Feeding chickens flax seed?

carajonNovember 7, 2007

We would like to increase the amount of Omega-3s in our chicken's eggs, and I read that we can do that by adding golden flax seed to their regular feed. I know that flax seed must be ground for human consumption ir order to gain any health benefits, so I was wondering if the same is true for chickens, or if the whole seeds are fine for them? Any thoughts??? Experience with flax seed or other methods of getting higher Omega-3 content in eggs?

Thanks so much!

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Boy am I glad you asked because I was about to ask the same thing! About 3 months ago I started supplementing the layer mix (from the mill-corn and"poultry base") with flax seed. Then started black sunflower seeds, whole oats, safflower seeds, cracked corn, whole wheat. Well they love the new mix and while they still have the mill stuff they donÂt eat much of it. The improvement in their feathers are amazing. One hen whoÂs going on three was, to be generous, sparsely feathered and I feared for her life this winter. SheÂs very nicely feathered now, even around her bottom which was bare. So the seeds have been very good for them! And a bonus is that the grains and oats left on the ground sprouted beautifully until recent cold weather!
I wondered too about whether or not to grind the flax as that is the one seed that gets left. I ground some up the other day and added it to the rest of the seeds but just canÂt tell if they ate it. So IÂd like to know if grinding helps. They manage to eat the other seeds just fine.
I too was wondering about how these seed oils might improve the omega 3 content of the eggs. They taste great! I found an article on the web "Assessment of Market Opportunities for Omega 3 Eggs". I wonder if a person could get eggs tested for omega 3. IÂve love to hear others experience with flax seed and seeds in general and the omega3Âs.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2007 at 10:15PM
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Beeone(4 N. Wyo.)

Never fed flax seed, but judging from a chicken's crop, whole flax seed will be no problem to digest. If you are worried, follow the flax seed eating chickens around a little and look at what comes out--see if they are any whole seeds present.

As to getting them to eat it, that may be different. Could be they are not partial to whole flax seed, just try it out. If they don't eat it, you might try cracking or grinding it and see if the intake increases, or grind it in with other feed they like, such as barley.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 1:08AM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

Flax seeds will keep for years in their whole state, stored in a cool dark place. When ground, they can go rancid/oxidise, and either taste off or be not too good for ingestion. Your best bet - although as long as they are stored in a fairly cool spot, the winter temperatures should keep the ground seeds fresher longer than summer heat! - is to get a small, cheap coffee grinder, and grind as many as you will use in a few days, if you think they should be ground. (Grinding is recommended for horses, but they process seeds very differently, and can get some good out of them even whole - I've done both.) Judging from the other things hens eat with no problem, I really doubt you need to grind them - and the small particles would not be as easy to pick up as whole seeds. If you want to get the human quality seeds, your local health food store should have them in bulk containers at a cost of less than $2/pound, which should last a fairly long time. Your local feed store might have flax as well - check for quality - seeds should be plump and heavy for their size, etc., with little chaff, etc., mixed in. However, while many horse people feed flax seeds, the local feed store here can get only the ground stuff. If that's the route you have to go, buy a gallon zip-loc bag full, store it in the freezer, and take out what you will be feeding for a few days, so the bulk of it stays fresh longer.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 9:49AM
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Thanks all! I found an online site that sells 50lb of organic golden flax seed for less than $100 delivered - so I am going to go ahead and order and see if the ladies like it. Of course, I have no way of measuring the Omega-3 content in the eggs, but at least I can hope my family will get getting a better dose than otherwise... I'll try the seeds unground first and see if they eat them.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 2:02PM
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I'd love to know the site--could you post it?

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 4:36PM
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Geez, I went online to order the flax seed and now I can't find the website that had such a great deal! I did find a site that sells 25lb bags of organic flax seed for $55 delivered - goldflaxseed.com. If I remember where I found the less expensive 50lb bag, I will post that.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2007 at 4:58PM
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Just found another site that has 50lb bags organic flax seed for animal feed for $49.99. Shipping to my zip is just under $30. See the link below:

Here is a link that might be useful: Grow organic website

    Bookmark   November 9, 2007 at 5:03PM
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Thank you! I have noticed that my chickens do leave a lot of the flax seeds but I've been givng them a dark colored flaxseed (from a feed store), not golden. I think I will first try some golden flax seed--it they like it I will get some in quantity. Meanwhile their favorite is the safflower and they love the whole wheat.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2007 at 10:08AM
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johanna_h(Z5 SW MI)

Mother Earth News has a link somewhere for a company that will do a nutritional analysis of your eggs. It ain't cheap, but you could get the information if you're willing to pay for it.


