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Girl Dinner: Sardines for Chickens

Even chickens are getting in on the hot new "girl dinner" trend and enjoying sardines!

If you're on Tiktok, you likely have seen one of the latest trends - namely, "girl dinners".  The term was coined by Olivia Maher back in May in a video she posted that took off like fire.

And you also may have been watching sardines going viral as the ultimate new girl dinner. 

So I decided to do my own take on girl dinners, and share some sardines with my chickens! After all, they're girls too! And sardines are incredibly nutritious - and a great source of protein for them, especially during the fall molting season.

So to back up a bit for those who aren't familiar, a girl dinner is basically a random assortment of (usually snack/junk) foods and condiments that can be eaten right from the bag or box or standing over the sink. 

More like grazing and not necessarily adequate calorie-wise, the whole concept has become a bit controversial. 

But not where sardines are concerned. Of late, some people have been pushing back and making the girl dinners more nutritious by including sardines.

My Own Personal Experience with Sardines

Personally, sardines would be about the last thing I would ever eat. A little backstory...

Growing up, my mom used to make my brother and me sardine sandwiches on homemade wholewheat bread for lunch. She was convinced that the sardines would make us smarter. 

(As an aside, my brother is an electrical engineer with a degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, so I guess it worked!)  

Anyway, they were disgusting. My brother used to sit at the table making gagging noises the whole time we were eating. 

My mom would have to set a timer for us to finish or we would sit there all afternoon. We finally figured out if we took a huge bite and then excused ourselves to use the bathroom, we could flush a good portion down the toilet!  And in the summer, when we ate lunch outside at the picnic table, our cat definitely got his share of sardines slipped to him under the table. Oh, such happy childhood memories.

Anyway, I think my Mom finally gave up because my brother and I were so difficult! And she was an amazing baker, so then she started doing lots of baking, which might not have made us any smarter, but sure made everyone happier! 

So, no. A sardine is nothing I want to eat. But enough about me.

The chickens on the other hand....

Girl Dinner: Sardines for Chickens

Chickens are omnivores, which means that they can (and will) eat almost anything. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and meat and fish scraps are all healthy treats for chickens. 

Sardines have loads of health benefits for chickens. Plus, they love them. And as an added bonus, they're one of the more inexpensive types of canned fish. 

And since they come tinned, they'll last a long time in the pantry, so you can stock up and then feed them to your flock as an occasional treat.  

Sardines are especially beneficial during the annual molt to provide extra protein to help your chickens regrow new feathers. Sardines can also help if you're seeing soft-shelled or brittle-shelled eggs.

Note: You want to buy the sardines in spring water or plain oil with no salt added for your chickens. There's loads of nutrition in both the skin and bones, so be sure you're getting the whole fish. The bones are very soft, so there's no worry about your chickens choking on them. 

Health Benefits of Sardines

Health benefits of sardines include:
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Omega-6 fatty acids
  • Calcium
  • Protein
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin D
  • Iron
Omega-3 Fatty Acids support cardiovascular, brain and heart health. Chicks hatched from eggs laid by hens that are fed supplemental Omega-3s tend to be healthier as well.

Omega-6 Fatty Acids improve skin and bone health and support the reproductive system.

Calcium helps create strong eggshells and produce the contractions needed to lay an egg.

Protein helps maintain healthy body weight and keep the body strong. Adequate protein is needed for optimal laying. 

Vitamin A helps with vision and also improves egg production and quality. Chickens that don't get enough Vitamin A won't lay well and the hatchability of their eggs will decrease. 

Vitamin B supports the nervous system and aids digestion. Because the B vitamins are water-soluble and not stored in the body, it's important that chickens get a steady supply in their diet.

Vitamin D helps with calcium absorption, improves eggshell quality and skin quality. Since chickens can't manufacture their own Vitamin D, they need to get it from sunlight or the foods they eat.

Iron is important for metabolism and proper oxygen supply in a chicken's body. Iron also aids the immune system. Without enough iron, a chicken will get lethargic and lose their appetite. 

Clearly there are lots of health benefits in a tin of sardines! And since I wasn't planning on eating any, our chickens would be the recipients.

Girl Dinner: Sardine Salad for Chickens

So here's what I decided to do. I made my chickens a beautiful "girl dinner" - a salad with spinach, nasturtium, garlic, apple cider vinegar, olive oil and sardines! And they absolutely loved it! 

They went for the sardines first, but they ended up cleaning the plate.

They love nasturtium (which is thought to work as a natural wormer by the way), the apple cider vinegar has great respiratory benefits for them, and the garlic is great for their immune systems (also can help with parasites). Leafy greens are a favorite of course, although too much spinach can be a problem, so that's definitely an occasional treat for them.

But think about feeding your chickens some sardines this fall to help them with their molting and give them a treat that they will really love - that's really good for them.

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