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Can Chickens Eat Meat?

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People love raising chickens. When you raise chickens, you get to enjoy profit from your sales of meat and eggs, and you can even keep chickens as pets if you want.

One downside of raising chickens, however, is the high cost of feed.

Because of the cost of feed, homesteaders are looking for alternative food sources for their chickens. One alternative food source for chickens is meat.

Can chickens eat meat?

Yes. As omnivores, chickens search for and eat both plant and animal products.

Some animal products that chickens can eat include meat, earthworms, frogs, insects, etc.  When giving meat to your chickens, however, you need to consider some things.

What should you consider when feeding your chickens with meat?

Can Chickens Eat Meat?

As omnivores, chickens can eat both plants and animals. This means that chickens can eat meat.

The type of meat and the method in which the chicken eats the meat matters. Before we discuss the type of meat you should feed your chickens, let us consider some important factors.

Consider the Feeding Behavior of Chickens

family bonding on a chicken farm

Chickens are not just omnivores, they are opportunistic and also quick learners.

As opportunistic birds, chickens will eat whatever food they can find immediately as they see it. As quick learners, chickens will eat anything they see other chickens eating.

Since chickens learn quickly and are opportunistic birds, you need to consider the type of meat you give to them.

If they eat the meat for the first time, they will continue to search for and eat the meat again. But what if the type of meat is not so healthy for them?

Consider the Health Implications of Eating Meat

Meat is an animal product. As birds, chickens are animals and many animals share similar diseases, so if the meat you are giving to your chickens is contaminated, it will affect your chickens.

When you consider the direct impact of spoiled or contaminated meat on the health of chickens, you should be very careful with the type of meat that you feed to your birds.

Types of Meat That Chickens Can Eat

No matter the type of meat that you give to your chickens, make sure that it is freshly cooked.

For the meat of smaller animals such as frogs, you should allow your chickens to eat them as a catch (alive).

Below are types of meat that you can give to your chickens:

  • Frogs: Frogs and toads are safe for chickens, but do not give dead frogs or toads to your chickens. They should eat them as a catch.
  • Earthworms: Earthworms are a favorite meal for chickens. Earthworms are also rich in protein. Just like toads, do not give dead earthworms to your chickens. Let them catch them live.
  • Beef, Pork, Chevon, etc.: You should cook the meat of cows, pigs, goats, etc. before giving them to your chickens to prevent cannibalism.
  • Fish: Fish is a healthy source of protein for chickens. Make sure that the fish is well-cooked or allow your chickens to eat it as a catch.
  • Reptiles: Chickens love eating reptiles such as snakes and lizards.

Remember to feed your chickens with fresh meat only.

farmer feeding five chickens from a little feed bowl

Types of Meat That Chickens Cannot Eat

Here are some types of meat that chickens cannot eat:

  • Salty Meat: There is enough salt in the feed of chickens. If you feed your chickens with salty meat, your chickens can die of hydration or toxicity.
  • Greasy Meat: Chickens do not easily digest greasy foods. Do not give your chickens meat with too much oil.
  • Moldy Meat: If you see fungi growing in the meat, please dispose of the meat. Chickens can die of food poisoning if you give them moldy meat.
  • Meat from Chickens: Do not feed your chickens with chicken meat. It can encourage cannibalism.
  • Uncooked Meat: Do not feed your chickens with uncooked meat such as beef, chevon, pork, etc.

Besides Meat, What Can Chickens Eat?

Here are other examples of food sources for your chickens:

1. Processed Feed

Processed feeds are very suitable for chickens.

They have the right protein content for the birds and they are easy to find and buy.

You can feed your chickens with processed feed alone from the day they hatch until you harvest.

2. Grains and Seeds

Grains and seeds are good plant-based protein and carbohydrate sources for your chickens. Examples are:

  • Barley
  • Wheat
  • Oats
  • Maize
  • Millets

Grains and seeds are feed sources for chickens in winter. You can feed your chickens with grains in the cold night of winter to keep them warm (digesting grains increases the body heat of chickens).

mother hen looking after her chicks eating

3. Mealworms and Other Insect Larvae

Chickens love insect larvae or maggots. Examples of insect larvae that you can feed your chickens with are:

  • Mealworms
  • Grub worms
  • Caterpillars (moths and butterflies)
  • Housefly maggots
  • Black soldier fly maggots

Do not give any random larvae to your chickens. Make sure that you identify the species and confirm that it is safe for chickens.

4. Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are another great source of nutrients for chickens.

You can even use them as green piñatas to keep your chickens excited and engaged.

Do not give too many fruits to your chickens because of their high sugar content.

5. Kitchen Scraps

You can give fresh kitchen scraps to your chickens so they don’t have to go to waste.

Now that you know a lot of alternative feed sources for chickens, which one will you give to your chickens next?

red chickens roaming in their chicken coop

Related Questions and Answers

Here are answers to a few questions that you might still have:

1. Can Chickens Eat Eggs?

Chickens can eat eggs, but remember that they are quick learners. If a chicken mistakenly cracks an egg and tastes the content, it will continue to break more eggs and other chickens will learn from it.

If you do give egg to your chickens, it should be cooked. You can also give ground (powdery) eggshells to your chickens.

2. What Should Chickens Not Eat?

Here are some types of kitchen scraps that you should not give to your chickens.

  • Avocados: Avocados contain persin which is toxic to chickens. They are also too greasy for chickens.
  • Seeds of Apples and Apricots: They contain cyanide in minute quantity.
  • Onions: Onions have thiosulfate which can harm chickens.
  • Uncooked Beans: They are very hard to digest and also contain some anti-nutrients.
  • Fast Foods: You do not want to feed your chickens with greasy junk and sugary foods.
  • Citrus: Citrus fruits can make chickens peck on their feathers.
  • Chocolate and Sugars: They are toxic to chickens.

3. What Should Baby Chickens (Chicks) Eat?

Baby chickens in the brooder box should eat processed feed filled with proteins.

They can also follow their mother in free-range to eat whatever they can find.

4. Should Chickens Eat Only Meat?

Chickens are omnivores, so you should not give them only meat.

Give your chickens both plants and animal products or give them processed feeds (they usually contain both plant and animal products as ingredients).

5. Can Chickens Eat Fruit Peels?

Chickens can eat fruit peels. Examples of fruit peels that chickens can eat are:

  • Banana
  • Watermelons
  • Oranges
  • Mangoes
  • Kiwis

Make sure that the fruit peel is fresh and clean.

Final Thoughts

Chickens can eat meat, but you have to be careful with the kind of meat that you feed your chickens.

Chickens should only eat fresh and cooked meats.

Do not feed your chickens with food sources that will make them sick.

Always give your chickens healthy feeds and treats.