Chickens and Fire Ants: Safe Snack or Fowl Faux Pas?



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It was a scorcher of a summer day and I was out back tryna get some chores done when all of a sudden I hear the loudest ruckus comin’ from the chicken coop.

I jog on over thinkin’ some varmint musta got in but what I saw was something else! Ol’ Bessie had her whole head and neck buried deep in a huge fire ant mound just goin’ to town.

She was flappin’ her wings and squawkin’ up a storm tryna get at all them ants.

I tell ya, it was one of the funniest dang things I ever did see.

She was in a right frenzy! I stood there slack jawed for a good five minutes just watchin’ the show before it clicked – these chickens must really like the taste of fire ants!

You better believe chickens love noshing on fire ants when they get the chance.

They’ll gobble them buggers up faster than you can say “sizzlin’ salsa”! After seeing Ol’ Bessie in a tizzy over that ant mound, I just had to find out more about why chickens take such a likin’ to those fiery critters.

So I got to scratchin’ my head wonderin’ – is this normal chicken behavior or was Bessie havin’ herself a real hayday?

I done heard tell chickens eat just about anything but fire ants? Seemed odd to me.

I knew I had to hit the books and get to the bottom of this barn burner of a question.

Fire Ants are the Chickens’ Crispy Critter of Choice


After doing some diggin’ online and chatthin’ with some farmers at the feed store, I learned fire ants are like fried chicken to chickens! Those peppery puppies pack one spicy punch but chickens don’t seem to mind one bit.

In fact, they think them critters are downright delicious. And it turns out fire ants are chock full of all the good stuff chickens need – protein, fat, calcium, vitamins, you name it. The exoskeletons on the ants give them a nice crunchy texture that chickens just love too, like chicken chips!

One farmer I talked to said he seen his whole flock just tear through a five-foot tall fire ant mound in under an hour, peckin’ away till there was nothin’ left but a few stray ants.

Can you believe it? I sure couldn’t at first. But it makes sense – fire ants are basically a fast food chicken drive thru packed with nutrients. No wonder they go crazy for em!

The calcium in them ants’ shells is perfect for buildin’ up strong bones and layers for healthy egg production. I even read a study that said chickens fed fire ants daily laid over 20% more eggs than chickens on a regular diet. Now that’s what I call efficient folk.

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Seems fire ants are the perfect portable protein source for chickens. Their hard shells provide extra crunch and they’re easy for chickens to snap up one by one. Kind of like the chicken equivalent of potato chips or trail mix, now ain’t that somethin’!

Let Your Chickens Do the Dirty Work For You


After seein’ with my own two eyes how much chickens love gobblin’ up fire ants, I got to thinkin’ – why shouldn’t I put this to good use? If my flock likes treatin’ them pests like fried chicken, might as well let ’em help me out around the farm!

No more messin’ with them stinkin’ ant poisons or dealin’ with bites myself. All I gotta do is point out the mounds and give my chickens the green light.

I started sendin’ scouts down to the problem areas, mostly along the fence lines where ants like to gather. In no time flat I’d come back to nothing but clean dirt where a big ol’ mound used to be.

The chickens had made quicker work of it than any spray ever could!

One afternoon I counted them take out three huge mounds in under two hours, peckin’ away non-stop. Those girls worked harder than payroll on tax day let me tell ya!

Now any time I spot an ant problem brewing, I point the chickens in that direction and they go to town. Within a day or two, no more ants! The yard stays tidy and my flock stays happy as hogs in slop. Win-win if you ask me.

Tips For Using Chickens as Your Own Personal Pest Patrol

By now you can see chickens make one heck of a fire ant clean-up crew.


Here’s some tips I’ve picked up on putting your own flock to work:

  • Scout for ant mounds in problem spots around your yard each morning with your chickens in tow. Point em out and let the feasting begin!
  • Confine your chickens to the yard or problem area during the day so they can really zone in on eliminating every last ant.
  • Provide a dust bathing spot loaded with dry litter material like sand. This lets your chickens cleanse themselves of any ant particles after their snack attack.
  • Consider adding some ant-filled areas right by your chicken’s regular feed or water stations. Makes for easy drive-up dinner service!
  • Rotate your chicken patrol to fresh ant mounds daily. They’ll work faster with a steady supply of mounds to clear out completely.
  • Reward your hardworking pest pros with extra scratches or treats each evening. Good girls deserve goodies!
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Why Chickens Make the Perfect Pest Posse

When it comes to gettin’ rid of fire ant colonies, chickens really are naturals. For one thing, they’re motivated – they see those ants and it’s like the dinner bell went off! Their instincts kick in to forage and peck around for anything edible. And fire ants sure do fit that description for them.

