Have you ever gone to feed your chicken some leftovers and realized that you were about to feed them chicken scraps? The thought may have caused you to stop in your tracks and consider the implications of feeding chicken to a chicken, and whether it is okay for them to eat it or not.
Can chickens eat chicken? Chickens can eat chicken! As long as it is fresh and it is prepared properly, chicken scraps can be a tasty addition to your flock’s food plan.
There are a few instances where you should not feed chicken meat to your backyard chickens, but for the most part, it is very safe and nutritious for chickens to eat.
Rest assured, they will be none the wiser about exactly what they are eating!
Many backyard chicken owners feed their chickens all kinds of leftover scrap food from their kitchens, but some people do not think it is healthy or ethical to feed chicken to their chickens.
The truth is, there is really nothing innately unhealthy or wrong about feeding chicken meat to a chicken.
To ease your mind, learn more about your chickens’ dietary needs and how poultry meat can be safe and healthy for them.
Is chicken meat healthy for chickens to eat?
Chicken contains several nutrients, including protein, selenium, vitamin B6, and vitamin B3. It is low in saturated fats and it is a lean meat. Your backyard flock can benefit from all the nutrients in chicken, as long as it is fed it in moderation.
Just like for people, chicken is actually very healthy for chickens to eat if it is fresh and free of contaminants. (source) Chickens are omnivores, meaning they eat both plant and meat-based foods.
Their bodies are designed to digest meat as effectively as plants. That means that they can derive nutrients as well as sustenance (calories) from both food sources.
Since chicken is nutritious, and chickens can digest meat effectively, chickens can safely eat chicken meat. (source) The idea of feeding chicken to a chicken may seem odd or off-putting, but there is nothing inherently unhealthy about the situation at all.
Do chickens eat other chickens?
Sometimes chickens that live together in a flock will eat another chicken if they are hungry enough, or if a chicken dies. Chickens do not always recognize a dead chicken as a former member of their flock, and they will have no problem eating them in the right situation.
Although it is rare, this is one reason why you should check your coop daily to make sure that none of your chickens have passed away without warning.
It is also a good idea to watch for any chickens that are getting pecked or harassed by other chickens. Occasionally, chickens will peck other chickens, causing wounds and even death in extreme cases.
You should remove any chickens in your coop that are missing clumps of feathers or have puncture wounds from repeated pecks. Quarantine the injured chicken until they heal completely. You may be able to reintegrate them carefully into the flock, but you might need to keep them separated if the pecking does not stop.
What kind of chicken is not healthy for chickens?
You should only feed your chickens fresh chicken meat. You should never – under any circumstances – feed your chickens rotten chicken meat. Old poultry can contain bacteria or mold that is unsafe for chickens, especially young chickens or ones that are already sick.
Processed chicken products like chicken nuggets, chicken lunch meat or chicken in prepackaged meals should be fed very rarely, if at all. These products contain little to almost no actual chicken, and they offer very few nutrients. They are also often high in salt and other additives that can be harmful to your chickens.
Fried chicken is not healthy for chickens. The high fat content that is added during the frying process makes fried chicken very unhealthy for your flock.
The rule of thumb is, if it is unhealthy for you, it is not healthy for your chickens!
Can I feed my chickens raw chicken?
Uncooked chicken is not safe for humans or most other animals to eat, so you should avoid feeding it to your backyard chickens.
Raw chicken can contain salmonella, a harmful bacterium that can cause severe digestive issues. Raw chicken needs to be cooked fully to eliminate the chance of spreading the bacteria to your entire flock.
If you have some leftover raw chicken that you want to feed to your chickens, cook it completely and let it cool before giving it to them. Cooking the chicken before feeding it to chickens will protect your flock and keep them safe from salmonella and other bacteria.
What other meat can chickens eat?
Chickens can safely eat most meat scraps. Chickens are notorious for eating almost anything!
Besides chicken, your backyard chickens can eat cooked pork meat, steak, duck, rabbit, and fish. Again, never feed your chickens any kind of meat that is expired or spoiled.
It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to feeding your chickens scrap meat. If you would not eat it, do not feed it to them.
Chickens are also known to kill and eat mice, chipmunks or moles. Sometimes, small rodents like these like to try and steal your chickens’ scratch feed off the ground.
When they do this, the rodents must be quick to avoid a peck from a chicken! If multiple chickens get involved, typically a small mouse or other rodent is no match for a flock of pecking!
How much chicken should I feed my chickens?
Now that you know that chicken is healthy and safe for your chickens to eat, how much of it can you safely feed them? The fact is, you should always limit the number of treats that you feed your chickens each day to make sure they are still eating plenty of their regular feed.
In order to function properly and fend off potential disease, chickens need to eat a balanced diet. If you feed your chickens too many tasty treats from your fridge, they may not eat their normal scratch meal, meaning they will lose out on their normal nutrients.
Chicken meat contains a lot of protein and you do not want to feed your chickens only chicken meat as their main meal for the day. Be sure to limit all treats to about 10% to 15% of their daily food portion.
Can I feed chicken with a bone in it to my chickens?
Yes! Chickens cannot eat bones, but they will eat all the chicken meat off the bone. If you decide to feed a whole chicken to your chickens, make sure it has been de-feathered and cooked fully.
Since chickens are unable to break apart the bone with their beaks, you do not have to worry about a chicken accidentally choking on a chicken bone. Just let them at it and then remove the leftover bones afterward so that your chickens do not get injured on them.
Even though it may seem strange, chickens can safely eat chicken, and it is even fairly healthy for them. You should always make sure the chicken you feed them is fresh and fully cooked. You should also never feed your chickens whole other chickens unless they have been properly butchered and prepared, and always remove any deceased birds from the coop as soon as possible. Other than that, feel free to feed chicken to your chickens without worry!