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Is it OK to Feed Chickens Table Scraps?

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Is it OK to Feed Chickens Table Scraps? The correct answer to this question is an astounding yes. You can indeed feed your flock table scraps. But you need to know which of these leftovers are safe or harmful to them.

The thought of seeing food going to waste irritates me the most. Considering the cost and amount of time it takes to prepare meals, throwing away table scraps is a bad idea. But for chicken owners, leftover food sounds like a blessing in disguise. Read on to find out why.

Sometimes you may reach out to restaurants or big hotels and strike a deal for collecting leftovers from them. Even though this may look somehow embarrassing, rest assured that it will save you a lot of money on chicken food. 

Besides, restaurant owners will be glad to have someone help them dispose of their leftover food. Most importantly, your flock of birds will be delighted to have a taste of different treats from what they are used to. 

Very few hotels and restaurants give their leftover food to farmers or compost it. Their action leads to an average citizen generating more than 20 pounds of leftovers (food waste) per month. This amount adds up to about 250 pounds of leftover generated by one person in one year. 

When you project it citywide, food waste from restaurants, hotels, homes, and other institutions make up 13% of municipal waste material destined for the landfill. In terms of value, this amount of food waste can cost a city about $50 a ton or even more. 

Any time you dispose of table scrap, just know that you are putting up pressure on your annual tax bill. Inasmuch as paying your tax bill is your obligation, you should never let it go in vain if you have backyard chickens. 

Feeding food waste to your backyard chickens is a better way of providing them with a balanced diet. It also helps you lower your chicken feed bill in addition to preserving your environment. 

Below is a list of table scraps that you can feed your backyard chickens:

Safe Table Scraps For the Backyard Chickens

1. Bread and Grains

Bread is one of the treats that chickens love the most. Whether fresh or stale, your birds will still enjoy eating bread. You can give your flock bread scraps provided that they don’t contain traces of mold. 

If you notice that several loaves of bread are moldy, throw them away rather than feeding your birds. Mold contains toxic substances that can harm your chickens. 

Apart from eating bread, your chickens can also devour old pasta, leftover rice, cereal crumbs, and stale crackers. All these foods are delicious and will provide your flock with much-needed nutrients for their growth and good health. 

2. Farm Produce

Given that chickens are omnivores, they can digest both animals and plant foods. Chickens find almost all types of table scraps, delicious, nutritious, and easy to eat. Foods such as fruits and vegetables are among their favorites when it comes to different treats. 

While they love most of the farm produce, you should not allow them to eat everything they come across. Avoid giving them raw potato skins, avocado pits, and eggplants. These foods are highly toxic and might harm your birds if they feed on them. 

Your chickens will scramble for any leftover apple cores, corn, carrot tops, and overripe cucumbers, among others. All these foods are safe for them to feast on all day long. Just remove the seeds and wash them thoroughly before allowing your birds to peck at them. 

3. Fat and Oils

Fat and oil are as good as other treats when it comes to feeding your chickens. So if you have a habit of pouring cooking oil down the drain, you better stop it at once. 

Instead of disposing of fat from burgers, steaks, bacon, and pork chops, you can feed it to your chickens. Just collect enough fat and oil in a clean bowl and let it stay in the refrigerator overnight. Then feed it to your birds the following morning. 

You will be surprised to learn that chickens love this type of table scrap so much that they won’t leave anything behind. Frozen fat or oil is like pudding for your backyard flock, and they will gobble it up very fast. 

Most cooking-oil recycling operations collect waste oils from restaurants, hotels, and food processors to make livestock feed. This should tell you that cooking oil and fat are safe for your chickens as long as you feed them sparingly.

On the other hand, you can mix some grains or pellets with liquid waste oil to make a paste for your chickens. This is another ingenious way of feeding them cooking oil. 

4. Meat and Fish

If you thought meat and fish are only reserved for humans, then you are wrong. Chickens, too, can enjoy this mouth-watering delicacy in the same way you do. 

Since they are not vegetarians, you can give them meat and fish to eat. Chickens like meat as well as fish provided that you cook it well. They can eat different types of meat, such as tendons, fat, and gristle, without any problem. They can also pick bones clean, devour fish and swallow chunks of meat, leaving nothing for scavengers. 

Even though they like meat, you should never feed them chicken scraps. This might look weird and a way of encouraging cannibalism among them. As a matter of fact, you should strive to discourage cannibalism in your chickens rather than encouraging it. Besides, feeding them chicken meat can also be a source of numerous diseases. 

While feeding them fish is recommended, you should not give them fish bones. This is because fish bones can choke them to death. Remember that chickens don’t bite or chew food. Instead, they swallow it whole. So this might become dangerous for them when trying to swallow fish bones.  

Nevertheless, you may feed them scraps of fish-skin, shrimp shells, and lobster shells. These shellfish are somehow related to insects, and your chickens will gobble them right away. Make sure that they are fresh and not contaminated before allowing your birds to feast on them.

5. Dairy Products

Although most dairy products are not safe for the chickens to eat, there are a few that are safe. Leftover milk and cheese rinds are a few dairy products that you can feed your chickens. The rest is not good for them to eat due to their digestive complications.

6. Eggshells

Eggshells are a great source of essential nutrients that your birds need. On that note, you should consider feeding them smashed eggshells. This table scrap is an excellent source of calcium for your hens. 

Calcium is an essential nutrient that helps in developing strong bones and high-quality eggshells. This means that you need to feed your layers smashed eggshells as an affordable way of providing them with calcium and other nutrients. 

Unsafe Table Scraps for Backyard Chickens

Avoid feeding your backyard chickens the following foods:

Processed Foods-It is always healthier to let your birds feast on table scraps within your home than feeding them processed foods. Here, processed foods include leftover pizza, burgers, and many more. 

Raw Potato Peels – It is right to feed your chickens’ cooked potatoes but not raw potato peels. Potatoes belong to the Nightshade family, commonly known as Solanaceae. Therefore potato peels, especially the green ones, contain alkaloid solanine, which is a very toxic substance. When your chickens eat raw, green potato peels, they are likely to get poisoned by alkaloid solanine and eventually die. 

Garlic and Onions – These and other strong tasting types of foods are not harmful to your chickens but will impart an unpleasant taste to the eggs.

Avocado Pits and Skins – Avoid feeding your chickens on avocado skins and pits because they contain persin, a dangerous fungicidal toxin that is fatal to them.

Rotten Foods – Any rotten or spoiled food can be dangerous to your chickens. Such foods produce toxins when they rot, and this can harm your birds.

Coffee – Caffeine in coffee is not safe for your chickens

Chocolate – Chocolate is rich in theobromine, a toxic substance that your chickens shouldn’t eat.

Greasy Foods – These foods are extremely difficult for the chickens to digest.

Uncooked Meat – Raw meat is not only unsafe for your birds but can also encourage cannibalism among them.

Related Questions

How old should my chickens be before I start feeding them table scraps? It is recommended that you start giving your chickens leftovers when they are 3 to 4 months old. At this age, they can digest different foods well, unlike when they are still baby chicks.

Why should I feed my chickens table scraps in moderation? First, table scraps are just like other treats and should not replace your chickens’ main diet. Secondly, leftovers are lower in essential nutrients such as protein compared to the commercial grower rations.

Final Thought

Most table scraps are safe for your chickens to eat. A few are unhealthy and contain toxic substances that can harm them. Make sure to feed your birds leftovers in moderation as a way of supplementing their daily diet.

Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Chicken Board!!

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