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What not to feed your chicken

what not to feed your chicken

Although you may love food like chocolates and french fries, it’s not a good idea to provide them to the free ranging chickens you keep in your backyard. In this article we look at some of the foods that should not be provided to your flock, as well as the reasons why. 

Dried or raw beans

Contains a toxin by the name of hemagglutinin which is lethal to chickens as it causes blood clots. The illness will spread rapidly after consuming even a few dried beans, and may kill your birds very quickly. 

Mouldy food 

Just as you would not eat mouldy food, it’s also not a great idea to feed mouldy food to your chickens. These moulds may contain toxins that could make your flock very ill. 


The skins and pits of avocados contain a toxin by the name of persin. This toxin may result in the death of the heart tissue when consumed by chickens, and should be avoided at all cost.

Green tomatoes or green potatoes 

Tomatoes and potatoes are part of the Nightshade family, and contain harmful toxins when they are unripe. These toxins are known as solanine and chaconine, found in the flesh and peels of these foods. This toxin also kills red blood cells and causes heart failure, drowsiness and death in chickens that eat it. Green tomatoes or green potatoes 


It is well known that chocolate should not be fed to pets like cats and dogs, but did you know that it should also not be fed to chickens? Two compounds found in chocolate are caffeine and theobromine, which are also found in many coffees, teas and sodas. These compounds often result in heart problems in chickens by causing irregular and fast heartbeats, as well as cardiac arrest and eventual death.

Leaves from eggplants 

Similar to green potatoes and green tomatoes, the leaves from eggplants should not be fed to your poultry as eggplants are also part of the nightshade family and contain solanine.

Apple seeds

It is perfectly alright to feed your chickens fruit, in moderation, but be sure to never feed them the pip. The pips of some fruit and apples contain cyanide which causes serious damage as it stops blood cells from delivering much needed oxygen to tissue, often resulting in death. 


Although often used, and perfectly safe, for human consumption, onions contain a substance known as thiosulphate. When digested in large amounts, thiosulphate destroys red blood cells and may result in anaemia in your chickens.

Uncooked rice

There is truth behind the warning to not eat uncooked rice. This is because the grains swell in the presence of moisture, and may cause blockages or damage to your chickens’ digestive systems. 

The better option for feeding your backyard chickens is Epol’s free range feed which is a balanced ration that prevents them from ingesting any of the above mentioned possible toxins.

If you would like to learn more about Epol’s Free Range feeds to provide to your free-range flock, visit epol.co.za.

Contact your nearest Epol Technical Advisor.

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