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!