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Can Chickens Eat Sweet Potatoes / Yams?

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When sweet potato season comes around, people are excited to grab some of these big orange treats and bring them home for baking, cooking with a roast, or stir-frying on the stove. Sweet potatoes and yams have found their way into many traditional dishes, and people look forward to eating them every year.

When folks buy too many sweet potatoes, also known as yams, or they grow them in their garden, they sometimes struggle with what to do with them.

One thing people wonder is whether they’re suitable for the chickens they are raising or if the chickens will get sick from eating them.

Can Chickens eat sweet potatoes? What about yams? Well, since they are the same thing, the answer to both is a resounding, yes! Chickens will happily eat any extra sweet potatoes from your kitchen or your garden, and this delicious root vegetable offers a great deal of good natural sugars and other nutrients for your birds.

Basket with red, purple and white sweet potatoes on wooden table

If you’ve never fed your chickens sweet potatoes before, it can be a lot of fun tossing some to them in the yard or mixing it in with their feed.

They’ll absolutely love eating them! You will be left wondering why you didn’t try giving them any yams before.

If you’re wondering whether your chickens can eat sweet potatoes, we’ve put together some helpful information on why they’re good for them as well as some other pointers on healthy chicken diets.

Let’s explore a bit into why chickens love yams and how you can keep your flock healthy and strong.

Deciding What to Feed Your Chickens

Feeding chickens can be stressful when you’re new to raising them. You worry about whether they are getting enough of the right foods and if you’re giving them something you shouldn’t. Losing a chick or a fully grown chicken can be a tough experience, but it’s something almost every new chicken owner goes through.

Learning is part of the process, and eventually, you’ll get into a routine where you know what to give them, how much, and when.

One of the best things about chickens, other than those delicious eggs they provide, is that they help you eat more responsibly and waste less food. Have some leftover dinner that you don’t want to eat? Give it to your chickens? Those vegetable ends and other scraps on your cutting board?

They will love eating them. You can feel great knowing you’re using everything you buy at the store and not throwing away good food.

Red chickens on the farm yard

Your chickens will find a lot of food on their own if they’ve got some space to roam. Free-range chickens spend all day heads down in the grass hunting for seeds, grains, nuts, insects, and anything else they can eat. People love owning chickens because there is a big decrease in how many ticks, crickets, and other bugs they see in their yards.

These birds can be like vacuum cleaners, and they’ll run over to any carrot scraps or leftover corn you toss their way. For the most part, chickens can eat anything you do, with some exceptions.

Sweet Potatoes Are Better Than White Potatoes

White potatoes contain some chemicals that can be toxic to chickens. If possible, avoid giving chickens any white potatoes. We know now that white potatoes offer fewer nutrients to humans than sweet potatoes as well, so hopefully, you’re eating more yams these days too.

Sweet potatoes are already part of a lot of healthy animal feeds, so you shouldn’t worry at all about giving them to your birds. They can eat the entire sweet potato.

Can Chickens Eat Sweet Potato Skins?

Yes, chickens can eat the skins or peels or whatever else you call it.

The sweet potato peel offers a lot of fiber. It also gives the chickens something to spend more time pecking at while they’re out in your yard. You don’t have to peel them or slice off the skin before giving them to your chickens.

Can Chickens Eat Sweet Potato Plants?

Again, yes, chickens can eat sweet potato stems, leaves, roots, and any other part of the sweet potato plant. These leaves are known to be high in protein, which is an important part of every chicken’s diet.

They’re easy to grow and sprout quickly, so it’s a great idea to give them some sweet potato leaves whenever you can.

Do You Have to Cook Sweet Potatoes for Chickens?

Womans hand holding cooked sweet potato on white plate

A cooked yam will be a lot easier to eat for the chickens. Cooked sweet potatoes also allow a lot of the natural sugars to come out, adding to the flavor. Chickens don’t have a lot of taste buds, so they don’t respond as positively to sugar as humans do. Most of the time, they view food in terms of how easy it is to eat.

Cooking the yams also makes it take more time to eat. If you like watching your chickens eat, cook them so you can watch them peck at the yams for longer.

One thing you have to worry about with chickens is choking. If they are in a huge rush to eat an uncooked yam, they could peck off a big chunk and try to swallow it all at once. Certainly, a cooked yam is easier to eat, but it all depends on how much time you have.

You shouldn’t stress over cooking a sweet potato. If you don’t have time, just feed them the raw yams. It’s no big deal.

Chickens Respond Well to Sweet Potatoes in Their Diets

brown free range free roaming chicken on a farm

Generally, chickens that have sweet potatoes in their diets and as part of their feeds grow faster and stronger than birds that don’t. The next time you go to the feed store or shop online, check out the ingredients to see if yams are already in your chicken feed.

Farmers find that chickens that eat more sweet potatoes grow better and their meat has a richer flavor than birds who don’t have yams in their diets.

One of the great things about feeding your chicken yams is that they are low in carbohydrates and high in vitamin A, thiamin, niacin, fiber, and protein, especially when compared to other starches like bread. Feeding your chickens sweet potatoes is a fantastic idea.

Most of the year, you can find sweet potatoes for a bargain at local grocery stores and farm stands. They are easy to grow, and they still aren’t anywhere near as popular as regular potatoes. That means you can find nutritious food for your chickens without breaking the bank.

If you’ve got the space, give growing yams a try. They are a relatively easy plant to grow, and you get the added advantage of being able to feed your chickens the leaves and other parts of the plant when the season comes to an end.

Feeding chickens and finding the right diet for your birds is a process.

You have to find something that keeps your birds healthy and strong but also works with your budget. If you haven’t been eating a lot of sweet potatoes yourself, you can give them a try as a healthier alternative to normal potatoes.

Then, you can feed your chickens any scraps and leftovers knowing that they are getting a good source of vitamins, fiber, and protein.


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