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What Not to Feed Chickens

What Not to Feed Chickens

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What Not to Feed Chickens

What Not to Feed Chickens

What should you not feed chickens? The fact that chickens are omnivorous animals, it does not mean that they should eat anything that comes their way. Just like humans, there are those foods that chickens can eat and there are those they shouldn’t. Let me take you through some common foods that chickens must not eat. 

The types of foods that your chickens shouldn’t eat include green or raw potatoes, chocolate, potato peels, candy, citrus fruits, dried lentils, dried beans, uncooked rice, raw eggs, onions, salty foods, avocado pit or skin, and moldy or spoiled foods among others. 

Just because chickens eat almost anything it doesn’t mean they should be fed on all types of food. Therefore, it is wise to draw a line between what is right for them and what is harmful. It is a good idea to give your birds some table scraps for a number of reasons. First, it is not economical to throw away leftover food. Secondly, it will save you a few coins that you would have spent on commercial chicken food. However, there are quite a number of foods that you shouldn’t give to your chickens. And that is exactly what we are going to discuss at length.

Foods not Suitable for Your Chickens

Dried or Uncooked Beans

  • No matter what may, you should not feed your birds dried or uncooked beans. This type of treat is classified under what not to feed chickens for goods reasons. To begin with, dried beans can cause serious health issues and eventually death for your chickens. 
  • Take note of kidney beans which are potentially lethal to your birds, especially when they are not cooked properly. Other types of beans are equally dangerous when your birds feed on them in their dried or uncooked state. 
  • But why are raw beans not suitable for your chickens? Normally, beans contain a life-threatening toxin that can affect your birds’ wellbeing. Illness will occur immediately after consuming several raw or dried beans. This condition will progress rapidly, causing death in as short as an hour after eating beans. 
  • Sadly, there’s nothing you can do to save your bird at this stage. You can only hope for the best or prepare for the worst. But you can avoid such a situation by preventing your birds from eating dried or uncooked beans. 

Spoiled or Moldy Food

  • Since you cannot eat spoiled or moldy food, the same should apply to your birds. Some people feed their chickens on stale food but this is not allowed. Any food that has signs of going rotten or forming molds should not be given to chickens. Instead, it should be disposed of away from your bird’s reach. 
  • On the other hand, you must ensure that your chicken’s feed does get damp. As you may know, dampness is one of the factors that influence the growth and spread of mold on food. Mold produces dangerous toxins that can cause serious health problems to your birds. Moldy chicken feed can kill your birds if they ingest them in certain amounts. 
  • Not all types of molds are harmful as you may have thought. Some are quite useful and beneficial in every aspect of our civilization. For instance, Penicillin was extracted from a certain mold to take care of specific health problems.  A variety of cheeses are prepared by having mold injected in their raw materials.
  •  But others, including those that grow on spoiled foods, produce toxins. Unless you have special equipment, it’s extremely difficult to know which types of molds are beneficial and which are harmful. With that in mind, you should not feed your birds any food containing mold however small it may look.

 Parts of an Avocado Fruit

  • It is right to feed your chickens on avocado. But there are some parts of these fruits that are not suitable for your chickens to feed on. These parts contain a dangerous toxin that can kill your chickens. 
  • The name of the toxin is persin and is mainly found in avocado’s rind or the seed ( others refer to it as ‘stone’). In large doses, this toxin can cause heart-related problems for your chickens. This can lead to difficulties in breathing and death in extreme cases. Apart from the skin and seed of the avocado, persin is also present in leaves and bark of the tree. 
  • Even though the flesh is eaten by chickens, you should know that it also contains traces of persin. This is because persin is fat-soluble and leaches into the avocado’s fleshy section from the stone. Make sure that you throw away the avocado skin and stone to prevent your birds from eating them. 

Green Tomatoes and Green Potatoes

  • Green tomatoes and green potatoes are also classified under what not to feed chickens. These foods in their green state are harmful hence dangerous for your birds. This is due to the fact they each contain toxins that are potentially lethal to your chickens. 
  • Green potatoes contain a toxin called choconine while green tomatoes have a toxin known as solanine. These dangerous substances are found in the flesh, in the peel and the sprouts. This should tell you that any green part on a tomato plant including the unripened green tomato is poisonous. 
  • However, chickens can enjoy mashed potatoes when cooked properly. For that reason, you may give them well-cooked potatoes in moderation. Cooked potatoes including their skins are delicious and safe for your chickens to eat. But that is only advisable if the potatoes were not in their green state prior to cooking. 
  • Unfortunately, potatoes might not be a good treat for your birds because they contain very little amount of nutrients. This means you should give them to your birds in moderation rather than in large quantities. More often than not, potatoes become green when they are exposed to light. In this case, make sure that you keep them in a cool place, away from the light. 
  • Never feed your chickens on leftover potatoes which have sprouted or rather gone green. Potatoes in this state contain large amounts of choconine toxin and can become lethal when your chickens ingest them. Also, avoid throwing green potato peelings all over because your chickens might find them and most likely eat them. 
  • Green tomatoes are also not suitable for your chickens to eat. But they are slightly different from green potatoes such that once they are ripe the levels of toxin (solanine) they contain are greatly lowered. As a result, you may feed them to your flock of chickens although in moderation. 


  • Fifth on our list of not what to feed chickens is the chocolate. Although this is one of the favorite treats that humans love, they are not suitable for your chickens. Why should you not feed chocolates to your chickens? The answer to this question lies within the ingredients found in chocolates. 
  • Caffeine and theobromine are the most common ingredients in chocolates. While these elements are beneficial to us, they are lethal to the chickens. The same elements are also common in some of our favorites drinks such as colas, tea, and coffee among others. For that reason, you should not provide your birds with any drink that contains caffeine or theobromine. 
  • When it comes to chocolate, you need to be aware that the darker the chocolate looks, the more caffeine or theobromine it contains. And this is more dangerous, especially to your birds.
  • Anyway, it is right to feed your chickens a few pieces of chocolate or some pecks of leftover chocolate cake. These small amounts of chocolate will not harm your birds although it depends on the quantity they eat. 
  • But you must not take chances when feeding your birds on this type of treat. Anything as small as a packet of chocolate pecks can become fatal to your flock of birds. Chocolate causes heart problems in chickens. 
  • This problem can escalate to an irregular heartbeat and then to a full-blown cardiac arrest and eventually death. As a result, your chicken may die within 24 hours (a full day) of consuming the chocolate. 

Related Questions

What treats are appropriate for your chickens? You can provide your birds with treats that are natural, wholesome and healthy. But avoid overfeeding them scraps, mealworms, and scratch grains. This type of treats spoils their diet.

How do you ensure that free-ranging chickens eat the right food? The best way of ensuring that your free-ranging birds eat right is by feeding them in the morning before releasing them.

In Conclusion

Chickens are lucky such that they can eat almost anything they come across. That’s why they are classified as omnivorous animals. However, some treats are not suitable for these birds. This type of feed is under the category of what not to feed chickens. Foods such as green potatoes, green tomatoes, and many others are harmful to your birds. Most of these treats contain toxins such as persin, solanine,  and chaconine which are detrimental to the chickens’ health. Avoid them by all means and keep your birds safe and healthy throughout.

Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Chicken Board!!

What not to feed chickens

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