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Can Chickens Eat Sunflower Seeds?

Can chickens eat sunflower seeds

Do you have sunflowers in your garden? If yes, you may be wondering if chickens can eat sunflower seeds since they’re nutritious and edible for humans too.

Well, the answer is yes.

But can chickens eat all parts of sunflower seeds, or is there anything you should avoid?

In this article, we’ll answer the questions:

  • Can chickens eat sunflower seeds?
  • How and when should you offer them to your flock?
  • And how can your chickens benefit from these seeds?

Sunflowers aren’t just an ornamental plant because they also attract bees and provide food for your flock.

But we’ll spill everything you need to know before feeding them to your flock.

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Sunflower seeds

Can Chickens Eat Sunflower Seeds?

Chickens love eating whatever they see on the ground or anything while they are foraging. They eat edible plants with edible flowers, seeds, stems, or any parts of it.

So, can chickens have sunflower seeds?

Absolutely, yes, chickens can eat sunflower seeds whether they pick them in the ground or from the plant itself.

But are all parts of sunflower seeds safe for chickens? We’ll find out!

Can Chickens Eat Sunflower Seed Hearts?

Actually, the sunflower seeds don’t have a heart part. The whole seed itself serves as the heart of the sunflower plant. 

Without the seeds, a new generation of sunflowers won’t grow. So, can chickens eat sunflower seed hearts? Yes, they can.

Can Chickens Eat Sunflower Seeds Shells?

Sunflower seed has a shell, the hardest layer, that covers the innermost part of the seed. But, though it’s the hardest, it can’t hurt your chickens as long as they won’t choke up.

So, you don’t need to worry if your feathered friends pick up the sunflower seed with shells.

Can Chickens Eat Whole Sunflower Seeds?

There are different varieties of sunflower plants. Each of them has different sizes, heights, and looks. So, even their seeds have different sizes.

Can chickens eat a whole seed? Yes, they can as long as it fits their mouth. If not, they might get choked up.

Besides, the sunflower seed has a tip that can possibly rip the palate of the chicken.

So it’s best to choose sunflower seeds that fit their beak to avoid mishaps.

Can Chickens Eat Salted Sunflower Seeds?

Salted or seasoned sunflower seed might be more tasty than the real unsalted one. If you were to choose, you might select the tasty one. You can buy this kind of sunflower seed in the market. 

But what about your feathered friends? Can they eat salted or seasoned sunflower seeds?

No, they can’t. Never serve them processed sunflower seed with seasonings and salt.

Why? Though a little salt will not harm them, too much can cause adverse health effects. 

Besides, salted or seasoned sunflower seeds from the market are usually salty or contain too much sodium.

It will affect their overall health and the quality of their eggs.

Can Chickens Eat Sunflower Kernels?

The seed kernels are usually the inner part of the seeds with a softer texture compared to their shells.

If chickens can eat a whole sunflower seed, they can also eat the kernels.

Besides, they prefer this soft shell part separate from the kernels. So, there’s no need to worry if they pick it up in your backyard or garden.

How about commercial sunflower seeds?

Can Chickens Eat Commercial Sunflower Seeds?

Yes, chickens can eat commercial sunflower seeds. Feeding chickens commercial sunflower seeds in small amounts can be a healthy addition to their diet.

However, it is important to note that sunflower seeds should not be chickens’ main nutrition source. 

Besides, you must avoid sunflower seeds from sack sections in supermarkets at all costs because they usually have chemicals, especially the stripe type of seed. 

The black one is better, but you must check if it’s not salted or seasoned.

If you’re not certain, it’s best to plant sunflowers on your own to ensure your flocks’ safety and give life in your backyard.

Sunflower seeds and chickens

Types of Sunflower Seeds

Chickens love picking sunflower seeds, either available in your backyard, or you manually serve. But are all types of sunflower seeds safe for your flocks? 

Before answering it, let’s first know the kinds of sunflower seeds. Then, let us see what type is more nutritious for chickens.

Black Sunflower Seeds

As the name suggests, this is a pure black seed, and the kernels of this seed give off not only a meaty taste but also more nutrition.

And you can provide black oil sunflower seeds for chickens.

A cultivated black sunflower seed produces black oil. It is usually served as cooking oil but has many health benefits.

This type of sunflower seed is healthier than others because it can produce more oil, up to 40% to 50%.

