Can Chickens Eat Split Peas? The Answer Might Surprise You

If you’re wondering whether split peas are a safe and healthy treat for your feathered friends, you’re in the right place.

The short answer? Yes, chickens can eat split peas – and they’re packed with nutrients that can help keep your flock happy and healthy.

But before you start tossing handfuls of peas into the coop, there are a few things you need to know.

In my guide, I’ll discuss the nitty-gritty of feeding split peas to chickens, including:

  • The nutritional benefits (and potential risks)
  • How to prepare them for maximum digestibility
  • The best ways to incorporate them into a balanced diet

So, whether you’re a seasoned chicken keeper or just starting out, read on to discover everything you need to know about making split peas a part of your flock’s menu.

What Are Split Peas and Can Chickens Eat Them?

Split peas are the dried, peeled, and split seeds of the Pisum sativum plant, also known as the field pea or garden pea. These small, disc-shaped legumes are a popular ingredient in human cuisine and are equally beneficial for chickens. 

Split peas are an excellent source of extra protein, fiber, and various essential vitamins and minerals, making them a valuable addition to a chicken’s diet.

Chickens are omnivorous creatures, meaning they can digest a wide range of foods, including grains, vegetables, and even insects. Split peas are no exception, and chickens can safely consume them as part of a balanced diet. When incorporated into their feed, split peas provide a nutritious and cost-effective way to support the overall health and well-being of your feathered friends.

two brown chickens pecking on the ground with several chicks walking around

Nutritional Benefits of Split Peas for Chickens

Split peas offer several nutritional benefits for chickens, contributing to their growth, development, and overall health. Here are just a few of the key advantages of including split peas in your chickens’ diet:

High in Protein

Split peas are an excellent source of plant-based protein, which is essential for the growth and maintenance of muscles, feathers, and organs in chickens. 

Adequate protein intake is important for laying hens, as it supports egg production and helps maintain egg size and quality. Depending on the breed, age, and production phase. See this handy table below for some breed-specific details as a result of this study.

Breed/TypeAge/PhaseCrude Protein (%)
KadaknathStarter (up to 6 weeks)21%
BroilerStarter (1-21 days)21%
Sentul (dual-purpose)Laying periodSpecific energy and protein composition required
Native ChickenGrower (6-14 weeks)15.53%

Rich in Fiber

Split peas are high in dietary fiber, which aids in digestion and promotes a healthy gut in chickens. Fiber helps maintain the balance of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract, reducing the risk of gastrointestinal issues and supporting overall digestive health.

Packed with Essential Vitamins and Minerals

Split peas contain a variety of essential vitamins and minerals that contribute to the overall health and well-being of chickens. Some of the key nutrients found in split peas include:

  • B-vitamins: Aid in energy metabolism and nervous system function
  • Iron: Essential for the formation of red blood cells and oxygen transport
  • Folate: Essential for cell growth and development
  • Magnesium: Supports muscle and nerve function
  • Calcium: for bone health
  • Zinc: Important for immune function and wound healing
  • Vitamin C: Boosts the immune system and supports overall health
  • Amino Acids: Building blocks of proteins
  • Potassium: Helps regulate fluid balance and supports heart health

By incorporating split peas into your chickens’ diet, you can provide them with a nutrient-dense food source that promotes their overall health, supports egg production, and helps maintain a healthy weight.

an infographic with a bowl of split peas surrounded by the amount of each nutrient such as calories, carbs, and fiber per 100-gram serving
credit-verywellfit.com photo: Alexandra Shystsman

Types of Split Peas Suitable for Chicken Feed

When it comes to feeding split peas to your chickens, you have two main options: green split peas and yellow split peas. Both types offer similar nutritional benefits and can be used interchangeably in chicken feed.

Green Split Peas

Green split peas are the most common type of split peas and are readily available in most grocery stores and feed suppliers. They have a mild, slightly sweet flavor that chickens find appealing. Green split peas are an excellent choice for adding variety to your chickens’ diet and providing them with a nutrient-dense food source.

