Using Food Scraps To Feed Your Chickens

May 16, 2019

If you have chickens, there is no reason to toss leftover food or food scraps into the garbage. Not only can you reduce landfill waste by feeding your chickens food scraps, but you can also save money on feed costs too!

If you’ve read anything about what you can and can’t feed chickens, you might be a little confused because different sources say different things. That said, there is a general consensus on a few things that chickens really shouldn’t eat. Here are a few things most people agree are not good for chickens:

  • Citrus peels (Although some people do say citrus is okay)
  • Avocado pit and peel (contain a toxin called Persin that is bad for birds.)
  • Chocolate (why would you ever give away your chocolate anyway? It’s not for chickens or dogs.)
  • Green potatoes and green potato skins (contain a toxin called solanine which is bad for birds)
  • Green tomatoes, tomato plants, and eggplant plants (nightshade family plants, their leaves, and unripe fruit can be toxic to chickens)
  • Salty snacks (chickens can’t digest large amounts of salt)
  • Raw eggs (eating raw eggs can encourage chickens to break and eat their own eggs)
  • Apple cores and seeds (cyanide is bad for birds)
  • Coffee grounds / tea bags (caffeine and tannins are bad for birds)
  • Uncooked rice and beans (cooked beans and rice are just fine, but uncooked rice and beans is not good for your chickens)
  • Meat, raw or cooked (this is debatable, but I do put small amounts of meat scraps in my compost bucket)
  • Moldy food (some mold is toxic to chickens)

Here’s what I’ve found. The things the chickens shouldn’t eat, they don’t eat. We eat lot of citrus in the winter when it’s in season, and I almost always put citrus peels in the compost. The chickens ignore it. They also ignore the avocado, which we eat a lot of too. I also include apple cores in my compost. My chickens ignore banana peels and pineapple rinds – both things they could eat if they wanted. You may want to follow the no-list a little closer than I do, but as far as I know, I’ve never lost a chicken because of feeding them compost.

I have found it is helpful to have a two-bucket compost system. One bucket gets all the food scraps the chickens like and actually eat, and the other bucket gets coffee grounds and other items that they really shouldn’t have or don’t like. The Yes bucket is tossed in the chicken yard and promptly eaten. The no bucket is added to a different compost pile, but my chickens (and dogs and cats) almost always scratch through it anyway. I’m usually sad because very little is actually left at the end of the day for me to turn into actual compost.

I am pleased, however, that I can save a little money on chicken feed and reduce what I send to the landfill by feeding food scraps to our chickens. Do you feed your chickens food scraps? What are your thoughts on the topic?

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More about Michelle Marine

I'm a semi-crunchy Eastern Iowa mom of 4 crazy kids on a quest to stay sane and healthy. We try to live a sustainable lifestyle on 5 acres with chickens, dogs, rabbits & more! Grab some coffee or wine and hang out for a bit!

1 Comment
    1. I don’t understand why you state you should not feed meat, raw or cooked, to chickens. Chickens are omnivores, they eat just about anything, including meat. I hope to feed as much kitchen scraps to my chickens as possible, and compost the other stuff. Reducing stuff sent to the landfill is one of my goals in raising chickens. That includes shredding junk mail and newspapers for bedding litter, and then composting that as well.

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