Chickens can eat honey, yes. In fact, there is some evidence to suggest that added honey to their water helps relieve heat stress, improves egg quality, and works as an antioxidant. If you have some spare honey, it’s certainly worth giving some to your hens.
What’s in Honey? It Is Healthy for Chickens?
There are various types of honey and each provides a different nutrition profile. Generally speaking, however, honey is rich in micronutrients and antioxidants, while being low in fat, fiber, and protein.
This is why honey is great for us, and chickens can also benefit from its nutritional content.
The only drawback is that honey is high in sugar. But it’s a way better choice than refined sugar, and much better for chickens – and us.
I’ve spoken with a number of backyard chicken owners over the years that swear by honey as almost a kind of miracle cure for their chicks and chickens that are under the weather.
From a scientific standpoint, Nation.co.ke published a study stating that honey reduced the heart rates and panting associated with heat stress in broilers.
They went on to add that honey also improves bone strength and immunity. Powerful stuff for something as easily obtainable as honey!
How to Feed Honey to Chickens
The obvious problem with honey is that it’s sticky and messy. You don’t want your hens to end up with honey all over their beaks and in their feathers!
The easiest way to add some to their drinking water and give it a good mix. Or, you could soak bits of bread in honey. That’s how I get mine to eat some medicines, they gobble up bread in a hurry.
If you get your hands on a piece of honeycomb, even better. you could hang that somewhere for your chickens to peck at or leave it in a place they’ll be able to munch on it.
You could, of course, also try spooning it to your chickens…but that’s going to get messy very quickly.
List of Some Foods Chickens CAN Eat
As I’ve explained, honey is fine in moderation. It’s not the easiest thing to feed chickens though, and there are loads of other foods that are much better.
Here are some of the best foods backyard chicken owners commonly feed their chickens:
Veggies are probably the most popular treat owners give their chickens. Not only do chickens love most vegetables, but it’s also a great way to reduce wastage and add some good nutrition to their diet.
The same applies to fruits. Most fruits are packed with a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Again, you can usually give your chooks parts of the fruits and leftovers you don’t want to reduce wastage.
Grains are a staple in most chicken feeds as they deliver a lot of the nutrition chickens need to stay healthy and lay great eggs. Added a few more to their diet doesn’t hurt, and it’s fun watching them scratch and forage around.
List of Some Foods Chickens Should NOT Eat
This isn’t a complete list, so it’s always a good idea to check any foods you give your chickens for the first time if they’re not on this list.
However, here are most of the common foods that are known to be harmful to chickens. It’s best to act on the side of caution and not give any of the following to your hens:
Nightshade Vegetables – You need to be careful when feeding chickens scraps, plants, and vegetables in the nightshade family as they produce toxins.
This includes potatoes, tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, and eggplants. It’s not always obvious if a nightshade plant is toxic. For example, white potatoes are fine, but green potatoes are not. Ripe tomatoes are fine, but the leaves and stalks of the plant are not.
Raw Beans – Beans are the silent killers. They contain a toxin called lectin, and unless cooked properly, most beans are toxic to chickens.
Chocolate – Chocolate and any foods containing cocoa are toxic to chickens due to a compound called theobromine.
Tea Bags and Coffee Grounds – If you recycle these in your compost heap – as I do – you need to make sure your chickens can’t help themselves. Caffeine is toxic to chickens, which is present in tea and coffee.
Salty Foods (Junk Food) – In general, junk foods aren’t great for chickens. Too much salt, preservatives, and other additives (all the stuff that makes food taste great!) are bad for them.
Avocado Stones and Skin – This is the problem fruit that’s known to most pet owners. The skin and stone inside an avocado contain a fungicidal toxin called persin which is toxic to chickens.
Not only is it OK for chickens to eat honey, but there is also some evidence to show that it acts as an antioxidant and has some interesting health benefits for them.
If you have some spare honey or honeycombs, why not give them to your flock as a treat and see if you notice any difference yourself.
Image credits – Photos by Seen, Alexander Mils, and Artem Makarov on Unsplash