When it comes to giving ‘human food’ to chickens (and in fact any kind of bird), bread always seems to be the one that comes up the most, this is probably because it’s a food we all tend to have hanging about.
There is mixed opinion about feeding bread to chickens, from those who’ve always done it to those who are totally against feeding bread to chickens. I the past we have fed bread to our chickens, so I wanted to find out the true answer to the bread debate and the science behind how bread eating can impact their health.
Chickens can eat bread, but it should be given in moderation as part of a varied diet. Bread, especially white bread, offers limited nutritional value and can lead to obesity if overfed. It’s best to feed small amounts of whole grain or seeded breads as a treat, ensuring they still consume their regular, nutrient-rich feed.
When offering bread to chickens, it’s essential to avoid moldy or stale bread, which can be harmful to their health. Also, bread should not be soaked in milk or other liquids, as this can cause digestive issues. Bread is low in protein and other essential nutrients, so it should never be a significant part of their diet but rather an occasional snack.
Additionally, it’s wise to break the bread into small, manageable pieces to prevent choking hazards. While chickens enjoy pecking at bread, too much can fill them up without providing the necessary nutrients found in their regular feed. Balancing treats like bread with greens, grains, and protein sources ensures a healthy and varied diet for your chickens.
How a chicken digests food
To understand the possible impacts bread can have on a chicken it helps to know how chickens process their food after it’s eaten.
Because chickens don’t have teeth their food is ground up in a muscular organ called the gizzard and this is done with the help of small pieces of grit which chickens will swallow as they graze.
When the chickens swallow their food it’s stored in their crop where it softens before moving to the gizzard. This process takes some hours to complete and when a chicken has had a large meal you may notice their crops are full.
The image below shows the location of the crop on a chickens body:
Chickens can be very greedy and will eat everything in sight, this is fine when it’s a natural food which can easily pass through the crop, but problems can arise where they eat bulky food such as bread which can swell become compacted in the crop.
For this reason and to avoid any problems arising, we choose not to feed our chickens with leftover bread anymore.
Feeding chickens bread as a treat
As with most foods, chickens do love to eat bread and they don’t really care if it’s good for them or not!
This article was first published on October 20, 2020 by Pentagon-Pets.
If you choose to give your chickens bread as a treat then the best way to do this is by breaking it up into small pieces and feed sparingly so as not to overload the crop.
As with humans, wholemeal bread is a better option for chickens over white bread because it has more nutritional benefits.
Chickens should never be fed moldy bread because it can make them ill.
More about what chickens eat
I hope this post has helped you to find out more about feeding chickens bread if you want to find out more about what chickens can and can’t eat, you might find the following post helpful:
Pentagon Pet is the owner of this article that was first published on October 20, 2020.
Our recommended coop
Chicken coop for different flock sizes and different weather.
This article and its contents are owned by Pentagon Pets and was first published on October 20, 2020.