Today I wanted to share with you the benefits that I have seen over the years in my flock by adding sea kelp to their diet. I originally started sporadically adding sea kelp to their diet years ago, when I first learned how my lobsterman friends, would set their traps out in the yard for their flocks of chickens to clean. The chickens would go nuts for all the seaweed attached to the cages. They made fast work and within no time they would clean the traps, leaving no traces behind. It got me thinking, what were the chickens getting from the sea anyway?
Until I did some research, I had no idea that sea kelp is loaded vitamins, minerals and protein. It is one of the most natural ways to prevent vitamin deficiencies in the flock. I have also found that supplementing their diet with the sea kelp has improved feather pecking. My assumption was that the feather pecking was most likely due to a nutritional deficiency. Sea kelp can be added to the diet of all chickens, including baby chicks.
Nutritional Breakdown of Sea Kelp
By adding sea kelp to your flock’s diet, you have the opportunity to improve their nutrition, boost their immune response and promote egg laying. Some also agree that feeding the flock sea kelp also helps to extend the life of the flock .
Vitamins include A, B1, B6, (NIACIN), B9 (Folate), B12, D, E, and K.
Kelp has very high levels of vitamin K. Vitamin K is necessary for blood clotting and bone health. Kelp also contains high levels of folate, iron, iodine and calcium. The amount of calcium in one serving of sea kelp is ten times the amount found in a glass of milk. As you already know, laying hens require both calcium and Vitamin D to make strong eggshells.
Kelp contains moderate levels of vitamin A, E, C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid.
It also includes important trace minerals–phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium as well as lower levels of leucine, lysine, phenylalanine, tyrosine and histidine.
Potential Dietary Benefits
- Stronger eggshells
- Immune system support
- Strong bones and maintenance of bone health
- Bright deep golden color egg yolks
- Improved plumage- gloss and decrease in feather breakage
How to Add Sea Kelp to Chicken Feed
One of my chickens, Cuddles, had become sort of a bully from an early age. For two years, I had tried supplementing her diet with vitamins, electrolytes, boosting her protein and even tried to separate her out to stop her habit of feather picking. Late this past spring, I began regularly adding the sea kelp to their feed and I have noticed quite a difference. The girls that were tormented by Cuddles finally have grown back their missing feathers. Adding the sea kelp regularly to their diet has made huge difference for all the girls. After this fall’s molt, their feathers grew in so glossy, shiny and abundant. I am proud to say everyone has their muffs and beards back! Sometimes it’s the little things that make such a big impact for us chicken keepers.
You can mix the sea kelp into the chicken feed by making it 1-2 % of their food volume. Therefore, you would add a little under a quarter cup to 10 pounds of chicken feed. It is dry so it will not affect the feed if you also add food grade diatomaceous earth to the feed as well. I also like to sprinkle it on top of plain yogurt that I share with my flock. It’s also a great topper for chicken oatmeal that I like to give the girls in the winter.
A great time to start adding sea kelp to you flock’s diet is as they complete their molts. You can purchase kelp meal from many retailers online and at your local feed store. Of note, adding sea kelp can be added to all all of your livestock’s diets on your homestead.
I am a huge believer of sharing our successes and failures as chicken keepers with one another. After using the sea kelp on a regular basis, I wanted to share this information with you in case you are experiencing something similar to me. This is what I love about our online chicken community. Have you tried sea kelp/kelp meal with your chickens? What are your thoughts? Share a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!
15 thoughts on “Sea Kelp Supplement for Backyard Chickens”
Where do you buy your sea kelp supplement?
I purchase mine from my local feed store. You can find online retailers through a simple Google search.
I just started adding sea kelp to our girl’s feed about a month ago and this is something that I definitely plan to continue doing. 🙂
Awesome! That is fantastic. Keep me posted with what you notice!
I just have one question. I put kelp in my chickens feed, and it just sinks to the bottom! Do you know any tips on how to prevent this? Thanks!
Yes, sometimes that can happen, but my girls love to eat it. I find this happens with pellets the most. If you are concerned, you could try and mix it in crumbles. That might help.
I read in a few places to just make it available all the time and they do a great job self regulating? Do you have thoughts on this? We are just starting out!
Hi there Noelle, sure, so, the sea kelp is a dried product. When it gets wet is can spoil and mold. So, no this is not a safe nor healthy option in my opinion. But it sure does wonders sprinkled in their food or on top of a cup or plain yogurt fed in a bowl. Now, on the other hand, the oyster shells and poultry grit can be left out because they are not food sources and do not spoil. They both should be provided all the time and the chickens will self-regulate their needs. Hope this all helps.
Hi, when I make sushi rice I place a big piece of kelp in with the rice. After it’s cooked instead of discarding it I cut it into short worm-like strips. It’s soft and sticky and the girls LOVE it. I have just bought myself the ground dry kind from a house supply store and today I have to a new hen which enjoyed some kelp. At one point, she got spooked and ended grazing her comb which wanted to bleed but the blood was very tacky and wiped off in a goop and that must have been the kelp’s coagulating properties! It’s certainly amazing stuff. Thanks for breaking down its nutritional value and very interesting about the Lobster!
You are most welcome and I love that you are already seeing the benefits. Thank you for sharing your story and thank you for taking such good care of your chickens. They are very lucky!
*horse supply store (not house)
I want to try adding it to water instead of their feed. have you any comments on this?
My fear with adding it to the water is that it will enlarge greatly and get slimy and spoil quickly. I’m also not sure if it will clog the waterer openings as well. I think sticking to dried is best.
I soak my chickens crushed grain feed each morning just to keep them from picking all the big stuff out. They are on an organic no soy or corn diet. Can I mix the kelp in when I soak their food in the mornings? They eat all their food each day, so it wouldn’t be setting out wet for days to ruin.
Yes, you sure can add the kelp to the feed.