What You Should NEVER Feed Your Chickens

What You Should NEVER Feed To Your Chickens

Having chickens isn’t just a great way to get delicious, ethically produced organic eggs, it also gives you a great way to dispose most of your leftovers. Chickens will gladly eat things you would simply throw away like that rice you couldn’t finish or those stems you don’t like in your salad. However you should know what scraps are good and which scraps you should never feed your chickens.

You can keep a list of these foods by the fridge and, when in doubt, just google it or call your vet!

Processed foods

Processed foods are dangerous for chickens

You know they’re not healthy for you, why feed them to your chickens? Not only can chickens get very fat, very quickly, but salty foods can actually be deadly to your chickens. Greasy foods are also difficult to digest.


The avocado skin and seed are dangerous for chickens

This is a very dangerous one. Some people either fear avocados too much and don’t give their chickens any avocados at all or don’t know anything about it and will give them everything.

Avocados’ skin and pit contain persin, which is incredibly toxic to birds. It can lead to breathing difficulties and death in as little as 48 hours.

The flesh also contains persin but in very little amounts so you can feed them the flesh in moderation. Why you would feed them delicious avocado is beyond us but hey, you do you!


Lactose should never be fed to any chicken

Chickens are lactose intolerant so feeding them anything with lactose will lead to diarrhea. This includes milk, cheeses and anything else that may have lactose.

This however does not include yogurt. As we’ve said before, yogurt is a tasty way to keep them fresh and healthy. The same probiotics that make yogurt such a healthy treat for you are the same ones that digest the lactose, making it a great choice for your chickens, specially if it’s unsweetened!

Chocolate and caffeine

Chocolate shouldn't be fed to chickens

Just like with dogs, chocolate can be fatal for your chickens. This is because of theobromine, which is harmful to dogs, cats and yes, chickens too. The darker the chocolate the more theobromine it’ll have.

Chocolate also contains caffeine, which is you should also avoid feeding your chickens. This includes coffee grounds and tea leaves too. If you use coffee grounds for your plants, make sure your chickens can’t feed off them.

When ingested, chocolate will cause diarrhea and vomiting in your chickens. It can also cause seizures and heart problems leading to death within 24 hours.

Green tomatoes and green potatoes

green tomatoes and potatoes are dangerous to chickens

Although some cooked potatoes are fine in moderation for your chickens, green tomatoes and potatoes are another thing you should never feed them.

Green potatoes and tomatoes contain solanine which is highly toxic for your chickens. and it’s always present in the plant’s leaves and stems. It affects the nervous system causing paralysis and death and isn’t altered by cooking it.

Anything you wouldn’t eat

You should never feed rotten tomatoes to your chickens!

As a very general guideline, you shouldn’t feed chickens anything you wouldn’t eat yourself. Rhubarb leaves? they’re toxic for you and they’re toxic for your chickens. Dry or uncooked beans? They’ve killed humans so they can kill your chickens too.

You should also never feed raw eggs to your chickens. Although raw eggs pose no threat to their health, you don’t want to discover how delicious they are! If they do they’ll start eating their own eggs in no time.

Chickens should also never eat anything moldy. Although your chickens will gladly eat your stale bread or your overripe fruits, mold has aflatoxin, which can lead chickens (and humans) to develop cancer.

Some other “banned” chicken foods, like apple seeds for example, although dangerous in theory due to cyanide, are virtually impossible to kill your chickens unless you feed them way too much. In fact we couldn’t find a single documented case where a bird has died due to apple seed consumption.

Did we miss anything? What would you never feed your chickens? Let us know in the comments! Doesn’t have to be dangerous, maybe you wouldn’t feed them cooked chicken scraps! We’d love to know what you have to say in this controversial topic.

6 thoughts on “What You Should NEVER Feed Your Chickens

  1. Sylvia Belt says:

    If you would not eat it don’t feed it to animals, if your going to use them for your own food sorce . Healthy Living

  2. Jaxx says:

    Most landscaping plants are toxic to birds and need to be checked out. Hydrangeas and Peony bushes are very toxic for example.

  3. Booth Templeton says:

    I feed my Lakenvelders commercial chicken feed and sometimes cracked corn. Not often , I will tear up a couple slices of bread and throw it in their pen.

  4. Stan says:

    We are a household of 5 and generate way too much food waste. Our scraps are diligently saved and fed regularly to our hens to augment the commercial feed and garden waste/greens they’re fed. We don’t have FAT chickens and they lay well all winter long. The things we feed them include “processed foods” like pizza crust, left over pancakes and waffles, left over pasta and macaroni, stale snack foods, cooked chicken trimmings (skin & fat), cooked potato & sweet potato skins (They don’t eat them raw.), banana peels, apple cores, stale cake n cookies, moldy cheese (NOTE: Cheese is generally fermented and therefor contains no lactose. Also cheese that is refrigerated does not support the growth of toxin producing molds.) Our chickens won’t eat chocolate or tomatoes (ripe or unripe) or bell peppers but they love wind fall figs, peaches, nectarines, persimmons, plums, and cracked/over ripe melons and cantaloupes. They enjoy raw pumpkins, over ripe sweet corn and absolutely love collard leaves, half rotten cabbage, ugly turnips n rutabaga and the leaves on harvested field pea vines, sweet potato/cantaloupe/watermelon vines w green leaves. We also given them left over flat soda mixed with feed which they really like. They also get egg shells crushed b4 feeding and don’t eat any eggs unless you forget to feed them. Weeds pulled from the garden and from the nooks & crannies of the yard, green “grass” clippings and occasionally worms/grubs/centipedes and other large bugs found by the back door night light. When free ranging I’ve observed our chickens chase, catch, kill and eat small frogs, toads and field mice as well as baby birds that fell out their nest. Of course when foraging they find a great variety of insects, seeds and greens. I’d estimate that over the course of a year our chickens get about 1,000 pounds of this “stuff”. Two things I’ve observed that they shouldn’t be fed are bad pecans, elephant ear leaves and night shade.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.