chickens eat

What Can Chickens Not Eat?

Chickens tolerate diverse feeds well. They especially like to eat grains, worms, grasses and clover. There are some things that do not agree with the pets or are even poisonous for the birds. In order not to harm the chickens, you should avoid various foods when feeding them.

Which food you should avoid for your chickens, you can find out in our guide.

Spoiled and moldy food makes them sick

Moldy or decomposing food waste does not belong in the feathered pets’ food bowl. If chickens ingest spoiled feed as food, vomiting, diarrhea and cardiovascular problems can occur. Chicken feed should be fresh and free of mold.

You can feed old baked goods such as bread and rolls in small amounts. However, moldy bread should not be eaten by any living creature.

Already muddy or fermenting grass cuttings are also not to be fed. Chickens get flatulence and diarrhea from it.

Avocados are toxic to chickens

Avocados are toxic to most animals. They contain persin, which is harmless to humans, and is toxic to chickens and many other domestic animals.

The plant toxin causes respiratory distress, heart palpitations, edema, vomiting and colic. Just eliminate avocados completely from the feeding schedule and there is no risk.

Citrus fruits can be harmful

Oranges, lemons and other citrus fruits are better off off in large quantities in chicken feed. Too much vitamin C can cause unpleasant intestinal bleeding in poultry. A lot of acid usually irritates the stomach of the animals. However, you do not have to eliminate the fruit from the menu completely.

A little orange juice in the drinker makes the chickens grow better and increases feed intake and thus weight. The peels can also be given.

Feeding orange peels relieves heat stress and results in a better growth rate. Essential oils in oranges and lemons have a relaxing effect on the chicken and reduce stress. This in turn leads to improved laying.

If you are going to feed peels, make sure the fruit is organically grown and produced without the use of pesticides.

Salt sticks and sweets are not species-appropriate

Feeding candy of all kinds and salty snacks as chicken feed is detrimental to the birds.

Lots of sugar causes the chicken to become overweight, which negatively affects egg production.
Chocolate contains theobromine, a substance toxic to birds.
The pets also do not tolerate salty food. Since they usually do not consume much salt, chickens can suffer from saline poisoning.
When serving stale bread, it’s better you pay attention to the salt content. Often there is increased sodium in such pasta. In general, you should include little salt and sugar in the chickens’ diet, otherwise they will lay few to no eggs.

Do not feed waste from highly seasoned foods.

In general, you can feed food scraps to chickens. Many foods contain nutrients vital to chickens. Scraps should be from the same day and not heavily seasoned. Moldy, rotten, and intensely flavored foods have no place in the feed. Sugar, salt and pepper should be kept away from the birds. Food with a lot of soy sauce, instant broth, chili powder and seasoning paste do not belong in the chicken’s food bowl. Spicy foods cause digestive problems and diarrhea in poultry.

Certain meat products cause digestive problems and behavioral disorders.
You can cover the protein requirements of your pets completely with vegetable protein from legumes, soy & Co. in the chicken feed. Mealworms and earthworms can be used to obtain harmless animal protein, which the chickens usually accept with pleasure.

Dog food and cat food cause digestive problems and behavioral problems in chickens. Such feeds also often contain additives that have an unfavorable effect on the animals’ digestive system. The fowl also does not tolerate raw and cooked poultry meat. To put one’s own kind before the poultry is cannibalism. In some circumstances, the animals acquire a taste for it and peck at each other. This occurs in the henhouse as well as in the open air.

Raw dough is taboo

Under no circumstances should you give raw cake and bread dough to the chickens as food. Leavening agents such as yeast and baking powder continue to ferment in the animal’s stomach and bloat it. Digestive problems are the result. Pasta should only be given in small quantities and in baked form as additional food.

Long grasses can lead to crop blockage

If you want to give your birds grasses to eat, you should shorten long stalks. The birds will not be able to chew their food. The long stalks can cause the crop to become clogged. When trying to choke down the grasses, the blades can get stuck in the throat and the chicken can choke. Hard blades of grass also promote a life-threatening crop blockage. Feed mostly young, fresh grasses.

Lots of cabbage bloats

Large amounts of cabbage can cause painful digestive distress in chickens. Cabbage includes many vegetables such as kale, broccoli, cauliflower, savoy cabbage and kohlrabi. If you want to feed cabbage, go for digestible varieties like kohlrabi and broccoli. Generally, cabbage varieties have high calcium bioavailability, which is beneficial for egg-laying hens. It is important to acclimate hens to cabbage vegetables slowly and feed smaller amounts more often.

All dairy products are not recommended

Chickens cannot tolerate lactose. However, there is not much lactose in sour milk products such as cottage cheese. The food is also a good source of protein, so you can at least feed quark as a dairy product. To prevent the chickens from ingesting too much lactose and getting diarrhea, you should only offer a small amount of curd.

Poisonous plants in the garden

Poisonous plants in the garden pose a life-threatening risk to free-range chickens. Poisonous plants are often found in the ornamental garden in particular. Many animals nibble on all kinds of plants. Hungry chickens are particularly at risk. For example, if the animals eat components of foxglove, yew, hydrangea, ivy, delphinium, hyacinth, broom, meadow saffron or rhododendron, they can die.

Nightshade plants and their fruits have a toxic effect

Solanaceous plants such as tomatoes, eggplants and potatoes contain solanine, which is toxic to chickens. The uncooked vegetables of these plants contain higher amounts of the substance. Raw fruits and tubers of the solanaceous plants are harmful to animals. Since solanine passes into the water used by cooking, cooked tomatoes and potatoes are suitable for chickens to eat.

Feed onions only in small quantities

Feeding onions in large portions can cause anemia and jaundice in your chickens. A high dose can even be fatal. The thiosulfates contained in onions destroy the red blood cells in the animals’ organism. In small amounts, onions are a proven remedy as part of a worming cure and for other ailments.

Eliminate apple cores from the diet

Not all components of an apple should be used as chicken feed. Apple cores contain amygdalin, which is converted to prussic acid in the body, a substance that can be lethal to chickens. All other components of the fruit are edible and you can offer them without concern.

List of foods that chickens should not eat (summary)

Type of feedExamples
Spoiled and moldy foodMoldy bread Germinating lawn clippings
Sweets and savory snacksZuckerSchokoladeSalziges
Waste from highly seasoned foodDishes with soy sauceDishes with instant brothDishes with pepper or chili powderDishes with seasoning paste
Certain meat productsDog and cat food Raw or cooked poultry meat
Raw bread or cake dough
Long or hard grasses
Large quantities of cabbage
Dairy products
Poisonous plants from the gardenHydrangea Ivy Boxwood Yew Rhododendron Gorse Autumn Crocus Hyacinth
SolanaceaePotatoes (raw)Tomatoes (raw)
Larger quantities of onions
Apple cores


Make sure your chickens have water available to them every day. They need to be able to drink water at all times – no matter how quickly the water freezes because of outside temperatures or how quickly it evaporates.

Chickens need small stones for their gizzards. Therefore, offer your poultry additional grit and sand, even if they have an outdoor run.

Your chickens need food that is appropriate for their species and needs in order to stay healthy. Here you can find out how and with what you can best feed your chickens:

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