Yellow Split Peas

Yellow split peas are similar to green split peas in terms of nutritional value and can be used in the same way. The main difference is their color, which comes from the pigments in the pea’s outer layer. Some chicken keepers prefer yellow split peas for their slightly nuttier flavor, which can add an extra dimension to their chickens’ meals.

Both green and yellow split peas are suitable for feeding chickens, and the choice ultimately comes down to personal preference and availability. Regardless of the type you choose, split peas are a nutritious and cost-effective way to support your chickens’ health and well-being.

yellow and green split peas in two separate clear browns on countertop
credit- relishingit.com

How to Prepare Split Peas for Chicken Feed

  • Soaking split peas overnight softens them and makes them easier for chickens to digest
  • Cooking split peas enhances their flavor and palatability for chickens
  • Incorporating soaked or cooked split peas into a balanced diet provides chickens with essential nutrients

Soaking Split Peas for Better Digestibility

Soaking split peas is an important step in preparing them for chicken feed. This process softens the peas, making it easier for chickens (especially baby chicks) to digest and absorb the nutrients. To soak split peas, place them in a large bowl or container and cover them with water. Allow the peas to soak overnight or for at least 4 hours (up to 6-12 hours).

After soaking, drain the water and rinse the split peas thoroughly. This helps remove any debris or impurities that may have been present. The soaked split peas will have expanded in size and become softer, making them more palatable for chickens.

Soaking split peas not only improves digestibility but also reduces the risk of digestive issues in chickens. 

Unsoaked split peas can be harder for chickens to break down, potentially leading to crop impaction or other digestive problems. 

two bowls of split peas, one soaked overnight and another not soaked for comparison
credit- garlicdelight.com

Can Chickens Eat Uncooked Split Peas?

Yes, chickens can eat uncooked split peas, BUT it’s generally recommended to soak or cook them first

Raw split peas are harder for birds to digest and may not provide the same nutritional benefits as soaked or cooked peas. However, if you choose to feed raw split peas, do so in moderation and ensure that your chickens have access to plenty of fresh water to aid in digestion.

Sudden changes in diet can cause digestive upset in birds. If you’re unsure about feeding raw split peas to wild birds, it’s best to consult with a local wildlife expert or veterinarian for guidance.

Cooking Split Peas for Added Palatability

In addition to soaking, cooking split peas is another way to prepare them for chicken feed. Cooked split peas are not only easier to digest but also have enhanced flavor that can make them more appealing to chickens.

To cook split peas:

  • Start by rinsing them under running water to remove any dirt or debris. 
  • Place the rinsed peas in a pot and cover them with water. 
  • Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and let the peas simmer until they become soft and mushy. 
  • This usually takes around 1–2 hours, depending on the quantity of peas.

Once cooked, allow the split peas to cool completely before feeding them to your chickens. You can mash the cooked peas to make them easier for chickens to eat, especially for younger birds or those with smaller beaks.

Cooking split peas not only improves their palatability but also allows for better nutrient absorption while providing a tasty and nutritious addition to your chickens’ diet.

Next, we’ll explore how to incorporate split peas into a balanced chicken diet for optimal health and well-being.

Incorporating Split Peas into a Balanced Chicken Diet

  • Ensure optimal nutrition by properly incorporating split peas into your chickens’ diet
  • Learn the correct ratios and serving sizes for different ages and sizes of chickens
  • Discover nutrient-rich foods that complement split peas for a well-rounded diet
chick peas in a clear bowl on a table
credit-servings.org

Proper Ratios and Serving Sizes

When incorporating split peas into your chickens’ diet, it’s very important to maintain the right balance. Split peas should make up no more than 10% of their total diet. This ensures that your chickens receive a diverse range of nutrients from other sources while benefiting from the protein and fiber in split peas.

However, it’s essential to adjust these amounts based on the age, size, and activity level of your chickens. 

Monitoring Your Chickens’ Health and Adjusting Portions

Regularly observe your chickens’ health and behavior when introducing split peas into their diet. 

Watch for any signs of digestive issues, such as diarrhea or reduced appetite. If you notice any concerns, reduce the amount of split peas offered or temporarily remove them from the diet until their digestive system stabilizes.

