Can Chickens Eat Date Seeds?

Can Chickens Eat Date Seeds?



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I’ll never forget the day I first gave my chickens some dates.

It was a hot summer afternoon in June and I was sitting on my back porch enjoying a snack of fresh medjool dates that I had picked up from the farmer’s market.

The sweet sticky caramel-like taste of the ripe dates was perfect for the sweltering heat.

As I was eating, I looked over and noticed my three chickens – Henrietta, Beatrice, and Agnes – roaming around the yard looking for bugs and tidbits to eat.

Feeling generous on that sunny day, I decided to throw a couple dates into the pen to see if the chickens might enjoy the fruits.

Well, it was like I had given them gold nuggets from a treasure chest!

The three birds came rushing over and began frantically pecking at the dates, making excited clucking sounds the whole time.

They ate those few dates faster than I could blink.

I was amazed at how much they loved the sweetness.

Soon enough though, all that was left behind were the large oblong pits from the dates.

I didn’t want those to go to waste, so a question popped into my mind: can chickens eat date seeds?

Are Date Seeds Safe for Chickens?

Can Chickens Eat Date Seeds?

I had never considered feeding date seeds to my chickens before that day.

So I did some research to find out if the seeds would be safe or dangerous for chickens to eat.

I looked on backyard chicken forums, called my local ag extension office, and even asked some chicken-owning friends.

The consensus was that date seeds are not only safe for chickens, but can provide some good nutritional benefits.

I learned that date seeds contain fiber, protein, fat, and carbohydrates that can supplement a chicken’s diet.

The healthy fats and protein can serve as an added source for important nutrients chickens need.

And the fiber in the seeds aids their digestive system.

I did find out I would need to crack or grind up the seeds first before feeding them though, since they are rock hard in their natural raw state.

Chickens might have a tough time breaking open unprocessed seeds to access the nutrients inside.

I also read that date seeds contain tannins, which can possibly limit nutrient absorption if eaten in extremely large quantities over time.

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The key would be moderation.

Overall though, the seeds seemed like a healthy addition to their diet if fed properly.

Benefits of Feeding Date Seeds to Chickens

Can Chickens Eat Date Seeds?

Based on my research, here are some of the benefits I learned that feeding date seeds can provide for chickens:

  • High in fiber to support healthy digestion
  • Provide added protein for growth and egg production
  • Supply healthy fats for skin/feather health
  • Contain carbohydrates for energy
  • Cracked seeds can aid beak conditioning
  • Act as a natural treat chickens go crazy over
  • Offer variety and enrichment in their diet
  • Give chickens something fun to peck and forage
  • Easily accessible and affordable treat option

I was really excited to discover all the ways date seeds could benefit my small backyard flock.

Chickens can get bored with the same old feed and treats.

Date seeds seemed like a novel, nutritious and fun way to supplement their diet.

I knew my chickens’ beaks and feathers were looking a little dull.

The protein, fat and “beak-ercise” from the seeds could provide a boost.

And who doesn’t love an obsessed chicken running for a tasty new treat?

Date seeds are also so easy to access after enjoying fresh dates yourself.

It’s a waste-free, budget-friendly chicken treat possibility.

How to Feed Date Seeds Safely

Can Chickens Eat Date Seeds?

Wanting to start sprinkling some date seeds for my flock, I looked into the best practices to feed them safely:

  • Always crack or grind the whole seeds – they are rock hard otherwise
  • Introduce slowly at first to avoid digestive upset
  • Feed in moderation – no more than 1-2 tablespoons per chicken
  • Make sure chickens have access to fresh clean water at all times
  • Store any extra seeds in a sealed bucket or container
  • Avoid feeding seeds that may be moldy or rotting
  • Observe chickens after feeding and remove seeds if any issues
  • Mix with crumble feed for easier eating
  • Scattering seeds across pen makes for fun foraging

I invested in a good hammer and got to work crushing a big batch of seeds so they were broken into much smaller pieces.

This made them safer for eating and digestion.

I keep the crushed seeds in a sealed bucket in my shed.

I give my chickens just a small handful each a few times a week.

They get so thrilled hearing those shells rattle as I walk up!

I sprinkle the seeds across the bare spots in their pen.

