Can Chickens Eat Timothy Hay

Can Chickens Eat Timothy Hay

Chickens are very common birds found in homes. They are very easy to breed due to the variety of foods which they can eat. Chickens are omnivores and they can eat anything or try to eat most of the things which they can get their beak on. Chickens eat many things from plants, insects and grains and meat. Chickens can eat timothy hay but it is recommended not to give them to chickens.

The article will look at the reasons behind timothy hay not being recommended for chickens. To further understand the scope of chicken feed, nutritional requirements for chickens will also be looked into.


Chicken Nutritional Requirements

It is important for us to look at basic chickens nutritional requirements to fully support that despite chickens being able to eat timothy hay it is not a recommended feed for them. Like any other animals or birds, chickens have their nutritional requirements which also vary depending on their size. Mostly the variation comes in the proportion of certain nutrients which they need as they grow.

  • These provide chickens with the necessary energy required for various internal processes. These are found in many foods which the chickens eat in form of sugar or cellulose.
  • In addition to providing energy, fats also play an important role in absorbing grain dust and absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Fats also makes the feed more appetizing to the chickens.
  • These are important in chickens for growth. Proteins are responsible for development of new tissue cells. There are also plenty sources of protein from foods that chickens eat.
  • Minerals play an important role in chickens, they are responsible for bone formation, enzyme activation and blood clotting. All these help chickens grow healthy.
  • Vitamins are required in small proportions in chickens but play an important role including disease prevention. Shortage of these vitamins results in diseases affecting the chickens. Lastly water is also an essential element of chickens’ diet.

Now that we know what is expected in any feed or diet to give to our chickens, we will need to look at nutritional content of timothy hay and see if it is worth for chickens to eat.

Timothy Hay Nutritional Content

Timothy hay is a grass hay with a low protein content which makes it unsuitable for chickens to eat. We have seen that chickens require more proteins for growth through new cell development and so with little content in timothy hay they may not grow well. This is more particularly for chickens bred for meat.

Timothy hay is very high in fiber and roughage with very low content of essential nutrients for chickens. If it forms the basis for chicken feed they may suffer from multiple deficiency diseases. Despite chickens eating timothy hay, it is not recommended for the reasons mentioned. Chickens owners in areas where timothy hay is plenty should make sure that they limit their chickens from excessive feeding on this type of hay.

Problems of Timothy Hay To Chickens

While chickens can eat timothy hay, it is important for us to understand the negative impact of feeding timothy hay to chickens.

  • Low nutritional value. As highlighted, timothy hay is low in essential nutritional value and consumption of this by chicken may affect their health and growth. Timothy hay should not be treated as the base feed for your chickens.
  • Digestive problems. Timothy hay is high in fiber and is suitable for animals like horses, if given to chickens it may cause digestive problems, crop impaction and constipation.
  • Chickens Throat Blockages. Timothy hay has long strands which for if eaten by chickens may get caught on the throats or intestines causing serious health problems.
  • Nutrition imbalance. Timothy has is high in carbohydrates and very low in protein, this imbalance can cause diseases like liver disease and obesity in chickens.

Which Hay Is Good For chickens

Chickens can eat timothy hay but this is not the best practice as highlighted above. The most recommended hay for chickens is alfalfa hay. This type of hay is high in proteins and calcium which are two of the most essential nutrients for chickens. Compared to timothy hay, alfalfa hay has small leaves which chickens can easily eat without any problem. Despite being good for chickens, this should not be given continuously to chickens. Chicken feed supplements are also encouraged for chickens. This is due to the nutritional balance which is important for healthy chickens at different stages in their life cycle.

What Else Can Chickens Eat

Chickens being omnivorous birds have got a very broad feed basket which also makes them very easy to keep. Many backyard chickens are rarely fed on feed supplements, they get their food on their own. From the yard they eat insects, locusts, vegetables and fruits. Chickens also feed on small grass and tree leaves, they also enjoy eating grains like sorghum, millet, nuts and maize. From the yard chickens can get a balanced meal for their health and growth. These different food sources readily available can provide all necessary nutrients from proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Chickens also feed themselves from various types of worms from the ground. Lastly, there are many chicken feed supplements which can be bought from various stores. These can also provide a balanced nutrition for the chickens. It is important for one to read the feeding instructions. Some supplements are meant for small chickens, while some are also manufactured for medium and grown chickens. Layers and broiler chickens also have their own chicken feed supplements which suit them best.


Chickens can eat almost anything including timothy hay. Timothy hay is not recommended for chickens and the advantage is that chickens can eat a variety of plants from grass and small leaves around them. These are good sources of critical nutrients for the chickens. Chickens also feed themselves from many different insects and grains around homes. Food supplements can also be bought to feed the chickens.