Striped Sunflower Seeds

The striped sunflower seed has less oil content. It can only serve up to 25% of oil. But it was a popular seed for most animals, especially birds and chickens.

A confection sunflower is an example of a sunflower with a striped seed. Why striped? Obviously, because of its seed’s shell color. 

Though it had lesser oil content, stripe sunflower seed has the same nutritional content as the black one. They only differ on the amount.

Best Sunflower Seeds for Chickens

Both black and stripe sunflower seeds are nutritious and a great addition to your feathered friends’ diet.

But if we dig deeper into the amount of nutrients they hold, the black one takes the win.

However, the availability may vary depending on your region.

When can chickens eat sunflower seeds

What Age Can Chickens Eat Sunflower Seeds?

Chickens are curious about anything, even the chicks, right after hatching. They love exploring around while trying to figure out what foods are, especially the safe ones. 

How about sunflower seeds? At what age should they start eating them?

Well, you can’t give them to chicks because they are not grown enough to digest this kind of food.

Besides, sunflower seeds are mostly larger than their mouth, so they can’t fit in.

So, when can chickens eat sunflower seeds? When they reach 30 days old

It is the time they can start eating hard foods, whether while foraging or the one you will serve for them.

Are Sunflower Seeds Good for Chickens to Eat?

Sunflower seeds are advantageous to chickens since they are nourishing and have a fat content and high protein.

They have a protein content of around 25%, which is important for chickens.

Despite being high-fat, sunflower seeds primarily contain monounsaturated fat, the same good fat found in avocados and olive oil. 

The calories in sunflower seeds are high. They also offer omega-3s, a beneficial fatty acid in plant-based foods like sesame seeds, hemp, chia, and walnuts.

Sunflower seeds are also a great source of Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Folate, Choline, and vitamins B6, C, and E. 

It also has calcium, sodium, zinc, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and many more minerals.

See the table below for the nutrients in 100 grams of sunflower seed.


Total Amount in a 100g





Dietary Fiber


Fatty acids 












Chickens in a poultry farm

What Are the Benefits of Sunflower Seeds to Chickens?

Sunflower seeds are tasty and provide a range of benefits for your feathered friends. Here are some of them:

Enhance Heart Health

Unsaturated fats, abundant in sunflower seeds, have been discovered to reduce risks like heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. 

Elevated blood cholesterol levels are a factor in the sudden death syndrome that occasionally affects chickens. 

Provides Energy

Chickens require energy to perform their daily tasks, especially during mating, racing around your garden, avoiding predators, eating, interacting with one another, and laying eggs.

Your flock must have energy to survive, whether naturally calm or active. 

Good thing they can get it from foods like sunflower seeds and other plants nature provides. 

Boost Immune System

Chickens’ immune systems are naturally sensitive. So, you must include items that naturally strengthen their immune systems in their diet, such as:

  • Vitamin E
  • Minerals
  • Flavonoids
  • Antioxidants
  • Anti-inflammatory agents that are present in sunflower seeds

It also has antioxidants, zinc, and selenium, which help boost your chicken’s immune system to fight free radicals and strengthen the cells in their body.

Maintain Their Healthy Weight

Chickens should not be obese, even if their carcasses should be meaty. Obesity creates difficulties and could ultimately result in death. 

Sunflower seed fiber helps with digestion, improves food absorption, avoids constipation, and stores extra body fat, all of which help your chickens maintain a healthy weight.

Additionally, the high levels of fiber in sunflower seeds can help keep your chickens’ digestive system healthy. So, it’s worth adding sunflower seeds to your chicken’s diet.

How Do Chickens Eat Sunflower Seeds?

Chickens don’t have teeth to break down the food before swallowing it. They also don’t have hands to open up food.

Instead, they only use their beak to pick it up and swallow it directly.

That’s how they eat regardless of what kind of food, whether it’s sunflower seeds or other.

How to Feed Chickens Sunflower Seeds?

Once the sunflower seeds are completely matured, they are ready for feeding. You can serve sunflower seeds to your feathered friends in various ways. 

You can sprinkle them on top of their regular feed, mix them into a homemade treat, or offer them as a standalone snack. It is a quick and easy way to introduce the seed to them.

When your flocks are grown, they can start picking a whole seed. 

But if you have planted sunflowers in your garden or backyard, you can also rub the flower head and let the seeds drop. And wait for your flocks to come over and pick it for themselves.

