Poultry farming has increased significantly amongst small and commercial farmers alike within the last few decades. The wide spread of poultry farming brings about concerns regarding an effective yet cost effective dietary plan for chicken. Poultry diet is imperative to having a healthy, thriving flock and so farmers are continuously in search of an ideal dietary plan that can increase production. For this reason, agricultural research has been dedicated towards investigating the effects of highly value, pharmaceutical foods like mushrooms on chicken production.

Can Chickens Eat Mushroom

Chickens can eat mushroom. In fact, it has been proven that mushrooms have significant health benefits for chicken. Mushrooms are an excellent source of protein containing essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals; they are a rich source of different unsaturated fatty acids. Mushrooms generally provide chickens with nutrients necessary for growth, improved health and increased resistance to and protection from pathogens. In addition, mushroom diet leads to higher nutrients retention. On this note, farmers should be cautious about the types and dosage of mushrooms added in poultry diet. Some mushrooms are poisonous thus can be detrimental to the flock. Chickens are natural foragers, therefore it is of the outmost importance to ensure that chickens are kept in an environment with edible mushrooms; poisonous mushrooms must be removed. It is advisable for farmers to grow edible mushrooms close to the run instead, as this is a cost effective, healthy and safe measure. Mushrooms recommended as chicken feed include shiitake, maitake, reishi, morel, button and oyster. In terms of dosage, mushrooms should only make up a small portion of the chicken diet. They must not be used to replace chicken feed but added in limited quantities to enhance the health of birds. Currently, the recommended amount for chicken is 6% of the overall diet. Still, chickens can eat mushrooms of up to 15% without negatively affecting their health.

Mushroom feed for broiler production

A number of reasons have been mentioned on whether chickens can eat mushrooms, one of these is the effect of mushrooms in body mass and production. Mushrooms are effective for chicken body mass gain and production. Broilers with mushroom added to their feed tend to grow larger compared to those with a mushroom free diet. While mushrooms generally lead to improved growth performance in chickens, growth rate varies with different types of mushrooms. Oyster mushrooms are rich protein, fiber, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Therefore, the addition of oyster mushrooms to chicken feed produces the highest average gain in body weight. A chicken that would otherwise weigh approximately 2.5kg can weigh up to 3.5kg with oyster mushroom induced diet. Mushrooms such as reishi and shiitake also record higher growth rates compared to most mushroom types. Shiitake mushrooms outperform the other mushrooms with regards to growth performance, thus chickens can eat mushrooms as part of their daily feed.

Mushroom feed for layer production

Mushroom feed has a positive impact on layer production. Mushrooms are highly famed for improving the laying percentage, egg quality, egg yolk cholesterol level and immunity in laying hens. Chickens can eat mushrooms produce superior quality eggs. This is because mushrooms enhance calcium retention in egg shells leading to a high number of marketable eggs. Furthermore, mushroom fed chickens normally lay eggs that weigh more compared to chickens with a mushroom free diet. Adding mushrooms to chicken feed at approximately 4% of the overall diet results in significantly higher egg albumen height, eggshell weight, and shell thickness. In addition, cholesterol concentration of the egg yolk in mushroom fed chicken tends to be lower, hence are a healthier option. Mushrooms are also an effective alternative to induce molting in chickens. With the abolition of induced molting through feed withdrawal in most countries, mushrooms are highly recommended as an efficient means to poultry farmers.  For this reason, there is need for farmers to consider the use of mushrooms to improve quantity and quality of their produce.

Mushroom feed for immunisation

There has been great concern with regards to drugs utilised to protect poultry against infectious diseases. Farmers are increasingly seeking non chemical methods as a substitute. Chickens can eat mushrooms as a means to boost their immune system and be protected from rampant infections. Some of the mushroom species have role in immune response and may protect chickens from the infectious diseases. Mushrooms including shiitake and oysters have a rich history in herbal medicine as a tonic for immune system dating back 3000 years ago. These edible mushrooms have cell walls that contain a high number of polysaccharides known as beta-glucans. They are derived from fruiting bodies of mushrooms, and support the innate immune system against bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic infections. Mushrooms are therefore highly recommended as a means to manage parasitic diseases, and boost the immune system.

Mushroom feed as antioxidants

Mushrooms have natural antioxidants that can be used to replace synthetic ones which are known to leave residues and have the potential to harm human health. Oxidative stress in poultry results in health deterioration and a decline in the quality of the meat. It affects the colour, flavour, texture and nutritional value of broilers. Edible mushroom such as Shitake and Maitake contain phenolic compounds which have curative properties, thus are a natural antioxidant. Chickens can eat mushrooms to boost antioxidant enzyme activities. It is therefore recommended to add mushrooms to the poultry dietary plan in order to protect livestock and improve the quality of the meat.

Agricultural research has proven that chickens can eat mushrooms in order to improve their health. Chickens can eat mushrooms to be well protected from infectious diseases. This is because mushrooms boost their immune systems allowing them to be resistant to a number of diseases. In addition, chickens can eat mushrooms to enhance their productivity. Mushrooms are currently being used to replace most chemical medicine that can potentially be harmful to consumers. However, it is important to note that mushrooms should not be used to replace chicken feed such as mash and grit. Complete elimination of the normal chicken feed can lead to digestive issues and health deterioration. Mushrooms should only be added to chicken feed in limited amounts so as to provide balanced diet, hence maximise on poultry productivity.