Can chickens eat garbanzo beans or chickpeas?

My chickens eating chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans

Us Brits know them as chickpeas but in many parts of the world the Spanish name for them has stuck, garbanzo beans.

They are also known as gram or Egyptian peas and whatever name you choose they are all the same small round legume that is one of the most cultivated plants on the planet.

Chickpeas are produced mainly for human eating but over the years they have given the poultry feed industry an alternative ingredient to soy. 

Can chickens eat chickpeas or garbanzo beans?

Chickens can eat cooked chickpeas or garbanzo beans. You must never give your chickens raw chickpeas, only cooked and soft ones.

They are too small to be a choking hazard for chickens and my chickens, even the bantams just eat them whole.

Below: Here are my chickens stuffing themselves silly on chickpeas.

Hummus can be fed to chickens in small amounts as it will contain salt and other additives.

Chickpea sprouts are an excellent way to feed the beans to chickens.

Canned chickpeas might be a bit too salty for your chickens and you should probably rinse the canned ones to lower the salt content.

Dry or raw chickpeas must never be fed to chickens.

Are chickpeas good for chickens?

Chickpeas or garbanzo beans are good for chickens. The protein content of chickpeas ranges from 12% to 30% which makes them an ideal food for chickens and they are also a good source of Ca, P, Mg, Fe and K.

Chickpeas can constitute up to only 10% to 15% of a poultry diet. In growing diets for turkeys and laying hens, chickpeas can constitute up to 20% of the diet.

The chickens certainly think chickpeas are good for chickens!

Like all other legumes, chickpeas contain anti-nutritional factors, including protease inhibitors, amylase inhibitors, lectins, tannins, and oligosaccharides. These anti-nutrients  interfere with absorption from the digestive tract. 

Most of the anti-nutritional factors in chickpeas can be deactivated by heat treatment and commercially they are extruded under pressure at high temperature to produce a meal.

How to prepare chickpeas for chickens:

There are two ways for the backyard keeper to prepare chickpeas for chickens.

  1. Soak them in water and sprout them.
  2. Cook them thoroughly.

When I prepare chickpeas for chickens I always soak them overnight regardless of whether I intent to sprout them or cook them. The peas will triple in size after soaking.

If you are going to sprout them, place in a jar and cover with muslin cloth. Rinse twice a day and drain properly. The beans will be ready in 3 to 5 days.

For a full rundown of sprouting deeds and grains for chickens.

If you intent to cook them, place the chickpeas in a pan and cover to twice their depth in fresh water. Simmer for 90 minutes to two hours testing regularly in the last half hour.

You can pressure cook chickpeas on high for 12 minutes and then leave to cool in the cooker until the pressure drops.