Chickens can eat green beans, yes. Green beans, string beans, or snap beans as they're called are a good source of nutrition for hens. Vegetables should be fed to chickens in moderation, but they are healthy snacks.
Are Green Beans Good for Chickens?
There are actually more than 130 varieties of green beans, and they're all perfectly safe for chickens (when properly prepared) and very similar in any nutritional makeup.
Green beans are nutrient-dense, packed with vitamins and minerals, and a range of other good nutrients.
Chickens require a well-balanced diet to stay fit and healthy and lay eggs at their best, so it's always beneficial to supplement their diet with healthy veggies like green beans.
Something important you need to be aware of when feeding green beans, however, is that much like most beans, green beans contain lectins when raw.
Lectins are found in certain foods and are essentially toxins that are poisonous to us and chickens. You should never feed green beans to chickens raw, always cook them properly to be safe.
Are Raw Green Beans Toxic to Chickens
Yes, raw beans can be toxic to chickens. Leading on from what I said above, when raw, green beans contain lectins.
Some beans, like kidney beans, contain such high levels of lectins when raw that even a small amount can be fatal to small animals like chickens.
Green beans are not believed to be as dangerous as kidney beans. But sites like Healthline say we should avoid eating them raw due to their lectin content.
The symptoms of eating raw green beans include nausea, bloating, diarrhea, and vomiting. All the symptoms associated with a seriously upset stomach, and not something you would want to inflict on your chickens, I’m sure.
Related - How to safely feed chickens lima beans, black beans, and why they love baked beans!
How to Feed Green Beans to Chickens
The important thing is that you cook green beans properly to neutralize the toxins. Boiling, steaming, or microwaving them are the three most common ways.
It's most likely you'll be cooking some for yourself, I'm giving the leftovers to your chickens. So I'll assume that you're going to be cooking them correctly.
When giving them to your chickens, you can either give them complete or chop them up a bit.
It really doesn't matter as chickens have powerful beaks that are more than capable of breaking up hard foods, and cooked green beans are far from hard.
What Should Backyard Chickens Eat?
Providing a well-balanced diet for backyard chickens isn't difficult. As a general rule of thumb, at least 90% of their diet should come from a good commercial chicken feed.
This means a layer feed for laying hens, and there are other feeds formulated for chickens at other stages in their lives.
The other 10% leave you some room to give them 'treat' foods like green beans, and some of the other fruits, vegetables, grains, and other foods covered below.
As long as you’re meeting your flock's dietary requirements like this, you should have a bunch of happy, healthy, and lively hens that lay nutritious, tasty eggs for you on a regular basis.
Treat Foods and Scraps That Are Fine for Chickens
If you want to experiment with other foods and table scraps (or recycle leftovers), the good news is that most foods are fine for chickens.
Some of the most popular foods people share with their feathered friends are:
Vegetables – Most vegetables are fine chickens and provide a decent range of good nutrition. Things like sweet potatoes, carrots, squashes, okra, etc are great and they’ll gobble them right up.
Fruits – Almost all fruits are packed with loads of good nutrition that chickens can benefit from. Fresh, dried, it doesn’t matter.
Berries make for an awesome snack. You can also try feeding your flock some mango, pomegranate, apples, etc. you’ll see how quickly it gets gobbled up.
Grains – I love feeding my chickens grains as it gives them something to scratch around for. You can feed your flock wheat, quinoa, corn, oatmeal, alfalfa, etc.
Some Foods That You Should NOT Feed Chickens
It’s more important that you are aware of the foods that are potentially toxic or poisonous for your flock, and some of these might come as a surprise.
According to the RSPCA and some other chicken welfare sites, the main foods you should avoid giving to your flock includes:
Avocado skins and pits – There is a toxin present in these parts of this fruit that is potentially harmful to most pets and small animals.
Green potatoes and some nightshade foods – This family of vegetables also contain toxins (more about eggplant here). Only in certain areas of the plans, however, such as when potato skin turns green.
Raw Beans – Most beans contain toxins known as lectins when they're raw or undercooked. Lectins are harmful to chickens, only feed them beans that are prepared how you would eat them yourself.
Tea and coffee – It’s not like you’d offer your chickens a brew, but some people compost tea bags and used coffee grounds in their yard.
Candy and other sugary treats, soda, etc – It’s hard for chickens to digest sugars and additives found in candy and other sugary treats.
Foods high in fat or salt, greasy fast foods, etc – Keep junk food off the menu for your chickens, they need quality nutrition to maintain optimal health - and don’t appreciate taste anyway!
Beware moldy foods - Mold is toxic, which probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Don’t give your chickens foods well past their best, and keep an eye on foods left out that may have spoiled.
You do have to be careful when feeding any beans to chickens as the lectins in raw beans are potentially very toxic.
That said, as long as you cook green beans properly to neutralize the toxin they provide a great nutritional snack for chickens.
As long as you're providing your flock with a well-balanced diet consisting mostly of a quality feed, adding some healthy fruits and vegetables only helps to further supplement their diet.
Image credits - Photo by Kirsten Carr on Unsplash