Are Chickens Consumers or Decomposers? (Explained!)

Chickens are seen to eat both plants and animals. So, like humans they too are omnivores. Omnivores are the species of animals that can feed on plants and other animals and so do chickens.

In a typical food chain, they play an important role as secondary consumers since they feed on primary consumers like insects, worms, and other small animals in the wild. Hence, they are consumers.

Chickens are not true decomposers but can function as scavengers in some ecosystems. Whereas they mostly survive on seeds, fruits, and leaves, they might also sometimes feed on dying or dead animals. However, true decomposers are the bacteria and fungi that live in the chicken’s digestive system and perform the final steps of digestion and not the chicken themselves.

Chickens are known to be opportunistic feeders that will eat anything they can get. In the wild, they mainly eat seeds, fruits, leaves, insects, worms, and other small animals.

Their diet changes between seasons as different food types become more abundant or as they grow bigger and can digest larger food items like tadpoles, lizards and snakes.

Chickens are known to be the progeny of hens, they are important animals in the ecosystem because they play an important part in the food chain and also hold many economic importance.

As they are omnivores, they can feed on plants or animals or both, which helps to keep the population of both in check.

Chickens are also instrumental in helping spread seeds from the fruits and vegetables they eat, which helps to ensure that new plants can grow.

Are Chickens Producers, Consumers or Decomposers?

Chickens are consumers because they eat other living organisms. Chickens are omnivores, which means that they eat both plants and animals.

Only plants as well as some bacteria and protozoa are producers. Based on the food chain they are part of they can function as a primary or a secondary consumer.

Are Chickens Carnivores, Herbivores or Omnivores?

Chickens are omnivores because they eat plants, insects and other animals. They have evolved to be able to digest plant matter as well as meat. 

They eat a variety of things, including seeds, insects, worms, and plants and so take the position of secondary consumers, meaning that they can feed on primary consumers like insects and worms.

Chickens eat much more than just grains – if they are allowed to do so!

At the same time, they can feed on producers i.e. plants and so can be considered primary consumers too. Chickens are fed a high protein diet (including fish meal) and are fed to obtain meat, eggs, and feathers. 

But chickens are also seasonal creatures and their diet will vary with the season, with the availability of insects and worms, and with the availability of other food (seeds, plants).

What Type of Consumer is a Chicken?

Chickens are secondary consumers because they eat other consumers. But at the same time, they can also be called primary consumers as they can eat seeds and plant-based materials too.

Generally, herbivores are primary consumers, omnivores are secondary consumers and carnivores are tertiary consumers.

Chickens being omnivores, they are commonly considered to be secondary consumers in the food chain.

Are Chickens Decomposers?

No. Chickens do not eat dead or decaying matter and are therefore not decomposers.

However, they might feed on dead organic matter but won’t decompose it, which means that they are helping the decomposers in eliminating dead and decaying organic matter.

The bacteria in the gut of the chicken play a very important role in their digestion and these microorganisms are considered true decomposers.

Are Chickens Autotrophs or Heterotrophs?

Chickens are heterotrophs because they eat other living organisms and cannot prepare their own food. Practically no animals are autotrophic because animals are not capable of carrying out photosynthesis like plants do.

That is, animals like the chickens cannot make their own food or chemical energy, and need to deped on other organisms for energy and carbon source.

Where are Chickens in the Food Chain?

Chickens are secondary consumers because they eat other secondary consumers. The vast majority of a chicken’s diet is composed of small animals like earthworms, insects and slugs.

But they may also eat plants, corn, vegetables, seeds and grains and so can sometimes function as a primary consumer in some food chains.

Like most other birds, chickens and hens are placed somewhere in between the 2nd and third trophic levels in the energy pyramid.

Chickens bring up the energy from plants and smaller animals through the food chain when eaten by larger predatory animals that are listed below.

What Animals Prey on Chickens?

Chickens are often food roaming around in open spaces and there are high chances they can become prey to certain animals.

They can be food for a variety of animals including opossums, foxes, raccoons, skunks, owls, mink, and weasels.


In this post, I have given you an overview of the food habits of chickens and the different types of food they eat. 

To summarise, chickens are omnivores, meaning they can feed on plants as well as animals. They are a very common animal in the US and are often kept as pets, but they are also a very important part of the food chain in many ecosystems. 

The role of chickens in the food chain is varied and complex, but they are important for many reasons.

They help to control pests, they help to maintain biodiversity and they are also important in the recycling of nutrients.

Chickens can’t run from their important role in our lives!

At the same time they are of economic importance as when they grow up to become hens they lay eggs and can be used as meat for human food.

Chickens are very popular pets and are often kept for their eggs, but they can also be kept as pets for their companionship. 

If you would like to keep chickens as pets, you need to make sure they are happy and healthy and you should also make sure you have a good understanding of the natural habitats of chickens and the food chain.