Absolutely. Chickens can safely eat both raw and cooked plain rice, but should enjoy it sparingly as a treat within a balanced diet. Rice is a cereal grain that provides nutrients and energy to your chickens, though owners should be wary of feeding them flavored and pre-mixed rice varieties as these contain added salt and spices which can harm their digestion.
As long as the rice is prepared in a relatively healthy way (without additives, sugars, salt etc), then it can be a great treat and a very economical choice of chicken feed. Chickens can actually digest rice much easier than us since they’ve evolved to eat whatever they can find – just ensure your flock finds the right kind of rice treat in their diet with the help of our guide below.
Will Chickens Eat Cooked Rice?
Yes, chickens adore cooked rice. It provides a welcome treat on winter mornings for your hens and gives them energy when egg production is typically at its lowest. Here are some other pros for feeding your hen’s cooked rice:
- Rice provides the perfect balance of fats for a chicken’s diet – cooked rice contains enough fat that, when consumed, allows chickens to absorb vital fat-soluble vitamins from their regular food like vitamins K, A, and E that are found in vegetables and grains.
- Cooking the rice adds moisture and makes it easier for them to digest.
- Though high in carbs, cooked white rice is a great energy source and is a great plain feed choice when they are fussy or rejecting certain foods.
- Brown rice retains many key minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants (such as Vitamin B and D which benefits heart health) because it goes through minimal processing.
Be sure that cooked rice is fed in moderation, making up no more than 10 percent of their diet. Over-feeding your chicken’s rice can not only impact their health (causing diarrhea and potential yeast infections due to dirty vent feathers), but it can also affect egg production and quality. In Japan where a chicken farmer had fed their hens mainly on rice, it was reported that their eggs contained paler yolks than normal.
Will Chickens Eat Uncooked Rice?
Yes, chickens happily and safely eat uncooked rice. It is ground up in their gizzards before they are digested just as with other grains, so you should not be concerned with choking risks. A chicken’s digestive system is fairly unique compared with our own and allows them to process and digest hard, uncooked rice in stages.
Raw white rice is mostly carbs and low in protein but does contain iron and calcium and brown rice in particular packs a high-fiber punch in its raw form. Remember though that as with cooked varieties, raw rice should always be fed in moderation as they are still too high in calories for their diet.
Note that you should never feed rice to chicks younger than 6 months, as they need a full range of balanced feed as they develop. Rice simply cannot provide the nutrients they need to grow healthily and fend off illness.
Can Chickens Eat Rice Cakes?
Rice cakes are essentially compressed cakes of puffed rice and can be an enjoyable treat for your chickens. Aside from being low in calories though, they don’t provide much nutritional value and often contain added salt and sugar so make these a rare treat, not a regular snack.
Can Chickens Eat Rice Krispies?
Yes, Rice Krispies cereal makes a great treat for your hens as they offer many health benefits. Just be sure to only feed plain Rice Krispies to your hens as flavored varieties of the cereal such as frosted or chocolate is far too high in sugar content – chocolate should be especially avoided as this can be poisonous to chickens.
An occasional handful of plain rice krispies provides a great treat that contains iron, folic acid, vitamins B6, B12, and potassium – all of which helps your hen form healthy red blood cells, regulate the immune system and protect them against anemia.
Can Chickens Eat Fried Rice?
No. Because fried rice is rarely plain and unseasoned, it should not be fed to your chickens. Traditional Chinese fried rice, in particular, is made with high levels of salt, onion, and garlic – ingredients that can lead to toxicity from an inability to digest the salt, and the destruction of red blood cells caused by the thiosulphate in onions.
Can Chickens Eat Jasmine Rice?
Jasmine rice has a subtle aroma to it and is not prepared with spices or additives that could be harmful to chickens, so it should be fine. Be wary of the actual jasmine plant, however, and false jasmine flowers (yellow varieties) as these are toxic and can depress a chicken’s nervous system and lead to paralysis and even death.
Because the slight aroma of jasmine is so subtle in the rice, feeding your hens plain jasmine rice should be perfectly safe. Fortunately, chickens will avoid eating toxic flowers and plants because of the unappetizing bitter taste caused by alkaloid toxins.
Can Chickens Eat Rice Pudding?
No. Rice pudding contains high levels of sugar and salt and should not be considered as a treat food for your flock as this will cause them to suffer digestive issues such as diarrhea and even toxicity from an inability to digest the high volumes of sugar.
Can Chickens Eat Mexican Rice?
No. As with fried rice, Mexican rice is made with harmful ingredients such as onion, cumin, tomatoes and excess salt. The high sodium levels in Mexican rice can lead to watery egg whites and cause chickens to experience Hypernatremia, a condition causing weakness, nausea and eventually death when extreme levels of sodium enter their bloodstream.
Can Chickens Eat Puffed Rice?
Yes, puffed rice is simply plain Rice Krispies – corn that has swollen under heat, drained of oil and puffed up, similarly to how popcorn is made. In moderation, puffed rice is a perfectly safe and healthy treat for chickens to enjoy.
Can Chickens Eat Pilau Rice?
No. As with fried and Mexican rice, pilau rice is spicy and made with cumin and turmeric which can be extremely harmful to a chicken’s digestive tract. Pilau is also fried in high volumes of oil and is staggeringly high in calories, making this devoid of nutritional value to humans, let alone your hens!
Can Chickens Eat Old Rice?
No. Old leftover rice can contain spores that have survived the cooking process, and these spores turn into bacteria that can cause food poisoning in your hens as it does with humans. This is why chicken owners are sometimes warned against feeding their flock table scraps, because if rice leftovers from a meal have been allowed to cool and sit out at room temperature, this can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
Is Brown Rice Good for Chickens?
Yes, brown rice is perhaps the healthiest form of rice you can feed your hens, since its minimal processing ensures the nutritious outer bran layer is intact – retaining many vitamins, minerals, and nutrients such as magnesium which reduces the risk of stroke and heart disease. Brown rice grains are also a rich source of dietary fiber which may even help your flock live longer.
Can Chickens Eat Spicy Rice?
No. As above-mentioned with Mexican and Fried rice varieties, rice with spice additives is a no-no for chicken feed. Any rice that is labeled as spicy will contain dangerously-high sodium levels for your flock to digest, so steer well clear.
Can Chickens Live on Rice?
No, because it is too low in protein to be their sole daily feed. Rice makes a great snack but chickens need a balance of carbohydrates, fats, protein, fibers and an abundance of rice can tip the scales in terms of their daily carb allowance.
Typical chicken feed is designed with a mix of vegetables, grains, and vitamins to ensure they get a balance of each of the above. Living on rice will not only lead to serious digestive issues for them, but as above-mentioned, it can also impact egg quality, so you should consider this if you are caring for laying hens.
How Much Rice Can Chickens Eat?
On average, hens will eat around half a cup (¼ pound) of feed per day and rice should only make up 10 percent of their daily feed. If left to their own devices, chickens could eat whole heaps of rice, but as with any other treat food, rice should always be fed in moderation due to its minimal nutritional benefits – a few spoonfuls of rice is about enough for your entire flock.
Are Rice Hulls Good for Chickens?
Rice hulls, or rice grain husks, are sometimes used for bedding material inside chicken coups because of their warmth, comfort, and fast-drying rate, but owners shouldn’t be concerned if their chickens start eating it as it is one of the most sanitary bedding materials you can choose.
Whereas old leftover rice can risk illness from the development of mold spores, rice hull bedding can’t retain moisture (it wicks it away instead), meaning no mold or bacteria is produced like it would with traditional shavings.