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Three Plymouth Rock Chickens feasting on a watermelon treat in the garden

7 Foods To Avoid Giving to Your Chickens

When it comes to keeping our hens happy and healthy, we usually think about what we should be feeding them. However, we should also highlight foods that aren't advised for chickens to consume.

Let's have a look at the foods that you should not feed your chickens with.

#1 Green Potatoes
This garden potato contains solanine, a harmful chemical that chickens should not ingest. You can, however, offer them various types of potatoes, just be sure to prepare them properly.

#2 Junk Foods
Junk foods, in general, are heavily processed and packed with chemicals that harm the health of any living creature, including chickens, in the long run. It's best not to give them these unhealthy foods as a treat by accident.

#3 Citrus
This is included in this list because giving your chickens such large amounts is not advisable. Yes, chickens can still consume citrus fruits if they want to. However, just a small amount will suffice to ensure they get the needed nutrients. Chickens also are not super interested in citrus fruits so you are better off mixing very small quantities with their regular feed. This issue with citrus fruits is that they may cause issues with calcium absorption, which is essential for egg formation and it is a mineral which preserves the sturdiness of eggshells. Citric acid, present in citrus fruits, can also change the flavor of a hen's egg, in an unfavorable way.

#4 Sweet and Salty Foods
Just like how junk foods are considered to be bad for us humans, too many sweets and salty foods can do harm to your chickens as well. Similarly, chickens can suffer from obesity due to their high sugar and salt intake, which leads to increased health concerns and their greater susceptibility to a host of illnesses. Chocolate is one of the best examples of this, since over time it can cause heart problems for chickens. But junk foods are not the only ones high in sugars. Even too many sweet fruits are not advisable.

#5 Avocado
As a result of a toxin called "persin", chickens cannot consume avocado. Both avocado pits and skins can be hazardous to chickens. Even though avocados have health advantages for humans, for chickens it's preferable to find a substitute which provides similar health benefits. A good source of fats for chickens can be any form of insects, whether live or dried and some of the most popular ones would be black soldier fly larvae and mealworms.

#6 Rotten Foods
Neither us nor our chickens are able to consume (without negative implications) or attracted to rotten food. And there's a good reason for it - rotten foods and the various molds and bacteria that form on it, make us ill. Note that fermenting foods is fine and even beneficial since fermentation is done in a controlled setting with an understanding of the type of (usually beneficial) bacteria produced.

#7 Dried and Raw Beans
Dried Beans are very harmful to chickens and not only are they dangerous, but can prove to be lethal. Dried beans, like avocado peels and pits, carry a toxin known as "phytohemagglutinin". Once ingested, the toxin spreads very rapidly so the bet thing to do is to ensure you keep any kind of dry and raw beans as far away from your chickens as possible.



A good rule of thumb is if anything is damaging to your health it is probably damaging to your chickens' health as well. This however cannot be applied in reverse - not everything that is good for you is good for your chickens. Their bodies work differently than ours, so before you toss your kitchen waste as a treat for your birds think about all the single components that went into it. Spend some time researching not only what you should be feeding your birds with but also what you need to avoid. After you gain some experience, you'll be able to perfectly tailor and optimize your bird's diet to support their growth and of course happiness.


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