We love our chickens and all the work they put into providing us with fresh eggs. And what better way than to reward your girls with a treat? But before you head out with some snacks, let’s talk about what foods are toxic to chickens. We will even go over some healthy alternatives that your hens will go crazy over.
What Foods Are Toxic To Chickens?
We will jump right in and talk about a few common foods that are dangerous to your chickens. Here are the top foods you should never give your hens, and why.
The first and most obvious thing you should never give to your hens is processed foods. Processed foods include anything sweet, fried, junk food, butter, or salty foods. All of these foods are high in calories and will deplete your hens of nutrition faster than anything else. And just like us, if you give them too many processed foods, they can gain weight. So if it comes out of a package or is deep-fried, it’s best to stay away from it.
Coffee And Chocolate
Other household stables are coffee grounds and chocolate. Both of these contain large amounts of caffeine and theobromine. Even in small quantities, these components could cause heart problems. But you shouldn’t feel bad about what your hens are missing. Chickens can’t taste sweet things anyway. So they are none the wiser.
Moldy And Rotten Foods
Some people like to think of their chickens as natural composters. But moldy foods can make your chickens ill and can reduce egg production. It can also increase your risk of getting sick by eating the eggs and meat of chickens that eat rotting food.
Members Of The Nightshade Family
Leaves of potato, tomato, eggplant, and pepper plants are highly toxic to chickens. They contain high amounts of solanine that can poison your chickens due to low red blood cells. But small pieces of fruit or vegetable are just fine. All you have to avoid are the leaves and stems.
Another thing to avoid with nightshade plants is green tomatoes and green potatoes. These parts also contain oxalic acid that is toxic to your hens. So if you have these leftovers from your garden, it’s best to add them to the compost bin.
Raw Meat And Uncooked Eggs
Raw meats increase the risk of food poisoning and salmonella in your flock. And uncooked eggs can lead to your chickens trying to eat their own eggs soon after laying them. So it’s best to always cook meat and eggs before feeding.
Apple Core And Seeds
It might seem like a good idea to toss an apple core into the run for your hens to peck at. But you have to be very cautious of this. Apple seeds contain high amounts of cyanide that can kill your hens. So if you want to feed your girls apples, make sure to remove the core for safety.
For us, chicken owners, eggs are what make the world go round. And if you rely on those eggs, you will want to stay away from citric fruits and peels. These fruits aren’t exactly a toxic substance, but they can decrease the number of eggs your hen lays in a week.
Raw Or Dried Beans
Uncooked beans of any variety contain a chemical called phytohaemagglutinin which prevents your hens from digesting food. And what makes beans so scary is that it only takes a few to induce severe illness. But you can feed your flock cooked beans because this chemical cooks out.
Another food high in oxalic acid is the rhubarb plant. The stalks are a healthy snack for your flock that has many benefits. But these leaves are highly toxic and can cause tremors, seizures, and kidney failure.
Can Chickens Eat Rice?
One of those questionable foods is rice and pasta. These foods are high in carbs and calories. But they aren’t toxic to your chickens. As long as you cook the rice and pasta first, you can feed them in moderation.
Cooking these starchy foods first is the most important element, though. That’s because rice and pasta will expand in your chicken’s stomach. Thus overfilling them and possibly depleting them of essential nutrients.
Why Can’t Chickens Eat Avocado?
You might have seen avocados listed on what foods are toxic to chickens. But the truth is not all parts of the avocado are toxic. Only the skin and pit of this fruit are poisonous because they contain high amounts of persin. But the flesh of the avocado is healthy for your chickens. It’s high in antioxidants and healthy fats to produce only the best eggs.
Can Chickens Eat Banana Peels?
It might surprise you that if you have banana peels, that your chickens will love it! Chopped up and cooked to make it tender, and your hens have a delicious snack. Banana peels even have plenty of nutrients and fiber that your hens could benefit from.
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Why Is It Illegal To Feed Chickens Kitchen Scraps?
Did you know that in some countries, it’s illegal to feed your hens’ table scraps? And that includes small backyard chicken keepers like ourselves. The reason for this is mainly to prevent cross-contamination with raw meats. That means no leftovers from the kitchen, markets, or commercial kitchens.
A way around this law is if your kitchen is a vegan-only facility. That means no meats, dairy, or eggs are ever processed there. Then, you could cut up your garden veggies and feed them to your chickens. But in these countries, it is tough to regulate small flock owners that don’t need to be registered. So you might want to check your local laws before feeding food to your hens.
What Smell Do Chickens Hate?
When we talk about feeding our hens foods, most of us might not consider herbs. But the truth is that most herbs and plants are tasty to your hens and provide health benefits. However, there are some herbs that chickens can’t stand simply because of the smell.
Things like paprika, cinnamon, curry, citrus, garlic, and chili peppers are all strong smelling. So strong, in fact, that your chickens will avoid them altogether. Your chickens will ignore even a favorite food with these scents overpowering them. But you can use it to your advantage as well to keep hens out of the garden.
What Food Is Best For Chickens?
Obviously, the best foods for chickens are their layer feed and free range materials in the yard. These will give your chickens the most balanced diet, but that’s not much fun. A good balance is to have 90% of your flock’s diet be the boring necessities and 10% as treats. But what are the best treats?
Here is a short list of things you can feed your flock that will benefit them and make your hens happy.
- Cooked oats
- Sweet potatoes
- Frozen berries
- Dark leafy greens
- Sunflower seeds
- Scrambled or boiled eggs
- Cooked chicken, turkey, and beef
- Brussel sprouts
- And most other fruits and vegetables.
If you feed your chickens anything from this list, your hens will be happy. Just remember to check it for mold and spoilage before providing it to prevent toxicity.
What Will Kill Chickens?
Almost anything in access can kill your chickens. But anything from the foods toxic list could kill your chickens, even in small quantities. That is why it’s essential to check all food for safety and that it’s fresh. A good rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t eat it yourself, don’t feed it to your chickens.
What Can Kill A Chicken Suddenly?
One common problem that flock owners might have is that their chickens die very suddenly. Most people might immediately think that they were poisoned with food. But the most likely cause is a predator or illness. Things like egg binding, respiratory disease, and injury can quickly go unnoticed. However, predators are a little more obvious.
What Animal Will Kill A Chicken And Only Eat The Head?
Missing chickens and blood are always a sign that your chickens fell victim to a predator. But one thing that might be concerning is finding a decapitated chicken. And the truth is that a lot of predators will do this. Owls and raccoons are notorious for eating chicken heads. But if in a rush not to get caught, a stray dog or cat, coyotes, and wolves will do the same.
Will A Rat Kill A Chicken?
If your chicks and eggs are going missing, then you could have a rat problem. Rats can’t kill an adult chicken, but anything small is free game. To get rid of this problem, make sure you cover any hole larger than an inch wide in the coop. And putting away food will reduce the chances of attracting vermin.
So What Foods Will You Feed?
Using this guide on what foods are toxic to chickens, you can now choose safe treats. No more worrying if you are unintentionally hurting your hens. And you will have the best pets and eggs for years to come.
Below is a Pinterest-friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Backyard Chicken Board!!