I have to try really hard not to stutter and stare…
…when I’m at someone’s house and I watch them throw celery tops, broccoli stems, or banana peels in the trash.
That’s valuable stuff!
Our goats are rather picky, and they only like choice items such as watermelon rind or cornstalks. However, our chickens can be depended upon to eat pretty much everything–especially veggie trimmings or leftover dairy items (like whey or yogurt), which is fabulous considering it cuts down on the chicken feed bill.
I keep a bucket right on my kitchen counter and continually toss scraps in it while I’m cooking. Things like leftover rice, tomato ends, carrot peelings or leftover popcorn ends up there, along with the occasional eggshell. (I usually save back my eggshells in a separate container to feed to my hens, but sometimes I get lazy…)
My girls eat most of what I give them, but I have noticed that they will leave items like citrus rind or avocado peels in the bottom of their scrap pan.
It got me to thinking, so I asked the folks on The Prairie Homestead Facebook page if their girls usually eat citrus. I got a bunch of differing responses, but the consensus seems to be that most chickens don’t like citrus peelings, and some folks even report that feeding citrus can result in soft shells.
So, I decided to do some research on what not to feed chickens. I’ve found that there are some definite no-nos… I’ve been guilty of tossing most of these items into the feed bucket at some point, and I didn’t have any birds drop dead–but I’m going to be a bit more careful in the future.
What Not to Feed Chickens: 7 Things to Avoid
1. Avocadoes (mainly the pit and peel)
As with most of the things on this list, I was able to find several people who report feeding avocado to their flock without a problem. However, it seems that most sources advise against it. The pit and peel of an avocado contain a compound called persin, which can be very toxic to birds. I’ll definitely be leaving these out of my chicken bucket from now on!
2. Chocolate or Candy
I think most of us probably wouldn’t feed chocolate to our hens, since it’s famous for being toxic to dogs. Theobromine (the compound that causes illness in dogs) is also thought to be toxic to poultry, so it’s best to steer clear. I doubt my girls have much of a chocolate craving anyway. 😉
Actually, I think that the jury is still out on this one… I’m not 100% convinced that citrus is bad for them since I’ve heard such varying reports. I know that my girls won’t touch it anyway, so I don’t have to worry too much. If you are nervous, it might be best to use those peels to freshen your garbage disposal or make an all-purpose cleaner instead.
4. Green Potato Skins
Green potatoes contain solanine– another toxic substance. It’s ok to feed your flock regular or cooked potatoes, but avoid those green ones in large quantities.
5. Dry Beans
Cooked beans are fine– but their dried counterparts contain hemagglutinin– a big no-no.
6. Junk Food
Hey- if you don’t eat junk food, then you won’t have any leftovers… So you won’t even have to worry about this one, right? 😉 Highly processed food isn’t good for you, and it’s not good for your hens either.
7. Moldy or Rotten Food
For obvious reasons… Stale or overripe foods are fine, but if it’s rotten, just toss it.
8. High Salt Content Items
Salt in moderation is good for your chicken’s growth and development. Feeding your chickens things with a too high salt content can cause deformities in their eggshells over time.
Now You Know What Not to Feed Your Chickens
There are not many things on the list that your chickens shouldn’t eat. Now you know what is on that list so that you can keep happy healthy chickens. We all know happy healthy chickens are the best egg layers. If you are looking for other ways to feed your flock, you might be interested in this Homemade Chicken Feed Recipe.
Other Posts for the Backyard Chicken Lover
- What are Those Spots in my Eggs?
- Do My Chickens Need a Heat Lamp?
- How to Keep Wild Birds out of the Chicken Coop
- Should I Feed Eggshells to My Chickens?
- Eggs: To Wash or Not to Wash?
- How to Freeze Eggs
- 30+ Things to do with Eggshells
- Are Chickens Supposed to be Vegetarians?
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Listen to the Old Fashioned On Purpose podcast (episode #116) to learn about using chicken power on the homestead: