Potatoes are easy to grow, and most people will grow them in their garden. Also, it’s loaded with nutrition. If you have backyard chickens, you may wonder if you can feed potatoes to them.
So, can chickens eat potatoes? Yes, chickens can eat potatoes. However, they should only be fed sweet potatoes. White potatoes should not be fed to them as they contain a toxin known as solanine. This toxin is harmful to the chickens. In order for the chickens to safely eat them, you’ll need to cook the white potatoes thoroughly to remove the toxin. Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, do not contain any toxins and are safe for chickens to eat, either cooked or raw.
Are Potatoes Safe For Chickens?
It depends on the potatoes that you are feeding your chickens with. There are two varieties of potatoes, which are white potatoes and sweet potatoes.
White potatoes contain a toxin known as solanine. This toxin is harmful to the chickens. It can cause respiratory failure, convulsions, neurological damage, diarrhea, or paralysis. In some cases, it can be fatal for the chickens.
The solanine has the highest concentration in the skin of green potatoes, the eyes, and the leaves.
However, it’s best to stay away from feeding your chickens the flesh as well. While it doesn’t have a high concentration of solanine, it’s enough to make them sick.
In order to make the potatoes safe for the chickens to eat, you’ll need to cook them thoroughly. This will remove the toxins from the potatoes to a safe level.
On the other hand, sweet potatoes are safe for the chickens to eat. This includes all parts of the plants – leaves, flowers, stems, vines, peels, and flesh. You can either feed them cooked or fresh to your chickens.
Is It Healthy For Chickens To Eat Potatoes?
Potatoes are an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals. It’s a good source of vitamin C and B6, fiber, and protein. Also, it has a good amount of potassium, manganese, magnesium, and folate. All the nutrients make potatoes a healthy food for chickens.
Below are some health benefits of feeding potatoes to your chickens:
Improve Digestive Health
Potatoes are a good source of fiber, which is essential for a healthy digestive system. Fiber is carbohydrates that the body is not able to absorb.
Instead, fiber helps bulk up the stool and soften it. This will make the food that the chicken eats move through the digestive tract smoothly.
Potatoes contain a good amount of antioxidants. This compound helps keep free radicals at a minimum in the body.
If there are too many free radicals, they will damage the cells in the body. Free radicals can be caused by food the chicken eats, cigarette smoke, or radiation.
When the cells are damaged, it could lead to illness and diseases.
Rich In Vitamin C
Potatoes are one of the vegetables that’s rich in vitamin C. This vitamin is essential for chickens since it’s helping many bodily functions.
Vitamin C plays an important role in collagen formation. This vitamin is required for the synthesis of collagen, which is a structural protein that gives elasticity and strength to various body tissues.
Also, vitamin C helps support the immune system. Chickens are less likely to become ill that is fed a diet rich in vitamin C. If the chicken does become sick, plenty of vitamin C will help them recover from the illness quickly.
Can Baby Chickens Eat Potatoes?
Baby chickens can eat potatoes, but it’s best to wait until they are at least 3 weeks of age. Their digestive system has not developed enough to properly digest the potatoes. If the chicks do eat it, there’s a good chance it could cause impaction.
Instead, chicks should be fed a diet of quality starter feed. The feed has been formulated with the right amount of nutrition to help the chicks grow strong and healthy. Also, starter feed has a high amount of protein that the chicks need, which potatoes lack.
Once the baby chickens are around 3 weeks old, you can start to feed them potatoes. Due to their sensitive digestive system, it’s recommended to mash the potatoes. This will make it easier for them to eat and digest it.
Also, make sure to provide them plenty of grits when they start to each potato or any other food besides starter feed. The grits help grind and break down the food.
Can Chickens Eat Potato Skin?
For white potatoes, it will depend on the color of the potato skin. If it’s green or has a green tint on the skin, do not feed any to your chickens. It’s poisonous and can harm them.
On the other hand, if it’s any other color than green, the potato skin is safe for your chickens.
