Yes, chickens can eat mashed potatoes. You’ll probably find your flock can’t get enough of them too if you offer them some.
In moderation, mashed or left-over cooked potatoes are fine. As are most vegetables and other foods we eat.
It’s common to feed scraps to backyard chickens, there sure isn’t a lot they turn down. There are some stipulations regarding potatoes in particular though as I’ll explain in more detail below.
What’s in Mashed Potatoes?
Mashed potatoes recipes can vary a little but tend to have the same core ingredients. However, some people will tell you they have a secret family recipe (like my mom).
But basically you can expect the following ingredients:
- Potatoes (obviously)
- Seasoning, like garlic, salt, pepper, etc.
So, looking at these ingredients, there isn’t anything that is known to be harmful to chickens. They’re not ideal from a nutritional standpoint though.
There are certainly better treat foods you can give your chooks, but in moderation, it’s totally fine to give them mashed potatoes (even when cream and a little seasoning is used).
Related – Is it ok for chickens to drink milk?
Can Chickens Eat Potatoes?
If you own backyard chickens you no doubt will have heard some people say that chickens can’t eat potatoes.
This isn’t true.
They can eat potatoes, but only if they haven’t turned green due to long exposure to the sun.
When potatoes turn green – and this is true for green tomatoes and some other plants/fruits – they produce a toxin called solanine.
Some plants produce this toxin as a way to warn off or kill pests and insects eating them. Pretty clever, and one of the many ways plants fight back against their own predators.
But the problem is that this toxic is also harmful to chickens, and us.
So, white potatoes are fine, which is what would be used to make mashed potatoes. I want to make that really clear. Just remember that it’s not the best type of food, so only share a little.
NB – I just want to throw in here that sweet potatoes are fine as they don’t produce solanine. In fact, chickens love them and they’re packed with good nutrition to add them to the shopping list!
What Other Foods/Scraps Can Chickens Eat?
As long as you’re only giving your chickens table scraps and leftovers in moderation, it’s easier to say what they can’t eat (see below for that information).
To give you an idea, some of the better foods to share with your flock are:
Vegetables – Most vegetables are fine. As long as they’re fresh and healthy for us, they’re going to be good for your chickens. Some of the best are cabbage, broccoli, carrots, etc.
Fruits – Fruits contain a wide range of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and other good stuff. Most are fine for chickens, try them on berries, figs, melons, and bananas and I’m sure you won’t see any going to waste.
Grains – Grains make up an important part of chicken feed. Oats, wheat, rice, corn, cornmeal, etc are all fine. If you scatter then it gives your flock something to scratch around for too which they like.
Herbs – I love feeding my chickens herbs. Herbs contain various wellness and health benefits, so it’s an interesting topic to dig into and pick which you want to try.
Some Foods Chickens Shouldn’t Eat:
I’ve covered some of the foods that are fine for chickens. It’s equally, if not more important to be aware of the foods that are potentially harmful though.
I touched on why green potatoes and some other foods in the Nightshade family are potentially harmful (see above if you skimmed over that as it’s pretty important).
Here are some more of the most common foods you might have around the home that you should never give to your chickens:
Tea and Coffee – I know you’re not going to make a cuppa for your flock. This is more directed at people who use coffee grounds or tea bags for composting in their yard.
Chocolate – Choc is toxic to most small pets, and this includes chickens. There are a couple of compounds in chocolate that can cause some serious health issues – keep it locked away for yourself.
Raw Beans – This may come as a surprise, but raw beans are very toxic – deadly in fact. Unless properly cooked, raw beans contain a harmful toxin called phytohaemagglutinin.
Avocado (Pit/Skin) – I love avocados, and obviously I don’t eat the stone or the skin. I can’t give it to my chickens either as it contains a harmful toxin called persin.
General Fatty Foods – As a rule of thumb, any foods that are really bad for us, like fast food (sorry, I love it too), really greasy or salty foods, etc shouldn’t be given to chickens.
In Summary – Can Chickens Eat Mashed Potatoes?
There you go, you now know the answer to that all-important question – chickens love mashed potato and it’s perfectly fine for them to eat.
In moderation of course.
You flock should be getting at least 90% of their diet from a commercial chicken feed. That leaves 10% as room for treats and trying other foods to add some variation to their diet.
With a mix of vegetables, fruits, and other treats you can provide a nice varied, healthy diet.
Plus, it’s a great bonding experience feeding your chooks some different foods.
Image credits – Header image by Dave Sandoval, mashed potatoes by Sarah Gualteri on Unsplash