Yes, chickens can eat black beans, but only if they are properly cooked. This is very important to be aware of, as uncooked or improperly cooked beans can be very toxic, even fatal.
Why Uncooked Beans Are Dangerous to Chickens
It comes as a surprise to a lot of people that uncooked beans pose such a serious threat. Not just to animals, but to us, too.
In fact, it's estimated that as much as 20% of all annual food poisoning cases are due to people eating undercooked beans
While undercooked beans are most likely to give us a stomach upset, to small animals like chickens the effects are magnified and it's much more dangerous.
This is because beans contain a compound called lectin. Lectins are present in a wide range of plant foods, some are more harmful than others, and the lectins found in undercooked or raw beans are among the most toxic.
I'm not trying to worry you, if you buy beans in a store they will have been cooked properly to destroy the lectins. And, it's not as if you're going to try and eat raw beans, right?
This is something people need to be more aware of when giving food to animals though. It's easier to throw some raw veggies or fruits to animals and let them eat them.
Now you know, in the case of beans, whether it’s black beans, kidney beans, navy beans, pinto beans, it doesn’t matter what type, always check how you need to cook them to destroy the toxins.
Related - How to feed chickens lima beans safely.
Properly Cooked Black Beans Are Good for Chickens
Now you're aware of the dangers and how to feed your chickens black beans, the good news is that properly cooked black beans make for a decent treat for chickens.
Most beans are nutritionally dense, and black beans, in particular, contain a good variety of vitamins and minerals along with some other complex carbohydrates that provide a nice 'slow burn' of energy.
If you do have some spare beans, feel free to give them to your chickens and I'm sure you'll see them disappear in a hurry.
Other Foods That Chickens Can Eat; Table Scraps, Treats, Etc
It’s fun feeding chickens different foods, and eggplants are just one of the many foods that are safe for chickens.
Here are some of the most popular foods people give to their backyard chooks that are perfectly safe:
Vegetables – Most vegetables are fine chickens and it’s a great way to cut down on wastage and recycle scraps. Things like sweet potatoes, pea pods, cabbage, jicama, etc provide a nice range of nutrition.
Fruits – Most fruits are also fine and they’re typically nutrient-dense and packed with loads of good vitamins and minerals. Try giving your chickens some apricots, pears, apples, bananas, etc. and you’ll see how quickly they disappear.
Grains – Grains are a staple of chickens’ diet, both in the wild and from commercial feeds. Any wheat, quinoa, oatmeal, etc will be appreciated by your feathered friends.
Some Foods That You Should NOT Feed Chickens
The bad news is, there are some foods that are toxic, poisonous, and potentially very dangerous for chickens.
According to the RSPCA and some other chicken welfare sites, the main foods you should avoid giving to your flock includes:
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. (read about tomatillos here.)
Avocado skins and pits – Like nightshade foods, the skin and stones of an avocado contain a toxin that is harmful to animals.
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.
Candy and other sugary treats, this includes soda – This is one of the more obvious ones. Chickens find it difficult to digest sugars, keep the treats to yourself.
Foods high in fat or salt, greasy fast foods, etc. – Similar to sugary treats, fatty foods are bad for chickens’ digestive systems.
Any moldy or spoiled foods – It’s tempting to use chickens as recycling machines for foods you don’t want, just make sure you only give them food you’d be willing to eat yourself!
The “90/10 Rule” When Feeding Chickens
Feeding chickens is pretty easy, they're happy to eat just about anything you give to them, right?
You do have to keep in mind, however, that chickens have some specific nutritional requirements and rely on certain nutrients to stay healthy and lay their best eggs.
Most chicken owners go with what's known as the “90/10 Rule” when feeding their flock. This essentially means that 90% of their diet comes from a good chicken feed, and the other 10% from other foods like beans and other leftovers.
This ensures that they are getting all of their nutritional requirements met. Along with some variety from other foods, and of course, you get to reduce wastage - it's a win-win.
Beans are one of the more controversial foods to give to chickens, that much is true.
I know some owners are terrified of the thought of giving their chickens black beans. But as long as they are properly cooked, they really do not pose a problem.
The whole topic of lectins and why raw beans are potentially toxic is an interesting one. I hope you've come away with something from this article!
Image credits - Photo by Jan Baborák on Unsplash