Nowadays, when you enter a pet store, you can find a variety of options for pet food, be it for your dog, cat, or chicken. However, as a pet parent, all of us wonder from time to time whether it is enough, don’t we? Do you ask yourself: is the poultry feed fulfilling all the dietary needs of my chicken? The answer to it is: yes, they are. However, you can also use snacks and occasional treats to spice up their meal and give them a variety.
There are many foods from your kitchen that are well-suited for the job. But do you know which of these foods are safe for your chicken? What about avocado?
Can chickens eat avocado? No, feeding your chickens avocado is not safe for them. Avocados contain persin, a naturally occurring toxin that can be lethal to many animals, even more so to birds such as chickens. Eating avocado can trigger a variety of health problems in your chicken, ranging from mild to severe. In many cases, avocados have killed chickens as well.
But avocado is also a highly nutritious fruit. Doesn’t it contain any nutrients that can benefit your bird? Is there a safe way to feed avocado to your chicken? Read on to find answers to every question you can think of regarding feeding your chicken avocado.
Do chickens like eating avocado?
Before we get on with discussing whether or not should chicken eat avocado, let’s talk about whether they like eating them first. Although chickens have a special dietary need, they hardly seem to realize this.
Liking avocado is a matter of individual taste for chickens; one of your chickens might love it, while the next one wouldn’t touch it. The best way to find the answer is to feed them some, which is a difficult job and should be performed with utmost care.
Can avocado be healthy for chickens?
How do we determine whether or not any food is healthy for pets? By looking at the nutrients, it contains:
|Vitamin A||220 IU|
|Vitamin B6||0.4 mg|
|Pantothenic acid||2.2 mg|
|Vitamin C||13.5 mg|
|Vitamin E||4.56 mg|
|Dietary fibers||10 g|
Serving size: 1 whole fruit of avocado (approx. 150 g)
Now, let’s discuss which of these vitamins, minerals, or other nutrients are good for your chicken, and which are bad.
Just like us, chickens need plenty of vitamin A as well. It not only maintains their growth but also improves egg production in hens. A lack of vitamin A in their diet could lead to weakness and decreased egg production.
Niacin has anti-inflammatory properties that benefit chickens. Without a proper amount of niacin in their diet, chickens can suffer from inflammation of the mouth cavity and bowed legs.
Riboflavin (or vitamin B2) is another essential nutrient that aids the quality of egg production. The deficiency of riboflavin leads to curly-toe paralysis in chickens.
A deficiency of pantothenic acid can lead to Dermatitis and lesions on chicken’s feet and mouth.
The lack of vitamin E can cause Crazy Chick Disease or Encephalomalacia in chickens.
Calcium is essential for the health of your chicken’s eggs. The deficiency of calcium can also cause rickets.
Copper and Iron
Without copper in their diet, chickens can suffer from Anaemia.
Zinc is a mineral that improves the health of your chicken’s feathers and bones.
Magnesium is an essential part of a chicken’s diet. The deficiency of magnesium can sometimes result in sudden death.
High-calorie foods can be harmful to your chickens if they consume too much of it. However, feeding them these in moderation is okay.
To sum it up, most of the nutrient avocado contains is beneficial for a chicken’s health. Why, then, should you not feed them avocado? Find out in the next section.
Persin: the real enemy of your pet
Avocado could be an ideal treat for your chickens if it wasn’t for persin.
What is persin? Persin is a naturally occurring fungicidal that is present in different parts of an avocado plant: leaves, bark, and seeds. While persin doesn’t harm humans fatally, it has an adverse effect on most pet animals.
Birds like chickens are more sensitive to this toxin. If your chicken consumes persin accidentally, these are the symptoms you should look out for:
- Disoriented plumage
- Labored breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Myocardial tissue damage
In case your pet has eaten a larger quantity of it, it can suffer from Asphyxia (acute respiratory syndrome) and will most likely die within the next 48 hours. While the fruit of avocado contains this toxin in a very low concentration, with the skin and the seed being toxic to them, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Is there a way to feed avocado to your chicken safely?
If you want to try feeding your chickens avocado, these are things you should be extremely careful about:
Remove the pit and skin
The pit and outer skin of avocado contain a concentrated amount of persin. Thus, you should remove them carefully.
Scoop it out
It is best to use a scoop to collect the fruit for feeding your chicken. That way, you can leave the parts of that is closest to the skin as an added caution.
Other foods you shouldn’t feed your chicken
Avocado is not the only human food that you shouldn’t be feeding your pet friends. Here is the list of other foods you shouldn’t try to feed your chicken:
The rhubarb plant is rich in oxalic acids that are toxic to many birds, including chickens. Oxalic acid affects the egg formation in birds. If your chicken eats their fruit or leaves, it can produce soft-shelled eggs.
White potatoes belong to the nightshade family, which is known for containing solanine, a highly toxic compound to certain animals and birds. Well-cooked potatoes lose their solanine content, but simply boiling them won’t solve the problem. Solanine destroys the red blood cell production in chickens and causes diarrhea and heart failure.
Raw dried beans
Raw beans contain hemagglutinin, a natural insecticide that is unhealthy for chickens. Cooked beans are fine for chickens.
Onion contains thiosulphate, a toxin that, like solanine, disrupts the production of red blood cells and even kill your chickens.
Chocolate and Coffee
Due to the presence of methylxanthines (theobromine and caffeine), both chocolate and coffee cause hyperactivity and an increase in heart rate in chickens.
Although these fruits (orange, lemon, grapefruit) are not toxic to chickens, they can have a derogatory impact on their egg production.
Foods that are rich in salt are not good for your chicken’s health since they are not capable of ingesting too much salt.
Toxic garden plants
The following plants are toxic to chickens and shouldn’t be a part of your garden:
- Castor Bean
- Horse Radish
- Bull Nettle
- Nightshade plants
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I overfeed my chicken?
As long as you stick to the poultry feed for your chicken, you don’t have to worry about overfeeding them. They’re capable of digesting it all without putting a strain on their digestive system. However, when you are feeding them human food such as table scrap or snacks, you should be careful about moderation.
What do chickens love to eat?
Chickens adore mealworms above anything else.
Can chickens eat eggshells?
Yes, eggshells are an excellent source of calcium for most of the birds and animals, including chickens. They are more beneficial for the hens. To feed your chickens eggshells, you can crush them well and mix them with their regular feed.
Can chickens eat banana peel?
Chickens eat banana peel but generally prefer not to. If you want to feed them banana peel, you should grind them.
Coming back to our original question: can chickens eat avocado? While they can eat the fruit, there are too many risks involved due to the presence of persin. Thus, it is better not to try to feed them avocado at all.