Whilst chickens are omnivorous animals that can be wonderful at eating leftovers and waste, there’s a bunch of foods that chickens should not eat.
Chickens should not eat raw food. This includes raw potatoes, uncooked rice, dry lentils, and raw meat. Raw eggs are off the menu - partly because this can make chickens sick, but it’s also technically cannibalism.
Potatoes are one of the most popular vegetables for chucking chickens. You’ve just had a roast dinner and nobody can squeeze in the leftovers, so you’re leaving the rest to nature’s best cleaning creature - chickens. However, do not feed them green or raw potatoes.
Chaconine is a toxin in green potatoes found in the sprout, peel, root, and flesh. Potatoes also contain little nutrients, so you should only be giving them small amounts of cooked potatoes at a time. Green tomatoes, likewise, contain a harmful toxin called solanine.
Chocolate is not safe for chickens to eat. Chocolate is high in caffeine and theobromine which are as lethal to chickens as they are to dogs.
Sure, if you’ve accidentally chucked in leftovers from a chocolate cake, a small amount is fine. Just try to keep the chocolate in your human mouths (a big ask, we know).
If you can’t eat moldy or spoiled food, neither can your chickens. You must keep an eye on food that has grown mold to prevent it from entering the chicken’s pen. Moldy food can, unfortunately, be fatal for chickens.
Other foods they should not eat include onions, candy, citrus fruits, salty food, avocado skin or pit, and dried beans.
What do you feed chickens for tasting the best eggs?
Most of the time, you will often find that eggs from your own chickens will taste much better than shop-bought eggs. Whether this is wishful thinking or not, there’s something about fresh and tasty organic eggs that makes you want to have more.
As eggs are high in protein, it only makes sense that you feed your chickens a chicken-safe protein diet. This includes allowing your chickens to forest for worms and bugs as they normally would in the wild, as this is their best source of natural protein.
If you see worms and creepy crawlies in your yard, make sure to chuck them into the chicken pen.
Other foods you can feed your chickens for better-tasting eggs include dry grass, fermented hay, dried grains and corn, fish oil, and pasture supplemented food that is designed for chickens.
Whole grains are a brilliant source of fiber, which helps to promote egg-laying. They will love rye, barley, and oatmeal.
If you want to enhance the color of the yolk, you might find marigolds or dandelion heads (the yellow kind) will help to brighten and deepen the color of the yolk. The rich orange color of the yolk might alter the taste, too.
Chickens thrive off a natural diet. Fresh and cooked vegetables will make them very happy and will create tastier eggs. This means cooking greens like spinach and cabbage - leftovers might be fine, but you’ll get better results from fresh veg.
Also, when mowing the lawn, save your grass clippings and weeds for the chickens! They will pay you back with delicious eggs.
What does cinnamon do for chickens?
Cinnamon comes with an array of health benefits for chickens. Chickens don’t have as many taste buds as us, so they’re not likely to enjoy cinnamon purely for the taste, but this doesn’t mean they won’t love eating it.
Cinnamon is high in antioxidants which are brilliant for boosting a chicken’s immune system and therefore contributes to their overall health. The antibacterial properties in cinnamon also help to support the immune system, as it will help to battle common colds and bad bacteria.
As chickens will eat just about anything, even if it’s bad for them, the antibacterial aspect of cinnamon is essential for their diet.
Respiratory issues are fairly common in chickens. They can range from a common cough to avian influenza (slightly rarer than the common cold, but still enough to be concerned about).
Cinnamon is surprisingly great for combatting respiratory issues, especially as they mostly occur in winter. The antibacterial properties will help to fend off the bacteria, which will work to prevent a potentially disastrous spread of virus or illness.
Another reason why cinnamon is great for chickens in winter is because of its natural blood-thinning agent, coumarin. Coumarin helps the blood flow throughout the chicken’s body, but particularly in their comb. As their comb is very sensitive to the cold, this can prevent frostbite.
The best way to feed chickens cinnamon is to sprinkle it over their feed so they won’t struggle with eating it in its regular powdery form.
Do chickens like coffee grounds?
Chickens should never eat coffee grounds. Whilst coffee grounds might be great for composting, they can be very harmful to chickens.
Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing if your chicken has managed to find coffee grounds - because we all know how good they are at scavenging food they shouldn’t be eating.
Coffee is high in caffeine, a type of methylxanthine. This is also harmful to other animals like dogs and cats. If an animal ingests caffeine, there’s a chance it will be exposed to harmful toxicity within 30 minutes.