Watching my chickens run around foraging for their treat never gets old.

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What Type of Date Seeds Can Chickens Eat?

Can Chickens Eat Date Seeds?

With hundreds of varieties, I was curious if chickens can eat seeds from all different kinds of dates or just some.

After looking into it, I found that chickens can eat seeds from most major types of dates.

Some of the more common date varieties like Medjool, Deglet Noor, Zahidi, Halawi, and Barhi have seeds sturdy enough for chickens once cracked.

I avoid feeding seeds from more delicate, soft date varieties like the Honey date.

Their seeds tend to be weaker and not as nutritious for chickens.

Chickens have also been known to enjoy seeds from exotic date types like the yellow Hayany and dark brown Khustawi.

Providing seeds from a mix of varieties adds diversity to their diet and nutrition sources.

I like to pick up whatever fresh date varieties I find at the market to expand what seeds I feed my flock.

The differences in taste and seed texture keep things interesting.

Do Date Seeds Contain Calcium for Chickens?

Since eggshells require a good amount of calcium, I looked into whether date seeds have any of this important mineral.

From what I found, date seeds do contain small amounts of calcium.

About 10% of the calcium is found in the thin seed coat and flesh just below.

The calcium content is not huge but can still provide a complementary calcium source.

The levels may be helpful for chickens at risk of osteoporosis.

But date seeds should not replace a complete calcium supplement if needed.

I also feed my chickens standard calcium supplements like oyster shell.

The date seeds offer just a little calcium boost to go with it.

Every bit helps for strong eggshell production.

Growing Your Own Dates for Seeds

After learning the nutritional benefits, I looked into possibly growing dates myself solely to harvest the seeds.

Date palms take 3-5 years to produce fruit, so it’s quite an investment!

Date palms also only grow in hot, dry climates like deserts.

This makes homegrown dates quite challenging where I live.

Starting seeds or rooting offsets is an option but will take many years before seed harvest.

For me, gathering seeds from store-bought dates is the only real option.

Luckily dried dates work just fine and are easier to find than fresh ones.

It may not be cost effective for just the seeds, but growing dates is fun to try!

Are There Downsides to Feeding Date Seeds?

While I was glad to find the many benefits, I still wondered if there are any downsides to look out for when feeding date seeds.

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The main risks come from overfeeding or not preparing them properly.

As with any treat, too many seeds may lead to obesity or diarrhea.

And hard whole seeds can be a choking risk if swallowed.

As long as I crack the shells and stick to just 1-2 tablespoons per chicken, the risks seem low.

I also watch to ensure the seeds don’t look or smell moldy before feeding.

Rotten seeds could make a chicken very sick.

Following proper feeding guidelines, I have not observed any issues so far.

How Do You Grind Date Seeds for Chickens?

Grinding the hard date seeds into smaller pieces makes them safer and easier to eat.

But I found that standard food processors don’t work well on these rock hard seeds.

The first method I tried was putting seeds in a heavy zip-lock bag and hammering them.

This worked decently but some pieces were still fairly large.

Using a mortar and pestle designed for grinding spices worked much better.

It pulverized the seeds into a perfect crumbly mixture.

I also found a manual coffee grinder just for seeds was very effective.

The important thing is grinding them down as fine as possible before feeding to the chickens.

Their beaks will thank you!

The Verdict on Date Seeds for Chickens

I never would have thought those leftover pits from my scrumptious medjool dates could turn into such a highly-coveted treat for my chickens!

I’m so glad I did some research and gave the seeds a try after that first date-feeding experience months ago.

Offering a sprinkle of cracked date seeds has become an easy and fun supplemental part of my chickens’ diet.

They get so pumped when they see me walk up with those shells rattling in the bucket.

The date seeds provide extra fat, protein and fiber to support their health needs.

And they keep my chickens active foraging for buried treasure in the pen.

Watching those excited beaks scurry around the yard never ceases to make me smile.

So in summary, yes – chickens absolutely LOVE eating date seeds!

In moderation, the seeds provide great benefits and enrichment.

I highly recommend any chicken owner giving their flock this sweet, affordable and waste-free treat.

Just be sure to crack the tough shells first and introduce incrementally.

Your feathered friends will thank you!

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