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Los Angeles Urban Chicken Enthusiasts Message Board › Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds

user 13273946
Woodland Hills, CA
Post #: 15
What type of sunflower seeds are good for chickens? Shelled or not shelled? Do chickens crack open the seeds with their beaks, and if they don't do they really get any nutrition from them if they are not shelled? Thanks for answering my silly questions! Molly
Laura B.
Group Organizer
Norco, CA
Post #: 223
hi Molly,
I give them Trader Joe's raw sunflower seeds daily... it's the treat they look for in the late afternoons... I will not be surprised that the shelled are most nutritious, but in my experience, it does not work... my flock does not like them... don't even attempt to open them much less eating them...

I tried the organic scratch feed from Modesto Mills which comes with shelled sunflowers and it was a total waste... a waste in the sense that my flock didn't eat a single shelled sf, the wild birds ate them all and I had to deal with the shells left everywhere in my porch ---- yes, it's a good compose... but my idea was for my flock to eat them...

so, I would say buy a little of each... try the shelled... it would be wonderful if they eat it... since it's probably more nutritious... otherwise, the raw sunflowers are just fine... you can find them sometimes at feed stores, especially bird stores...

let us know what your chickens prefer :)
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 198
I think it comes down to what foods your chickens are introduced to during their early months - they do become suspicious of new foods as they get more mature. But mine think sunflower seeds are crack and will do almost anything for them. As a result I use them as a bribe to get the girls to go inside when they don't want to, or to give them a nice treat.
I think there are some nutrients in the shells, so if I were you I would start them on the shelled ones first. Unlike other birds, chickens will eat the shelled sunflower seeds whole - the shells get ground up in their crops and digested. So there's no mess.
Good luck - it's nice to have a treat to give them that is also good for them (in moderation, of course!).
Best wishes!
user 11812235
Granada Hills, CA
Post #: 14
Try sprouting the sunflower seeds in the shell. Doing this really increases the nutrient value. Soak in water over night. Then rinse them several times a day. They are ready on day 2-3. Yup, just like crack for chickens. They would kill for these. I use the black oil sunflower seeds.

A former member
Post #: 214
I think either black oil sunflower seeds (BOSS) or grey sunflower seeds are good, just make sure it is unsalted. (If salted, try to wash them first to remove as much salt as possible.) BOSS are smaller and may be easier for younger birds.

As Laura+Cynthia mentioned, the shell adds nutrients and from what I have read most of the nutrients is in the seed itself.

I had chickens that eat them whole and one that will occasionally crack them open to get to the seeds. She would have cracked them all open but since the others were all grabbing the seeds as fast as possible there wasn't much time to open each one.

This brings me into my current hen. I preferred raw shelled seeds, because (a) she has been debeaked (b) wouldn't touch the seeds with the shell and (c) if chickens or other animals open them, it creates a mess. At one point I was out of shelled and only had the ones with shells, so I took the seeds in front of her and cracked them one by one and, eventually after a few days, the hen realized what is inside and started eating them whole.

This had a surprising effect. After ~six months (minus one day) of laying shell-less eggs, following a few days of these grey sunflower seeds she started laying normal eggs. This happened again some months later, when I ran out of them, she went back to laying shell-less eggs and after getting more from a different store/brand, within two days she started laying normal eggs. It happened for the third time a couple of weeks ago. The shell is doing something.

This hen has plenty of oyster shells in the feed and as additional supplements. I have always given her sunflower seeds without the shell. Feeding has not changed; as we know feeding scraps full of junk can lead to shell-less eggs, especially in older birds (see: Thin-shelled Eggs, Old Hens, and The Miracle Diet Cure). It was clearly the shells that helped.

Some people grind them with the shell and add to feed, I see Donna is using sprouts which is an interesting angle because you get both the sunflower and the greens. Whatever works.
Elaine J.
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 113
TJ's raw sunflower seeds, just like Laura. My girls love them.
Laura B.
Group Organizer
Norco, CA
Post #: 224
oh wow... you guys confirm for me why I love this forum so much... amazing information... Donna, I CAN'T wait to go get some shelled sunflowers and sprouting them... what a brilliant idea!!! I know my flock would absolutely love it... and Marty, thanks for sharing what happened with your hen giving her shelled vs non shelled... so interesting... so, by doing it the "Donna's way", we get to give them the most nutrition... greens, the seed AND the shell... can't go wrong!!!

I still have my "Animal Place" rescued girls... a couple of them, consistently laying eggs with no shell... and I do give them sunflower seeds every day... so, let me see what happens when I give the sunflowers with the shell, sprouted... hope to have your same results Marty.

Molly, thanks so much for having started this post... a great question!

user 13273946
Woodland Hills, CA
Post #: 16
Thanks for the suggestions. I'm going to Trader Joes today and will pick up some sunflower seeds to experiment with (I love Trader Joes). My chickens already enjoy mealworms and fruit.
Arlynn L.
user 52839982
Agoura Hills, CA
Post #: 1
Hi there, my kids grew Mammoth sunflowers this summer (organically grown) and I have a few heads of sunflowers loaded, just loaded, with edible shells/raw nuts. We are in Pasadena and go to Studio City once a week on Sunday. If someone wants them for their birds as a treat, we could meet up somewhere to give them to you. We are not allowed to have chickens here, so no one to feed them to. There were so many that even the squirrels and raccoons have left off eating them. =) - Arlynn
Brandi G
user 48566262
Pasadena, CA
Post #: 15
I'm also in Pasadena. I'd Love some homegrown sunflower seeds for my ladies.
I'd happily come pick them up from you. I have not yet fed them sunflower seeds, I was going to grow some, so this wull be a chance to see how they like them.
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