Having backyard chickens can be a lot more beneficial than just getting fresh eggs daily. Chickens are like living garbage disposals, and they can eat most of your organic food waste. That said, they can't eat everything. Here is a complete list of what chickens can't eat.
I keep an old compost pail that now serves as my chicken scrap pail right on the edge of my counter. I fill it with celery tops carrot peels and most other items produce, bread and even meat scraps that my household produces. At the end of a meal I heat out to the chicken pen and give my chickens what's in the pail. They love it!
Feeding chickens kitchen scraps is a great way to cut back on chicken food costs and it gives your chickens a healthy treat that can improve egg production and overall chicken health. As long as you are feeding your chickens the right kind of kitchen scraps, your chickens should love this, but be wary their are a few things chickens really shouldn't have.
What Not to Feed Chickens
Okay before I start, I should note that chickens are actually pretty intuitive when it comes to what they should and should not eat. I have to admit, I have thrown in the occasional item that really shouldn't have gone into their food scraps with no repercussions. That said, better safe than sorry. Steer clear from these items when feeding your chickens.
From The Kitchen
Avocado Skins - Avocados contain a chemical called persin, this is highest in the skin of the avocado but can me found in the pit and flesh in smaller amount. Persin is known to be toxic to birds.
Chocolate - Like dogs chickens can't handle Theobromine and caffeine both found in chocolate.
Candy- This one is probably pretty self explanatory, but feeding your chickens candy is not only unhealthy due to the high sugar content. Feeding chickens candy can deter them from eating the healthier nutrient dense foods you provide them.
Coffee Grounds - It can be tempting to just throw all of your kitchen scraps to your chickens, but hold the coffee grounds and use them in your compost instead. The caffeine in most coffee grounds is harmful to chickens.
Citrus – Some people say chickens are sensitive to citrus, others say they’re not. It is also said to interfere with calcium absorption. On a personal note, my chickens won’t touch citrus if it’s offered. In general they steer clear of what they really shouldn't be eating
From the Garden
Onions – Although healthy for humans, Onions contain thiosulphate which can be toxic to chickens in large amounts. If some are included in leftover dishes, that’s ok as long as they are not the main ingredient. Again even when offered my chickens rarely touch onions.
Dried Beans – Many beans that have been dried contain phytohaemagglutinin which is toxic to chickens. Cooked or sprouted beans are fine.
Potato Skins – More commonly green potato skins contain solanine which can be poisonous to your chickens. White potato skins can also contain this but the amounts are usually low enough that it will not affect your chickens. You can cook your potatoes and give them to your chickens. Note: Sweet potatoes are perfectly fine to give to your chickens.
Eggplant and Tomato Plants - While the eggplant and tomato fruit are fine for chickens, if you are cleaning out your garden think twice before throwing your eggplant or tomato plants to your chickens. These nightshade plants also contain solanine and can be poisonous to chickens and other livestock.
Rhubarb – Rhubarb leaves contain high amounts of oxalic acid are toxic to humans and animals alike.