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Can Chickens Eat Fish and Fish Bones?

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Chickens require various types of nutrients in their diet. Of the many nutrients chickens need, proteins are one of the most important.

Chickens can get protein from many plant sources and animal sources. However, this article focuses on one of the animal sources – fish.

Can chickens eat fish and fish bones?

Chickens can eat fish and fish bones both raw and cooked. Fish are a beneficial addition to a chicken’s diet because they are filled with sizable levels of protein. They also abound with minerals such as calcium.

grey hen chicken

As I’m sure you know, fish come in different forms and packaging. This article will focus on some of them and tell you if they are safe for your chickens or not.

Can Chickens Eat Fish?

Fish are safe and healthy for chickens to eat both cooked and raw. In fact, you’ll find that they can eat most parts of a fish that humans ordinarily wouldn’t eat.

Fish are very nutritious to chickens, just like they are to us.

Although the content of fish varies from one species to another, most fish offer between 16-30% of protein.

Besides protein, fish can also provide saturated fat, unsaturated fat, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, vitamin C, magnesium, and many other vitamins & minerals.

While fish are great treats for chickens, there is one thing to consider – mercury.

Chickens are at risk of mercury poisoning from eating fish, just like humans. But some species of fish are more likely to cause this than others.

Fish like Shark, Marlin, King Mackerel, Tilefish, Swordfish, and Orange Roughy have higher tendencies to cause mercury exposure.

Tuna may also increase mercury exposure, but only if consumed regularly and in large amounts.

Mercury exposure can be even worse for chickens than it is for humans. They are smaller than humans so smaller amounts of mercury will do the damage.

There are some preferred species of fish to offer your chickens such as cod, salmon, pollock, tuna, shellfish, tilapia, and sardines.

half baked salmon tail part with bones on white plate

Can Chickens Eat Fish Bones?

Chickens can eat fish bones, but there might be safety issues, depending on the type of fish-bone.

Generally, large, sharp bones carry more risk than smaller ones. For one, they can cause problems for the chickens as they swallow them.

With this in mind, you can filter out larger, sharp bones from the fish treat you offer your chickens.

Alternatively, you could break them into smaller units or crush them before serving them to your chickens.

If you are bothered about giving your chickens fish bones because of the possible risks, you could offer them sardines.

The bones of sardines are easy to chew because they crumble easily.

They’re also small, so the risk of having issues from consuming them is almost nil.

Besides fish bones, chickens also love fish shells.

Offer them prawns, crayfish, and shrimp, and they’ll eat the flesh alongside the shell.

different kind of canned fish in gray background

Can Chickens Eat Canned Fish?

You should avoid giving chickens canned fish.

Usually, canned fish will come with additives such as preservatives and seasonings.

While the fish itself might be no problem to the chickens, the additives might be a problem.

Substances like oils, salt, and sauce are commonly used as additives in canned fish. So, although they are edible to chickens, they may not be safe because they are excessive.

Can Chickens Eat Cooked Fish?

Chickens can safely eat cooked fish. You can boil the fish, poach it, grill, or bake it. As long as you do not add oil or seasonings, chickens can peck away on cooked fish.

You could mix the fish with chicken feed, or you may serve it alone.

Mixing fish into chicken feed is a good option when the fish is expensive since it can help reduce cost and your chickens will still get a nice fishy treat.

You could also chop the fish into smaller pieces or serve it whole.

If the fish you’re offering the chickens contains large, sharp bones, you should chop them into smaller portions.

In the process of chopping them, remove the bigger bones so the chickens will have no issues with them.

Can Chickens Eat Raw Fish?

Chickens can eat raw fish. If you intend to give your chickens raw fish, you should make sure they are small-sized. This way, they’ll be more likely to eat all of the fish without leaving any leftovers to rot.

Having rotting leftover fish poses a risk to the chickens as they may try to eat them after they have gone bad.

Can Chickens Eat Spoiled Fish?

Chickens should not eat spoiled fish. Spoiled fish are a dwelling place for different toxic microorganisms. Letting your chickens eat this puts them at risk of various diseases and food poisoning.

Spoiled fish usually reek – the stench is almost unmissable. Besides the awful smell, you will also notice some discoloration in a rotten fish.

So, if you see any sign that the fish might have gone bad, do not let the chickens eat it.

heap of different raw fish

Can Chickens Eat Fish Guts?

Chickens can eat fish guts.

There’s barely any part of a fish that chickens cannot eat.

It is even customary for some fishermen to offer fish guts to chickens as treats.

Can Chickens Eat Fish Skin

Chickens can eat fish skin and scales. As with other fish treats, one of the main things to consider is freshness. If the skin is rotting or rotten, do not let your chickens eat it.


Chickens can eat fish, fish bones, and even more: they can eat fish guts, skin, scales, and basically any part of a fish.

Your chickens should not be allowed to eat spoiled fish or seasoned fish since these options could be hazardous to their health.