Chickens can eat peanut butter, yes. It’s a favorite among most birds, provides some good nutrition, and there’s no doubt they love it. It should only be given in moderation though as it’s high in fats, carbs, and some are high in sugars.
What’s in Peanut Butter?
The main ingredient in peanut butter is… surprise, surprise, peanuts. Peanuts are a favorite for most birds. Not so much chickens, but it’s fine for chickens to eat peanuts.
Then there’s the oil that gives peanut butter its creamy, smooth texture, and some other ingredients to make it taste sweeter, such as honey, sugar, and usually a pinch of salt.
Pretty simple ingredients, and it’s one of the easier foods to make at home. Which, if you do you can control how much sugar and salt are added and even make a more chicken-friendly batch of peanut butter.
Is Peanut Butter Healthy for Chickens?
From a nutritional standpoint, peanut butter isn’t one of the worst foods you can give your chickens.
Peanut butter is high in protein, as much as 25% for some brands. Laying hens require a diet consisting of at least 16% protein, so that’s a plus, even though it’s a little high.
It’s also rich in a wide range of vitamins and minerals, which will benefit your chickens. It’s not all good though, peanut butter is high in fat. It’s mostly monounsaturated fats though, which is a healthy fat.
In summary, as for an occasional treat – peanut butter is fine for chickens. There’s certainly nothing dangerous about giving them some in small amounts. The main issue is that it’s so sticky!
How to Feed Chickens Peanut Butter
If you try spooning it straight out of the jar, you’re going to have problems. Your chickens are going to peck away at it and make a right mess, likely getting some sticky peanut butter in their feathers.
Some of the ways I’ve fed peanut butter to my flock is:
- Removing the core of an apple and stuffing it with peanut butter. This gave them something to work at, and let’s be honest, peanut butter and apple is a great combination.
- Spread on a piece of bread, just how you’d eat it. It’s not as crazy as it sounds, chickens love bread too, also making them a sandwich gives them something to peck away at.
- Mixed in with scratch or grains. This effectively forms small balls or lumps of peanut butter coated grains that are far less messy and easier for chickens to eat.
Can Chickens Eat Peanut Butter and Jelly?
I can’t talk about peanut butter without mentioning the all-American classic – the peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Unfortunately, it’s not the healthiest of choices as I’m sure you’re well aware. The jelly, which is a jam or fruit preserve is far too high in sugar content for chickens.
It’s not going to do any harm in small amounts. If you’ve been sharing a nibble here and there, don’t feel bad. You’ve just been spoiling them is all – as we all do in our own ways!
What Can Chickens NOT Eat List?
Peanut butter is fine for your chickens, but there are a lot of human foods that aren’t.
This isn’t a complete list, but here are some of the most common foods that are known to be toxic or harmful in some way to chickens:
Foods and Drinks With Caffeine In – Caffeine is a powerful stimulant for us, for a small chicken it’s too strong and can cause an increased heartbeat, hyperactivity, and more serious health issues like seizures.
This means coffee, tea leaves, chocolate, energy drinks, sodas, and any baked goods with cocoa are all strictly off the menu.
Avocado Skin and Seed – This is usually well-known to pet owners. The skin and seed of avocados contain a toxin called persin that’s harmful to small pets.
Nightshade Vegetables – This is often a contentious area, so it’s best to do more research into the topic for specific vegetables.
Some nightshades produce a toxin called solanine to ward off pests, and this toxin is harmful to chickens. It’s present when potatoes have turned green, in unripe green tomatoes, and on parts of pepper plants for example.
Junk Foods – This is pretty obvious. Chickens require good nutrition to maintain optimum health and lay eggs at their best.
They find foods high in salt, sodium, and preservatives hard to digest and these foods don’t help meet their dietary needs.
Raw/Uncooked Beans – Beans contain a compound called lectin. Some lectins are harmful, and those found in raw beans, in particular, are very toxic to chickens. It’s reported that even a small amount can be fatal.
What CAN Chickens Eat List?
Now you know that peanut butter is fine as a treat for your chickens, you’re probably wondering what else you can give them, right?
Well, the good news is that most foods are fine for chickens, and they aren’t too fussy.
The key thing to remember is that it is important chickens are getting most of their nutrition from their commercial feed. Table scraps, leftovers, and other foods are “treats” to add some variety to their diet.
With that said, here are some of the foods chickens can eat:
Vegetables – If you have any spare veggies, throw them in your chickens’ direction. They love almost all veggies, such as sweet potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, kale, etc.
Fruits – Fruits are also a great way to provide a tasty treat packed with good nutrition. Try giving your flock some apples, banana, melon, dragon fruits, okra, see what they like.
Grains – Grains are a staple food source in chicken feeds, so you know you can’t go wrong adding some more into their diet.
That should give you more than enough idea of what scraps you can safely “recycle” by giving them to backyard chooks.
Now you know, peanut butter is safe for chickens. I’ll leave it up to you if you decide to share some or not – it depends how much you like it!
On a serious note though, sharing foods with chickens is fun and it’s a great way to bond and spend some time with them. Why not see what your flock enjoys (almost everything I bet!).
Image credits – Photos by Will H McMahan and Corleto Peanut Butter on Unsplash
Peanut Butter Ingredients and Nutrients – SFGate.com