Can Chickens Eat Hummus

Can Chickens Eat Hummus? The Tasty Truth



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As I was puttering around my backyard chicken coop the other day, filling up the feeders with my usual mix of organic layer feed and checking under the nest boxes for eggs, I noticed my little flock eyeing me curiously.

In one hand I held their crunchy feed mix, but in the other was a container of freshly made hummus and pita chips – my afternoon snack.

One brave speckled Sussex hen named Beatrice strutted right up to the coop gate and tried to stretch her neck through to peck at the hummus container.

Which got me wondering…can chickens eat hummus?

This wasn’t the first time my flock of 6 hens showed interest in human food.

They go absolutely bonkers for spaghetti and meatballs when I’m eating dinner on the back porch.

And they always congregate below the apple tree in my yard when the fruits start to ripen in the fall, waiting for a tasty sweet snack to fall within their reach.

But hummus?

That seemed like an odd choice for a chicken. They usually just eat their layer feed, occasional table scraps, and bugs they forage in the yard.

As a long-time backyard chicken owner for over 5 years now, and a total hummus fanatic with a fridge full of store-bought and homemade versions, I decided to do some research on this.

And I’m happy to report that yes, chickens can eat hummus in moderation and benefit from it!

However, there are some important things to know before offering this protein-packed dip to your flock.

The Benefits of Hummus for Chicken Health

Can Chickens Eat Hummus

Hummus is made from chickpeas, tahini (ground sesame seeds), olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and spices.

Many of these ingredients are safe and even healthy for chickens:

  • Chickpeas are an excellent source of plant-based protein and both soluble and insoluble fiber. This can promote good digestion in chickens.
  • Tahini provides additional protein from the ground sesame seeds.
  • Olive oil provides healthy fats like omega-3s which are great for chickens’ skin and feathers.
  • Small amounts of fresh garlic can act as a natural antibiotic to boost chickens’ immune systems, and also encourage egg production.
  • Spices like paprika add antioxidants and phytonutrients.

So in theory, hummus could make a very nutritious and occasional treat for chickens as part of a balanced diet.

It contains protein, healthy fats, fiber, and vitamins their bodies need. The biggest consideration is that chickens have very small stomachs relative to their size.

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A medium egg layer chicken has a stomach capacity of just 1/2 to 1 cup.

This means they can’t eat large quantities of calorically dense, rich foods like hummus in one sitting. Their small stomachs limit how much treat food they can handle at once.

Some specific health benefits chickens can gain from hummus in moderation include:

  • Protein for muscle maintenance and feather growth
  • Fiber for healthy digestion
  • Antioxidants for immunity
  • Omega-3 fatty acids for skin and feather health
  • Choline for brain development
  • Vitamins and minerals like iron, magnesium, and folate

The nutritional profile of hummus can complement the balanced diet chickens need. But it should not exceed more than a few small servings per week.

How Much Hummus Can Chickens Eat Safely?

Can Chickens Eat Hummus

When offering hummus to your flock, very small portions are key. A few dollops or spoonfuls once or twice a week is plenty.

Too much can cause digestive upset.

Specifically, each full-grown medium-sized chicken can have:

  • 2-3 teaspoons of hummus per treat
  • 1-2 small treats per week

Infrequent, palm-sized amounts are safest. Free-feeding a whole tub of hummus daily could really upset their digestive systems and give them diarrhea. I learned that the hard way when I first offered hummus and let my chickens go to town scarfing it up in large amounts.

Portion control prevents tummy troubles when introducing new treats!

For a flock of 6 hens, I would offer:

  • Around 1/4 cup total hummus per treat session
  • 1-2 treat sessions per week

I scoop small dollops onto a piece of cardboard or wooden board so they don’t make a mess scratching up the ground hunting for every last lick of hummus.

Letting them free-eat directly from a big open container of hummus can easily lead to overeating.

