do chickens eat duckweed

Do Chickens Chow Down on Duckweed?



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I still remember the day last spring when I first plopped a scoopful of duckweed from my backyard pond into the chicken run, expecting the ladies to mob me for this new treat.

Instead, they eyed me suspiciously before ignoring the pile completely and going back to pecking their layer mash.

Chickens typically turn up their beaks at duckweed, avoiding eating it because of the unfamiliar tiny size and slimy texture.

They strongly prefer feed and treats they already know.

Why Would You Even Try Feeding Duckweed to Chickens?

do chickens eat duckweed

Duckweed is super nutritious, packed with even more protein than soybeans, so it seems like great natural poultry feed.

Lots of sustainable farmers are experimenting with duckweed ponds to grow their own homestead chicken and duck food.

If your quackers are already enjoying the duckweed feast, wouldn’t it make sense for the chickens to eat it too?

Plus when waterfowl and chickens share yard space, access to pools and ponds inevitably means the chickens will encounter duckweed.

You might think they’ll develop a taste for these tiny nutritional powerhouses floating right under their beaks.

Nope, turns out chickens are picky eaters and creature of habit, not so adventurous with new cuisine, even green stuff that’s good for them!

Are Chickens Tempted By the Taste of Duckweed?

do chickens eat duckweed

Chickens have very distinct, discerning palates for livestock.

Present an adult chicken with an unfamiliar food like duckweed and they’ll grab it, give it one peck, then spit it right back out.

If it doesn’t register as delicious right away, into the reject pile it goes!

Beyond being picky eaters, chickens seem especially averse to the tiny individual size and the slimy surface texture of duckweed strands.

They don’t recognize duckweed as actual food, instead keeping laser focus on the familiar dry pellets in their feed dish.

Of course adventurous baby chicks may nibble on duckweed they find around their brooder.

But once grown up as proper chickens, even previously curious birds will ignore this green stuff to hold out for the good stuff.

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Could You Trick Chickens into Eating Duckweed?

do chickens eat duckweed

If you really want your flock to get the health benefits of duckweed, sneak the greens in cooked with an irresistible bribe treat.

Blanching duckweed breaks down some of the unappealing mucilage to make the texture less slimy.

Then mix a handful of mushy greens into a favorite tonic treat like fermented oatmeal.

The irresistible smell draws the chickens over to investigate this new delicacy.

Familiar, tantalizing flavors entice them to try one bite…then another.

But don’t expect chickens to willingly chow down plain duckweed even with clever tricks or daring chicken challenges on TikTok!

A few nibbles mixed into irresistible goop is the best you can strive for.

Their deeply ingrained chicken instincts still shout to stick to quality layer feed instead of unknown greenery.

No matter what homestead hacks or chicken schemes you attempt, when it comes to duckweed most chickens firmly plead the fifth and Chicken Tenders remain off the seasonal specials menu!

How Else Could You Use Duckweed With Chickens?

If your chickens won’t eat up the duckweed, get creative putting those nutritious greens to use elsewhere in the coop.

Dry out a batch of duckweed to crumble as an ingredient into your own homemade chick starter feed mix.

The tiny dried duckweed bits disguise well blended into feed crumbles or nutrient-dense treats that baby chicks eagerly devour.

You can also use dried duckweed as an addition to nesting box bedding and chicken coop litter.

The concentrated nutrients act like a probiotic to discourage unhealthy bacteria growth in damp corners.

Plus duckweed contains natural compounds that help repel mites and other external livestock pests when layered in coop corners.

Could You Feed Chickens Too Much Duckweed?

While chickens may not want to eat duckweed, you might ask if eating too much could cause health issues.

Eating a large quantity of any new food could risk upsetting digestion until their gut flora adjust.

Issues seem unlikely though since chickens have a natural instinct to self-regulate their nutritional intake when provided balanced feed options.

Monitoring for signs of diarrhea or constipation with any dietary change is advised.

Observe the coop daily to make sure the poop quality doesn’t deviate from the norm if you do succeed getting chickens to eat more duckweed.

How Do You Harvest Duckweed to Feed Poultry?

To collect fresh duckweed, skim the honey-colored floating mats early in the morning using a pool skimmer.

Let the duckweed drain into a bucket before rinsing well to remove any unwanted residents.

Duckweed harbors tiny aquatic life forms like daphnia so expect to see microorganisms swimming around!

To control nutritional content, grow the duckweed in water you fertilize then change frequently to prevent stagnation.

Test your pond weekly to maintain ideal growing conditions for maximizing duckweed’s nutritional quality.

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Could You Sell Duckweed to Chicken Farms?

Commercial poultry owners are catching onto duckweed’s potential to boost nutrition and lower feed costs.

Duckweed ponds to cultivate a constant crop of fresh greens offer an eco-friendly solution for sustainable operations.

Small-scale homesteaders could collaborate as producer co-ops to supply regional poultry farms with enough duckweed to add into feed mixes.

Freezing portioned duckweed makes it easier to preserve optimum nutrition until needed for feed mill delivery.

Poultry nutritionists are studying how to create duckweed-based pelleted feeds chickens eagerly devour.

Should You Add Duckweed to Chicken Feed?

While chickens don’t show interest in plain duckweed, adding nutrient-dense dried greens to feed offers hidden health benefits.

