Chickens love eating everything and anything they can find. However, not all foods are appropriate for a hen diet. Let’s take a look at foods that you should not feed your chickens.
Why Food Scraps aren’t Ideal
Food scraps might seem like great foods to leave in the chicken coop, as they are abundant and already on hand. However, food scraps aren’t perfect. If the scraps are too old, they can collect bacteria and pose a serious hazard to the health of your chickens. On the other hand, if you don’t keep the scraps refrigerated and in a proper environment, similar things can happen. Even if you feed your chickens scraps right after dinner, the food that comprises your diet isn’t always food that is nutritious for your chickens. Feeding the same foods to your chickens over and over again can lead to vitamin deficiencies in the long term. In essence, food scraps are to prone to unpredictability for a stable diet. The scraps might also contain foods that are toxic to chickens as discussed below.
What we think about scratch mixes
Scratch mixes are popular ways to feed your chickens. They’re convenient and contain a wide variety of ingredients. However, scratch mixes have some downsides that should be mentioned. Some of the seeds and oats have been processed at a plant, so it’s not as natural as other chicken feeds. If you prefer organic foods for your chickens, a scratch mix is the exact opposite. In addition, the contents are simply not as healthy as regular chicken feed either. Scratch mix offers only a fraction of the protein as normal feed, which is not good at all considering protein is essential to a hen diet. Without a generous helping of protein, your chickens will become weak and possibly infertile. Overall, scratch mixes should not be used for anything more than a very occasional snack. Giving it to your chickens on a regular basis is a recipe for disaster.
Foods that are toxic to Chickens
- White potatoes: white potatoes destroy red blood cells inside a chicken and lead to organ failure. Green potatoes are particularly harmful
- Apple seeds: apple seeds can often fall out of rotten apples and tempt your chickens. Apple seeds contain cyanide and will poison your hens
- Onions: this is one vegetable that is not appropriate to leave in the chicken coop, can cause a blood condition that will result in listless chickens
- Avocados: This skin and seed of an avocado have a toxin that is harmful to chickens and can be fatal if eaten
- Chocolate: while this won’t kill your chicken, it will leave them sick for days.
What you should feed chickens
Given all of the above, what should you feed your chickens after all? Pellet feeds are a great place to start. Chicken pellet feed is healthy by design, comes in large quantities and are tasty for your chickens. You can leave them outside of the container for an extended period of time without any huge consequences. Chickens love these tiny pellets that are easy to digest and delicious. Mash feed is another excellent option. It is particularly high in protein, which will give your chickens enough energy for their daily business. This type of feed is inexpensive and very easy to serve your chickens. You really can’t go wrong with a combination of mash feed and pellets. As always, feel free to give them treats once in a while. Just make sure you do so sparingly.
The major benefit for mash and pellet feed is that they contain all the nutrients required for them to produce eggs. Learn more by reading our article: What to feed laying hens