Can My Chickens Chow Down on Dates and Rice Flour?



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I grew up on a chicken farm in rural Alabama, so I know a thing or two about feeding those cluckers.

Let me tell you about the time my Pa caught me sneaking dates from the pantry to give to our chickens.

I was 10 years old and had just got back from a trip with Ma to the market in town.

She let me pick out a bag of medjool dates as a special treat.

I loved their sweet, sticky taste.

But being the mischievous kid I was, I got it in my head that the chickens would go crazy for dates too.

So later that day I snuck a handful of dates out to the coop.

Those chickens gobbled them down faster than Pa at a pie eating contest!

Their funny little eyes got wide and they made excited clucking sounds I’d never heard before.

Well Pa saw me through the window and boy was he mad.

“Tanner!” he yelled.

“You can’t go wasting good food on those dang chickens!”

But seeing how much they loved those dates gave me an idea.

Can Chickens Eat Dates?


Turns out chickens go bonkers for sweet, sticky dates!

All chickens, including backyard and free-range chickens, can safely eat dates.

The fiber, vitamins, minerals and natural sugars in dates provide lots of nutrition.

Dates are high in potassium, magnesium, copper and manganese.

These minerals help support bone health and egg production.

The natural sugars give chickens quick energy.

And the fiber aids digestion.

We raise Rhode Island Red chickens on our farm.

When I give them chopped dates they get so excited.

They come running as soon as they see me with the sticky sweet treats.

I make sure to chop the dates into small pieces first.

Whole dates could pose a choking risk.

But bite-sized pieces are easy for chickens to eat.

I also remove the pits ahead of time.

Date pits could cause digestive upset or obstruction.

Our chickens will gobble up as many dates as we’ll give them!

Dates give an energy boost and the chickens find them delicious.

It’s a win-win!

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Mix Dates in with Chicken Feed


Back to my story, I asked Pa if we could mix a few chopped, pitted dates in with the chicken feed to give them a little treat.

He wasn’t too sure, but decided to give it a try.

And let me tell you, those chickens went hog wild!

Their egg production went up that week too.

Usually our hens give us about 4-5 eggs each per week.

But when I started mixing dates into their feed, some of our top layers were putting out 6-7 eggs!

The dates gave an extra boost of nutrients and energy.

This revved up their metabolism and egg production.

I use about 3-4 chopped dates per chicken and mix it into their feed.

Make sure the dates are chopped small so they don’t get wasted.

I also sprinkle in some oyster shell for extra calcium.

The shell helps ensure good egg shell strength.

So Pa quickly changed his tune on sharing dates.

Now he lets me mix a handful of chopped dates into the feed every few days.

Can Chickens Eat Rice Flour?


This brings me to my next question – can chickens eat rice flour?

Rice flour is commonly used in gluten-free baking.

Turns out, it also makes a great addition to chicken feed!

Rice flour is made from ground rice.

It contains nutrients like niacin, thiamine, iron and protein.

Niacin helps convert food into energy.

Thiamine is important for metabolism.

The iron supports red blood cell health.

And the protein provides essential amino acids for growth and egg production.

Sprinkling a bit of rice flour into feed gives an extra boost of these nutrients.

This helps fuel busy chickens.

It can provide more energy for activity.

And support feather growth and egg production.

Yes, rice flour is safe for chickens to eat and provides extra protein and nutrients.

Add Rice Flour to Chicken Feed

Start by mixing a few tablespoons of rice flour per chicken into feed.

Then monitor egg production and energy levels.

You can gradually increase up to 1/4 cup per chicken.

Rice flour is very fine, so add it slowly to prevent waste.

Stir it into their feed well so they can’t pick out only the rice flour.

I like to use brown rice flour.

It has a nuttier flavor and more nutrients than white rice flour.

Chickens seem to love the taste too.

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Rice flour mixes into feed easily.

It’s a fine, dry powder that distributes evenly.

