Can Chickens Eat Scraps? Feeding Guide for Safe Scraps

Spilled Food Scraps

Article Summary

  • Chickens can eat a variety of scraps, including fruits, vegetables, cooked meats, bread, and more.
  • It’s important to avoid excess salt, spices, oils, and sugar in chicken scraps, and moderation is key.
  • Baby chicks under 4-6 weeks old should not be given kitchen scraps; they require a complete chick starter feed.

Have some leftover food you’re not sure what to do with? Don’t throw it out! Chickens are omnivores and love variety in their diet. Feeding chickens kitchen scraps can benefit both you and your flock. Let’s discuss what scraps are safe, which to avoid, and how to offer them to get the most out of this free chicken treat.

Is It Illegal to Feed Chickens Kitchen Scraps?

Luckily, there are no laws against feeding your backyard chickens plate scrapings and leftovers in most places. Some cities prohibit feeding any wildlife, but your enclosed chicken flock is an exception.

…feeding chickens food scraps is a legal and eco-friendly practice

As long as you follow basic food safety guidelines, feeding chickens food scraps is a legal and eco-friendly practice. Just don’t try sharing with your neighbor’s chickens without permission!

What Type of Scraps Can Chickens Eat?

Chickens are natural scavengers and aren’t picky eaters. They love divider leftovers, vegetable peels, stale breads, pasta, rice, and more. Their strong digestive systems allow them to benefit from foods we can’t finish.

Some specific human foods chickens can safely eat include:

  • Fruits like apples, berries, melons, citrus fruits, etc.
  • Any raw or cooked vegetables
  • Cooked beans, peas, lentils
  • Pasta, rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes
  • Bread, crackers, cereal, oats
  • Meats such as chicken, beef, pork
  • Cheese and other dairy products
  • Cooked eggs and egg shells
Serama Chickens Outdoors
Serama Chickens Outdoors

Avoid excess salt, spices, oils, and sugar. Chickens have a sweet tooth, but these foods should be occasional treats.

Can Chickens Eat Pineapple Scraps?

Absolutely! Chickens go crazy for pineapple. This tropical treat offers nutrients like vitamin C and manganese. Pineapple scraps can be fed fresh or dried. Just remember moderation, as too much pineapple can cause loose droppings. Toss a few pieces into their run and watch them devour it!

Can Chickens Eat Meat Scraps?

Cooked chicken, beef, pork, fish, and other meats are fair game for chicken treats. Lean meats provide protein essential for strong muscles, eggs, and immunity.

Never feed chickens raw meat or bones. Raw meat carries bacteria like salmonella that can make chickens sick. Cooked bones become brittle and prone to splintering, which can puncture chickens’ digestive tract.


For the healthiest flocks, limit meat scraps to 2-3 times a week and stick to cooked lean meats. Remove skin and bones first.

Can Chickens Eat Bell Pepper Scraps?

Absolutely! Chickens relish colorful bell peppers. Red, yellow, orange and green peppers all contain beneficial vitamins A and C. Their mild sweet flavor makes them a preferred snack.

Chop the peppers to make them easier to peck at. You can feed both the flesh and seeds – nothing goes to waste! Just like with any treat, feed bell peppers in moderation to avoid diarrhea.

Can Chickens Eat Bread Scraps?

Stale bread makes a cheap, nutritious chicken snack. The starches give quick energy while vitamins and fiber aid digestion. Both leavened and unleavened breads are safe, including wheat, white, rye and sourdough.

Avoid moldy bread, as ingesting mold spores can make chickens sick. Also limit intake to prevent obesity. Offer bites of bread as treats, not a main food source. Scrambled eggs and oats make healthier daily meal options.

Can Chickens Eat Vegetable Scraps?

Chickens thrive on leafy greens, squash, root veggies, beans, and pretty much any produce you have on hand. Their favorites include:

  • Lettuce, kale, spinach, swiss chard
  • Carrots, sweet potatoes, turnips, beets
  • Squash, zucchini, cucumbers
  • Strawberries, melons, pears, bananas
  • Peas, green beans

Vegetable scraps add valuable vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Offer a diverse mix over boring scraps like potato peels alone. Both raw and cooked veggies are great. Never feed rotten or moldy produce.

Can Chickens Eat Onion Scraps?

Onions contain a compound called thiosulfate that can cause hemolytic anemia in chickens. However, small infrequent portions of cooked onions are usually fine. Avoid raw onions or large amounts.

If feeding onion, monitor for signs of anemia like lethargy and poor laying. Remove onions from their diet if these symptoms arise. Better onion alternatives include chives and the green onion tops.

