Can Chickens Eat Fat? What You Need to Know

Raw Pork Meat And Fat

Article Summary

  • Chickens can eat certain fats in moderation, deriving benefits such as concentrated energy and essential nutrients like vitamins A, D, E, and K.
  • Rancid fats should be avoided due to the potential presence of harmful bacteria and mold.
  • Baby chicks under 4 weeks old should not consume fats, and introduction should be gradual once they are fully feathered (around 4-6 weeks old).

Fat can be a valuable addition to a chicken’s diet in moderation. While chickens can eat certain fats, too much fat can cause health problems. Understanding the benefits and risks allows chicken owners to make informed decisions about whether and how to feed fats.

Can I Feed My Chickens Fat?

Yes, chickens can eat certain fats in moderation. Animal-based fats provide nutrients like vitamins A, D, E, and K. The fatty acids in fats and oils also provide chickens with energy.

Fats are very calorie dense, so chickens don’t need large amounts. About 1-5% of a chicken’s diet can come from animal fat sources. Too much can lead to obesity and other health issues.

Is It Safe for Chickens to Eat Fat?

In general, it is safe for chickens to eat small amounts of fat from meat sources. Chicken fat, pork fat, beef fat, and fat from cooked meats can all be fed safely.

Fats high in polyunsaturated fatty acids like fish, some nuts and seeds can cause health issues…

Chickens can handle more saturated fats than unsaturated fats. Fats high in polyunsaturated fatty acids like fish, some nuts and seeds can cause health issues if overfed.

Rancid fats can harbor harmful bacteria and mold and should always be avoided.

Is Too Much Fat Bad for Chickens?

Yes, feeding chickens too much fat can negatively impact their health. High-fat diets can lead to:

  • Obesity: Excess calories from fat can easily lead to obese chickens. This stresses joints and organs.
  • Fatty liver disease: Overloading the liver with fat damages this vital organ.
  • Digestive issues: Too much fat can cause loose droppings and diarrhea. Fat can also impact nutrient absorption.
  • Reduced egg production: Heavy hens may stop laying eggs or produce fewer eggs.
  • Increased predation risk: Obese chickens can’t move quickly to escape predators.

To prevent these issues, fat should be no more than 1-5% of the overall diet.

Benefits of Fat for Chickens

A Hen And Her Eggs

In moderation, fat offers several benefits for chickens:

  • Energy: The fatty acids in fats provide concentrated calories and energy.
  • Essential nutrients: Fats contain vitamins A, D, E, and K. These support bone, skin, feather, immune and reproductive health.
  • Satiety: Fat is satisfying and can help chickens feel full between meals.
  • Cold weather energy: The extra calories from fat help chickens stay warm in winter.
  • Shiny feathers: Some fats like flaxseed oil contribute to glossy plumage.
  • Yolk color: Fats like corn oil naturally enhance egg yolk colors.

What Are Fatty Foods for Chickens?

Good options for supplemental fats include:

  • Meat scraps with fat attached
  • Leftover bacon grease
  • Chicken skin
  • Cooking oils like olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil
  • Nuts/seeds like sunflower seeds, chopped peanuts
  • Mealworms and black soldier fly larvae


Avoid feeding chickens with excessive amounts of fat as it can negatively affect the quality of their eggs, just like how you should avoid polyunsaturated oils like safflower, sunflower, corn, soybean, and cottonseed oil which can go rancid.

Can Chickens Eat Pork Fat?

Yes, chickens can safely eat pork fat trimmed from meat or leftover cracklings from cooking. Just feed in moderation, as the saturated fat can easily lead to obesity. Chop or melt down large pieces so chickens don’t choke.

Can Chickens Eat Fat from Steak?

Raw Meat Ready For Cooking
Raw Meat Ready For Cooking

The fat trimmed from beef is safe for chickens to eat. This provides flavorful saturated fat and energy. To avoid obesity, limit intake to occasional small treat amounts. Never feed raw beef products which could contain harmful bacteria.

Can Chickens Eat Fat Balls?

Commercially made suet fat balls for wild birds are not recommended for chickens. These contain fillers, additives and supplements meant for songbirds not chickens.

However, DIY suet recipes using clean meat fats, seeds, oats and cornmeal can offer chickens a high-fat treat in winter. Avoid anything moldy.

Can Chickens Eat Fat Scraps?

Yes, table scraps containing meat fat are perfectly fine for chickens. Fried chicken skin, bacon ends, fatty pork roast trimmings, and similar cooked fat scraps make great treats.

Just don’t allow so much that chickens start to gain excessive weight. Offer only occasionally, not daily.

Can Chickens Eat Fat Bacon?

Cooked bacon and the fatty remnants are fine for chickens in moderation. The salt content is the bigger concern, as too much sodium is unhealthy for chickens. Rinse fried bacon to remove some excess salt before feeding.

Can Chickens Eat Ham Fat?

The fatty portions of cured ham can be fed to chickens as an occasional treat. However, beware of the high salt content of ham. Rinse thoroughly or avoid feeding large quantities to prevent sodium overdose.

Can Chickens Eat Meat Fat?

Chickens can eat fat trimmed off all types of cooked meat, including beef, pork, lamb, venison and poultry. Raw meat fat may contain salmonella or other pathogens, so always cook first.

To avoid obesity, limit intake to 1-2 times a week and just small portions. Rinse salty meats before feeding.

How to Feed Fat for Your Chickens

Follow these tips for safely feeding fats:

  • Introduce new fats slowly to observe reactions.
  • Chop large pieces into bite-size bits.
  • Avoid rancid fats which can make chickens sick.
  • Mix with grains for balanced nutrition.
  • Feed no more than 1-5% daily fat.
  • Offer as occasional treats, not everyday.
  • Rinse salty fats to reduce sodium levels.
  • Remove skin and excess fat from poultry scraps.

Can Baby Chickens Eat Fat?

Rearing Small Chicks

Baby chicks under 4 weeks old should not eat fats, as their young digestive systems cannot handle rich foods.

Once chicks are fully feathered around 4-6 weeks old, they can start to eat small amounts of cooked meat fats mixed into their feed. This helps support the rapid growth and feathering at this stage.

In summary, chickens can safely enjoy fat from meat sources. In moderation, fat provides energy, nutrients, and glossy feathers. However, like any human food for chickens, too much fat can negatively impact health and production. Limit fat to occasional treat amounts to reap benefits without risks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Chickens Eat Cooking Fat?

Yes, chickens can consume cooking fat in moderation. However, it’s crucial to avoid feeding them excessive amounts of fatty substances, as it may lead to health issues.

What Fats Are Good for Chickens?

Healthy fats for chickens include those found in seeds, nuts, and certain kitchen scraps like vegetable trimmings. Omega-3 fatty acids, present in flaxseeds and fish oil, are beneficial for their overall well-being.

What Happens If Chickens Eat Too Much Fat?

If chickens consume too much fat, it can result in obesity, liver problems, and decreased egg production. It’s essential to maintain a balanced diet to prevent these issues and ensure the chickens’ optimal health.

Why Are Fats Important for Chickens?

Fats are a crucial component of a chicken’s diet as they provide a concentrated source of energy. Additionally, fats play a vital role in nutrient absorption, feather health, and the production of essential hormones. Balanced fat intake contributes to overall poultry health and productivity.