Can Chickens Eat Honey Mushrooms

Can Chickens Eat Honey Mushrooms? A Forager’s Guide



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Let me tell you about the time I went mushroom hunting in the woods and found some pretty honey mushrooms to take home and try feeding to my chickens.

I love taking my girls Mabel and Gertrude out into nature to teach them about edible wild plants.

Well, on this particular forage, we came across a fallen oak tree just covered in clusters of beautiful golden honey mushrooms.

My daughter Lily’s eyes lit up when she spotted them. “Wow, what a haul! Chicken treats!” she exclaimed. I had to chuckle at her enthusiasm.

But I wasn’t sure if honey mushrooms were actually safe for chickens to eat.

I wanted to be certain before letting Mabel and Gertrude sample these fungi. So I told Lily we better do some googling first when we got home.

Back at the house, we did some research all about honey mushrooms.

And here’s what I learned from that whole experience and the info I read up on.

Identifying Honey Mushrooms

Can Chickens Eat Honey Mushrooms

Honey mushrooms (Armillaria mellia) are edible wild mushrooms that grow in many regions of North America.

You can find them clustered around tree stumps and roots, especially oaks. Their caps are yellow-brownish in color, with whitish undersides.

They get their name from their distinct sweet honey-like smell. It’s quite different from other mushrooms.

Properly identifying any mushroom is crucial before eating it or feeding it to animals. Many toxic lookalikes exist, some deadly.

If I’m ever uncertain about a mushroom I find while foraging, I bring it to my local mycology club for expert identification.

For honey mushrooms, it’s those golden caps and white undersides I look for. And of course, I take a big whiff to smell that sweet honey scent.

Are Honey Mushrooms Safe for Chickens?

Can Chickens Eat Honey Mushrooms

Yes, honey mushrooms are totally safe and healthy for chickens to eat!

These mushrooms contain lots of beneficial nutrients like protein, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

Out in the wilderness, wild chickens forage for mushrooms and fungi to eat regularly.

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So domestic chickens can safely consume most edible mushroom varieties, including golden honey mushrooms.

I even asked my vet Dr. Sanders if honey mushrooms were okay for my girls. She confirmed they’re completely chicken-safe.

Of course I always start my flock off slowly on any new treat. But the chickens had no issues digesting the honey mushrooms I foraged.

Benefits of Feeding Honey Mushrooms

Can Chickens Eat Honey Mushrooms

Here are some of the great benefits chickens can get from eating honey mushrooms:

Honey mushrooms offer lots of protein, which is crucial for egg production and feather growth.

They also provide B vitamins that give chickens energy and promote growth. Especially important for young, developing chicks.

The antioxidants in honey mushrooms support chickens’ immune health, just like for humans.

They contain prebiotics that feed healthy gut flora in a chicken’s digestive system.

The vitamin-rich mushrooms can lead to more nutritious, enriched yolks from the eggs my hens lay.

Plus, the chickens just love the flavor! It’s like a tasty, nutritious treat for them.

How to Feed Honey Mushrooms

Can Chickens Eat Honey Mushrooms

Chickens will gobble up honey mushrooms easily. Here are some ways I like to feed them:

I chop or crumble the mushrooms into bite-sized pieces for the chickens.

Mixing the pieces into their regular feed is an easy way to serve them.

I also put dried honey mushroom pieces in a little treat dish they can peck at free-choice.

Dehydrating and storing the mushrooms lets me feed them to the chickens long-term.

Mashing the mushrooms into my chickens’ fermented feed gives an extra nutrition boost.

The chickens also love foraging for the mushroom pieces I scatter in their run.

I’ve even made mushroom-boosted mealworm and chick crumble treats with honey mushrooms blended in.

However I feed them, my hens gobble up every bit of those honey mushrooms!

Foraging for wild chicken treats sure is rewarding. Maybe Lily and I will stumble upon more mushrooms on our next hike in the woods. Happy foraging, friends!

