Coffee grounds and coffee chaff is good for composting, and I know a lot of you reading this will use it in your yard. So, it raises the question - can chickens eat coffee grounds if they come across them?
The answer to this question is; No, chickens should not eat coffee grounds, coffee contains caffeine and methylxanthine, two compounds that are toxic and potentially harmful to chickens.
Will Chickens Eat Coffee Grounds If They Find Them?
There is no way of knowing for sure if your chickens will or will not eat coffee grounds.
Browsing some forums, some backyard chicken owners say their chickens ate some, some owners said their chickens ignored them.
Either way, in my opinion, it’s not worth the risk as the grounds are potentially harmful to them. We all know how unpredictable chickens can be, and how they will peck and eat almost anything at times, don’t we?
Will Coffee Grounds Harm Chickens?
Yes, coffee grounds will harm chickens if they eat enough.
Coffee, along with chocolate, tea, and some other foods contain methylxanthines. This is why all of these foods are dangerous to chooks, as well as other small animals like cats and dogs.
Caffeine is a methylxanthine, which is why coffee is harmful to chickens. According to PetMD, if a pet ingests caffeine, it can take just 30 minutes to an hour to cause signs of clinical toxicity.
The symptoms and severity of the situation will depend on the size of the chicken and how much they consumed. But typical symptoms of caffeine toxicity include:
- Progressing to tremors and seizures
Why Use Coffee Grounds in the Yard?
If you can still use used coffee grounds in your yard without your chickens getting their beaks into it, I recommend it.
I’m big into recycling “waste”, and used coffee grounds has some awesome benefits. The Spruce list the following gardening benefits:
Keeping Pests Away
From creating barriers around plants that stop snails and slugs in their tracks, to being a strong enough scent to deter gophers and cats. I’ve read it all, and it certainly seems like coffee can help protect the yard.
Coffee grounds make for good fertilizer, especially when mixed with dry materials. Just sprinkle your used grounds over the top of your soil and let it go to work.
Boosting Some Plants
Some plants, such as acid-loving variants like blueberries, lilies, and azaleas as well as root crops like carrots and radishes get a boost from coffee.
What Other Household Foods Are Bad for Chickens?
While we’re on the topic of foods that are potentially harmful to chickens, I thought I’d give you a reminder of some other harmless-looking foods that are potentially very dangerous.
Don’t feed your chickens any of the following:
- Avocado skin or pit
- Green potatoes or tomatoes (ripe tomatoes are fine)
- Dried beans and lentils
- Sugary sweets and treats
- Foods seasoned or high in salt
- Raw eggs
- Uncooked rice
- Any food past its best or spoiled (if you wouldn’t eat it, don’t give it to your chickens)
Which Scraps Are Good for Chickens?
The list of table scraps or leftovers that are good for chickens is huge. To give you an idea of where to start, here are some of the foods I give to my flock on occasion:
Cooked meats - Chopped up into small pieces.
Oats - Cooked or raw will do.
Grains - Wheat, barley, corn, and other grains are awesome for chooks. They provide good nutrition and help stimulate their foraging behavior when scattered.
Related content - Can chickens eat cheerios?
Vegetables - Most vegetables are good as they contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other goodness.
Herbs - Herbs also contain some useful nutritional content. Mine love parsley, but most are fine for chickens and help round out their overall diet.
Chickens should not be eating coffee in any form. Be it coffee chaff, used grounds, freeze-dried coffee, etc.
What we do know is that caffeine is bad for them, as it is for most pets and small animals. I’ve read people saying they’ve been giving their chicks grounds for a while without noticing any problems.
That’s great, but why risk it?
I’ve listed plenty of other things you can be feeding to your chickens to add some variation to their diet. Most of which are beneficial to them, so check those out.
My parting words - keep the coffee indoors!