Tips for Safely Feeding Hummus to Backyard Chickens

Can Chickens Eat Hummus

When sharing hummus with my flock for the first time, I quickly learned some tricks to make it a smooth experience:

  • Serve dollops in a shallow dish or spread onto a board, so they don’t scratch up the ground hunting for spilled hummus and overeat.
  • Provide a feeding frenzy distraction like scattering scratch grains or shredded cabbage on the opposite side of the coop while I quietly put the hummus down inside the run.
  • Offer hummus as a midday treat when their crops are empty, not right before roosting overnight.
  • Mix small spoonfuls of hummus into their feed instead of offering it straight from the tub to dilute the richness.
  • Save hummus leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days to prevent spoilage issues.
  • Introduce hummus slowly to observe reactions, and withdraw if any chickens show signs of allergic reaction or distress.
  • Wash hummus containers before disposing of them to keep chickens from eating residual hummus and getting compacted crops.
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It’s fun to offer healthy, yummy snacks to my chickens as the occasional treat. Watching their excitement and contented purring as they peck up small dollops makes me laugh every time! With some precautions, hummus can be part of a varied diet and provide nutritional benefits for backyard chickens.

Best Hummus Flavors for Chickens

Hummus comes in tons of delicious flavors these days beyond basic chickpea. While chickens will gobble up any type of hummus in moderation, some flavor varieties are better suited for their appetites and nutritional needs.

Here are some of my top hummus flavor recommendations for sharing with chickens:

  • Classic Chickpea Hummus – The simplest recipe using chickpeas, olive oil, tahini, lemon, and garlic packs a nutritious punch chickens will benefit from.
  • Roasted Red Pepper Hummus – Chickens go crazy for red coloration. The sweet bell peppers add vitamin A.
  • Roasted Garlic Hummus – Since garlic is healthy for chickens, amping up that flavor entices them.
  • Green Pea Hummus – Made with peas instead of chickpeas, this provides carotenoids for enhanced egg yolk color.
  • Edamame Hummus – With protein-packed edamame beans, this makes a hearty treat.

Some hummus flavors I would avoid giving to chickens include:

Stick with plain, veggie-based hummus varieties to be safest. And remember to serve just a spoonful at a time, once or twice a week to give their digestive systems a break.

Making Homemade Hummus for Chickens

While store-bought hummus works great, whipping up a homemade batch is simple. This lets me control the quality of ingredients.

My basic hummus recipe for chickens contains:

  • 2 15-oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp tahini
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

I simply blend all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth and creamy. For flavor twists, I add ingredients like roasted red peppers, green peas, edamame, or extra garlic.

The great thing about homemade hummus is controlling the quality of the ingredients. I can use:

  • Certified organic chickpeas to avoid pesticide residues
  • Extra virgin olive oil for more antioxidants
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice instead of concentrate
  • Organic spices to prevent contamination

Making hummus from scratch also lets me leave out preservatives, thickeners, and other unnecessary additives that commercial versions often contain.

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While it requires a little more effort, homemade hummus using real-food ingredients is the healthiest way to share this delicious dip with backyard chickens!

Out of Hummus? Try These Alternatives for Chickens

Don’t have any hummus on hand when you want to offer your flock a nutritious treat? No problem! Here are some hummus-style alternatives to whip up using ingredients you likely have:

The basic method is to take any well-cooked bean, pea, or lentil and process it with plant-based oil, lemon, and savory seasonings. A splash of olive oil provides healthy fats. A squeeze of lemon brings a fresh tang. And garlic, onion, or herbs add flavor depth.

Aim for a similar consistency to hummus – smooth and thick but not pasty. This makes for perfect dolloping onto a treat board for your chickens. Swapping in alternative legumes, seeds, and greens creates endless hummus-inspired possibilities!

Convincing Your Chickens to Try Hummus

When I first offered hummus to my flock, they eyed it skeptically. Chickens can be wary of new foods. Here are my tips for enticing them to give hummus a peck:

  • Mix a few small spoonfuls into their regular feed so they associate the flavor with something familiar.
  • Serve just a bit on a treat board next to favorites like mealworms and berries to spark curiosity.
  • Demonstrate by acting excited and pecking at the hummus yourself – chickens love mimicking!
  • Add hummus to their feed near roosting time when chickens are hungriest and less picky.
  • Offer hummus to your bravest, most food-motivated chicken first so others follow her lead.

It may take a few tries, but eventually your flock will catch on to the deliciousness of hummus! Start with tiny tastes mixed into their feed to get them accustomed to this new protein-packed snack.

With some creativity and patience, you can introduce your backyard chickens to fun new additions like hummus.

Just remember to start slow with teeny portions to keep their digestive systems happy. Before you know it, your chickens will be hummus lovers too!

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