What You Should Not Feed Your Chickens
Chickens will peck at and eat just about any food you give them. Their natural curiosity will have them foraging around their coop for tasty morsels, pecking at plants, scraps and anything that might take their fancy.
For this reason, it is important to be aware of the plants growing in your garden and the scraps you give to your chickens. Some scraps you might assume to be perfectly safe for chickens, when in fact they could be harmful. For instance, an apple seems like a tasty treat for your chickens. However, what you may not realise is that the apple seeds contain cyanide.
Below we have compiled a list of foods and plants that are poisonous to chickens. Also listed are foods that are not suitable for chickens.
Foods that are poisonous to chickens
- Avocado skins and pits are poisonous to chickens. This can cause breathing and/or heart problems, possibly resulting in death.
- Raw dried beans. These are dangerous for both humans and also chickens; consumption will result in serious illness or death.
- Raw green potato skins.
- Rhubarb, tomato plants and other plants with high amounts of oxalates.
- Chocolate. This is poisonous for dogs and also for chickens.
- Apple seeds. Feel free to feed your chickens apples, but do not feed them apple seeds. Apple seeds contain cyanide which delivers a potentially fatal dose of poison to your chickens if ingestion.
- Apricot pits and leaves.
Chickens should not eat the following foods:
- Foods or kitchen scraps that have mould.
- Citrus fruits. While these are not poisonous per se, they can cause a reduction in egg production.
- Mushrooms that randomly grow in the garden.
- Lawnmower clippings.
Plants and weeds that are toxic to chickens
- Bracken Fern
- Oak Trees
- Castor bean
- Apricot plants
Foods we recommend for chickens
Hens require a diet that will keep them in optimal condition. Just like a human diet, the food they eat will ultimately affect their egg production, immune system and stress levels.
A chicken is very similar to a toddler. If you provide a toddler with a treat food and nutritious food at mealtime, they will most likely leave the nourishing food untouched. This is how a chicken will feed when offered a variety of food including pellets and kitchen scraps.
While kitchen scraps sound like a very healthy option as a chicken meal, they are actually more of a treat than a nutritious meal. We recommend to only provide your hens with enough scraps that they can consume within a couple of minutes, and no more. 90 % of a healthy chicken's diet should be its feed.
For a balanced diet, a complete layer feed will provide a good mix of protein, carbohydrates and nutrients to keep your hen in optimum health. Choosing a pellet or crumb is important because these won't allow the chicken to pick and choose what they might like to eat.
For healthy treats, give your chickens forage greens, chicken scratch (only as a treat!) or dried insects.
Happy chicken keeping!
Rachael at Dine a Chook