Almost everyone reading this will have fed bread to the birds, ducks, and probably your chickens if you have some.
You should always check if chickens can eat foods before giving it to them though. Which leads me on to this article looking at whether or not chickens can eat bread and any possible dangers to be aware of.
Before you break up that last piece of bread or round up the crusts you’ve cut off your sandwich. Here are all the important things you need to know about chickens and bread:
Can Chickens Eat Bread Scraps?
Chickens can eat bread, the crusts, scraps, and all kinds of loaves and types of bread, yes.
In fact, as I explain in this post about giving your chickens Valbazen as a dewormer, you can use bread to soak a little medicine in and they’ll gobble it right up.
In my experience, just like ducks and other birds, chickens love bread. This doesn’t really come as a surprise, and it’s great if you don’t eat the crusts or get through a whole loaf before it needs to be eaten.
If you eat brown or seeded bread, even better. Seeds are good for chickens and help add a little something extra into their diet.
Can Bread Get Stuck in a Chicken's Throat or Crop?
We used to feed duck at the canal near our home growing up, and I always remember my mom telling me to break up bread into small pieces so it wouldn’t get stuck in their throats.
Wise and sound advice, and it’s helpful for your chooks to break up the bread too.
Some owners also wet the bread feeding it too. Dry bread expands when it’s being eaten, so there is a risk that it can get stuck in their throat if they try to eat a big piece.
It can also get stuck in their crop, which is the first stage in a chicken’s digestive process.
Chicken Digestive Anatomy
For those new to chicken anatomy and how they digest food; chicken’s have a crop at the base of their necks, which is where food is collected after they eat it.
It’s like a holding spot for food before it goes on to be digested. You can even visibly see a bulge on the front of a chicken when their crop is full of food.
The food then travels onto their stomach where it’s mixed with digestive juices before entering their gizzard to be chewed up.
A chicken’s gizzard is where food is broken up using the grit they also eat. It’s like a grinding process powered by their internal muscles, a fascinating and little known fact about how chickens break up and digest food.
They are smart birds, they will pick up grit as and when they need it depending on how much “chewing” the food needs in their stomachs.
This is why baby chick food is much finer than adult food and why they don’t need grit. It’s when you move them on to adult feed and start feeding them table scraps, like bread, that chickens need the grit to break up the food.
What Can Chickens Not Eat - List
This list is not exhaustive by any means. To give you a better idea of some of the foods that you should never give your chickens, however, please read the following:
Processed foods - Keep junk food to yourself. They are pretty bad for us (I’m not here to lecture you on your diet) but they are even worse for chickens.
Avocado skin and pits - This is the one that often comes as a surprise to pet owners. The flesh of an avocado is fine, but the skin and pit contain a toxin called persin which is harmful to chickens.
Coffee or coffee grinds - Despite being good for the garden, coffee grinds are bad for chooks. I wrote more about it here - Can chickens eat coffee grinds?
Chocolate - For the same reason as coffee, chocolate is bad for chickens as it contains caffeine and theobromine. Two compounds that are toxic to chickens and most birds.
Green potatoes and tomatoes - When tomatoes are unripe and potatoes are green they contain a chemical called solanine. Solanine is found in members of the nightshade family of plants and is very toxic.
Any moldy or “off” foods - If food is past its best by date or off to the extent that you wouldn’t eat it, don’t give it to your flock. Not only is that not a nice thing to do, but moldy food produces harmful toxins.
What Can Chickens Eat - List
The list of what chickens can eat is a lot longer than what they can’t! Here are some of the most common foods that owners give their flock that is safe - even beneficial - for them:
Vegetables - Avoiding moldy, green, and vegetables that are part of the nightshade family as I discussed above, most vegetables are great for chickens.
Fruits - Most fruits are fine and will provide a variety of vitamins, minerals, and other good stuff for your brood.
Grains - Wheat, rice, oats, and all similar grains are great for chooks.
Corn - They love corn, cooked or dried just throw some in and you’ll cluck up a storm of happy girls.
Herbs - Herbs make a great accompaniment to a chicken's diet. There are loads of different herbs all providing their own unique health and wellness benefits. It’s a whole separate topic to investigate.
There you have it, you don’t have to waste your bread scraps and crusts - you can feed it to your chickens.
Just be sure to break up the bread into small bits. Know you know how their internal system works, give their gizzard a little help!
Also, keep in mind that all the table scraps and treats you give your flock should not equal more than 10% of their overall diet. Keep plenty of chicken feed available and fresh drinking water.