Although there are many foods that many poultry raiser know chickens cannot eat, like Avocado and Potatoes, there are three foods/beverages commonly fed to chickens that they cannot eat/drink.
Believe it or not, chickens cannot have caffeine! Let me explain why. When caffeine is drank, it is immediately absorbed. In humans, it stimulates the nervous system, causing them to "wake up" and have more energy. However, because chickens are so small, when they have caffeine, it is far too concentrated for them. This results in hyperactivity, increased heartbeat, damaged kidneys because of too concentrated diuretic properties, and most commonly--seizures. However, I suppose if you heavily diluted a caffeinated drink, they might be okay with it. So, do not give your chickens coffee, green tea, black tea, or any other caffeinated drinks. Even though it is tempting to give your feathery friend a little sip of "joe," it must be avoided at all cost.
It is commonly asked if chickens can have lactose, but after some research, I have concluded that it is no and yes. Mammals naturally produce lactose, so when we think, "Let's give some to birds," it does not seem bad. Just think: mammals have to drink milk, because that is what we live on the first few months of life! Occasionally, there will be a genetic condition where the enzyme lactase, which brakes down the lactose sugar, is not produced (called Lactose-Intolerance). Well, birds are not mammals, so they do not need to digest lactose. However, because they may encounter it in the environment, chickens produce a small amount of lactase. This means that they are not lactose-intolerant, they just cannot have very much. So, yes, you can give your chickens milk, cheese, and butter, but only in small amounts. If too much is given, it can cause severe and possibly bloody diarrhea as well as stomach pains and cramps. Usually, symptoms do not get much worse than that, but a good chicken owner does not want their chickens to be so discomforted!
Now, Chocolate may be obvious food not to feed to chickens, but it is inedible to them in more ways that you think. First, most Chocolate is filled with sugar. Usually, sugar is the number one ingredient, not chocolate! Chickens can have sugar, but it leads to obesity and funny-tasting eggs. Second, sometimes lactose (in milk) is put in chocolate. As previously mentioned, lactose is not good for chickens and should be avoided. Third, chocolate is toxic to chickens. Humans are one of the few animals that can eat chocolate. A chemical in chocolate, Theobromine, most people know is toxic to dogs and cats, but it is also toxic to birds. Why? Well, Theobromine is closely related to caffeine. Think: coffee beans and cocoa beans. People love to legitimize there overeating of chocolate to say, "it prevents Alzheimer's Disease." Well, coffee does the same. They both stimulate the brain, and although we not be high energy when we eat chocolate, it is not as concentrated as coffee. However, to a chicken, it is concentrated for them because they are so small. When chickens have chocolate, if fed in small amounts, can lead to obesity, diarrhea, stomach pains, and/or increased energy. In large amounts, it can cause: seizures, severe diarrhea, and death. So, do not feed chocolate to chickens; keep them to yourself (which I do not think should be too difficult ).
(Pictures all provided by: google images)
I hope that this article will help keep your chickens safer and healthier. If you have any comments, questions, additions, or concerns, please leave a comment below.
Thanks for reading!