10 Surprising Foods You Should Never Feed Your Chickens

The truth is, you shouldn’t stress too much about feeding your chickens. A. simple layer feed mixed with almost all table scraps in small amounts, is just fine. But if you’re wondering what you shouldn’t feed your chickens, that’s smart. Some foods are off-limits.

A cheerful watercolor illustration showing chickens in front of a country-style wooden chicken coop, adorned with an array of flowers and plants.

I’ll guide you through keeping your chickens healthy with a simple list of what your flock should avoid.

It’s important to note that most of these foods are safe for chickens in small amounts. Avoid giving these foods to your chickens in large amounts.

1. Avocado

Avocados might be a superfood for us, but for chickens, they’re a big no-no. The problem with avocados lies in a substance called persin. This stuff is found in the leaves, seed, bark, and even the fruit itself. While it doesn’t bother us humans, persin is pretty toxic to chickens. It can cause heart damage and even death in our feathered friends. Think of it like feeding them poison.

So, even though that guacamole might look tempting to share, it’s best to keep it far away from your coop. Remember, just because it’s healthy for us, doesn’t mean it’s safe for them.

2. Chocolate

Now, let’s talk about chocolate. We all know it’s delicious, but it’s a definite no for chickens. Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, two substances that are harmful to chickens. These components can mess with their heart and nervous system. Eating chocolate can increase heart rate, cause seizures, and even kill chickens.

A watercolor scene of a rustic chicken coop surrounded by vibrant flowers and two chickens in the foreground, basking in sunlight.

3. Onions and Garlic

Let’s chat about onions and garlic, staples in our kitchens but a big no-go for our chicken friends. These pungent veggies might add flavor to our meals, but for chickens, they’re trouble. Why? Both onions and garlic contain compounds that can cause a condition called Heinz body anemia in chickens. This means their red blood cells start to burst, and that’s bad news. It can make them weak and less productive, especially in laying eggs. .

4. Green Potato Peels

Now, let’s turn to potato peels, particularly the green ones. They might seem harmless, but they’re actually risky for chickens. These peels contain solanine, a natural toxin that’s bad news for chickens. Solanine can mess with their nervous system and even cause serious digestive issues.

And the green color? That’s a warning sign of high solanine levels. Sure, we might not think twice about peeling a potato and tossing the scraps to our chickens. But this is one case where what’s waste for us shouldn’t become a treat for them.

5. Raw Beans

Now, let’s talk about raw beans. They’re a common kitchen ingredient that’s actually a big danger to chickens. Raw or improperly cooked beans are a huge no for your feathered pals. Why? They contain a toxin called phytohaemagglutinin, and it’s as bad as it sounds. This toxin can be deadly for chickens. It can cause severe digestive upset, and in some cases, it can even be fatal.

: A picturesque watercolor painting of chickens amongst a lush garden with a variety of colorful flowers and a cozy farmhouse in the background.

6. Citrus Fruits

Now let’s talk about citrus fruits. These zesty treats might be refreshing for us, but they’re not so great for chickens. Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits can upset a chicken’s stomach.

They can cause irritation and even affect how well they absorb calcium. This is crucial because calcium is key for strong eggshells. So, feeding your chickens citrus can lead to weaker eggs, and nobody wants that. Plus, the strong acidity and essential oils in citrus fruits can be too harsh for their tummies. So, even though sharing a slice of orange might seem like a nice treat, it’s better to stick to chicken-friendly snacks.

7. Tomatoes Leaves and Stems

Let’s turn our attention to tomatoes, specifically the green parts of the tomato plant. You might think tomatoes are harmless, but there’s a catch. The green parts of the plant, including the leaves and stems, contain solanine, a toxic substance. Solanine is the same toxin found in green potato skins and can be just as harmful to chickens.

Our chickens free range and have full access to tomato plants in our garden and have never tried to eat the green parts. But don’t feed it to them intentionally.

A watercolor depiction of chickens in a vibrant garden filled with blooming flowers and a backdrop of a traditional wooden barn and a wire fence.

8. Coffee Grounds and Tea Leaves

Coffee grounds and tea leaves might be a staple in many of our mornings, but they’re a definite no for chickens. The issue here is caffeine. Caffeine, like chocolate, can harm chickens. It affects their heart rate and nervous system. Not to mention, coffee and tea also contain other substances that can be harmful to your flock.s

9. Apple Seeds

Now, about apple seeds – they’re a bit more sinister than they seem. Apple seeds contain a compound that can release cyanide when digested. Yes, cyanide, the poison. ? Cyanide can interfere with oxygen transport in the blood. Over time, this can be dangerous for chickens.

10. Rice

Finally, let’s tackle the topic of feeding rice to chickens. There’s a popular myth that rice can harm birds, but the truth is a bit different. Uncooked rice isn’t necessarily harmful to chickens. It won’t swell up in their stomachs like some people think.

More resources for feeding chickens

A watercolor depiction of chickens in a vibrant garden filled with blooming flowers and a backdrop of a traditional wooden barn and a wire fence.

But it’s not just about avoiding the bad; it’s also about embracing the good. Remember to provide your chickens with a balanced diet, rich in nutrients. Also, don’t forget the safe treats that they can enjoy. Giving treats and watching your flock enjoy them is one of the best parts of keeping chickens.

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