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Oatmeal for Chickens

Oatmeal is a healthy treat for your chickens in the winter. Don't let anyone tell you any different.

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Oatmeal for Chickens

Oats are an excellent source of vitamins, protein and antioxidants - and chickens love them. Raw oats can help treat pasty butt in baby chicks and warm oatmeal is a nutritious warming treat for your flock in the winter.

Adding a bit of cinnamon and cayenne pepper is also beneficial to your flock, especially in the winter.

Oats are Great Source of Vitamins and Nutrients

Oatmeal contains essential B vitamins including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and choline, plus calcium (which is so important especially to laying hens), copper, iron, magnesium and zinc.

Oats are Beneficial for Baby Chicks

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farmers Bulletin, baby chicks feed a ration of oats will be healthier than chicks that aren't offered oats. Ground raw oats can also help clear up a case of pasty butt in baby chicks, a potentially life-threatening condition often brought on by stress or chilling.

Oats are Beneficial to Laying Hens 

Raw or cooked, whole or rolled, oats are one of my flock's favorite treats. I add raw rolled oats to my girls' daily feed (I call it their Breakfast of Champion Layers).

In addition to providing them a bit of added calcium to help make nice strong eggshells, oats have also been shown to reduce death rates in flocks, improving their general health.

Interestingly, adding a 3% ration of oat hulls to chickens' diets can reduce pecking and aggression which often will lead to cannibalism in flocks - and oats are proven to make chickens more resistant to heat stress and exhaustion.

Benefits of Cinnamon and Cayenne Pepper

Two of my favorite things to add to my chickens' oatmeal are ground cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Cinnamon aids in respiratory health and keeps mucus membranes in tiptop shape.

Since chickens are so susceptible to respiratory issues and infections, adding a bit of cinnamon is extremely beneficial to them. Cayenne pepper flakes act as a stimulant, improving digestive and circulatory system health.

Good circulation is important in the cold weather to prevent frostbite.

The cayenne aids by increasing blood flow to the chickens' extremities, i.e., the comb and wattles (and feet and legs to some extent) which can reduce the risk of frostbite.

Chickens aren't bothered by the "hot" in the cayenne, likely because they lack the large number of taste buds that humans have.

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Making Oatmeal for Chickens

One of the ways I like to serve oats in the winter is in the form of oatmeal.

I don't actually cook the oats, I just heat up water in the teakettle on the stove while I'm bundling up and getting my snow boots on, then pour the warm water over a casserole dish or pie plate of oats.

I use enough water to moisten them, but not so that they're terribly watery. By the time I get to the coop, the oatmeal has cooled sufficiently to serve.

I use organic rolled oats, but you can also feed your chickens whole oats or hull-less oat groats.

I don't really measure anything out, I just plan on enough oatmeal so each hen gets maybe a Tablespoon or two. So, not a lot. Just enough to warm them up a bit.

Fun Add-Ins for the Oatmeal

Plain oats are fine, but it's also fun to mix in some add-ins.

Seeds and Nuts
Peanuts (or other types of unsalted nuts such as walnuts, etc.)
Scratch Grains
Sesame seeds
Sunflower seeds

Fresh, Frozen or Dried Fruit

Fresh or Frozen  Chopped Veggies
Green Beans
Sweet potato

Fresh or Dried Chopped Herbs and Weeds
Dandelion greens
Other various culinary herbs (read more here)
Cayenne Pepper (see above)
Cinnamon (read more here)
Other various spices (read more here)

Dried Insects including grubs, mealworms, river shrimp or crickets

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So the next chilly morning, why not make a batch of oatmeal for your girls? And then when you're done with your morning chores, make some for your family too.

After all, oatmeal is so good for us humans too! You might want to skip the meal worms in the 'people' version though.

Oatmeal Cookies for Chickens

If you're feeling really ambitious, why not bake up a batch of oatmeal cookies for your chickens?

Oatmeal Cookies for People

And I have two delicious "people" oatmeal cookie recipes for you too.

Chocolate Walnut Oatmeal Cookies

Blueberry White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Note of Caution: Oats do contain beta-glucan, like many other grains including barley, rice, millet and maize. There is some indication that beta-glucan - especially that in barley - while helpful in immune system health, can be detrimental to poultry in large enough amounts, so like all other treats, oatmeal should be fed in moderation. 

As a treat.  Just like any other treat.

If you still want to learn more about feeding oatmeal to chickens, listen to this episode of Coffee with the Chicken Ladies where we did a deep dive into the topic.


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For anyone still on the fence about oatmeal, 
this is a great article written by a certified  veterinary dietitian
The Real Deal on Oatmeal

Replacing Corn and Wheat in Layer Diets
Oats Rank First for Poultry Feed
Using Oats in Poultry Diets
Maine Organic Farmer Gardener
Oats in Poultry Diets

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