Can Chickens Eat Avocados? The Answer Is Here

can chickens eat avocado featured image
Chickens can eat avocados, but the skin and pit must be removed as they contain high amounts of persin, a toxin known to create health issues in backyard chickens. The flesh contains trace amounts of persin and is generally safe for chickens to consume.

Avocados are known to be an exceptional health food for humans, providing us with healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and other health benefits. Since they’re so good for us to eat, shouldn’t they be just as healthy for chickens? The answer is more complicated than you might think.

Why Avocados Can Be Dangerous

Feeding avocados to chickens has been a point of controversy in the chicken-raising community for quite some time. While some chicken keepers are fine with feeding their chickens avocados regularly, others will totally avoid giving their flock avocado treats.

Avocados have a toxin known as persin which is present in both the skin and pit of the avocado. Avocado trees and other parts of the avocado plant are also known to contain persin, so make sure your chickens don’t come into direct contact with the plants.

Persin is a fungicidal toxin that is known to cause respiratory problems, myocardial tissue damage, liver damage, gastrointestinal irritation, and heart issues in chickens. If left untreated, persin poisoning can become deadly within even just 48 hours of consumption.

See Also:  Do Chickens Eat Ticks? Here's What To Know

Safe Parts Of An Avocado

The actual flesh of the avocado supposedly contains no persin at all, or just trace amounts that shouldn’t affect your chicken’s health. In fact, all of the nutritional value that humans see in avocados is generally true for chickens as well. If you feed your chickens a small amount of avocado as a treat, there is a lot of nutritional value to be gained.

diagram showing safe and toxic parts of an avocado for chickens

Avocado flesh is high in healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fats that are incredibly healthy for your chickens to consume in small doses. Avocado is also high in fiber which naturally helps regulate your chicken’s digestive system by regulating water in their intestines.

Avocados are also rich in Vitamin A and calcium which are known to respectively boost their levels of egg production and make their bones and eggshells stronger.

As long as you are able to completely remove the avocado pit and skin, the flesh should be totally safe to eat and will likely benefit your chicken’s health when eaten in small quantities. Never toss your chickens whole avocados, as they will peck straight into the skin without a second thought.

Nutritious Alternatives to Avocados

Even though avocados can provide health benefits for your chickens, you might decide that it isn’t worth risking feeding them to your chickens due to the possibility of persin poisoning. In which case, there are a variety of other foods that will safely provide similar nutrients to your chickens.

Fruits such as watermelons, bananas, berries, and apples offer a fantastic amount of vitamins that will boost your chickens’ immune and digestive systems. These fruits are rich in phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants which are all fantastic for your chicken’s overall health.

See Also:  Can Chickens Eat Apples?

Vegetables such as broccoli, rhubarb, leafy greens, and cucumbers are a few favorites that your chickens will love and boast tons of healthy nutrients.

For proteins and fats, mealworms are one of the best possible treats to offer your chickens, as they offer about as much protein as they receive in their chicken feed. Mealworms also contain some healthy fats, but should always be fed in moderation as a supplement to prevent your chickens from consuming too much fat.

FAQs

What Happens If A Chicken Eats Avocado?

A chicken will normally be just fine if they eat the flesh of an avocado, but if they eat any of the avocado skin or start pecking at the pit, they could expose themselves to persin. 

If your chicken does eat a toxic part of the avocado, you may begin to notice some behavioral changes such as lethargy and they will start to have difficulties breathing. At this point, it is usually best to contact a vet in order to provide your chicken with proper medical care.

Can Chickens Eat Overripe Avocado?

It’s recommended to avoid feeding your chickens overripe or rotten food in general. It’s best to use caution when feeding your chickens any sort of treat, as you never know how old food might affect their digestive system.

As a rule of thumb, it’s best to think about it in terms of whether or not you would eat it. If the avocado is super soft and the flesh is super dark, you probably just want to either pitch it or compost it.

See Also:  How to Keep Chickens Out of the Garden

What Other Foods Can Be Poisonous to Chickens?

There are a wide variety of plants and other different foods that you should never give to your chickens. The following list contains foods that you should try to avoid when feeding your chickens:

Citrus – Even though citrus isn’t poisonous to chickens, feeding your flock lemons and limes is known to negatively affect egg production.

Uncooked Beans – Raw and dried beans contain hemagglutinin which can cause toxicosis and be lethal if consumed by chickens.

Plants in the Nightshade Family – Eggplants, potatoes, tomatoes, paprika and bell peppers are all members of the nightshade family and shouldn’t be fed to your chickens. They contain a poisonous alkaloid known as solanine that can be deadly to chickens. However, this compound breaks down if these plants are cooked fully. So while it might be okay to feed your chicken a baked potato, you might want to avoid doing so just to be safe.

Chocolate and Coffee – Avoid feeding your chickens leftover coffee grounds and chocolate at all costs. Both of them contain theobromine and caffeine which are highly toxic to chickens.

Rotten and Moldy Food – Again, if you wouldn’t eat it, your chickens probably shouldn’t eat it either. Rotten food is usually full of mold and bacteria that can cause a variety of serious health issues in your chickens.

Leland

Raised in Wisconsin, Leland has spent most of his life adjacent to the rich farmlands of the Midwest. He has visited many farms while exploring his home state, which eventually led him to work directly with farmers on a variety of projects. Between building furniture with Amish-milled wood and helping a local farmer construct a greenhouse, Leland developed a deep interest in homesteading and wants to one day have farmland of his own. Leland is able to combine his love of writing and recent passion for agriculture by writing articles focused on a variety of aspects of farming and homesteading.

Recent Posts