    Bookmark   November 10, 2007 at 1:38PM
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diggity_ma(5 MA)

I have fed my chickens flax seeds for a couple of years now. I never had the eggs tested, but I would be very curious to do so, just to see what the Omega-3 content is. I mostly supplement during winter months, because they do a lot of free ranging when the weather is warm and from what I have read, free ranging greatly increases the Omega-3 content as well.

The only problem I've had is that they don't really love the stuff. They'll eat it if I throw some on the ground for them, but when I tried mixing it in with their feed, they picked out the feed and all the flax was left in a pile at the bottom of the feeder. I guess they like it OK as a snack, but there are other snacks they like better, such as commercial bird seed. I've also been curious about that - how does the sunflower seeds, millet, etc in bird seed affect the fat content of the eggs?


    Bookmark   December 3, 2007 at 12:24PM
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I got a 50lb bag of Organic flax seed from Countryside. They ship, but I also know of groups of people that combine orders in Ohio and NC (where I am).

I'm also a fan of their organic poultry feed. It's all grain, and the chickens love it. They are all laying well and quite healthy.

Here is a link that might be useful: countryside's website

    Bookmark   December 8, 2008 at 3:10PM
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I have been reading this thread about feeding black sunflower,safflower,oats etc..I was wondering dibbit do you feed them these seeds whole? and do you mix all seeds together and throw it out like scratch? I can't find any quantity of golden flax seed where I live - but I did find a feed/seed place that has wheat grass seed 25#/$50 - I mention this because I found this website talking about growing wheat grass for your chickens and found it very interesting it talked about changing your feed according to seasons for chickens. what thoughts do you have?


    Bookmark   December 10, 2008 at 10:36AM
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mxbarbie(pnw BC 5)

Have your tried cooking the grain and feeding it to them that way? I feed my chickens mixed cooked grain and they really like it (including the flax). I bring water to a boil then add grain and turn off heat, let stand for 1 hour or until all water is absorbed, then serve. Everyone likes a hot dinner. : )

    Bookmark   December 11, 2008 at 1:00AM
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Is rolled oats the same as whole oats? I found the rolled oats for $18 for 50lbs. I thought I would feed them to my chicken, will rolled oats be good for them? and is that a good price?

claraserena you are the one that was feeding the blk oil sunflower, safflower, etc to your chickens-same question do you feed it to them whole?

Thanks alot!


    Bookmark   December 13, 2008 at 10:58AM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

I used to roll oats on the farm for horses ...as a kid, I'm sure it's better to digest.
Pretty sure it will also help the chickens but maybe not nessesarry.
Yes, it's all oats'.


    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 6:55PM
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paulns(NS zone 6a)

Once a week or so, from fall to spring, I cook a pot of scratch on the wood stove, adding whole flax seed and ground oyster shell, cool it and add some bacon fat and molasses. The scratch isn't thoroughly cooked, just softened. The flax gets a gelatinous coating this way, and altogether the mixture is a kind of glop. The chickens almost purr when they eat it, and this way they eat the flax seed, which they won't otherwise.
Since chickens keep grit in their crops, and can digest oyster shells - I've seen them go for broken mussel shells in the garden too - any whole grain should be no problem to grind, I would think.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 9:16AM
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What about fresh cut flax plants? Do you think the chickens would get the same benefits from just throwing some fresh cut flax in the yard?

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 7:00AM
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Lora - I think that's a good idea and I might try growing some flax next year. My chicks are about 14 weeks old now and they eat all sorts of weeds and plants. They especially like plantain. I let them free range for about an hour before dusk. They have an outdoor fenced area that is attached to their coop/shed but, you won't find anything green there anymore. It used to be grass.

I read that hens like Marigold flowers - to produce a nice golden egg.
My chicks will probably start laying in Sept. I have Marigolds growing and they are not flowering yet - so maybe I'll still have flowers when the hens start laying. The hens might not even like Marigolds. I'll have to wait and see.

In the meantime - let us know if your hens like flax plants or anything else they are particularly fond of.


    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 10:47AM
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