What NOT To Feed Your Chickens

When it comes to keeping any animal, you just want the best for them, this includes their diet. We may even fuse over what is in the bag of food we feed them. But when it comes to chickens, it goes beyond the bag. What I mean is, there are certain foods in this world that should not be fed to chickens, even as a treat. While some chickens seem to know what they should and shouldn’t consume, others are little trash compactors, peeking anything (including Styrofoam) that they can get their beaks on.

So here is a quick list of items that should be off your chicken’s diet plan. Why? Well because some of them can be very toxic to you birds! Now I know a few of you will say “But my Grandma used to feed her flock….” Or “I have fed my chickens XYZ with no problem” and you may have been lucky there were no problems. Toxins build up over time and effect each individual differently.

All I am saying is, there is science to back the fact that dogs should not eat chocolate, right? Well the same goes for the items on this list….. There is scientific proof that by consuming once or due to a buildup of toxins over time, these foods can harm your feathered friends. So why risk it?

Foods that are OFF your chicken’s menu…….

Onion contain a toxin called thiosulphate, which destroys red blood cells. Eating too much onion can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other digestive problems. It has been found that prolonged exposure can lead to a blood condition called hemolytic anemia, which is followed by respiratory distress and eventual death.

Avocado contains the toxin persin. What does it do? Persin causes myocardial necrosis (aka a weakening of the heart muscle.) That mean that over time your birds could develop cardiac distress and eventual heart failure While the debate as to what part of the plant you can feed your chicken (no skins or pits,) why risk any amount of persin!?!?! Better safe than sorry.

Potatoes contain solanine, which can be toxic to birds. Solanine effects the gastrointestinal tract, causing diarrhea and cramps.  Cooking the potato does not eliminate the toxin. Some folks say not to feed the “green” part of the potato, but the depth that the green penetrates is not always visible to the human eye. To read more about potatoes and solaine click here. Sweet potatoes are fine as they are not in the same plant family as white potatoes.

Raw dried beans contain a toxin called hemaglutin. Symptoms of hemaglutin poisoning are similar diarrhea and vomiting. Yes, your chicken can throw up. To avoid exposure, make sure to thoroughly cook any beans that you choose to share with your birds. Hint, hint…. eggs shells…

Chocolate contains the toxin methylxanthines theobromine. What starts as diarrhea can quickly turn into a central nervous system issue causing seizures, as well as cardiac issues, which can both lead to death.

Apples (along with cherries, peaches, apricots, and pears) contain trace amounts of Cyanide within their seeds. While the fruit is fine for your bird, make sure that cores and seeds are not available to them.

Dairy products can give chickens diarrhea. Let’s face it, chickens weren’t meant to drink milk, thus they have no udders! If you do give dairy, such as yogurt, make it a rare thing.

Spinach and Citrus can interfere with calcium absorption, and we all know how important calcium is to chickens. If you don’t you can read why calcium is important here.

Uncooked rice can cause crop/digestive issues if too much is consumed and then swells up. Now cooked rice….. My girls (and ducks) are all over that!!!

Remember, while these foods may not necessarily be fatal in small amounts, toxins can build up and cause damage to your bird’s health or worse, death to your chickens. Don’t risk their health…. Better safe than sorry!!!

Grumpy Goldie (one of those “trash compactor” chickens) taking cookies
from the oldest country kid’s mouth. I do NOT recommend cookies as a treat!!
Now a nice pile of mealworms would do nicely, but I don’t think the oldest country
kid wants to dangle those out of his mouth.

24 thoughts on “What NOT To Feed Your Chickens

  1. Too funny – not the post, but your chickens' name "Grumpy Goldie" I have one that I call "Miss Fuss-Budget" she was broody this summer and she would just fuss at me when I made her get up and out of the coop everyday :0). Great tips and luckily all things we keep away from our girls as well. Love your blog!

    1. Oh Grumpy Goldie lives with Buffy Big Butt and Ester Bester. You know you can never just name a critter and not have it morph into something silly! Glad to hear your girls don't nibble naught stuff.

  2. That's good to know. We're getting ready to incubate some eggs (haven't had chickens for a while since a predator got into our coop) and I know it's going to lead to new debates on what the chickens should and shouldn't eat.

  3. Ahhh, I have been feeding them our apple cores! Thank you for this post 🙂 We are still new chicken keepers but we love our girls and want to keep them healthy!

  4. Wow, I knew half of these but the other half are new! And who would give away their precious chocolate??? 🙂 Thanks for the wonderful tips. I am visiting from Awesome Life Friday. We also have a link up, The Art of Home-Making Mondays if you ever care to join in 🙂 Have a lovely weekend!

    1. Maybe not give, but I know we have one hen that will steal anything not locked up. We had a BBQ and she was stealing pork ribs right off people's plates! So don't leave our M&M's laying around LOL

  5. Do you know if fenugreek seeds are OK to give to chickens Mindie? I have been soaking the seeds and drink the tea. The left over seeds are puffed up, looking like a very small grub which I thought my chickens might enjoy snacking on.

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