Honey Mushroom Identification Tips

When trying to identify honey mushrooms in the wild, look for some key characteristics.

Scan the base of oak trees for clusters of mushrooms growing in overlapping shelves or tiers.

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The caps are typically 2 to 4 inches wide, and vary from yellowish to reddish-brown in color.

Check the underside of the caps where you should see whitish gills rather than pores or spines.

Break off a piece of the mushroom and smell it for a sweet, honey-like fragrance.

The mushroom’s flesh will be white or yellow, not staining when bruised or cut.

Be 100% certain of the identification before eating or feeding to chickens any mushroom found in the wild.

Compare to detailed pictures and descriptions in mushroom field guides or consult an expert mycologist to confirm.

When just starting out, only harvest younger, freshly sprouted mushrooms to avoid lookalikes.

Always forage with an experienced mushroom hunter until you gain confidence identifying honey mushrooms yourself.

Precautions When Feeding Mushrooms

Can Chickens Eat Honey Mushrooms

Take some basic precautions when feeding honey mushrooms to backyard chickens.

Wash or brush off any dirt or debris sticking to wild-foraged mushrooms.

Trim away and discard any parts of the mushroom that are damaged, discolored, or spoiled.

Chop mushrooms into small pieces so the chickens don’t choke.

Remove any inedible woody stems, which can be sharp and pose a hazard.

Don’t overload chickens with mushrooms; feed as an occasional treat in moderation.

Store fresh mushrooms refrigerated in a paper bag for no more than 2-3 days.

Monitor your flock closely when introducing new treats like mushrooms.

Discontinue feeding if any chickens show signs of an upset stomach afterwards.

Dried honey mushrooms will keep for months in an airtight container out of sunlight.

Foraging for Honey Mushrooms

For the best luck finding honey mushrooms, go foraging in the right habitats.

Look for oak, aspen, elm, and locust trees in moist, shady forests.

Scan around the base of aging tree stumps and root systems.

The mushrooms tend to sprout in clusters at old wounds in the wood.

Fall is prime season, but honey mushrooms grow from summer through early winter.

Look for mushrooms that are younger and fresh; older ones get dirty and buggy.

Bring a mushroom hunting guide and take spore prints of new varieties.

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Always forage with a partner in case anyone gets hurt far from a trail.

Don’t overpick an area; leave some mushrooms to drop spores for future growth.

Use a mesh bag to keep mushrooms intact and allow spores to shake out.

Get permission from landowners and follow all regulations on public lands.

Storing and Preserving Honey Mushrooms

Clean and dry fresh honey mushrooms thoroughly after foraging.

Refrigerate in paper bags for up to 3 days.

Brush off any dirt but don’t wash mushrooms intended for dehydrating.

Use a food dehydrator or oven on low to dehydrate slices until completely dry.

Store thoroughly dried mushrooms in airtight jars or vacuum bags.

Dried honey mushrooms will keep for 6 months up to 2 years.

Rehydrate dried mushrooms by simmering in broth until tender.

Sauté fresh mushrooms in butter or olive oil and freeze in portion packs.

Chop and blend into mushroom powders using a food processor.

Mix mushroom powder into smoothies, broths, gravies, and staple chicken feed.

How Much to Feed Your Flock

Mushrooms are a treat and shouldn’t make up a large portion of a chicken’s diet.

For most standard-sized chickens, feed 1-2 ounces of chopped mushrooms 2-3 times per week.

Adjust amounts based on your chickens’ size; bantams should get less.

Observe chickens after eating to look for any issues with digesting mushrooms.

Reduce frequency if chickens develop loose stool or seem lethargic afterwards.

Spread out treats throughout the day rather than one big meal.

Try mixing dried mushroom powder into feed for a nutritious boost.

Scattering pieces in their enclosure lets chickens forage for treats.

Avoid feeding mushrooms every day long-term.

Monitor production for any drop in eggs that could signal too many treats.

Discuss any concerns with your avian vet and adjust feed as needed.

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