Combining Split Peas with Other Nutrient-Rich Foods

To ensure your chickens receive a well-rounded diet, it’s recommended to combine split peas with other nutrient-rich foods. Mix cooked split peas with a variety of grains, legumes, and vegetables to create a diverse and appealing feed.

Some excellent options to pair with split peas include other legumes such as lentils and chickpeas.

Balancing Split Peas with Commercial Feed

While split peas and other whole foods provide valuable nutrients, be sure to offer them alongside a quality commercial feed formulated for chickens. Commercial feeds are designed to meet the specific nutritional requirements of chickens at various life stages, ensuring they receive essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.

Offer the split pea mixture as a supplement to their primary diet, rather than a complete replacement. This approach helps ensure chickens receive all the necessary nutrients for optimal health and productivity.

The Importance of Fresh Water and Grit

In addition to a balanced diet, always provide your chickens with access to clean, fresh water. Water is essential for proper digestion, nutrient absorption, and overall health. 

Regularly check and clean water sources to maintain hygiene and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

Grit, which refers to small stones or crushed oyster shells, is another important component of a chicken’s diet. Chickens lack teeth and rely on grit to grind food in their gizzards, aiding in digestion. When feeding split peas and other whole foods, ensure your chickens have access to grit to support proper digestion and prevent digestive issues.

By following these guidelines for incorporating split peas into a balanced chicken diet, you can provide your feathered friends with the nutrition they need to thrive. Remember to monitor their health, offer a diverse range of foods, and always prioritize their well-being.

Potential Risks of Feeding Split Peas to Chickens

While incorporating split peas into a balanced chicken diet offers numerous benefits, you’ll need to be aware of the potential risks associated with feeding these legumes to your feathered friends.

a brown chicken eating chicken feed in a barn full of hay

Digestive Issues from Overfeeding

One of the primary concerns when feeding split peas to chickens is the risk of digestive problems arising from overfeeding. Split peas are high in fiber, which can be beneficial in moderation but problematic when consumed in excess.

Feeding too many split peas to your chickens can lead to bloating and diarrhea. The high fiber content can cause the birds’ digestive systems to work overtime, leading to discomfort and loose stools. To avoid these issues, it’s essential to introduce split peas gradually into their diet and monitor your chickens for any adverse reactions.

If you notice any digestive problems after introducing split peas, reduce the amount or eliminate them from their diet until their digestive health improves. 

Remember, moderation is key when it comes to feeding split peas to your chickens.

Toxicity Concerns with Dry Split Peas

Another potential risk to consider when feeding chickens dry beans and dry split peas is the presence of toxic compounds in certain varieties when consumed raw. Some dried beans, such as kidney beans, lima beans, and soybeans, contain lectins and other anti-nutritional factors that can be harmful to chickens if ingested in their raw state.

To ensure the safety of your chickens, always use fresh peas, then soak and cook dried beans and peas before offering them to your birds. The soaking and cooking process helps to break down the toxic compounds, making the legumes safe for consumption.

Mold Growth and Spoilage

Improper storage of split peas can lead to mold growth and spoilage, posing health risks to your chickens. Split peas, like other dried goods, are susceptible to moisture and humidity, which can create an ideal environment for mold to thrive.

To prevent mold growth, store them in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Regularly inspect your stored split peas for any signs of mold, such as discoloration or a musty odor, and discard any affected portions immediately.

Feeding moldy or spoiled split peas to your chickens can cause respiratory issues, digestive problems, and other health complications. 

Storing and Preserving Split Peas for Long-Term Use

graphic of split peas being stored in an air tight container on wooden table
credit- discover.texasrealfood.com

Proper Storage Techniques for Split Peas

To maintain the quality and nutritional value of split peas for your chickens, it’s essential to store them correctly. 

Split peas should be kept in a cool, dry place away from moisture and pests. Ideal storage locations include a pantry, cupboard, or shelf that’s not exposed to direct sunlight or heat sources.

