As backyard chickens grow in popularity so do the questions about their diets. Knowing what your chickens can and cannot eat is imperative to having a healthy, thriving flock. So the question is, can chickens eat mushrooms? The answer is a complicated one…
Dr. Jess will answer this question and more below:
What Do Chickens Eat?
Some chickens aren’t too picky about what they eat. They’ll eat whatever you try to give them.
Some chickens are pickier than others. Their like kids!
A normal or common backyard chicken diet consists mainly of dry feed and grit, otherwise your chickens could end up having problems properly digesting their food without these as the main part of their diet.
There is also foraging if the chickens are allowed to roam, and treats!
For treats or snacks, most chickens favor foods like mealworms, seeds, and berries.
Well, What Exactly Is A Mushroom?
Mushrooms, also known as toadstools, are a part of the fungi kingdom/family???. Yup, they are a fungus and most thrive in moist, wet conditions.
Mushrooms are made up of a typically umbrella-shaped fleshy body called the “cap” that bears spores for reproduction, sometimes attached to a stalk which attaches to the soil.
Not all mushrooms are shaped like toadstools, and not mushrooms have gills on the underside of their bodies.
They come in all different sizes, colors, shapes, and tastes.
Some mushrooms are edible mushrooms that are safe to eat and many find them delicious.
Others, not so much. There are mushrooms that are poisonous to eat.
Types of Mushrooms
12 of most common types of edible mushrooms found in kitchens and on dinner tables include:
- White Button Mushrooms
- Crimini Mushrooms
- Portobello Mushrooms
- Shiitake Mushrooms
- Black Trumpet Mushrooms
- Morel Mushrooms
- Oyster Mushrooms
- Chicken of the Woods Mushrooms
- Chanterelle Mushrooms
- Porcini Mushrooms
- matsutake Mushroom (AKA “pine” mushroom)
- Reishi Mushrooms
There are cultivated and wild mushrooms. Cultivated mushrooms are grown commercially, the source of many store-bought mushrooms.
A typical edible mushroom is low in calories and sugar, high in protein and vitamin D, and a source of vitamin B12.
Can Mushrooms Be Dangerous To Eat?
Some mushrooms, around 20% of all types of mushrooms are poisonous to others.
Ingesting the wrong type of mushroom can cause neurological issues, kidney failure, digestive problems, hemorrhaging (bleeding) and even death in animals.
Besides being poisonous, mushrooms can be dangerous to animals if they contain parasites or certain microbes, making the animal sick after ingestion (eating).
So yes, consuming mushrooms has its risks.
Can Chickens Eat Mushrooms?
They sure can. At least the store bought ones.
When feeding store-bought mushrooms to your chickens, just dice them up to bite-sized pieces and cook them up so that become softened. I’ll show you just how to do that below!
If you expect your chickens to eat them they need to be soft and cooked.
Even better… mix the mushrooms with their feed. This will substantially increase the chances that they will gobble them right up.
What Types or Kinds of Mushrooms Can They Consume?
Any store-bought mushrooms that are safe for human consumption can be given to chickens in small amounts.
Mushrooms like morel mushrooms, button mushrooms, hen of the woods, chicken of the woods, and oyster mushrooms are all suitable for ingestion.
- edible store-bought mushrooms
- cutting board
- kitchen cutting knife
- large nonstick skillet
- Wash you mushrooms.
- Place the mushrooms on the cutting board and cut them into bite-sized pieces using the kitchen knife.
- Place the mushrooms in the bottom of a nonstick skillet over medium heat.
- Allow the mushrooms to cook between 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently, or until mushrooms have become tender.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Serve to chickens at room temperature. Store leftover mushrooms in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Any bite-sized treat is a choking hazard. Be cautious of this when feeding to chickens.
What if Chickens Eat Wild Mushrooms?
Chickens are foragers, eating whatever looks good and can fit in their mouths. They intuitively know not to eat certain things.
But does that mean that they should forage mushrooms?
Most wild mushrooms, just like raw mushrooms have a rubbery texture, many chickens would rather pass up. So, they will move on after a small peck or two.
Check the chicken pen the chickens will be in every morning before their foraging begins. Most mushrooms pop up overnight and can be taken out and disposed of quickly and easily.
Take a picture of the mushrooms so that someone can research and look up exactly what type of mushroom was consumed.
Lastly, contact your vet if you are still concerned.
Your vet wants your chickens healthy too, trust me.