Why You Should Never Feed Your Chickens These Kitchen Scraps

If you’re a backyard chicken owner, you understand the joys of providing your feathered friends with leftover scraps from your kitchen. Not only does it reduce food waste, but it can also save you a few dollars on feed. However, not all kitchen scraps are created equal, and some can even be dangerous for your chickens to consume. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common kitchen scraps that you should avoid feeding your chickens to keep them healthy and happy. Did you know that onions, garlic, citrus fruits, avocado, and moldy or spoiled food should never be given to your chickens? Let’s dive in and learn more about these potentially harmful scraps.

chickens eating

Onions and Garlic

While onions and garlic are healthy for humans, they contain compounds that can be toxic to chickens. These compounds can cause anemia and damage the red blood cells in chickens, leading to health problems such as weakness and even death. Even feeding them in small amounts or as part of a processed food can be harmful to your feathered friends. It’s best to never feed your chickens kitchen scraps of onions and garlic.

Citrus Fruits

Now that we know to avoid onions and garlic, let’s talk about citrus fruits. While these fruits may seem like a healthy treat for chickens, they can cause digestive issues. The high acidity in citrus fruits can upset the pH balance in a chicken’s gut, which can lead to diarrhea or even crop impaction. It’s best to stick to fruits that are lower in acidity, like berries or melons, as a treat for your chickens.

While it’s important to keep chickens healthy and happy with treats, it’s also important to know which foods to avoid. Citrus fruits, such as lemons, limes, and oranges, may seem like a good option for a vitamin C boost, but they can actually cause digestive issues for your feathered friends. High acidity levels in citrus can upset the pH balance in a chicken’s gut, potentially leading to diarrhea or even worse, crop impaction.

Instead, consider offering your chickens fruits that are lower in acidity, such as berries or melons. These treats will still provide the same satisfaction for your chickens without the potential health risks. The next food we’ll discuss is avocado, another potentially problematic treat for your chickens.


Avocado is a trendy superfood that is both delicious and packed with nutrients. However, when it comes to your chickens, caution is needed. The flesh, skin, and pit of an avocado contain a toxin called persin that can be harmful to many animals, including chickens. While chickens are generally more resistant to persin than other animals, it’s still wise to limit their intake of avocado.

Feeding your chickens avocado can potentially cause heart damage, respiratory distress, and even death in extreme cases. It’s important to note that small amounts of avocado may not cause any issues, but it’s best not to take any chances. If you want to offer your chickens a treat, consider sticking to safer options like fruits, vegetables, or grains.

Now that we’ve covered the potential dangers of avocado, let’s move on to the next food that you should avoid giving your chickens: moldy or spoiled food.

Moldy or Spoiled Food

While it may seem like a cost-effective solution, feeding your chickens moldy or spoiled food is never a good idea. Trying to cut costs by giving your chickens old food can lead to a host of problems for both you and your flock. First and foremost, moldy or spoiled food can quickly turn into a breeding ground for harmful bacteria and toxins, which can then be passed on to your chickens. This can lead to a range of health problems, including digestive issues, respiratory problems, and even death in some extreme cases.

Additionally, feeding your chickens moldy or spoiled food can also have negative effects on the quality and taste of their eggs. If your chickens are eating old and spoiled food, their eggs may become discolored, watery, or even have an unusual taste. This can make it difficult to sell or consume the eggs, which can end up being a waste of resources and money.

With that said, it’s always best to play it safe and avoid feeding your chickens any food that is past its prime. Instead, stick to fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains that are safe and healthy for your flock. And next up on our list of foods to avoid feeding your chickens: apple seeds.

polish chicken

Apple Seeds

While apples themselves are a perfectly safe and healthy treat for your chickens, the same cannot be said for their seeds. Apple seeds contain a small amount of cyanide, which can be harmful, or even deadly, to chickens if consumed in large enough quantities.

While it’s unlikely that a few apple seeds will cause any harm, feeding your chickens apple cores with the seeds intact on a regular basis can accumulate over time and potentially lead to health problems. Signs of cyanide poisoning in chickens include difficulty breathing, lethargy, and a blue tint to their skin and comb.

If you want to feed your chickens apples as a treat, it’s best to cut the fruit into small pieces and remove the seeds prior to feeding. This way, you can avoid any potential health risks and ensure that your flock stays happy and healthy.

Overall, it’s important to be mindful of what you feed your chickens to ensure that their diet is safe, healthy, and nutritious. By never feeding your chickens these kitchen scraps and sticking to fresh, wholesome foods, you can help keep your chickens healthy, happy, and productive.

In conclusion, while feeding your chickens kitchen scraps may seem like a cost-effective and environmentally friendly option, it’s crucial to be mindful of what you’re giving them. Foods such as onions, garlic, citrus fruits, avocado, and moldy or spoiled food can be harmful to their health and egg production. By being selective about the scraps you offer, you can ensure that your chickens remain happy, healthy, and productive. So next time you’re standing in front of your fridge wondering what to do with your leftovers, remember to think twice before sharing them with your feathered friends. As the saying goes, “you are what you eat” – and the same goes for your chickens. Keep them nourished with safe and healthy scraps, and they’ll reward you with delicious and nutritious eggs.

Also, see my post 10 Herbs to Feed Chickens

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Rebecca is a mom, wife, real estate broker, decorator, party planner, chicken keeper, and gardener

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