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What you Absolutely Must Not Feed to Chickens

Raising chickens is a lot of fun.  I love coming home and seeing my girls come running.  Honestly, I know that they aren’t running because they are happy to see me.  Nope.  They are running because they want treats.  Yup, I totally spoil those little hens.  And they know it.  But long ago, I had to figure out what I could and could not feed them.  Here is the list of the food that you absolutely cannot feed to your chickens.


Brown Chocolate

Chocolate is every woman’s favorite dessert.  My husband loves chocolate cake and can eat an entire cake in one sitting (you wives know it’s true about your husband’s too).  But, just as with dogs, chocolate acts as a natural poison when fed to chickens.  To be specific, any chocolate that contains the toxin theobromine should not be fed to chickens.  Dark chocolate contains more theobromine than milk chocolate, but both can be fatal when fed to chickens.


White Ceramic Mug Filled With Coffee Beside Coffee Beans

Along the lines of chocolate, which can contain caffeine, caffeine should not be fed to chickens.  Caffeine contains methylxanthine, which affects “not only the airways but stimulate heart rate, force of contraction, and cardiac arrhythmias at high concentrations.” (Wikipedia).  Basically, by giving chickens caffeine, it will cause a heart attack.


Sliced Avocado Fruit

Avocados, including the flesh, pit, or skin, should not be fed to chickens.  This will cause toxicosis in chickens.  Even by giving a chicken just 5% of an avocado will cause the chicken to die within 48 hours.  Seriously, do not feed chickens avocados.  It’s just bad news.

Dried Raw Beans

Dried raw beans - what you cannot feed your chickens

Dried raw beans should not be fed to chickens, including kidney, black, fava, navy, pinto beans, etc.  Raw beans contain phytohemagglutinin, which is a natural insecticide (Which in itself is interesting.  Dried bean bug repellent anyone?).  Even if a chicken only eats 3-4 beans, they can die within one hour.  However, once the beans are cooked, they are safe to feed to chickens.  Beans that have begun to sprout are also okay to feed to chickens, as the sprouting kills the phytohemagglutinin.

Apple Seeds

Green Leaves and Red Apple Fruit

Apple seeds should not be fed to chickens.  Actually, I have tried to give my chickens apples to eat and they won’t touch them.  Huh.  Anyways, the seeds contain cyanide!  Sounds like the basis for a great mystery novel to me…Also avoid the pits or seeds from apricots, cherries, peaches, pears, and plums, as they also contain cyanide.

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Tomato Leaves

Orange Tomato

My chickens love tomatoes!  It’s one of their favorite foods to eat.  But the tomato leaves from the plant are from the nightshade family and are potentially toxic.

Eggplant Leaves

Eggplant Vegetable Plant Lot

If you grow eggplants during the summer, eggplants are fine to be fed to chickens.  But again, the eggplant leaves should not as they also are part of the nightshade family.

White Potatoes


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This one threw me for a loop.  What’s wrong with potatoes?!  Potatoes are also in the nightshade family and contain solanine, a toxin that kills red blood cells and causes diarrhea and heart failure.  Even if the potato is cooked, it shouldn’t be fed to chickens.

Rhubarb Leaves

Red and Yellow Flower Bud

Rhubarb leaves are toxic to humans and chickens alike.  The leaves contain the toxin oxalic acid, which can cause chickens to lay soft-shelled eggs.  We all know that we want our chickens to lay hard-shelled eggs.  So no rhubarb for chickens.


Mandarin Fruit

Chickens don’t like anything to do with citrus, including limes and lemons.  Before I knew not to feed it to them, I offered it to a couple of my chickens.  They simply turned their noses up and walked away uninterested.  So if you accidentally feed them citrus, chances are that they won’t touch it anyways.

Raw Chicken

Fresh Meat on Plate

This should be a no-brainer, but just in case, do not feed chickens raw chicken.  You can give them salmonella poisoning, just like if a human were to eat raw chicken.

Raw Uncooked Eggs

Raw eggs - what you cannot feed your chickens

Don’t feed chickens raw uncooked eggs.  Why?  Because chickens LOVE raw uncooked eggs.  And then you can say goodbye to the eggs laid in the nesting boxes because the chickens will gobble them up.  Once they get a taste, it’s all over and you’ll need to teach the chickens how not to eat eggs.  BUT, if you cook the eggs, then you can feed it to the chickens.  Just make sure that the yolk is cooked through.


Onion - What you cannot feed your chickens

My chickens won’t eat onions, but if you happened to leave them out, don’t.  Onions can cause anemia in chickens.

Conclusion on what you cannot feed your chickens

After all that, the list really isn’t that long of what you cannot feed to chickens.  There’s plenty more leftovers in the kitchen that can be fed to the little ladies that aren’t harmful and will keep them happy and healthy.

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