Which kitchen scraps can we feed chickens? Not everything, but it's pretty amazing what they can safely eat! Learning what kitchen scraps chickens can eat will ensure that you keep your chickens healthy and also reduce waste and cut down on their feed bill.
You may already be using your chickens to benefit your garden; when you feed them kitchen scraps, you're just making bringing everything on your homestead full-circle!
Which Kitchen Scraps Can I Feed Chickens?
Great news - it's actually healthy to give your chickens kitchen scraps! Giving them a variety of your food leftovers can provide them with foods high in protein, vitamins and minerals helping them to have a variety in their diet. Healthy chickens means healthy eggs, so win-win!
In general most fruits and vegetables (see below for exceptions) are great additions to feed your chickens. And foods high in carbs, sugar or fat tend can be okay small, occasional amounts. Any food that is moldy or has gone bad in some way is not something you should feed your chickens. But you can stick it in a compost bin!
Also, it is important to keep in mind that in order for your chickens to maintain a well-balanced diet you should make sure that their regular grain or feed is the majority of their diet. Typically about 10% of their diet as treats (aka scraps) is acceptable.
But specifically what should you include in those treats? Below I've compiled a comprehensive list detailing what to toss out to your chickens and what you should put in your compost pile.
The Best Kitchen Scraps To Feed Chickens
In general, most fruits and vegetables are considered safe unless they are noted in the not safe to eat list. Do keep in mind that most fruits have a high natural sugar content and though they are not bad for your chickens you may want to feed them in smaller amounts.
Whenever you feed your chickens kitchen scraps make sure they they are in pieces that they can easily eat. Yes, chickens can peck at foods and break them apart. However, for things like grapes, that they could potentially take the entire thing into their mouth at once, you may want to cut them into smaller pieces.
The following foods are safe to feed to your chickens (as long as they are in treat quantities and do not overtake their diet):
- Bananas, but be cautious feeding your chickens banana peels
- Berries (all types - blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, raspberries)
- Cherries - may want to skip the pits.
- Cooked beans
- Melons - Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Honeydew
- Popcorn - but leave off the butter and salt.
- Squash - all types, both summer and winter. Zucchini, yellow squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, acorn squash and more.
- Sweet Potatoes
Safe foods for chickens in moderation
While these foods are safe for chickens, they should be fed only in small quantities due to the fact that they are not the most healthy choices. These foods tend to be high in carbs, sugar, fat, salt or highly processed:
- Citrus - chickens can eat oranges, lemons and other citrus. However, there are varying opinions on how safe it is. That combined with the fact that citrus tends to have high sugar content and chickens don’t tend to be very keen to eat citrus in general, it may be best to feed in moderation or just skip it.
- Nuts and Nut butters
Kitchen Scraps You Should NOT Feed Chickens
Of course, you should never feed your chickens any food that is moldy, rotten or has otherwise gone bad. Additionally, keep the following things out of your chickens' diet:
- Dried Beans (uncooked or raw)
- Fast Food
- French Fries
- Fried or overly greasy foods
- Nightshade plants and leaves (peppers, tomatoes, eggplant)
- Potatoes (raw or plants and leaves)
- Raw Meat
- Rhubarb - chickens cannot eat rhubarb due to oxalis acid content
Overall, your chickens can eat a wide variety of scraps from your kitchen! And in moderation, the chickens will benefit from the scraps. It feels great and less wasteful to let chickens help get rid of unwanted kitchen scraps!
The big takeaway is that most kitchen scraps are healthy, as long as you ensure they are getting foods that are safe for them, fed in safe-sized pieces, and in conjunction and balance with their formulated feed or grain.
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