Use airtight containers, such as glass jars or plastic containers with tight-fitting lids, to store the split peas. This helps prevent moisture from entering and keeps the peas fresh for longer periods. Avoid using paper or cloth bags, as they don’t provide adequate protection against humidity and pests.

Labeling and Rotating Your Split Pea Stock

When storing split peas, always label the containers with the date of purchase. This simple step allows you to easily rotate your stock, ensuring you use the oldest peas first. Regularly check your stored split peas for any signs of mold, insects, or other damage. If you notice any issues, discard the affected peas to prevent contamination of the entire stock.

Freezing Cooked Split Peas for Convenience

You can also prepare and freeze cooked split peas for added convenience. This method is particularly useful if you have limited time to cook fresh batches regularly or want to have a quick, nutritious treat ready for your chickens.

To freeze cooked split peas, follow these steps:

  1. Cook the split peas according to your preferred recipe until soft and easily mashed.
  2. Mash the cooked split peas using a fork or a potato masher until they reach a consistency suitable for your chickens.
  3. Portion the mashed split peas into ice cube trays, filling each compartment about 3/4 full.
  4. Place the ice cube trays in the freezer and allow the split peas to freeze solid. This usually takes around 4-6 hours, depending on your freezer’s temperature.

Transferring Frozen Split Peas to Long-Term Storage

Once the split pea portions are frozen solid, remove them from the ice cube trays and transfer them to a freezer-safe container or resealable plastic bag. Label the container or bag with the date of freezing, so you can keep track of how long they’ve been stored.

When you’re ready to feed your chickens, simply remove the desired number of frozen split pea cubes from the container and thaw them in the refrigerator or at room temperature. Once thawed, the split peas can be served as a tasty and nutritious treat for your chickens.

By utilizing proper storage techniques and freezing cooked split peas, you can ensure a steady supply of high-quality, nutritious treats for your chickens while minimizing waste and saving time in the long run.

Frequently Asked Questions about Feeding Split Peas to Chickens

Can chickens eat dried field peas?

Yes, chickens can safely consume dried field peas as a part of their diet. Field peas, like split peas, are a nutritious legume that can provide chickens with essential proteins, carbohydrates, and fiber. However, prepare the dried field peas properly before feeding them to your flock.

Soak the peas in water for several hours or overnight. This process softens the peas and makes them more palatable for the birds. After soaking, cook the field peas until they are tender before offering them to your chickens. 

Cooking helps break down the complex starches and proteins, making them more readily available for digestion.

Incorporate dried field peas into your chickens’ diet in moderation, as they should be treated as a supplement rather than a complete replacement for their regular feed. 

Gradually introduce the peas and monitor your flock for any signs of digestive issues or adverse reactions.

How often should my chickens eat split peas?

When incorporating split peas into your backyard chickens’ diet, it’s essential to strike a balance between providing variety and maintaining a consistent, nutrient-rich feed regimen. As a general guideline, you can offer split peas to your chickens 1-2 times per week but no more than 10% of their regular diet to supplement their regular feed.

Feeding Your Chickens for Health and Happiness

Can chickens eat split peas? Absolutely. Split peas are a nutritious and affordable addition to your chickens’ diet. Soaking and cooking the peas makes them easier to digest and more appealing to your feathered friends. 

Remember to keep split peas as a small part of a balanced diet, and watch for any digestive issues.

Providing your backyard chickens with a varied, nutrient-rich diet is essential for their overall health and egg health. By incorporating split peas and other wholesome foods, you’re giving your flock the building blocks they need to thrive.

What’s one new food you’d like to introduce to your chickens’ diet this week? Consider trying split peas or another healthy option, and see how your flock responds. With a little experimentation and care, you’ll find the perfect balance for your chickens’ unique needs.

-Jen

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Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is for informational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to replace or be construed as professional health advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or veterinarian before implementing or altering the diet of your backyard animals. The author assumes no responsibility for any adverse effects or consequences resulting from the use of any suggestions, preparations, or procedures discussed on this blog. If you are reading this for the purpose of making major financial or life decisions, please consult a professional before doing so. By reading and using my website, you are agreeing to my terms and conditions. Thanks y’all!

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