Can Chickens Eat Potato Peels? Everything You Need to Know!

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Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM)


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Feeding chicken table scraps is an easy way to keep your birds happy and reduce feed costs. But not all scraps are healthy for chickens. Potato peels make for easy feed, but they aren’t all created equal. While some are safe, others contain chemicals that could disrupt your chickens’ digestive systems. Can chickens eat potato peels? The answer is that it depends on the type of peel. Let’s look at what you need to know about feeding potato peels to your chickens.

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Can Chickens Eat Potato Peels?

Not all parts of potatoes (and not all types of potatoes) are safe for chickens to eat. White and yellow potatoes contain a chemical called solanine that can be toxic for chickens. This chemical causes the green color that you sometimes see in potato peels. But sweet potatoes don’t contain this chemical and are entirely safe.

Potato Peels
Image Credit: Helga, Pixabay

Solanine Toxicity

Solanine1 causes stomach upset in chickens. In large quantities, it causes inflammation, itching, vomiting, diarrhea, paralysis, fever, and even death. Since solanine is bitter tasting, many chickens will spit it out once they taste it. This lowers the risk of poisoning, but you should still ensure that this chemical isn’t in their food. It’s found in all nightshade vegetables, and it’s toxic to humans too. It’s why we cut the green parts off potatoes before we eat them.

Also, cooking potatoes doesn’t remove the solanine, so chickens should not be fed any part of a potato peel that’s turned green.

Edible Parts of Potatoes

Chickens can eat the leaves of potato plants and the flesh of potatoes. They can even eat potato peels, as long as they haven’t turned green, which happens from excessive exposure to sunlight. Sweet potatoes are safe for chickens in their entirety.

Sweet Potato
Image Credit: Brett_Hondow, Pixabay

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Other Foods That Are Toxic to Chickens

There are other table scraps that are toxic to chickens beyond green potato peels.

Here are a few foods to avoid feeding to your flock:

  • Raw beans — These can contain toxins that are potentially fatal to chickens.
  • Avocado skin and pits — The flesh is safe, but the skin and pit contain a chemical called persin, which is harmful to chickens.
  • Coffee and chocolate — Both contain toxic compounds called caffeine and theobromine.
  • Junk food — It’s not ideal for us and it’s worse for chickens.
  • Moldy food — Mold is full of harmful toxins.

Table Scraps That Are Safe for Chickens

It’s fine to feed table scraps to your chickens, as long as these don’t make up their entire diet. Here are a few common household foods that are safe to feed chickens.

  • Oats — Chickens love oatmeal, and it contains vitamins and antioxidants that give them energy. You can also add safe vegetables, like sweet potatoes or carrots.
  • Bread — Bread should only be given in small quantities, but it can be helpful to add as filler to reduce your chickens’ overall feed intake.
  • Cooked rice — Rice is easily digested by chickens. It should be fed plain, with no added seasonings.
  • Corn — Corn has plenty of fiber, which promotes healthy digestion. It also adds color to your egg yolks. Make sure to feed it only in moderate quantities to avoid obesity.
  • Fruits — Several fruits are safe for chickens, including bananas, pineapples, pears, mangoes, apples, berries, and watermelons. Mashing up the fruits makes it easier for chickens to eat.
chickens in the garden
Image Credit: Pixabay

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Chickens can eat potato peels as long as they don’t contain any green pigment. The green pigment contains a chemical that’s toxic to chickens. Both red and white potatoes can contain this chemical, but sweet potatoes do not. While most chickens love potato peels, there is a risk when feeding them. Many other table scraps are safe to feed chickens and don’t pose a risk to their health.

Featured Image Credit: Piqsels

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