Can Chickens Eat Honey Locust Pods?

Can Chickens Eat Honey Locust Pods?

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Tanner here once again with another fun chicken fact for my fellow cluckers.

Today we’re discussing if chickens can eat honey locust pods.

I know, I know – you’ve probably never even heard of honey locust pods before.

Let me tell you the story of how I first learned about them.

My quirky neighbor Jebediah is always recommending weird things for me to feed my flock.

Like the time he swore chickens go crazy over watermelon rinds.

Of course that turned out to be total hogwash – my birds just cocked their heads and ignored the watermelon pieces.

So when Jeb suggested honey locust pods, I’ll admit I was skeptical.

But he kept bringing over bags and bags of these strange, leathery brown pods from his honey locust trees, insisting my hens would devour them.

Well, I decided to give the pods a try – and whaddya know, Jebediah was actually right this time!

Turns out chickens absolutely LOVE munching on honey locust pods!

After doing some research, I learned these pods are totally safe and even healthy for chickens.

Just goes to show ya, never hurts to give something new a peck and see if your flock likes it!

What Exactly are Honey Locust Pods?

Can Chickens Eat Honey Locust Pods?

In case you’re still wondering what in tarnation honey locust pods are, here’s the scoop.

Honey locust pods are the fruit that grows on – you guessed it – honey locust trees.

They start out green and turn brown as they ripen.

Inside that tough, leathery outer skin is a sweet pulp and seeds.

Honey locust trees are native to central North America and they grow long bean-like pods about 10-18 inches long.

The pods hang in clusters on the branches – that’s how I pick ’em for my chickens.

Now Jebediah has a whole grove of honey locusts on his property.

He collects literally bushels of pods for me and my flock every season.

I just take his word that the trees are honey locusts – Jeb is kind of a plant expert, even if he has weird chicken feeding ideas sometimes.

Why are Honey Locust Pods So Darn Good for Chickens?

Can Chickens Eat Honey Locust Pods?

Turns out these strange pods have lots of healthy nutrients chickens need in their diet.

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Here’s the nutrition run down:

Honey locust pods are high in protein – and protein is essential for egg production.

The pods also provide lots of calories for energy.

They contain Vitamins A, B, C, E and K – a real superfood cocktail!

And the pods have important minerals like calcium for healthy eggshells, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and zinc.

With all those goodies packed inside, no wonder my chickens get so excited when I dump out a fresh batch of honey locust pods!

It’s like candy from the chicken treat gods as far as they’re concerned.

Potential Pitfalls of Honey Locust Pods

Can Chickens Eat Honey Locust Pods?

Now it’s not all sunshine and rainbows when it comes to honey locust pods.

There are a few potential downsides I’ve discovered:

First, pods can make a big mess when the chickens scatter them everywhere.

I’m constantly sweeping up brown pod pieces from the coop floor.

The older pods also start to ferment and smell kinda funky.

My hens don’t seem to mind the smell, but I do!

Overripe, moldy pods can also contain aflatoxins which are toxic to chickens.

So I only feed fresh, brown just-ripe pods – nothing old or moldy.

And I remove any leftover pods within a day to keep things clean.

It’s a bit more work, but happy healthy chickens are worth it!

Different Ways to Serve Honey Locust Pods

Can Chickens Eat Honey Locust Pods?

There’s more than one way to feed chickens honey locust pods.

I’ve tried serving them whole, chopped, and even ground up.

Turns out my chickens don’t seem to have a strong preference and will eat the pods any which way.

But I found a few pros and cons to each preparation method.

Whole pods are the easiest – I just grab them right off the trees and toss them into the run.

The downside is the older hens sometimes have trouble breaking open the tough outer shell.

So then I tried chopping up the pods into smaller pieces which worked great.

All the chickens could access the sweet inner pulp this way.

The only annoying part was having to chop up basketfuls of pods with a hatchet before feeding.

Finally, my neighbor Jebediah suggested I try grinding the pods into a powder using his old feed mill.

Sprinkling pod powder over their feed was an easy way to boost nutrition.

But the powder did tend to blow all over the place and make a mess.

