Skip to Content

10 Things To Not Feed Backyard Chickens

10 Things To Not Feed Backyard Chickens

Sharing is caring!

Chickens tend to peck on anything they come across, be it from the kitchen or garden. There are a few things to not feed your backyard chickens.

When it comes to raising your backyard chickens, feeding them is one of the most important tasks. If you feed your birds correctly, you will likely have a healthy and more productive flock.

Get it wrong, and it leads to feather picking, deformed eggs, reduced egg production, and some unwanted behavior. 

Giving your backyard chickens some foods can also cause various health issues and even eventually lead to the death of your birds.

Here we will discuss everything you need to know about feeding your backyard chickens. What you should not give them and what you can give them. Keep reading to learn more. 

what chickens should not eat

Things You Should Not Give Your Chickens

Here are some of the things that you should avoid giving your backyard chickens. Some of them are harmful and can lead to various health issues or even death. 

Dried Or Raw Beans

You should not allow your birds to feed on dried or raw beans. Dried beans are known to create serious illnesses in human beings that can even lead to death. For backyard chickens, dried beans will most likely lead to death.

The worst are Kidney beans, although you should avoid giving them any type of beans that have not been appropriately cooked as it can be potentially lethal for your birds.

Beans contain a toxic substance known as phytohaemagglutinin, which is fatal to chickens. Illness will occur after your chicken has eaten a few beans and will progress rapidly. Your bird may even die within an hour after consuming them.

Fortunately, most chickens tend to avoid eating beans. However, you can ensure that they are safe by keeping any beans entirely out of reach of your flock.

If you want to give any beans to your birds, make sure that they are cooked thoroughly. Cooking in a slow cooker or soaking alone is not enough. 

Moldy Foods

Your chickens should not eat moldy foods. Of course, some molds are good. For instance, Penicillin was developed from a mold.

Some cheeses also have mold deliberately injected into them. However, like those that grow on soft fruits such as tomatoes, most of them produce toxins. 

For instance, the mold that grows on corn, apples, and nuts produces a toxin known as aflatoxin. The toxin is known to cause liver cancer in both humans and animals.

The best thing to do is to ensure that your birds do not feed on any rotten food or have signs of mold.

You can also make sure that their feed does not become damp since that is one of the mediums in which molds flourish.

Parts of the Avocado

what chickens should not eat

Avocado is a controversial food for chickens. You might have come across information on the internet stating that avocado as a whole is poisonous to chickens.

This is not entirely accurate. However, it is right to say that chickens are susceptible to the toxin found in avocados, which is known as persin. 

If your backyard chickens consume persin in large amounts, they will likely develop heart problems then, followed by difficulties in breathing.

This can cause death within 48 hours. The toxin is mostly found in the stone and skin of the avocado.

The flesh has lower amounts of persin, although it has some because persin is fat-soluble and can leach into the flesh from the stone.

Avocado is an excellent source of various nutrients such as potassium, Omega-3 fatty acids, and iron.

However, you will have to balance it with the fact that the fruit has contains toxins that can be harmful to your birds. If you want your flock to eat avocados, give them only the flesh in moderation. 

Green Tomatoes and Green Potatoes

Most chickens love mashed potatoes and will eat them to their fullest. However, they should always feed on them in moderation.

You can give them leftover cooked potato, although it has few nutrients and is not one of the best treats for your birds. 

However, green potatoes and green tomatoes are entirely another matter. The two have toxins known as solanine and chaconine, found in the flesh, the peel, and the sprouts.

Therefore, any part of a potato that is green or unripened tomato can be poisonous to your backyard chickens. 

Potatoes usually go green whenever they are exposed to light. Therefore, make sure they are kept in a cool and dark place.

Avoid giving your chickens any leftover potatoes that have sprouted or gone green. It would help if you avoided green tomatoes.

Although they are slightly different in the sense that their levels of solanine will reduce once they are ripened. However, you can feed them to your chickens in moderation.


Chocolate is known for being harmful to dogs and cats. You should also avoid giving it to your chickens as it can be fatal too.

They contain toxic elements known as theobromine and caffeine. These elements are also found in various drinks such as tea, colas, and coffee. Darker chocolates have more theobromine and are more harmful. 

It is right to say that feeding your birds on some leftover chocolate cake or a few pecks of chocolate may not harm your chickens. This will depend on the amount they consume and how much chocolate the cake has. 

Feeding your chickens on chocolate can lead to various heart problems ranging from an irregular heartbeat to cardiac arrest.

This can immediately lead to death within 24 hours after consuming the chocolate. Therefore, do yourself and your chickens a favor by keeping the chocolate for yourself. 


Some people feed their flocks on citrus, while others do not because they consider them harmful to birds. Giving them citrus in large amounts can be very dangerous.

There is no known amount of citrus that you can give your chickens. Therefore, you should avoid them near your birds. 

Apple Seeds and Pits in Stone Seeds

Your backyard chickens should not be allowed to eat apple seeds. Apple seeds and pits in stone seeds such as plum, peach, and apricot contain a toxin known as cyanide.

The toxin is known to be harmful to animals, including chickens. However, there is no problem if you feed your backyard flock on apple seeds in moderation.

All you need to do is to make sure that they are not eating a lot of it as it can lead to various health issues.

Chicken meat

There has been debate on whether you can feed your flock on meat. Some backyard chicken keepers do not consider meat suitable for their birds.

However, chickens can eat some “meat” such as bugs without any problems. It would be best if you did not allow your backyard chickens to eat chicken meat.

This can lead to the contamination of various poultry diseases. If you are feeding them on other types of meat safe for chickens, make sure that the meat is not contaminated or spoiled.


what chickens should not eat

Your backyard chickens should not eat onions. They contain a toxin known as thiosulphate, which can destroy red blood cells.

Excessive consumption of onions can lead to anemia, jaundice in your birds, or even death. Some experts also say that onions can taint the taste of eggs in chickens. 

You can avoid this by ensuring that your chickens do not free range in a garden with onions. If you have any leftover salad or soup, you can remove onions before giving them to your chickens. 


Mushrooms are a favorite delicacy for many people. However, this does not mean that they are good for chickens too.

Although some store-bought mushrooms that are edible for humans are safe for backyard chickens, too, other types grow wild in the woods or lawns that are dangerously toxic.

Since mushrooms can be very dangerous, it is good to avoid your flock getting closer to any mushrooms. This will ensure that you are on the safe side. 

Signs Of Food Toxicity In Chickens

Here are some of the symptoms of your chickens eating a toxic substance.

  • Internal congestion
  • Hemorrhaging
  • Diarrhea
  • Visceral gout
  • A rapid heartbeat
  • Kidney failure
  • Convulsions
  • Laying fewer eggs
  • Poor quality of eggs

The severity of the results of your birds eating toxic food will depend on their overall health condition, size, age, and what and how much they have consumed.

Toxins will generally shorten your chicken’s lifespan or lessen the quality of life if fed over time. 

Is It Illegal to Feed Your Chicken on Chicken Meat?

Yes, it is illegal to feed an animal any meat from the same animal in the United States of America.

Therefore, it is illegal to feed your chickens on chicken meat. This is meant to reduce the risk of diseases that affect specific species. 


If you have been asking yourself what your chickens should not eat, you have an answer. Other foods not included in our list can be harmful to your backyard flock.

Other foods should only be given to your birds in moderation. Therefore, it is important to be aware of some things that your chickens should not eat to avoid health issues in your flock.

Sharing is caring!