Got some spare guinea pig food sitting around and wondering, can chickens eat guinea pig food?
Chickens and guinea pigs have different dietary needs, but this doesn’t mean they can’t eat each other’s formulated feed and pellets.
The short answer is that guinea pig food is fine for chickens in a small amount. It’s not exactly the ideal feed for a chicken, so it’s more of a treat food.
I took a close look at the ingredients used in several popular brands of guinea pig food and couldn’t see anything harmful to chickens in them.
You should always check the ingredients label for the food you have too, of course. Here are some of the important things to consider when feeding your chickens scraps and treats.
Do Guinea Pigs Have Different Dietary Requirements to Chickens?
Guinea pigs are herbivores, this means they eat fruits and vegetables for the most part (source).
They can’t formulate their own vitamin C, so formulated pellets always contain vitamin C to help them meet this nutritional requirement.
Their food is typically fibrous too. This is because their teeth are always growing and it gives them something to chew on.
This is certainly not necessary for chickens, they don’t even have teeth!
Chickens require a diet much higher in protein, calcium, and a different balance of minerals and vitamins.
The nutritional value of a chicken’s and a guinea pig’s feed is very different. This doesn’t mean you can’t feed guinea food to your chickens though. It should be fine in small amounts.
Is Guinea Pig Food Ok for Chickens?
As I mentioned above, the foods I checked were ok for chickens. There were not any harmful or toxic ingredients in them that are known to cause issues for chickens.
I’ve also read a few comments from backyard chicken owners in forums that have given their chickens guinea pig food on a number of occasions without issue.
You should always take a look at the ingredients listed on the food you have though. You never know what might be in there without looking. Not all formulated feeds are the same.
Chickens love most of the fruits, vegetables, and herbs that guinea pigs also do. There are some exceptions, which I will cover in more detail below. But for the most part, chickens eat a lot of the same things as guinea pigs – and then some!
Some Foods That Are Bad for Chickens
This isn’t a complete list, but here are a few of the most toxic foods you should never let your chickens eat:
Coffee grounds and chocolate – Coffee and chocolate both contain the compounds theobromine and caffeine. Both of these are harmful to chickens.
Avocado pits and skins – The skin and large stone inside an avocado contain a toxin called persin. This is also known to be very toxic to chickens.
Green potatoes and tomatoes – When potatoes and tomatoes are green they contain a very dangerous toxin called solanine. Some other vegetables in the nightshade family are also toxic, so be very careful with this group of vegetables.
Raw and dried beans – This is another unassuming food that comes as a surprise to a lot of backyard chicken owners. Uncooked beans contain a toxin called phytohaemagglutinin, which is neutralized by cooking them.
Molding foods – I’m sure you wouldn’t deliberately feed your chicken’s moldy food. But if you leave their food out it’s worth keeping in mind that mold is toxic and will cause them some health issues.
Junk foods (greasy/sugary) – Junk food is worse for chickens than it is for us, and they don’t even get the same satisfaction from the taste as we do!
I’ve written some posts that contain some information that’ll help you better understand why some of these foods are so harmful.
In Summary – Can Chickens Eat Guinea Pig Food?
Yes, chickens can eat guinea pig food. A little here and there isn’t going to do them any harm, the worst-case scenario is that they’ll turn their beaks up and leave it if they don’t want it.
Do remember that guinea pigs have very different nutritional requirements to chickens though. The 90/10 rule still applies; 90% of their diet should come from their feed, and 10% can come from table scraps, treats, and other foods that are safe for them.
If you have some of this food leftover for some reason, go ahead and see if your chooks like it.