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Do Chickens Eat Snails and is it Safe?

When chickens free-range, they’re constantly grazing and looking for morsels of natural food. Chickens will eat some weird and wonderful things and some things which they find will get them much more excited than others.

Chickens are omnivores which means they eat a mix of both plant-based food and live food. Creepy crawlies are some of their absolute favourites, especially worms, slugs and even larger animals such as mice or frogs, but does this list also include snails?

In short, chickens do enjoy eating snails which they unearth as they’re grazing. Snails are protein-rich and generally safe for chickens to eat providing they’re wormed and there’s no chance the snail has been near slug pellets or poison.

Read on to find out more about how chickens eat snails when they’re inside a shell, where and when they can find them, along with tips on avoiding potential dangers involved with chickens eat live snails.

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How Chickens get Snails Out of the Shell

One of my absolute favourite things about keeping chickens is watching them graze, they’re like eating machines and they put so much effort into scratching for the best possible food morsels.

Where we live there are lots of snails around in the warmer months so these are one of the main delicacies which our hens go hunting for. If one chicken finds a snail, she quickly runs away with it to make sure none of the others steals her prize, although the others usually spot it and go chasing after her.

The snail is usually hidden deep within the shell, so to get it out the chicken will start to drop it on a hard surface and smash at it with their beak to break the shell apart. This smashing action exposes the snail inside, which they’ll quickly eat.

I’ve even seen them taking snails to the same flat stone, which they use as an anvil to smash the snails up, this is a similar method used by wild birds such as blackbirds and thrushes.

It can sometimes be a battle of the pecking order so in some cases the finder of the snail might not get to eat it because it gets stolen by a hen who is higher up the pecking order.

Where do Chickens Find Snails?

Depending on where in the world you live, snails can be more common in some areas than others. They like damp places where there’s plenty of vegetation around to feed on and will hide away during the colder months.

Their love of munching through vegetation makes them one of the top garden pests for many gardeners and vegetable growers.

Snails generally come out at night when there are fewer predators around and because it’s generally easier for them to move around in damper, cooler conditions.

Snail grazing on damp moss

During the day, snails will normally stay hidden, but once chickens get a taste for them they’ll get to know their hiding places and pick them out.

Common places where we see chickens finding snails are between rocks in a stone wall, under leaf litter and under hedgerows and bushes. Chickens have powerful feet which can scratch and unearth snails which are hiding at ground level.

It’s not just snails which they find in this way, they’ll also eat slugs, worms and other insects which they unearth as they come across them.

Is it Ok For Chickens to Eat Snails?

It’s generally pretty safe for chickens to eat snails, but there are a few things to be aware of if your chickens regularly graze for snails, slugs and worms.

Other than snails, consider other foods in this list your chicken can eat.

Using Slug and Snail Poison/Pellets When You Keep Chickens

Although slug pellets are nowhere near as toxic as they used to be, it’s better not to use them in an area where chickens could eat a poisoned snail or slug.

A low dose shouldn’t affect the chicken, however, it’s never ideal to allow them to eat anything which is potentially toxic.

Apart from letting your chickens eat the snails which could be threatening your garden plants, there are other methods you can use instead of poison, these include:

  • Beer traps
  • Coffe
  • Grit
  • Copper tape
  • Crushed egg or nutshells

By placing grit and other similar textured coverings on the ground around the areas you don’t want snails to go will help to keep them away.

It’s also easy to manually remove them at night time when they come out, just shine a torch at the ground on a damp night and you’ll spot them.

Snails Can Carry Gapeworms

Gapeworms are a parasite which can live harmlessly inside snails, slugs and worms until the host is eaten by a chicken (or other bird).

The worm can attach it’s self to the inside of the chicken’s throat, which can lead to the chicken becoming seriously ill and in many cases, it can be fatal.

Fortunately, this is not that common and chickens can be treated to prevent gapeworm (which I’ll Cover next)

How to Prevent Chickens From Getting Gapeworm From Snails

Although gapeworm can sound pretty alarming you can protect your chickens from this type of worm along with other types by treating them regularly with Flubenvet worm treatment.

This article was first published on February 4, 2021 by Pentagon-Pets.

The easiest way to treat a flock of chickens is by using a medicated layers pellet feed which also contains Flubenvet as an additive.

It’s easy to use and all you need to do is feed your flock as normal with the Flubenvet feed for seven days and then go back to their usual feed once the seven days is up.

Doing this simple feed swap for a week every six months will protect the chickens and help to keep worms at bay.

You might also find the following article helpful on more information on how to use Flubenvet and where to buy:

Chicken DeWormer (US) Using Flubenvet Wormer for Chickens (UK)

Should you Feed Snails to Chickens?

The diet of backyard chickens is often a topic of lively discussion among poultry enthusiasts, especially concerning the inclusion of various live foods like snails. While snails can be a source of protein and entertainment for chickens, there are considerations to weigh regarding their safety and nutritional impact.

Feeding snails to chickens can offer a protein boost and stimulate natural foraging behaviors. However, caution is advised as wild snails may carry parasites or have been exposed to pesticides, posing potential health risks. Ensuring snails are safe for consumption is paramount to protect chicken health.

It’s important for chickens to get all the nutrients they need and they get this in a complete feed. So treats like snails are an added bonus to their diet, but shouldn’t be used as a replacement.

You Might Also Like

I this post has helped you to find out more about chickens eating snails you might also like the following articles too:

Do chickens eat slugs?

Pentagon Pet is the owner of this article that was first published on February 4, 2021.

Do chickens eat mice?

Can Chickens Eat Apples and is it safe?

Is it Ok For Chickens to Eat Worms?

Can Chickens Eat Raspberries? (Is it Safe?)

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This article and its contents are owned by Pentagon Pets and was first published on February 4, 2021.

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