As humans, we’re aware of the effects of coffee. Shakes, energy, headaches, hyperactivity. For a smaller animal like a chicken, these side effects are heightened to the extreme.
They can become super hyperactive and agitated, which can lead to vomiting and panting, and in serious cases, seizures and tremors.
As coffee grounds can be excellent for the maintenance and growth of your garden, it’s important to keep them as separate from your chickens as possible.
This might be tricky if your chickens are free-range and wander the yard. If they accidentally consume a small amount in the compost soil, they might just be super agitated and hyperactive for a while, and it shouldn’t affect them too badly.
However, some people will argue that coffee grounds in the soil aren’t good for free-range chickens.
Whilst coffee grounds are great for sprinkling on the soil to prevent pests, this will potentially stop your chickens from scavenging from important proteins in their diets such as worms and bugs.
Is bread bad for chickens?
Whilst chickens will eat bread (and just about everything else), it’s not necessarily good for them.
Bread isn’t full of nutrients that are beneficial to a chicken’s diet. It’s a filler food that helps to fill them up, but it won’t benefit their diet in any way.
In fact, too much bread will fill them up and prevent them from eating the food they should be eating. This could lead to weight gain, constipation, and illness from a lack of healthy vitamins.
It’s like humans eating fast food burgers because they’re filling, but they don’t actually offer anything beneficial to our systems.
That being said, bread isn’t toxic to chickens. They can eat it, just in small and moderate amounts. Bread crumbs are nice for chickens, especially if you sprinkle them on the ground as this might encourage them to eat grass and weeds which are good for their diet.
Too much bread will lead to blockages in the chicken’s system. It won’t dissolve or digest in the way that other foods will, which can be harmful to them in the long run.
Bread is high in yeast and sugar, which changes the pH balance in the chicken’s system, making them more susceptible to harmful bacteria.
Also, bread doesn’t last long as it is prone to mold. Mold is dangerous to chickens for a variety of reasons, which is another reason why you shouldn’t chuck stale bread in their pen.
If you want to feed your chickens bread, make sure to break it up into small portions and soak it in water overnight so they can break down the fibers easier.
Is popcorn okay for chickens?
Chickens love popcorn. Corn is great for chickens, and as popcorn is from the same family as corn, it can be a great treat for them!
The only thing to be aware of is that chickens shouldn’t eat sweet or salty foods, so make sure to only feed them plain popcorn.
Like humans, popcorn should only really be eaten as a treat. You shouldn’t go out of your way to buy bags of popcorn for your chickens to devour daily (despite how much they’d enjoy it), because their diet requires variety.
If you’re going to feed your chickens popcorn, you should only scatter a few handfuls in their pen once or twice a week. One handful of popcorn should amount to each chicken you have.
Chickens shouldn’t eat uncooked popcorn in its kernel format. The kernels can be hard for the chickens to swallow and digest, which could lead to choking and blockages. They will find puffed and “cooked” popcorn the easiest, and tastiest, to eat.
If you’re going to buy bags of shop-bought popcorn, just make sure there are no flavorings like salt, butter, sugar, or toffee. Salt and sugar aren’t all that healthy for humans, so it’s definitely not healthy for animals smaller than us.
Whilst flavored popcorn won’t be fatal to chickens, it might make them very picky. It’s like giving a child the occasional cookie, and them gradually expecting a cookie every hour. They will become expectant and picky. The same goes for chickens.
What is poisonous to chickens?
Whilst chickens are omnivorous and will eat just about anything, there are lots of foods and substances that are poisonous and potentially fatal to chickens.
Pesticides and herbicides must not be consumed by chickens.
Of course, you should feel comfortable feeding your plants and yard with pesticides such as slug repellent, but make sure to not let your chickens roam around freely when they could easily consume these harmful chemicals.
This will also stop them from scavenging from protein like worms and bugs.
Paint of any kind can be poisonous to chickens. Painted surfaces like fences can be pecked by chickens, which can make them very ill. You should only look for paints that are low in VOCs and are “livestock” friendly. Chickens are also sensitive to fumes, so don’t paint anything near them!
This goes without saying, but bites from animals like snakes or spiders can be detrimental to a chicken’s health if the animal is venomous.
Venomous snakes can be common in some parts of the country, so it’s best to take extra precautions with your chicken pen and hutch to prevent them from biting your birds. If you suspect a bite, take your chicken to the vets immediately.
Some foods that you shouldn’t feed chickens include:
- Citrus fruits and juices
- Avocado skin or pits
- Raw potato
- Green tomatoes or potatoes
- Raw eggs
- Raw beans