Grinding down duckweed disguises it within supplement mixes chickens readily eat when blended into their feed.

You can make your own concentrated mix of dried duckweed, herbs, and probiotics to sprinkle onto feed.

Start with a ratio of 10% dried duckweed into 90% feed to avoid alarming chickens with strong new flavors.

Slowly increase the percentage of duckweed supplement as the chickens adjust to the changing taste profile.

Can You Feed Cooked Duckweed to Chickens?

Heat treating duckweed by blanching or dehydrating helps tone down the sticky, mucilaginous texture.

Cooking mellows and binds some of the bitter, green flavor compounds to make it more palatable.

Chopped cooked duckweed mixed into a moist base like oatmeal, cottage cheese, or soaked feed easily disguises as an irresistible treat!

The exciting smell and taste helps chickens develop positive associations so they seek out this nutritious new addition.

The ideal ratio seems 1 part dried duckweed supplement added into 5 parts tempting treat base chickens love.

Should You Grow Duckweed for Chicken Treats?

Cultivating clean duckweed on your homestead takes little effort for impressive rewards.

Recycle plastic wading pools or stock tanks into thriving duckweed habitats!

Dosing your duckweed water 1-2 times per week with diluted compost tea fuels explosive growth while deterring mosquitoes.

With ideal conditions, doubling a duckweed patch size every 2-3 days is achievable!

Even if your chickens only nibble token amounts as special treats, nurturing this endless natural resource in your backyard makes so much sense!

What Are the Risks of Feeding Ducks and Chickens Shared Duckweed?

Allowing ducks and chickens to share duckweed harvested from the same pond risks potential cross-contamination of parasites.

Ducks as waterfowl have evolved to harbor certain parasites like leeches or Giardia without health impacts.

But types of protozoa ducks tolerate could potentially infect and cause illness in chickens not adapted to deep water living.

You can minimize risk by providing separate fresh duckweed harvests from different ponds for ducks versus chickens.

If they share pond access, routinely screening ducks and dosing for common parasites helps protect vulnerable chickens.

How Else Might Chickens and Ducks Use Shared Duckweed Pond Spaces?

While eating duckweed directly poses cross-contamination concerns, the pond itself offers fun shared space for waterfowl and chickens!

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Shallow wading zones allow chickens to splash, bathe, drink, and forage pond margin plants.

The activity deters algae growth and reduces mosquitoes that spread illness.

Ducks fertilize thick healthy duckweed blooms chickens can’t reach which you harvest for garden nutrients and compost.

Some mini bantam chicken breeds even gently float atop duckweed mats if ponds have partly shaded banks with perches!

Could Duckweed Replace Chicken Feed Entirely?

Duckweed alone can’t provide complete balanced daily nutrition to replace formulated chicken feeds.

This floating green lacks certain vitamins, minerals, and amino acids needed for good chicken health.

Think of duckweed as a supplement, not a substitute, to add more nutrient variety.

Mix 2-3 ounces of chopped blanched duckweed into each pound of scratch grains or layer feed for benefit without risking nutrition deficiencies.

Monitor egg quality and body condition closely if you gradually increase duckweed ratios in feed.

What Are Signs of Duckweed Toxicity or Allergy in Chickens?

Promptly remove duckweed if chickens show adverse reactions like reduced laying, weight loss, lethargy or abnormal behaviors.

Ruffled, stressed feathers indicate irritation on skin underneath likely from sensitivity or reaction.

Weepy, swollen eyes or scabby face areas suggest potential duckweed allergies.

Loose stool or changes in droppings signal digestive upset from new greens.

Compare individual chicken health before and after introducing duckweed to identify causes.

How Could You Cook Duckweed for Chickens?

Blanch fresh duckweed 2 minutes, plunge into ice bath to halt cooking, then squeeze thoroughly dry.

Spread single layer on trays to air dry or use a food dehydrator on low temperature up to 8 hours.

Crispy dried duckweed easily stores in jars for months until adding to chicken treats and feeds!

You can also pour layers of fresh duckweed to fill muffin tins then bake at 200 degrees F, stirring occasionally for crispy nibbles!

Whir loose dried duckweed in the food processor to transform into a fine powder supplement for mixing into anything.

What Plants Complement Duckweed Growth For Chickens?

Pairing complementary plants with duckweed makes an ecosystem with natural checks and balances.

Floating water hyacinths provide shade and habitat but don’t outcompete duckweed growth.

Tiny azolla fern floating among duckweed offers more protein, vitamins and minerals.

Lush watercress, parsley, basil, and mint planted pondside provide alternate greens.

Placing branch perches encourages chickens to explore nibbling these pond margin edibles as duckweed appetite whets!

Should You Add More Protein If Chickens Eat Duckweed?

Too much dietary protein stresses chickens’ kidneys without adequate calcium to balance ratios.

If upping duckweed means total feed protein exceeds 20%, add oyster shell grit or layer crumbles.

Good indicators chickens eat enough calcium and protein come from strong eggshells and healthy feathers.

Their skin color also reveals hints through yellow beaks and shanks glowing vibrant orange from beta carotenes in duckweed.

Increase vitamin D, manganese and phosphorus if signs of deficiency show despite quality duckweed nutrition.


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