A chicken’s Christmas List? The note was stuck to the door of the coop when I opened up. The chickens were sleepy. Apparently they had stayed up a bit too late scratching out a letter to Santa Claus. I noticed that there were a significant number of things missing from the chicken’s Christmas list. Items that we, humans, indulge in during the holiday season. We often read how it is so great to have chickens because they can eat all of our compost and garbage but that is not completely true. And since a lot of us will be cooking and enjoying some delicious food in the coming weeks, I wanted to repeat the items that should and should not be on the chicken treat menu.
9 Foods that are not on the Chicken’s Christmas List.
1. Chocolate. I know! Wow. One of my all time favorite foods. But not for the feathered family members.
2. Alcohol. I think it’s probably common sense that this should not be included in a chicken’s diet but, hey, I am just making the list.
3. Caffeine. All I can say is I am glad I am not a chicken
4. Avocados. Yes avocados are green but they are not the type of greens that are good for chickens. Avocado pits contain the toxin persin, which can be fatal to chickens. I think it’s best to not take the chance.
5. Potatoes. The peels may look like something the chickens could peck at, but potatoes are a member of the nightshade family which contain solanine. Cooking does not completely destroy solanine so it is best to avoid giving potatoes to your flock. I do occasionally throw the last spoonful of mashed potatoes into the bowl heading for the chicken coop, but it is rare that I do so. Do not give them the raw peels as you may have a flock with diarrhea or worse.
6. Onions. Onions are commonly used in cooking but the toxin found in onions is called theosulphate. It can lead to a sever case of anemia or jaundice. Garlic is fine to feed to chickens. It contains much less theosulphate and the benefits it adds to the chickens immune system is a huge plus.
7. Rhubarb. If you have been waiting to enjoy a delicious rhubarb pie over the holidays don’t take the last slice to the chickens.
8. Citrus. Citrus fruit is high in vitamin C. While some vitamin C is needed, an excess of it can decrease calcium absorption. Decreased calcium in the chicken’s blood stream can lead to weak egg shells and lowered amount of egg production.
9, Heavily Creamy foods or lots of dairy products. These foods can lead to digestive upset and diarrhea.
So what do the chickens want from Santa? What is on a Chicken’s Christmas List?
1. Grubs – the best snack for extra protein and calcium!
3. Shredded cheese (but not too much at one time, as all dairy products can lead to digestive upset in chickens)
4. Leftover scrambled eggs from Christmas breakfast. ( the chickens don’t have to know the eggs are leftover!)
5. Vegetable scraps, carrot peels, leftover salad, cooked corn
6. Sunflower seeds – add protein and healthy fat to the chicken’s diet
7. Fresh greens. Why not splurge a little on that extra large bag of kale at the market. Tear the leaves into tiny pieces and sprinkle the kale on top of their food. Yum!
8. Did I mention Mealworms and Grubs?
So there you have it. This list of Do’s and Don’ts is not all inclusive. I was considering the foods that we commonly have at our house for the holidays, when writing about the chicken’s Christmas list. You may have different food traditions for your family celebrations.
Time to finish up that Christmas Shopping, and don’t forget the Grubs!