Chickens will eat almost anything you give them. Whether you’re keeping chickens on a farm or have a few chickens in your backyard for your morning eggs, you know that they’ll happily gobble down pretty much anything you toss their way.
Chickens eat your garden scraps, leftover dinner, or any unlucky bug that happens to walk across the grass when they’re looking. People have even seen them pecking at dead rodents and birds and a ton of other weird things.
Seeing chickens devour such a variety of foods, it’s easy to think that there is nothing they can’t eat. But what about avocados?
Can chickens eat guacamole? Before you feed them your leftovers from last night’s dinner party, you should know that avocados contain a chemical called persin that can be toxic to chickens and other animals.
It’s one of the reasons you should avoid giving chickens anything with avocados in it. If you have an avocado tree, you should also do what you can to prevent them from eating any avocados that fall on the ground or from taking bites out of any of the tree’s leaves.
Eating Too Much Persin Can Be Fatal
If you’ve ever raised chickens, then you know that moderation isn’t something that comes easily for them. If you put guacamole or avocados in front of them, it’ll be gone in seconds.
The issue with avocados is that they contain persin that is toxic for chickens.
If they eat too much of it, they’ll probably be dead in 48 hours. It’s something you want to avoid. The amount of persin in avocados is highest when the meat of the fruit isn’t ripe. It’s also at high levels in the leaves.
As the fruit ripens, the persin levels decrease, but there is probably still enough in your leftover guacamole to be harmful to your birds.
Other Foods You Shouldn’t Give Your Chickens
In addition to guacamole, there are other foods you should avoid giving to your chickens. Here are a few you should be aware of.
Remember what it’s like a day or so after you eat asparagus for dinner? Your pee smells funny. Asparagus is delicious, but it interestingly messes with your insides.
It also affects chickens. Feeding your chickens asparagus will affect the way their eggs taste, sometimes to the point where you won’t want to eat them.
It’s not going to make them sick or anything, but most of the time chickens won’t enjoy eating asparagus, so it’s not something to be worried too much about.
Chickens shouldn’t eat onions because they have something called thiosulfate in them. Thiosulfate can damage or kill their red blood cells and lead to anemia.
Scallions, chives, and other members of the onion family are something to avoid as well because they do the same thing.
Chickens will eat raw or dried beans, but they can kill them inside of a few hours.
Beans have a natural pesticide that is fatal to chickens, so keep them far away from them to make sure they stay nice and healthy.
Chickens love milk, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products. They don’t digest these items well, though, and will start having diarrhea soon after eating them.
If they have diarrhea for too long, they will become dehydrated and could die because of the loss of water. Stay safe and keep dairy products away from your chickens.
Everyone knows to keep chocolate out of reach for dogs, but chickens shouldn’t be eating any chocolate either.
Chickens Will Avoid Foods that Make Them Sick
Typically, you won’t have to worry too much about chickens because, although they aren’t the smartest animals, they know what will make them sick. They will stay away from the foods we’ve listed because they understand that they can be harmful.
The problems come in when you toss foods with salt and other seasonings in them. They get confused and the smell and taste can be too much for them.
That’s what happens with guacamole. They don’t realize that it’s an avocado, so they’ll go right in to chow down.
Healthier Snacks for Your Chickens
People enjoy the fact that chickens will eat their scraps. It’s a nice way to feel like you’re not wasting food and save a bit of money on feed.
However, feeding too many scraps to your chickens will ruin their diets. They’ll stop eating the feed you give them, and that feed is fortified with the nutrients they need to stay healthy.
Foods chickens will love to eat that are also healthy for them:
- Corn – Raw corn is a fantastic treat for chickens, and they’ll spend a good amount of time eating it. It’s something that will keep them busy. Most of the time, you can break a corn cob into pieces and spread them around the garden for your chickens to eat.
- Cucumbers – Cucumbers have a lot of water in them. Also, in the right climate, cucumber plants will sprout a ton of cukes, so you’ll have a lot of cucumbers leftover after salads to feed your chickens.
- Squash – Squash is a great garden vegetable. The thing about growing things like squash, pumpkins, watermelons, and other plants that grow on the ground, is that not all of them are going to make it. They rip open or get soggy, and you’re not going to want to eat them. Your chickens will love having them instead.
- Lettuce – Lettuce grows quickly in most places, and your chickens will love eating it so much that you may have to restrict their movement around your garden.
- Kale – If you’re growing too much kale, you should feed some to your chickens. They like eating kale a lot more than most humans, so break them off some chunks of kale and they’ll stay busy pecking at them for a while.