Can Chickens Eat Fish Scraps?

Sliced Piece of Fish in a Pan
Sliced Piece of Fish in a Pan

Cooked fish provides lean protein for chickens and nutrients like iron, omega-3s, vitamin B12. An occasional serving of cooked fish scraps is fine – think once a week.

Never feed chickens raw fish or the small bones. Raw seafood often contains parasites. Bones are a hazard as chickens digest them fully. Stick to flaked cooked fish and remove all bones ahead of time.

Can Chickens Eat Old or Expired Foods?

In general, chickens’ hardy digestive systems can handle food scraps even when moderately spoiled. Out-of-date meats, dairy, eggs, or produce are usually tolerated if they show no signs of rot.

It’s best to avoid obviously rotten, moldy food. But chickens have a higher tolerance than humans thanks to their shorter, faster digestion and acidic guts that kill microbes.


If you wouldn’t eat out-of-date food products, don’t risk feeding them to your chickens, either. When in doubt, toss it out.

What are the Symptoms of Mold Poisoning in Chickens?

Eating moldy foods can lead to a condition called mycotoxicosis in chickens. While not common, signs to watch for include:

  • Decreased appetite, lethargy
  • Diarrhea or bloody stools
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Poor coordination, tremors
  • Lowered egg production
  • Swollen eyes or feet

Remove any visibly moldy food immediately. Mycotoxicosis treatment involves stopping exposure, providing hydration, and medications if needed. Prevent moldy feed by storing correctly and tossing old leftovers.

How to Safely Feed Kitchen Scraps to Chickens

Kitchen Food Scraps to The Bin
Kitchen Food Scraps to The Bin

Follow these tips for safely sharing your food scraps:

  • Offer scraps in moderation – they should supplement their regular feed, not replace it.
  • Toss anything rotten, moldy, or rancid. When in doubt, leave it out.
  • Avoid excessive fats, oils, salt, sugar, and spices.
  • Remove bones, rinds, and peels when possible.
  • Chop larger scraps into bite-size pieces.
  • Cook meat fully and remove bones.
  • Introduce new treats slowly.
  • Ensure clean water is always available.

Watch for signs of illness and adjust their diet if necessary. With some common sense, you can recycle food scraps into healthy treats chickens will love!

Can Baby Chicks Eat Scraps Too?

Baby chicks under 4-6 weeks old should not eat kitchen scraps. Their young digestive systems are too fragile.

Chicks need a complete chick starter feed with at least 20% protein for proper growth. This gives them the right nutrition, vitamins, and minerals they need. Scraps can’t replace a starter feed.

When chicks are over 6 weeks old, to safely transition them to table scraps, start with tiny portions of mild vegetables, grains, or cooked eggs…

Once chicks are fully feathered and over 6 weeks old, you can begin offering limited “people food” treats alongside their regular diet. Start with tiny portions of mild vegetables, grains or cooked eggs to safely transition them to table scraps.

Frequently Asked Questions

What food scraps are safe for chickens?

Chickens can safely consume a variety of kitchen scraps, including fruit and vegetable peels, cooked grains, and bread. Additionally, they enjoy leafy greens, eggshells, and small amounts of dairy products. It’s crucial to avoid giving them anything spoiled, moldy, or excessively salty.

Why can’t you feed chickens scraps?

While chickens can eat many kitchen scraps, it’s essential to provide a balanced diet. Relying solely on scraps may lead to nutritional deficiencies. A complete and formulated chicken feed ensures they receive the necessary vitamins and minerals. Moreover, some scraps, like those high in salt or moldy, can be harmful or even toxic to chickens.

Can chickens have raw meat scraps?

Chickens can consume raw meat scraps in moderation. However, it’s important to avoid giving them exclusively raw meat. Cooking reduces the risk of bacterial contamination. Raw meat should be a small part of their diet, complemented by other protein sources such as cooked eggs or insects.

What kitchen scraps should not be given to chickens?

Certain kitchen scraps are harmful to chickens and should be avoided. These include anything spoiled, moldy, or high in salt. Citrus fruits, onions, and garlic, in excess, may also negatively impact egg flavor. Additionally, avoid feeding them avocado, chocolate, and processed foods, as these can be toxic to chickens.

Can chickens eat scraps every day?

While chickens can enjoy kitchen scraps, it’s essential to offer them as part of a balanced diet. Chickens thrive on a combination of commercial feed and various kitchen scraps. Feeding scraps every day is acceptable, but moderation is key. Ensure that the scraps complement their primary feed to meet all their nutritional needs.