Chickens can eat baked beans, yes. Baked beans are not toxic in any way, in fact, most cooked beans are fine. You need to be aware of the salt and sugar content, and never feed chickens raw or uncooked beans.
Are Baked Beans Healthy for Chickens?
Baked beans are typically made with white navy beans. Most beans are great and packed with nutrition, and Navy beans are one of the best.
So, the beans are absolutely fine – as long as they’re cooked properly (more on this later).
It’s the sauce that makes baked beans a little less healthy and not as good for chickens.
The recipe varies from across brands but is typically made with herbs, sugar, spices, salt, and tomato sauce.
None of these ingredients are toxic to chickens, so don’t worry if you’ve been letting your hens eat beans straight out of the can.
But they’re not ideal either. Salt and sugar, in particular, can cause chickens some problems. Especially in the long-term if they eat baked beans or other foods containing salt and sugar.
The bottom line is that baked beans – and this goes for most treat foods – should be given to chickens in moderation.
Your chickens should get at least 90% of their diet from a quality commercial feed. Chicken feeds contain all the good nutrition chickens need to maintain optimal health, especially laying hens.
Table scraps, fruits, vegetables, beans, and other foods can make up the last 10% of their diet to give them some variety.
Should You Wash the Sauce off Baked Beans for Chickens?
Speaking about baked beans with some other backyard chicken owners in the community I noticed some wash the sauce off.
Honestly, I don’t think it makes that much of a difference if you’re only giving them some beans on a rare occasion. It’s not like they’re going to lap up the excess sauce.
So, I’d say this comes down to personal preference. I wouldn’t just open a can and let chickens dive in though. If you spoon beans out you can leave excess sauce in the can.
Either way, the navy beans are the nutritional part. Cold or cooked, in my experience, chickens gobble up baked beans in a hurry.
Other Foods Chickens Can Eat
Baked beans are fine, as already discussed. There are loads of other foods and scraps you can also give your chickens. A lot of which are much better from a nutritional standpoint.
Here are some of the foods backyard chicken owners commonly feed to their flocks:
Fruits are packed with loads of good nutrition that chickens can benefit from. Fresh, dried, it doesn’t matter. Try feeding your flock some blueberries, mango, pomegranate, apples, etc.
You do have to be careful with beans and some vegetables (more on this below), but generally speaking, vegetables are awesome for chickens. It’s a good way to reduce wastage too. Try giving your flock some cabbage, beets, sweet potatoes, peas, etc.
Grains are a staple of a chickens’ diet. They get plenty in their feed, but there’s no harm in giving them some extra. They’ll be more than happy to have some corn, wheat, barley, etc.
Some Foods Chickens Can Not Eat
With chickens willing to eat just about anything that gets in their way, so it’s our job to make sure they don’t eat anything that’s toxic or harmful in any way.
The good news is that there aren’t many foods you need to be wary of. This isn’t a complete list, but where are some of the more common foods that you should avoid giving to your flock:
Chocolate – I love chocolate, so I’m happy to keep it to myself. Jokes aside, there are a couple of compounds in chocolate called theobromine and caffeine that are harmful to chickens, dogs, cats, and some other pets.
Coffee and Tea – Just like chocolate, caffeine and other compounds in teas and coffee are bad for chickens. I’m not suggesting you’d feed these to your chickens or make them a brew. It’s more so for those who recycle tea bags and coffee grounds in their garden.
Raw Beans – The potential risks with beans are surprising to most people. Unless they are properly cooked, beans contain a toxin called lectin. Lectins are very toxic to chickens – and us – so never feed chicks beans that have not been cooked properly.
Green Potatoes/Tomatoes – When potatoes and tomatoes are green, it means they contain a toxin called solanine. This toxin isn’t present when they’re ripe, so white potatoes and red tomatoes are fine.
Avocado Pits/Skin – The flesh of an avocado is fine, but the skin and pit or stone contain a fungicidal toxin called persin. This toxin can cause some serious health issues, don’t give them to your hens.
Sugary, Greasy, Fatty Foods – Fast food isn’t ideal for chickens, neither are soda drinks, candy, etc. Greasy and fatty foods are not toxic per se, but chickens find salty foods hard to digest and they aren’t good for their long-term health.
In Summary – Can Chickens Eat Baked Beans?
As far as treats go, baked beans are pretty good for chickens. I explained above that the sauce isn’t great, but there are a lot of foods that are much worse.
Baked beans and other leftovers are fine in moderation. As long as your chickens are getting the bulk of their diet from a good commercial feed, it’s fun to share different foods with them.
Image credits – Photos by Andriyko Podilnyk and Artem Makarov on Unsplash, and pixel1 on Pixabay