for carotenoids and flavor compounds to perk them right up. The possibilities are endless!

Don’t forget about adding whole grains, leftover rice or quinoa, or pureed beans directly to broth before serving too. The proteins and textures will be well-relished.

Getting creative satisfies natural foraging instincts while keeping nutrition balanced and digestion steady. Your ladies will lay with gusto and grow sleek feathers knowing homemade broths will keep bellies full and spirits bright through each season.

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