Sunflower seeds - a problem?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by iosRANDALL, Mar 10, 2018.

  1. iosRANDALL

    iosRANDALL Chirping

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    FOOD FOR THOUGHT -NOT THE GUT...
    I’ve no science to go on here -just some thoughts and deducing. Just something to consider maybe...
    My wife is in the habit of throwing handfuls of unshelled sunflower seeds to the chickens in their coops when she is reloading the wildbird feeders. As I thought about it, I said to her that I wondered if there might be a potential problem with that. Her response was what I suppose most folks conclude when they feed their chickens sunflower seeds: “Wildbirds eat them all the time and a chicken is a bird. Therefore sunflower seeds should be as good for a chicken as it is for a Cardinal.
    But in coming to that conclusion what I think most folks don’t consider is the fact that wildbirds shell the sunflower seed first and DISCARD the non-nutritious fibrous indigestible shell. Wildbirds do NOT eat the shell of the sunflower seed. They crack it open, eat the seed, and drop the shell which lands in the discard pile below the feeder. Have you ever had a soggy-wet fibrous mass of indigestible chewed-up sunflower shells in your mouth? If so, you get the picture. My concern was that too much shell in the chicken’s crop(craw) or anywhere in the gut could cause problems with impaction or blockage if a mass of wet fibrous nondigestible shell collects there. We have a Silver-Laced Wyandotte hen that for the past 2 1/2 days has some type of mass or impaction in her crop that is very painful to her when it’s touched. And she is lethargic, obviously not feeling well and eating only little. I don’t know if it’s a mass of sunflower shells, an impaction of straw, a tumor, or what, but my wife had thrown a bunch of unshelled sunflower seeds into her coop the evening before she turned up feeling bad and she ate a bunch of them. It was the next morning that we found her obviously not feeling well and it was this afternoon (3rd day of feeing bad) when I discovered the lump in her crop that very obviously pains her when touched. I can hold her, pet her, touch her all over, but when I touch her crop, she starts a non-normal cackling and making a real effort to get away. It’s obviously painful and is the source of her illness.
    Again, I don’t know what’s in her crop so can’t for-sure pin it on the sunflower shells, but I’ve worried for a long time about the potential for problems with the shells knowing that the wildbirds purposely discard them -and knowing from personal experience what a mass of soggy-wet fibrous sunflower shells feel like in my mouth after I’ve chewed on a handful of them for quite a while before I finally have to spit the fibrous wad out!
    Just some food for thought (pun intended).
     
    KikisGirls likes this.
  2. JaeG

    JaeG Crossing the Road

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    There's a difference between birds that take off the shell before ingesting the seed and those that don't. Many birds eat the seeds whole and have no problems. My chickens get the old cockatiel and budgie seed all the time and they love it as a treat. Chickens and other birds that eat seeds whole will seek out small stones/insoluble grit to assist their gizzard in grinding up everything. I've never had a problem feeding whole sunflower seeds to chickens and feeding whole grains is actually beneficial to them as it makes their gizzard work more efficiently.
     
  3. GC-Raptor

    GC-Raptor Crowing

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    I don't feed just sunflower seeds to birds or chickens. I feed a mixed wild bird seed as a treat that contains sunflower seeds. 20170610_142706.jpg So they don't get a lot. GC
    Edited to add; I also provide Granite Grit in a separate container, year round.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2018
    ChooksNQuilts likes this.
  4. Boonie Stomper

    Boonie Stomper Songster

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    check to make sure the chickens have grit (to break up the fiber).
     
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

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    My birds also get some sunflower seeds. Often sprouted, sometimes dry. No problem. They also have plenty of hay in both coop and run. I catch them eating that all the time. No problem.

    Grit is essential. During snow season which lasts from Nov through much of April, I provide grit. When ground is thawed, they can find their own grit.

    One thing to consider: sunflower seeds are high in fat. Birds that get a lot of fat are more apt to have high levels of visceral fat which can lead to egg laying difficulty. Giving a lot of fatty treats is essentially "killing your birds with kindness."

    IMO, a bird that has crop problems may very well have other underlying problems.
     
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  6. NNYchick

    NNYchick Songster

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    @lazy gardener i have a couple questions along this line. I sprout BOSS and wheat berries for my 8 Silkie they get about a cup to a cup and a half is this too much daily? Also tonight I noticed one of my 3 week old chicks running around with a sprouted BOSS, not sure if mama gave it to her or if she stole it. Should I stop giving sprouts until the chicks are larger?
     
  7. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

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    Is that 1 1/2 cups of dry seeds that are sprouted, or is that 1 1/2 cups of sprouts? I'd not give them more than that amount of sprouts.
     
  8. NNYchick

    NNYchick Songster

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    sprouted dry seeds (bagged as bird seed) 1/2 BOSS 1/2 wheat berries.
     
  9. iosRANDALL

    iosRANDALL Chirping

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  10. NNYchick

    NNYchick Songster

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    Maybe im doing sprout wrong. I add the BOSS with shells on and wheat berries to a mason jar soak for 24 hrs dump in colander and rinse 2 x a day till they start getting the white tail (around day 3)then start feeding to chickens.
     

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