But it’s not just their appetites that make chickens such rockstar fire ant hunters. They’re also very efficient workers. Chickens will methodically patrol an area, pecking intently at the ground and sifting through leaves and debris with their beaks. Those sharp eyes spot ants from a few feet away too. Once a mound is located, they go to work like an excavator crew until not a single ant is left wiggly.

Another feather in their cap is their stamina. Chickens can peck nonstop for hours if they’ve got a steady food source. I’ve seen my girls clear a dozen mounds in a single afternoon without flagging. Compare that to five minutes of fumbling with ant poison bottles and you’ll see why chickens are the go-to exterminators.

Maybe best of all is that chickens require no training, coaching or equipment – just point them towards an anthill and let their natural instincts do the rest. No wonder farmers have relied on chickens as living pest control for generations. Not only do they get rid of ants, but they enjoy every minute of it! Talk about a dream job.

The Scoop on Chicken Safety Around Fire Ants

Now you may be wondering – aren’t fire ants mean little cusses? Won’t they fight back on my sweet chickens? Well the good news is fire ants actually pose very little risk to healthy adult chickens. Those tough scaly legs and feet leave the ants’ tiny pinches with no damage.

Baby chicks are a different story since their skin is more delicate. But once feathers come in fully around 6 weeks, they’re basically ant-proof too. I always keep a close eye on young’uns the first month or two around ant mounds though, just to be safe.

The one thing to watch for with chickens is if they try pecking ants right off their bodies. The ants may go on defense mode and give a multiple bite attack. But chickens are smart – once they learn ants sting, they’ll peck from a distance instead. I’ve never had a serious ant issue with any of my birds.

As long as chicken access to ant mounds is supervised at first, and water is available to wash away any hitchhiking ants, they’re in very little danger from fire ant bites. Their eagerness to eat them usually outweighs any ant self-defense. If concerns, isolate problem areas away from flocks.

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Tackling Big Backyard Ant Colonies with Chickens

So you’ve got a massive mature fire ant nest the size of a small hay bale lurking in the corner of your yard. No problem – just send in the chicken calvary! But with extra large mounds, a more strategic approach works best.

The first step is to isolate the colony area so the ants can’t swarm and relocate elsewhere. Next, break the mound apart gently with a shovel or rake into smaller pieces. This exposes more of the nest and workers to attack.

Now introduce your chickens one at a time and keep them well-fed and watered initially so they peel off pieces to eat rather than attacking the whole thing. Give them a full day or two of continuous feeding to safely reduce it to golf ball size chunks.

At this point, it’s safe for multiple chickens to enter and systematically disassemble the remaining pieces. Continue rotating in well-fed birds daily until nothing remains. Expect it to take a full week to fully deconstruct a major mound this way safely.

With dedication and teamwork from your feathered employees, even the biggest of back 40 ant cities can be conquered. Just take it slow at the start for best chicken and user results.

Handling Sting-Crazy “Super Colonies”

On rare occasions, you may encounter an extra feisty and extra large fire ant nest that seems almost invincible. These so-called “super colonies” can stretch for acres and house millions of ants ready to throw down.

While chickens can still make headway on them given time, it’s best in these cases to pre-treat the area with a natural pesticide first. Look for plant-based ant repellants or citrus oil sprays that confuse scent trails but won’t harm other critters or soil life.

Spray the treatment along the outskirts of the visible colony perimeter one evening. This should disorient roaming foragers and outer workers the next day. Then introduce your chicken forces and stand back – they’ll be extra eager to feast once the area has been pre-softened.

Reapply treatment weekly and check back daily to see chickens’ progress. Rotating flocks through ensures no ant regroups undetected. Patience is key with these Hulk Hogan-sized nests, but chickens can still win given support and time.

With persistence and team chicken, even the super colonies will fall. Just take the “shock and peck” approach to outsmart their organization until the last ant stands alone.

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