What not to feed your chickens

Jan 26, 2018

Chickens are great food-munching machines - they will eat almost anything and my hens love a bit of variety in their diet. But, just because they eat it doesn’t always mean it’s good for them so it's important to know what to give them and what you shouldn’t give them.

It’s great to feed your chickens table scraps. I hate throwing things in the trash, so it seems logical to me that I can feed some of our half-eaten meals to the ladies in the backyard. However, there are some foods that you should not feed to your hens.
Here is a list of the most common foods that you should not feed to your hens or put in the wooden hen house.

Foods that are not safe for Chickens

  • Potato Peels
  • Raw Potato or green potato
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus fruits
  • Candy
  • Avocado skin or pit
  • Dried lentils or beans
  • Uncooked rice
  • Onion
  • Salty foods
  • No spoiled or mouldy foods




5 foods that are potential killers for your chickens. 

1. Don’t feed your chickens dried or raw beans

Kidney beans

Dried beans are known to create very serious illness and even death for chickens. Kidney beans are the worst culprit but any bean which has not been properly cooked is potentially lethal for your chickens. They contain a toxin which is fatal to chickens. Illness will occur after eating as few as three or four beans and will progress very rapidly, killing in as short a time as an hour. Once eaten, there's nothing to be done to save the bird. More information click here

2. Chickens should not eat anything mouldy

Don't feed your chickens food which has any signs of mould or is in any way going rotten. It's equally important to make sure your flock's feed does not become damp, which is one of the mediums in which moulds and their toxins flourish. Remember - mouldy feed can kill.

Some moulds, of course, are good. Penicillin was developed from a mould and some cheeses have mould deliberately injected into them. But others, including the mould which grows on soft fruits, produce toxins and it's not possible to judge which moulds are good and which are toxic. So best to not give your hens any food with mould on it to be safe.

3. Parts of the avocado should not be eaten by chickens

Chickens are particularly susceptible to the toxin carried by the avocado which is called persin. In large doses, persin will cause birds to have heart problems followed by difficulties breathing and it can cause death very quickly.

Persin is carried mostly in the skin and the stone of the avocado (and the bark and leaves of the tree, if you happen to have one). The flesh has lower levels of persin but it still contains some because persin is fat soluble and leaches into the flesh from the stone. More information click here

4. Chickens should not eat green potatoes or green tomatoes

The toxins found in green potatoes and green tomatoes are called solanin and chaconine, both of which are found in the peel, the flesh and the sprouts - so any part of a potato which is green is poisonous for your chickens, as are unripened green tomatoes.
My chickens love mashed potatoes. I feed it them in moderation when we have left overs from dinner. Cooked potato (including potato skins) is fine for chickens to eat as long as it was not green potato, but contains very few nutrients so isn't one of the best treats.

Potatoes go green when they're exposed to light, so make sure you keep them in a cool, dark place. If you find some leftover potatoes which have already gone green or have sprouted, do not feed them to your chickens - even if you cook them - and don't throw green peelings onto the compost heap if your chickens have access to it.

Green tomatoes should also be avoided but are slightly different in the sense that once they have ripened the levels of solanin they contain are greatly reduced. They can then be fed to your flock although, as with everything, they should be given in moderation.

5. Chickens should not eat chocolate 

Theobromine and caffeine are the toxic elements of chocolate and are also found in some drinks - coffee, tea and colas among them. The darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains and the more dangerous it is.

Now, it's right to say that eating a few pecks of chocolate or some leftover chocolate cake is probably not going to do your hens much harm - depending on how much chocolate that cake contains and how much they eat. But even something we might think to be as innocent as a packet of chocolate chips can prove fatal.

Chocolate is known to cause heart problems in birds which can range from an irregular heartbeat to full cardiac arrest and death will happen very quickly - within 24 hours of eating the chocolate.


Take a look at some other blogs:

Tips for keeping healthy chickens

How to choose a chicken coop your hens will love

Collect, clean and store your eggs right!

Related Articles
What Type of Blanket Should I Put on My Horse?

What Type of Blanket Should I Put on My Horse?

Read more
Do Newborn Calves Need Shelter in New Zealand?

Do Newborn Calves Need Shelter in New Zealand?

Read more
Portable calf shelter

Louette & Jared's multi-purpose calving shelter

Read more

By Year