Do you want to try black oil sunflower seeds on your chickens? If YES, here are the pros and cons of feeding your chickens with black oil sunflower seeds. Black oil sunflower seed is the most popular and most common type of birdseed, for good reasons. With this seed in your feeders, aside from healthy chickens, you can attract dozens of bird species to your yard.

The black oil sunflower, just like other types of sunflower seeds, originated from the common sunflower plant, Helianthus annuus. So many specialized and hybrid flower varieties create different bloom sizes, flower colours, stalk heights, and seed yields. The seeds they produce are similar, however, and sunflower seed is a popular type of birdseed.

When compared to striped sunflower seeds, black oil seeds are meatier and have higher oil content, giving your chickens more nutrition and calories. Black oil seeds also have thinner shells, making them easier for small birds to crack.

Pros of Feeding Chickens with Black Oil Sunflower Seeds

If you decide to add black oil sunflower seeds to your chickens’ diet, many feed retailers should have a bag readily available. From reliable sources, prices usually hover around $20 for 20 pounds. This makes for a reasonably priced investment in healthy animals, not to mention delicious fresh eggs for your own breakfast as another benefit. Aside that, below are the benefits of feeding your chickens with Black oil sunflower seeds:

  1. Vitamin E

This vitamin is known to be very important for your chicken’s immune system and helps them to fight against diseases like coccidiosis, E.coli and bronchitis.

  1. Protein

The black oil sunflower seeds contain very high levels of protein (around 26%) and this makes it a great boost for chickens in times of stress such as moulting and cold weather.

  1. Oil

With the high levels of linoleic acid in black oil sunflower seeds, the weight of your chickens will quickly increase and keep them ready up for the winter months, and add to the nutritional value (and weight) of eggs.

  1. Antioxidants

This unique sunflower, according to experts, is very rich in natural antioxidants– another boost to the immune system of your chickens.

Cons of Feeding Chickens with Black Oil Sunflower Seeds

Feeding Chickens with black oil sunflower seeds also come with some disadvantages you need to know before choosing to feed your chickens with them. Below are two most important cons of this meal to chickens, and how best to go around them.

1. They Impact Growth

If you only feed your chickens black oil sunflower seeds, with no access to grit, this might be a problem. More is not necessarily better and sunflower seeds should not exceed 1/3 of a bird’s regular diet. You have to make sure your chickens have plenty of grit, either naturally or as a supplement, and do not over – feed. Use sunflowers as a treat.

2. They Make Chickens Fat

If you over-feed your chickens with sunflower seeds, or any other high fat food, expect them to get fat. And fat is renowned as a potential cause of sudden chicken death.

It is still advisable you feed your chickens black oil sunflower seeds as a treat, part of a balanced regime and only when chickens need it – when they are moulting, during particularly cold weather and at times of high stress such as after a predator attack. And do not feed every day. A handful of seeds between your flock every two or three days is plenty.

How to Feed Black Oil Sunflower Seeds to Your Chickens

Black oil sunflower seeds are best served in hopper, platform, or tray feeders since the seeds are too large for many tubes and mesh feeders. Black oil sunflower seeds can also be sprinkled directly on the ground for the chickens, and dried sunflower heads can be purchased for the birds to pluck the seeds directly from a “natural” feeder.

Black oil sunflower seeds can be fed as whole seeds, although once in a while chickens tend to crack the hulls to get at the nutritious meat. Note that this can lead to a large mess of discarded hulls beneath feeders, however, and these discards can also damage or destroy the grass or other landscaping.

For neater feeding, many poultry farmers choose hulled sunflower seeds or sunflower chips rather than whole seeds. With these seeds, the only mess will be the occasionally spilled seed for chickens to still clean up or lightweight chaff that will soon blow away. Hulled seeds can be much more expensive, however, particularly for poultry with large, hungry chickens to feed.

Changes to Expect On your Chickens

Chickens in particular enjoy black oil sunflower seeds and there are many benefits associated with their consumption. Whether fed as part of regular meals or given as treats, your chickens will immediately devour sunflower seeds, or even the whole sunflowers themselves if given the chance.

However, always remember that the variety you need are the ones solely marketed for wild birds; sunflower seeds with added seasonings intended for human consumption should not be given to chickens. Immediately you introduce sunflower seeds to your chickens, there are many changes you will begin to see taking place.

For beginners, their outward physical appearance will begin to change. Since sunflower seeds contain oil, they are a great source of fat and will very soon add a little weight to the birds. This is a good thing going into winter because this extra fat will translate into warmth when temperatures drop. Another physical change will come in the form of feathers.

Note that the very same oil that adds fat to their diet will make feathers glossy and shiny. This is much needed because the impact of this additional dietary item on feathers will help your chickens keep their bodies insulated against cold and dampness. Even if you choose not to feed sunflower seeds all year, occasionally adding them to rations during fall and winter is quite helpful to birds living in cold climates.

The Right Ratio or Quantity of Sunflower Seeds to Use as Feed

According to reports, the black oil sunflower seed plays a vital role in chicken egg production. If your hens are taking time to lay eggs, you should consider adding sunflower seeds to give them a productivity boost. You should not only see a boost in the number of eggs laid, but also the quality, making sunflower seeds a worthwhile addition to your chickens’ diet.

If you decide to add sunflower seeds to the diet of your hens, it is crucial you avoid doing it too much. More is not necessarily better and sunflower seeds should not exceed 1/3 of a bird’s regular diet. Have it in mind that this small amount is enough to make a world of difference.

Cattle, horses, sheep, and other animals also benefit from sunflower seeds. You will notice things like weight gain and shiny coats, but again, take care not to overfeed as sunflower seeds are rich in fibre and lignin which can amount to too much of a good thing.


Chickens in particular enjoy black oil sunflower seeds and there are many benefits and few cons associated with their consumption. However, if you choose to feed your chickens with black oil sunflower seeds, you have to store them well or risk losing your stock. It’s not only chickens who like sunflower seeds – rats and mice love them, too.

Make sure you store them in a rodent – proof container. Keep them free from damp too, or they’ll grow mould fairly quickly. Stored in a dry, cool place they’ll keep for up to three months. In a fridge, they’ll last about a year.

Joy Nwokoro