After experimenting, I found a happy medium is chopping pods into 1-2 inch chunks.

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This allows easy access to the pulp while minimizing prep work.

But feel free to tweak the size according to your own flock’s preferences!

Growing Your Own Honey Locust Trees

If you have the space, consider growing your own honey locust trees for an endless chicken treat supply.

Honey locusts are hardy trees that grow well across USDA Hardiness Zones 4-9.

They thrive in full sun and prefer moist, fertile soil but can tolerate drought once established.

Give them plenty of room to spread – mature honey locusts reach heights of 30-70 feet with a 30-50 foot spread!

I ordered a few baby saplings online and planted them near my chicken coop.

With regular watering they started growing quickly.

Most honey locusts won’t produce pods until they are at least 10 years old.

So it’s a long term investment, but one that will keep on giving.

The young tender pods are the best for chickens.

As the trees age, the pods get tougher and drier.

Make sure to prune the lower branches every few years so they are easy to harvest.

One nice thing is honey locusts are prolific producers once mature – each year you’ll get bushels of pods!

Just be aware of the long nasty thorns on the bark which can poke you while picking pods.

Wear thick gloves and long sleeves when harvesting.

Other Animals That Enjoy Honey Locust Pods

Turns out chickens aren’t the only critters that relish munching on these sweet, nutritious pods.

Lots of wildlife seek out the bounty of the honey locust tree.

White-tailed deer will stand on their hind legs to reach the pods.

Raccoons and opossums climb the trees and shake branches to bring pods raining down.

Squirrels gnaw into thick pods to get the seeds inside.

Hungry livestock like cattle, horses, goats and sheep gobble up fallen pods.

Even wild turkeys and ducks have joined my flock under the honey locust trees snacking away.

Since the pods fall in autumn, they provide nourishment for animals preparing for winter.

Next spring, new seedlings often sprout where pods fell, spreading honey locust groves.

So if you don’t get out all the pods, be prepared for some volunteers the next year!

How Long Do Honey Locust Pods Last?

Fresh honey locust pods right off the tree can last 1-2 months when stored properly.

The key is keeping pods in a cool, dry spot away from moisture and pests.

I store my honey locust pods in burlap sacks in the basement where it’s dark and dry.

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You could also use 5 gallon buckets with lids.

Pods start to ferment and mold if they get wet or are left at warm temperatures.

Check your stored pods weekly and remove any that are starting to turn brown or mushy.

Pods left on the ground under trees rot very quickly within 2-3 weeks due to moisture.

So try to collect fallen pods daily if possible.

For long term storage, the pods need to be thoroughly dried first.

I’ll spread pods on wire racks and run a fan over them for a few days.

Once dried, the pods can be stored for 2-3 months in an airtight container.

If you’re lucky enough to have access to fresh honey locust pods, now you know how to store them to last!

Purchasing Dried Honey Locust Pods

If you don’t have your own trees, dried honey locust pods can be purchased.

They are sold as a high protein supplement for livestock.

I order my dried pods online in large sacks.

Just search for “honey locust pods” and a few farm suppliers come up.

Make sure to buy from a reputable source, as old moldy pods could make your chickens sick.

Dried pods range from $1-$2 per pound including shipping.

Consider going in with a few other chicken folks to order a bulk bag and split it.

While not cheap, they’re a good natural treat in winter when fresh pods aren’t available.

Soak the dried pods in water before feeding to rehydrate them.

I’ll admit, my chickens go even more crazy for fresh honey locust pods.

But the dried ones satisfy their craving when my stash runs low!

The Official Verdict on Honey Locust Pods

In conclusion, yes – chickens absolutely can and do love eating honey locust pods!

Even though I was skeptical at first, turns out Jebediah was right about this one.

In moderation, the pods provide chickens with lots of nutrition and energy.

Just stay on top of cleaning to prevent mess and moldy pods.

It’s always fun to see my flock run towards a fresh pile of honey locust pods – like kids in a candy store!

Never be afraid to offer your chickens new treat options.

You might just discover their next favorite snack, like I did.

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