On the other hand, sweet potato skin is safe for chickens to eat, either cooked or raw.
Can Chickens Eat Potato Leaves?
Chickens should not be fed any potato leaves. The leaves contain a toxin known as solanine. This toxin is harmful to the chickens, even death can occur.
If you have potatoes growing in the garden, it’s best to keep the chickens out of the garden.
How Do You Feed Potatoes For Your Chickens
When it comes to feeding potatoes to your chickens, you have a couple of options. Below are some of the ways to feed potatoes to them:
Feeding Chickens Fresh Potatoes
Fresh potatoes are a great way to feed the chickens. Make sure you only give them the sweet potatoes variety. White potatoes cannot be served to the chickens as they contain solanine.
Give the potatoes a good wash and slice or cut them into small pieces. This will make it easier for them to eat and digest it.
Once it’s cut, you can either toss the potatoes to the chickens or mix it with other vegetables.
Feeding Chickens Cooked Potatoes
Cooked potatoes can be fed to the chickens. Since the potatoes are cooked, you can either feed them sweet potatoes or white potatoes.
When feeding them cooked potatoes, make sure to not use any salt or other seasonings. Salt is harmful to their health, so it should be avoided.
Since the potatoes are cooked, the flesh will be soft. You can serve them to the chickens as a whole potato or cut them into smaller pieces.
Feeding Chickens Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes are another method to feed your flock. For baby chickens, mashed potatoes should be the only method to feed them. It will be easier for them to eat and digest it.
For adult chickens, mashed potatoes will make it easier for them to eat as well. Place the potatoes into a bowl and the chickens will peck and eat it.
How Many Potatoes Should You Feed Your Chickens?
While potatoes are nutritious, it doesn’t contain all the nutrients that the chickens require to stay healthy.
Potatoes are mostly carbohydrates, which means the chickens can be full quickly. This will result in them not eating their main food, which is commercial chicken feed.
Therefore, at each feeding, an adult chicken should be served with a couple of small pieces of potato, whether it’s fresh or cooked. For baby chickens, just a tiny piece of the potato is enough for them to enjoy.
How Often Should You Feed Potatoes To Your Chickens?
You should give potatoes to your chickens in moderation. Potatoes are loaded with carbohydrates that are unhealthy to the chickens in large amounts.
Potatoes should not be a food given to them daily. This vegetable should be served as a treat. Potatoes should only make up 10% of their entire diet. The rest should come from a quality commercial feed. The feed has been formulated with the right amount of nutrition to keep the chickens healthy and strong.
Therefore, potatoes should be served to the chickens, once or twice per month.
Other Vegetables That Chickens Can Eat
Lettuce makes a great treat for chickens. There are many types of lettuce available on the market. One lettuce type which is iceberg lettuce should be off-limit for your flock. Iceberg lettuce has very little nutritional value, and it’s high in water content. This could fill up the chickens quickly and also cause them to have diarrhea.
Instead, give your chickens romaine lettuce or butterhead lettuce.
Radishes are nutrient-rich, yet low in calories and fat. This makes them an ideal snack for chickens. You can feed them raw or cooked radishes. However, most chickens will not eat raw ones due to the bitter and peppery taste.
Therefore, you’ll need to cook them first to remove some of the bitterness from the root vegetable. Then cut them into smaller pieces to make it easier for them to eat and digest them.
Spinach is nutritious and healthy for the chickens to eat. However, the leafy greens should only be fed to them in moderation. This is due to the oxalic acid found in spinach. It’s toxic and can harm the chickens. As long as you serve spinach to your chickens in a small amount, their health will not be affected.
Potatoes are packed with nutrition that’s healthy for the chickens to eat. The only thing you need to worry about is white potatoes. In raw form, the potatoes contain solanine. This is a toxin that is very harmful to chickens. If you want to feed them white potatoes, be sure to cook them thoroughly, so the toxins are removed from them.