1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    Not a member yet? join BYC here & then introduce yourself in our community forum here.

Acorns as a food source?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by karenerwin, Oct 12, 2014.

  1. karenerwin

    karenerwin Crowing Premium Member 5 Years

    Jun 11, 2013
    Cedar Hill, Missouri
    Does anyone know if acorns can be used as a treat or food supplement for chickens? We have an overabundance of acorns this year. The chickens don't mess with them, but one day I was bored and split some open ( in half ) and the chickens were eating them. I didn't want to do too many incase there was anything wrong or bad for chickens in the acorns. I know a lot of people say that chickens won't eat it if it is bad for them, but I thought I would ask "the experts"!

    Ok, I realize this went in the wrong area. I am trying to figure out how to move it to a more appropriate thread/forum.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2014
  2. Toddrick

    Toddrick Songster

    Sep 28, 2014
    I know people can eat acorns, but without soaking them in water overnight the tannins can cause gastro distress (upset tummy, diarreah I suppose). Not sure how chickens would do, but I would think they'd have no problems, just because of the variety of greens they eat (I.e. grass), as well as their different GI tract.
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member 5 Years

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I clicked the red flag and asked a moderator to move it to the feeding forum....
    .....I think you can do the same thing to your own posts so if it happens again you'll know what to try.

    I have no idea if acorns will hurt chickens or not tho...when in doubt, everything in moderation.
    I'd feed them some, then keep an eye on behaviors and poops.
    1 person likes this.
  4. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging 8 Years

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Acorns used to be a staple with Native Americans, just as corn and squash. Why not soak a bunch in water, maybe add a touch of ACV to stimulate a little fermentation, and then run them through a food processor? I wouldn't hesitate to do this with my flock, and I would if there were any acorns left around here after the bears have had their fill.

    Just go easy at first and watch their reaction. (poop)
  5. karenerwin

    karenerwin Crowing Premium Member 5 Years

    Jun 11, 2013
    Cedar Hill, Missouri
    I'm guessing that AVC is Apple Cider Vinegar...
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road 5 Years

    Nov 7, 2012
    I have read that an abundance of acorns will cause the egg yolks to turn a very dark color (brown/blackish). How many acorns, you'd have to experiment! I know that the old timers used to use them for animal feed, and I wonder if soaking would remove the tannins enough so that the yolks wouldn't discolor. Worth a try. If any one does take on this experiment, or know any old timers with experience using acorns as animal feed, please post experience with this subject. As the economy continues to be pummeled, trounced, and otherwise assaulted, we may have to be more resourceful regarding finding alternate feeds for our flocks.
  7. pdirt

    pdirt Songster

    May 11, 2013
    Eastern WA
    I have read about using acorns for human food. I don't recall the particulars, but it did involve soaking the acorn meal for a long time to remove the tannins. I think it was perhaps 2 weeks. Otherwise they could make you sick. I think it also involved several water changes, but I can't recall for sure. How this works with livestock, I'm not sure, but I bet if you prepared them human-grade, it would be fine.

    Ah, here's a decent link:


    "The other method is to grind them into a course meal and soak several days or weeks (depending on the species) in many changes of cold water until the water runs clear."

    Perhaps a nutrition expert can speak up here. I was under the impression that chicken's can't digest large amounts of fat, which any nut will have. I imagine it would be more of a treat or supplement.
  8. I know that bears, wild pigs, deer, squirrels, and any number of other wild animals and birds eat acorns. I had several LARGE oak trees on my place and most years they produced a bumper crop. The oaks like pen oaks even produced an acorn small enough that a 4 or 5 pound chicken could gulp it down easily. I never had a grown hen or rooster ask me for an antacid tablet because it ate too many acorns. But I find it hard to phantom why you would add more acid in the form of ACV to de-acidify an acorn that is already as acid as all heck. The only way I know of to process an acorn to make it less acidic is to sprout it so that part of the astringent starch turns into sugar. You can alas crush them to mush then wash most of the acid out with hot water. I have never been hungry enough to make or eat acorn flour but I've been told that at its best acorns can only be used to extend your supply of regular flour.

    To settle this question why don't some brave soul gather a bushel of acorns. One bushel dry measure is a little over 30 quarts. Process your acorn stash and eat nothing but one quart of acorns a day for 30 days in a row. Keep a diary and at the end of the 30 days post your diary on this thread and tell us how you liked them.
  9. karenerwin

    karenerwin Crowing Premium Member 5 Years

    Jun 11, 2013
    Cedar Hill, Missouri
  10. HeritageGoose13

    HeritageGoose13 Songster

    Apr 24, 2015
    They only eat them after the tannins have mostly taken out by rain water. Scientists have discovered squirrels bury different species of acorns for different amounts of time depending on tannin content. There are a few oak species with acorns low in tannin enough for animals to eat them right away, but the vast majority require processing.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: