Cicadas and Chickens

by Linda F

Published June 20, 2024

We’ve been hearing about cicadas a lot this year, and particularly for those in areas with periodical cicadas, I’m sure you are not just hearing about them but actually hearing them. Cicadas are loud! It’s reported that when cicadas “sing,” the volume can reach 100-110 decibels. Although some areas have annual cicadas every summer, an unusual occurrence is happening in some areas where the cycles of two types of periodical cicadas are emerging at the same time this year. Periodical cicadas run on cycles where emergence happens in intervals of 13 and 17 years, depending on the species and location, so the overlapping emergence isn’t too frequent.

A cicada perched on a green leafy branch with the background blurred to highlight the insect. The image is watermarked with the Meyer Hatchery logo and the text 'Quality Since 1985'.

What Are Cicadas?

Cicadas are large.  They may remind you of a large, loud fly, but they are different.  They have red eyes with black centers that are set far apart and protrude from their heads. They measure about 1 to 1.5 inches long. Their wings are about 2 times as long as their bodies and are translucent but also iridescent, often showing greens, oranges, yellows or black, reminding me of a dragonfly’s wings

A cicada with bright red eyes perched on a large green leaf. The image is watermarked with the Meyer Hatchery logo and the text 'Quality Since 1985'.

How Cicadas Affect Your Chickens

So, you may be wondering how does this affect your chickens?  Birds are natural predators of cicadas, and chickens are birds. Chickens are omnivores, natural scavengers, and foragers.  So cicadas might be good for both you and your chickens. Cicadas are high in protein containing about 21 g of protein per 100 grams. They are also very low in fat and make tasty treats for your birds.  This can save you money on feed and help your chickens produce high-quality, nutritious eggs.

Considerations For Feeding Cicadas to Chickens

However, you need to be aware of a few things. Your chickens should always have access to grit or small stones for digestion, but when they are eating more than chicken feed from a bag, it is especially important for them to have access to grit. Chickens do not have teeth, and the grit is what will allow them to break down and digest harder foods like crunchy insects. 

Remember to be aware of pesticides. Make sure your flock isn’t allowed to free range and forage where pesticides are used. This isn’t just regarding cicadas; this applies all the time.  You don’t want to hurt your birds or have these contaminants pass to their eggs.

So, there you have it. Cicadas may or may not be your favorite insect, but your poultry will be happy to have fresh, crunchy, high-protein treats.

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