Just take it slow at first until they get used to it.

Then watch your chickens thrive on this nutritious boost!

Who would have thought Pa’s angry face that day would lead to healthier, happier chickens?

So go ahead, give your flock some yummy dates and rice flour.

Just don’t let Pa catch you sneaking them from the pantry!

Choose the Best Date Variety for Chickens

There are many different varieties of dates available.

Each has its own unique flavor, texture and nutrition profile.

For chickens, I recommend medjool, deglet noor or honey dates.

Medjool dates are large, soft and sweet.

They are easy for chickens to eat once chopped.

Deglet noor dates are smaller and firmer.

They have a mild honey-like flavor.

Honey dates are exceptionally sweet and sticky.

Chickens go crazy for their intense sugary taste.

Avoid extremely dry varieties like thur and zoosk.

Their texture may be difficult for chickens.

Aim for soft, moist dates that are easy to chop.

The chickens will be more attracted to sweeter varieties as well.

Mix up the types to give variety.

Medjool, deglet noor and honey dates provide energy and nutrition.

Chickens will eagerly gobble down these sweet treats.

Dry Dates for Long Term Storage

Fresh dates only last about a month in the pantry.

But dry dates can be stored for up to a year.

So they are perfect for stocking up on chicken treats.

Start by pitting and chopping fresh dates.

Spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Bake at 200°F for 4-6 hours until completely dried.

Let the dates cool completely before storing.

Place the dried dates in an airtight container.

Store in a cool, dark place for up to one year.

Rehydrate dried dates before feeding to chickens.

Soak them in water for 30-60 minutes.

Then drain well and mix into feed as usual.

The chickens will love these chewy, concentrated treats.

Drying also concentrates the nutrition and flavor.

So chickens get an even bigger boost from rehydrated dates.

Enjoy nutritious date treats for your flock all year round!

Avoid Too Much Rice Bran

Rice bran is a byproduct of milling rice.

It contains valuable nutrients.

But limit how much bran you feed chickens.

Rice bran is very high in phosphorus.

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Too much can prevent chickens from absorbing calcium.

This leads to calcium deficiency and brittle bones.

Rice bran also contains a compound called phytic acid.

It can further reduce calcium and nutrient absorption.

Small amounts of rice bran are okay as a supplement.

But feed bran sparingly, no more than 1-2 tablespoons per chicken.

And make sure sufficient calcium is also provided.

Rice flour is a better alternative to bran.

It does not contain the phytic acid found in bran.

So rice flour offers nutrition benefits without the downsides.

For a nutritious boost, choose rice flour over rice bran.

Limit bran to occasional small treats.

This prevents potential mineral deficiencies.

Cook Rice for Chickens

You can also feed chickens cooked rice.

Plain white or brown rice provides carbs and nutrients.

Cooked rice is safe for chickens to eat.

Make sure it has cooled completely first.

Mix a few tablespoons of rice in with their feed.

Or scatter it around the run for them to peck at.

Some chickens love whole grains like rice.

It gives variety to their diet.

Rice expands in the crop to help chickens feel full.

Just introduce it slowly if they aren’t used to it.

Too much may impact feed consumption at first.

Monitor to ensure chickens are still eating their regular feed too.

For a tasty warm treat in winter, cook up some rice.

Chickens will appreciate the change from their usual feed.

Avoid Raw Rice

It’s important not to feed chickens raw, uncooked rice.

Their crops can’t break down the hard grains.

This makes it a choking hazard.

Raw rice may also grow mold or bacteria.

In rare cases it can ferment and explode!

Cooking rice ruptures the seed coat.

This allows digestive enzymes access to break it down.

So always be sure to cook rice fully before feeding to chickens.

For a firm texture similar to feed, avoid overcooking.

Cook just until rice is soft and fluffy.

Let rice cool completely before serving.

Then mix into feed or scatter as a supplement.

With properly prepared rice, chickens get a healthy treat.

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