Man offering sunflower to chickens

How Often Can Chickens Have Sunflower Seeds?

Can chickens eat too many sunflower seeds?

It’s important to remember that sunflower seeds should be given to chickens in moderation since they are high in fat they can contribute to obesity if overfed. 

Start by offering a small amount of sunflower seeds and gradually increase the amount over time. Serving a handful of sunflower seeds every two or three days gives them full nutrition.

Ensure your chickens can access fresh water while eating sunflower seeds or other treats.

Pros and Cons of Feeding Sunflower Seeds to Chickens

To summarize all the advantages and disadvantages of feeding sunflower seeds to your chickens, here are the pros and cons:


  • High in Nutrients for overall health
  • Rich in Oil
  • Helps fight diseases
  • Gives off energy
  • Boosts the immune system


  • Growth Impact
  • Induces molting

Other Seeds You Can Feed to Chickens

Aside from sunflower seeds, chickens can eat other seeds too, which are healthy for them. Here are some of them:

Watermelon Seeds

Watermelon seeds are highly healthy since they include balanced folate, iron, magnesium, and other nutrients.

These nutrients support metabolism, improve heart health, enhance the luster of your chickens’ plumage, and strengthen their immune systems. 

You can gather watermelon seeds from your scraps, roast them, and store them in airtight containers if you cannot obtain fresh watermelon as frequently as you would like.

Sesame Seeds

Many birds naturally prefer sesame seeds; unless your chickens are allergic to them, they have no reason to reject them. 

They have fat, vitamins, magnesium, thiamine, zinc, niacin, and manganese and are small enough to be chewed and ingested.

You can serve any variety, whether the sesame seeds are hulled or unhulled. However, the hulled one has fewer nutrients than the unhulled one.


Technically, wheat is a grain that can be used to grow another wheat plant.

Like other seeds and grains, wheat is nutritious too. It is mostly rich in carbohydrates that give energy to chickens.

In fact, it is the primary food that should be added to your chicken’s diet.

This grain is not only tasty but helps chicken’s overall health and increases egg production. 


Chickens are natural foragers, making barley seeds a great food source.

They are readily available and contain nutrients, including fiber, vitamins, minerals, and others. In fact, it is a common element in chicken feed. 

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are small but very nutritious, so you may also feed them to your chickens. They offer proteins, fiber, zinc, copper, magnesium, lipids, and carbs.

Feed your chickens pumpkin seeds if they have problems falling asleep. Your roosters’ sperm quality will also be improved by pumpkin seeds, which will increase their ability to reproduce. 

They also assist in maintaining internal organs and lowering blood cancer risks.

FAQs About Chickens’ Sunflower Seed Consumption

To give you more insights into chickens and sunflower seeds, we answered the most common questions about them below.

How do you prepare sunflower seeds for chickens?

You can harvest your sunflower and let them pick the seeds from the flowers by themselves or offer the seeds alone.

They won’t hesitate to peck at them as long as the seed fits their beaks.

Is too much sunflower seeds bad for birds?

Chickens’ sunflower seed consumption should be moderated because too much can lead to serious health issues.

Remember that it should only be served as a treat occasionally, and it’s not a suitable replacement for your poultry bird’s feed.

Is sunflower seed good for broiler chickens?

According to studies, sunflower seeds can safely add up to 28 to 30% of the broiler chicken’s diet without any adverse effects on their feed efficiency or growth.

Why feed sunflower seeds to chickens?

Sunflower seeds are nutritious. They’re high in methionine and lots of other vitamins like vitamin E, protein, carbs, and even dietary fiber.

Why do chickens eat sunflower seeds?

Their seeds are tasty and offer nutrients that help boost chickens’ egg production, enhance their skin health and plumage, and strengthen their bones.

Sunflower seeds for chickens

Can Chickens Eat Sunflower Seeds: The Final Recap

Chickens can eat sunflower seeds. In fact, it’s a great addition to your poultry bird’s feed.

However, it should be served in moderation to prevent adverse health effects.

But if you serve just the right amount of their seeds, your chickens can highly benefit from their oil and nutrient contents.

Remember that there’s a risk of choking though, so serve water along with the sunflower seeds and don’t give them seeds that are too huge for their beaks.

Otherwise, you’re setting them up for a disaster.

Have you ever tried feeding sunflower seeds to your flock? Did they enjoy it?

Let us know your thoughts and experience in the comment section below.

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