Top 14 Things To Not Feed Your Chickens

Did you know that you can give chickens most of the food in your fridge that you don’t want?

But there are a few things that you shouldn’t give to your chickens.

The things not to give your chickens include avocados, chocolate, candy, citrus, green potatoes, green tomatoes, dry beans, onions, rotten food, rhubarb, uncooked pasta, mushrooms, anything from the nightshade family, and ice cream.

Read on to find out why these are bad for your chickens.


There are a few reasons that avocados are bad for chickens.

First is the pit.

Of course, giving an avocado pit to any of your animals could lead to problems since the pit is so big and hard.

Any animal would struggle to try to do anything with that pit.

For a chicken, they would try to peck at it, but wouldn’t get very far.

They might end up hurting themselves if they peck at it too hard.

Second, the skin or peel isn’t good for them either.

The skin contains a toxin called person.

According to Chicken Scratch:

The death of a chicken because of the toxin persin in avocados depends on the dose and the fowl. Persin is a fungicidal toxin that happens naturally in avocados. Persin is present in avocado barks, leaves, skin, and seeds.

The weaker and older chickens are more prone to die than the healthier ones. Small doses of persin in chickens can cause myocardial tissue damage, increased heart rate, labored breathing, weakness, unrest, and apathy.

The meat of the avocado is perfectly fine to feed your chickens, though I’m not sure why you would throw away an avocado like that.

Either way, if you do decide to give it to your chickens, make sure to peel the meat away from the skin and take out the pit.

Then your chickens should be pretty happy.


Chocolate contains both caffeine and theobromine, which are both toxic to your chickens.

It will probably be fine for you to give your chickens chocolate in small doses, but just like with the avocados, I’m not sure why you would want to feed your chickens chocolate.

Eat that yourself.

But because it contains these elements, you will want to avoid giving it to them if at all possible.

Theobromine and caffeine will give the chickens heart problems, ranging from irregular heartbeats to cardiac arrest.

And the darker the chocolate the more of theobromine it is going to contain.

So it is probably safer to just not give them chocolate in the first place.

Then you don’t have to worry if you’ve given them too much.


The reason you don’t give chickens candy is just like the above, you don’t know if or how much theobromine the candy might contain.

On top of that, if you try to give them something like hard candy, then they could eventually end up trying to swallow and choke on the candy.

We love our chickens, but they aren’t the smartest animals out there and they might try to eat something that is way too big for them.

So avoid the candy altogether and just eat that yourself.


Citrus might not be inherently bad for chickens.

There is some thinking that citrus is bad for chickens, but I can find the same number of people, if not more, saying that they’ve been giving citrus to their chickens for years with no side effects.

But they’ve also said that their chickens will typically avoid eating the citrus if given to them.

A lot of the citrus fruit that are available are rather tart and it could be they are avoiding eating the citrus knowing they will have a tart taste.

You can try giving your chickens the peels to the citrus fruit and see if they have any interest.

But just like with anything else, make sure to give it to your chickens in moderation.

Chickens are notorious for not liking their routine being changed and if you end up giving them more citrus fruit than they can handle, you might not get some eggs for quite some time.

Green potatoes

Potatoes might turn completely green or have green spots on them when they’ve been exposed to too much light.

We have had a few times when we’ve come home from the grocery store and found a few potatoes in our bad have turned green.

I usually end up throwing these out anyway.

But they are especially bad for your chickens.

Let’s say, for instance, that you decide to make baked potatoes but you don’t figure out that some of your potatoes are green until after you’ve cooked them.

In my case, if I have extra baked potatoes or some potatoes that I won’t use, I’ll throw them into our animal area.

But in the case of green potatoes, you won’t want to do this.

Green potatoes contain sometimes called solanine, which can be toxic for your chickens.

Even cooking the potatoes won’t make it any less toxic for the chickens.

So it is really important that once you find these green potatoes that you get rid of them.

It’s probably not even a good idea to peel the potatoes.

Just throw them out.

Green tomatoes

Green tomatoes are a little bit different from green potatoes.

Green potatoes are already green and there is nothing you can do to get rid of the color or the solanine.

Green tomatoes on the other hand are tomatoes that are not fully ripe.

So, let the green tomatoes sit around for a little bit until they become red tomatoes.

Then, either you eat them yourself or give them to your chickens if you feel the need.

Dry beans

Dry beans contain something called phytohaemagglutinin.

According to

Chicken should not eat raw or uncooked beans; whether it’s black beans or other types, this vegetable could be fatal for chickens. The only way they should eat beans is after they’ve been properly cooked.

That is why it’s very important if you’re growing beans in your backyard or farm to keep your chickens away from the area.

Most chicken won’t try to eat it, but you never know it is best to be safe.

