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Foods Chickens Should Not Eat

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Chickens are great eaters. This means they will eat virtually anything. Besides treats, they also love to wander around the garden in search of bugs, plants, and juicy worms. But just because they consume anything it doesn’t mean that it’s good for them.

Just like other animals, chickens are intolerant to certain foods. These types of foods should not even be given as treats hence should be avoided altogether unless you want your chicks to fall sick.

close up of chicken eating

These foods generally contain components that are toxic to the chickens. While some of them may cause stomach aches others may lead to something worse. It’s best to avoid these foods items.

Remember, if you want your chickens to remain healthy you need to feed them on a clean healthy diet, fresh water, occasional tasty treats, and grit.

Since there are a lot of options to keep them healthy you need to know what’s good and what’s not good.

9 Foods that Chickens Should NOT Eat

1. Raw or Dried Beans

variety of beans

Dried beans are known to cause serious illnesses and even death for chickens. Although kidney beans are the worst, any other bean which has not been properly cooked is potentially harmful to the chickens

These beans contain a chemical known as phytohaemagglutinin which can be fatal to the chickens. After consuming even as little as three beans, illness can occur and will progress very fast thus killing them within a very short time.

Sometimes even within an hour. The bad thing is that once they’ve eaten beans there is nothing much that you can do.

But you are keeping chickens the best thing to do is to keep any bean plants out of your chicken site. If you want to give them beans make sure you thoroughly cook them. This is because soaking alone is not enough.

To make them edible and safe, beans need to be soaked for at least 5 hours. Once you’ve soaked them you need to get rid of that water, thoroughly rinse them before boiling them.

2. Parts of Avocado

fresh raw avocado

Chickens, unlike other animals, are susceptible to persin, a toxin found in avocados. When given in large quantities, persin will cause the chickens to have heart problems that may be followed by difficulty in breathing and death subsequently. This toxin is mostly carried in the stone and skin of the avocado.

While the flesh has lower levels of persin it still contains some. Since persin is fat-soluble it easily leaches from the stone to the flesh.

Although avocado is an excellent source of nutrients such as potassium, iron and omega 3 fatty acids, you need to understand that it also contains some toxins that are harmful to the chicken.

If you want to feed your chicken on avocado, make sure you give the flesh in moderation. But to be on the safe side, don’t give them.

3. Green Tomatoes and Green Potatoes

green tomatoes

Green tomatoes and green potatoes contain toxins known as chaconine and solanine. Both of which are found in the flesh, the peels, and the sprouts. This means that any part of green potatoes is dangerous to your chicken. On the same note, any unripened green tomatoes are not healthy.

Since potatoes tend to go green when exposed to sunlight, make sure you keep them in a cool dry place.

If you find some potatoes which have already sprouted or turned green, don’t feed them to your chickens even if you cook them.

You should also avoid throwing green peels on to the compost heap because your chicken can access them

While tomatoes should also not be given, they are a little bit different in that once they are ripe the amount of toxin is significantly reduced.  You can feed them to your chickens but you need to do this in moderation.

4. Molds

green mold

Although some molds are good, some are not.  For instance, penicillin was developed from mold and some cheeses are injected with mold. However, other types of molds including the ones which are found on soft fruits produce a lot of toxins.

Some of them especially the ones found on apples, cones, and nuts produce a toxin known as aflatoxin which is known to cause cancer in both animals and humans.

The best thing to do is, therefore, to avoid feeding your chicken on any food that is rotten or has any sign of mold. You also need to ensure that chickens feed does not get damp. You need to remember that mold can kill.

5. You should not give them onions

red and white onion

 Onions contain sulfur compounds that generally break down into thiosulfinates which in turn decompose into oxidizing agents that can lead to the rupturing of the red blood cells thus resulting in hemolytic anemia.

Some signs of onions toxicity in the chickens include loss of appetite, diarrhea, paleness, listlessness, red-tinged urates and difficulty in breathing.

Whether the onions are cooked or raw it doesn’t matter. Poisoning can occur whether the chickens eat small amounts over a long period of time or a lot of onions at once.

With that said you need to avoid giving your chickens onions.

6. Rhubarb

rhubarb for sale

Rhubarb is a type of plant that contains oxalic acid which can easily lead to calcium deficiency. Whether eaten in large quantities or in small quantities it’s very dangerous to the kitchen. If you expose your chicken to rhubarb for long they are likely to suffer a heart attack

The best thing to do is, therefore, to avoid them at all costs if you want to stay on the safe side.

7. Really Salty Food

different salty treats - popcorn, crackers, pretzels, biscuits

Although a little salt is okay giving your chickens a lot of it can be fatal. Since they do not naturally ingest salt, they are likely to suffer from salt poisoning.

By steering clear of heavily salted foods you should just be fine.

8. Raw Peanuts

raw peanuts

As a member of the legume family, raw peanuts contain trypsin inhibitor. Trypsin is an enzyme reduced by the pancreas that helps them to absorb proteins. Because of this, raw peanuts are not good for some small animals including birds.

The best way to stay safe is to avoid them.

9. Chocolate

 It’s obvious that chocolate can be harmful to some mammals especially cats and dogs. But did you know that chocolate can also be harmful to your chickens? Some of the toxic elements such as caffeine and theobromine found in chocolates are also found in drinks such as colas, coffee, and tea.

dark chocolates

Also the darker the chocolate the more of these chemicals it has. It’s, therefore, safe to say that eating chocolate is harmful to your chickens depending on how much they eat. However, even a little quantity of chocolate can end up being harmful to your chicken.

Chocolate can lead to heart problems such as irregular heartbeat, cardiac arrest, and even death. As a matter of fact, chocolate can cause death within 24 hours hence should be avoided at all costs.

The best thing to do is to steer clear from the chocolates if you want your chickens to remain healthy.

Symptoms That Show a Food Might Be Toxic for Chickens

Compared to many other bird species, chickens are a pretty hardy bunch but, how would you know if your birds got into something toxic.

Keep in mind that eating a toxic food does not mean that it will kill the chicken immediately it may build up and up in the system and cause health issues. Of course, it could wind up causing something fatal in the end.

Symptoms that show your chickens have eaten of toxic food include internal congestion, hemorrhaging, diarrhea, visceral gout, kidney failure, convulsions, poor egg quality, and rapid heartbeat.

All of these symptoms depend on the chickens’ age, overall health condition, size, and what and how much they eat often.

If fed dangerous items in small quantities over time, toxins may build up and shorten lifespan and lessen the quality of life of the chickens. Possibly even without causing noticeable effects.

young chick with eyes closed

Although in moderation most of these things won’t hurt there is a fine line between what’s beneficial and what’s not. Even our very own food nutrient that contains such beneficial minerals and vitamins would be toxic if we were to take a lot of them within a short time.

While chickens will tend to avoid the things that are not good for them if food is scarce, they may eat just anything to feel satisfied.

In addition, any type of treats other than weeds and grass should be limited to about 10 percent of the chicken’s diet. So you need to do your chicken a favor by avoiding any toxic material that might harm them in the long run.

Final thoughts

Preventing problems caused by feeding chickens inappropriate foods basically depends on common sense. Don’t feed them a lot of one thing and don’t feed them something that you wouldn’t eat yourself. By avoiding the above foods and their products and knowing what to feed them you’ll ensure that your flock stays healthy.

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