As chickens graze they will scratch at soil and other ground surfaces with their feet to unearth all kinds of tasty food morsels hiding underneath. It’s not always possible to see what they’re finding as they graze, but one thing is for sure they love every minute of it.
For gardeners and vegetable growers, slugs can be one of the most annoying pests to deal with. They’ll chomp through anything and everything and destroy plants overnight. So, any animal who enjoys eating slugs for fun is a gardeners saviour, especially if they eat lots of them.
Chickens do eat slugs and they will unearth them with their feet from underneath plants, hedges and they can also scratch them up in soil and leaf litter. Slugs are a source of protein for a grazing chicken and are generally found in abundance in damp areas.
Read on to find out more about chickens eating slugs and whether it’s safe for them to do so.
Is it safe for chickens to eat slugs?
Unless you live in a very dry area slugs are pretty common almost everywhere, so if you have chickens, whether they free-range or not, they’re going to come across slugs at some point.
It is safe for chickens to eat slugs which they find as they graze, slugs provide a natural and free food source which provide a good high protein addition to their everyday chicken feed.
Most chickens love slugs and they’ll become really excited if they find one, allowing chickens to graze and forage for natural food sources is the best way to keep chickens happy and healthy.
You can find out more about what free-range chickens eat in my post via the link below:
There are a few potential issues connected to slugs which are good to be aware of, which I’ll cover next.
Gapeworm and slugs
You may or may not have heard about Gapeworm which people tend to associate with slugs, snails and worms, all of which chickens love to eat.
Gapeworm is a parasite which will attach to a chickens windpipe (trachea) and can in many cases be fatal or lead to serious breathing difficulties.
The Gapeworm can use a slug as a host in the hope the slug will be eaten by a bird and its next potential victim.
Although this sounds pretty gruesome, it’s not that common for a bird to fall victim of gapeworm and the good news is you can use Flubenvet feed periodically as a preventative treatment.
The benefits of allowing chickens to graze for natural foods far outweighs any potential risk of parasites. Providing chickens are regularly treated with Flubenvet feed or tonic, they should have no problems with gapeworm.
We’ve kept many chickens which have been free-range and regularly eaten slugs (snails and worms) and we’ve never had a problem with gapeworms before – its just something to be aware of.
Chickens and slug pellets – should you use them?
Because chickens enjoy eating slugs, they have the potential of picking up a slug which has recently eaten slug pellets. Although slug pellets aren’t as dangerous as they used to be, they are obviously toxic to slugs and will kill them.
Slug pellets can be toxic to other animals, including chickens if eaten in a large volume. If chickens are allowed to free-range in a garden it is better to use natural slug defences instead slug pellets even though the risk of a chicken becoming ill is small.
Slugs come out at night time and especially in the damp weather, there are many natural ways to keep them away from your plants and veggies including:
- Beer traps
- Copper tape
- Crushed egg or nutshells
Chickens themselves are also a natural way to reduce slug numbers in a garden if they unearth them while they’re hidden away in the daytime.
More FAQ’s about chickens eating slugs
You can feed slugs to chickens if you find any around your garden or backyard, as with any chicken treat, feed in moderation and don’t use them to replace a chickens normal feed. It’s safer to feed chickens smaller slugs because they will eat them whole.
You can eat eggs which have been laid by foraging chickens who eat slugs. Eggs produced by chickens who free-range for natural food are richer and have a fuller flavour in comparison with eggs from caged hens.
Chickens will eat any type of slug which they find and like the taste of, no matter what the size or shape. If a slug is very large they will peck at it to break it up and eat it.
I hope this post has helped you to find out more about chickens eating slugs, you might also find the following article helps to find out more about what chickens can and can’t eat:
Our recommended coop
Chicken coop for different flock sizes and different weather.