You probably want to know why chickens can’t eat raw or uncooked beans; let me explain; it’s quite simple. 

Beans contain a toxin called phytohaemagglutinin, which will take its effects upon your chickens within minutes. This is possible with only 1 to 3 beans; as you can see, it’s best to avoid it at all costs.

So your chickens could die from eating just a few beans.

That means it is better to keep them away, even if you are growing beans on your farm or homestead.

The best way to avoid them dying from the beans is to make sure to cook them first.

Cooking the beans first will get rid of the phytohaemagglutinin and then they will be perfectly fine to eat.


Onions contain an agent that causes red blood cells to explode.

This is bad for chickens.

And can happen for them whether they get a lot of onions or just a little.

If you are including the onion in your chicken’s scraps and there is a very trace amount of onions, it is probably going to be fine.

But avoid feeding them a large portion of onions.

Be aware if your chickens show a loss of appetite or diarrhea, as these could both be signs that they are suffering from having too many onions.

Rotten food

Rotten foods can make chickens sick.

As mentioned before, chickens are notorious for being picky with their routines.

We once had a set of chickens that wouldn’t lay eggs before their water feeder wasn’t cleaned out enough.

Not that their water feeder was incredibly dirty, it wasn’t.

But they still wouldn’t lay any eggs until it was cleaned.

The same thing goes with if you are trying to feed them rotten food.

They might eat it just fine, but they may end up getting sick or not laying any eggs for you.

A good rule of thumb is if you don’t feel right about eating it, don’t give it to your chickens.


Chickens can eat the stalk of the rhubarb just fine.

It is the plant and the leaves that you need to look out for.

The leaves and plants contain oxalic acid, which is toxic to chickens.

And just a little bit of it can kill them.

If you want to grow rhubarb in your garden, and I’m a big fan of strawberry rhubarb pie, then put it in a place that chickens won’t have access to.

And if you want to throw out the rhubarb plant, make sure it goes into the garbage or in a compost pile that the chickens can’t get to.

Otherwise, them eating the rhubarb leaves or plant can leave liver failure in the chickens and subsequently death.

Uncooked pasta

Some people say it is perfectly fine to feed your chickens pasta.

Others say that you should avoid it.

It is probably safe to feed your chickens uncooked pasta in moderation.

Giving them too much pasta fills them up on starch and too much starch means that will good too big to be good layers.

If you give them to your chickens in moderation, they are probably doing to be perfectly fine with it.

Just make sure to break up the pieces of pasta so they don’t choke and die from it.

And just like other options on this list, I’m not sure why you would want to give chickens uncooked pasta.

Just keep it in your pantry and save it for another day.


Just like how we can buy mushrooms at the store, these are fine for us to eat as well as your chickens.

But be wary of wild-caught mushrooms.

Unless you are an expert at identifying mushrooms in the wild, you never know if the mushrooms are going to be toxic or not.

So if you find some mushrooms in your fridge that you aren’t going to use, give them to your chickens.

But if you are walking around your yard and find some mushrooms, throw them away instead of giving them to your chickens.

Anything from the nightshade family

There are some vegetables from the nightshade family that chickens can eat.

This includes bell peppers and tomatoes.

But what you really need to be wary about is the plants of the nightshade.

The nightshade plants contain solanine, which we have talked about previously in this article.

And as we mentioned, solanine is toxic to chickens.

So avoid giving them the actual plants and leaves and give them the vegetables.

Ice cream

Like other things on this list, I think to myself “why would someone give this to their chickens?”

And ice cream is probably the most confusing.

I guess if you had some frost-bitten ice cream that maybe you would want to give it to your chickens, but really how hard is it to scrap the frostbite off the top.

Anyway, ice cream isn’t toxic to your chickens, but the dairy in it can give your chickens diarrhea.

So it is best to avoid giving it to them altogether.


Chickens are great animals to have in your homestead as they give you a staple of most people’s diets (eggs) and can also eat a lot of what you give them.

But you need to be careful with what you are feeding them, otherwise, you could end up without a flock of chickens at a moment’s notice.

So make sure to avoid giving them plants with solanine in it, as well as others with lots of sugar or other toxins that might kill them.

And if you avoid these things, you should have a happy and healthy flock.

On the subject of what you SHOULD feed animals, from

By understanding their nutritional needs and exploring alternative feeding methods, you can raise healthy and happy chickens while reducing your environmental footprint.

Remember, it’s essential to research, experiment, and consult with experienced poultry keepers to find the best feeding practices for your flock.

Bill Lantz

Bill Lantz is a database analyst by day and a weekend warrior by... weekend. He's currently building up his own miniature homestead in Central Utah with his wife and six kids. He has his own blog at

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