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Keeping chickens healthy is as easy as providing them with a safe coop, enough clean water and good food. The food makes a big difference, it is where all the nutrition comes from that the chickens need to develop healthy bodies. The most popular food choice is commercial chicken feed, but then many people also like to make use of kitchen scraps to supplement this. Something that is quite abundant in kitchen waste is potatoes, but can chickens eat potatoes?
In general, chickens can eat potatoes, but not too much and only the meaty part of the potato. There is a toxic compound contained in potatoes called solanine. This neurotoxic compound can harm your chickens so you should avoid feeding large amounts of potatoes to your chickens.
Potatoes can be a great food source for chickens but you should be aware of all the dangers. Read on to see if chickens can eat potatoes and how you should feed it to them.
Chickens can eat cooked potatoes without too much trouble. The only thing that should be kept in mind is that potatoes contain solanine which is poisonous to chickens.
For this reason, potatoes should be fed in moderation, not too much at a time and also not too often. If the right balance is maintained then the amount of solanine that the chickens are getting will be too low to harm them. If they get too much, it might become a problem and some chickens might even die from it.
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Solanine is a naturally occurring neurotoxin. It is poisonous to both humans as well as animals and especially for smaller animals like chickens.
Solanine is present in all parts of the potato but it is at its lowest in the meat part and at its highest in the green parts of the stem and leaves. Make sure the chickens do not ingest any of the green parts, it has deadly amounts of solanine.
Solanine contents can also be decreased by cooking the potatoes. This is why we would recommend feeding your chickens more cooked potatoes rather than raw potatoes. To get rid of the majority of solanine you need to cook it at very high temperatures so roasting or flash frying is best. With lower heat methods like boiling or steaming you do not reduce the solanine content by much.
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Chickens can eat raw potatoes but it is a bit riskier compared to cooked potatoes. As mentioned above the solanine content gets reduced by cooking so naturally raw potatoes will have more solanine. This means you will need to feed less potatoes to your chickens if you feed it to them raw.
Raw potatoes will also have slightly more nutrients. Any cooking process reduces the number of nutrients in the food because the heat destroys it. Keeping things raw will make sure you get the most out of your feed.
The reason that potatoes are poisonous is because they belong to the nightshade family. All nightshade vegetables contain an alkaloid known as solanine. So it is not only potatoes, but all nightshade plants where this applies.
Raw potatoes are also relatively hard and chickens will take a long time to get through them. You could speed up the process by chopping the potatoes into smaller pieces. This could also stop them from choking on the bigger pieces.
Another thing to consider is that potatoes are not very high in nutrients but they are very high in starch. It is generally not a good thing to feed too much starch to chickens. You could even cut it out completely, but if you have the potatoes then it is good to rather make it a new input instead of a waste product.
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Chickens can eat sweet potatoes and it is even better for them compared to normal white potatoes. Sweet potatoes and normal white potatoes seem to be closely related to each other because they share the same name but in fact, they are not. Sweet potatoes do not belong to the nightshade family, they belong to the morning glory family. This makes them perfectly safe to eat for both humans and chickens.
Chickens can consume all the parts of the sweet potato plant including stems, leaves, peels, flesh and flowers. This works much nicer because no part of the plant goes to waste.
Sweet potatoes are also a better option in terms of nutrition. They contain less starch, fewer calories and slightly more sugars. It also should not become a staple food, but it is a useful supplement when it is already lying around.
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Chickens are omnivorous birds that can eat almost anything but that does not mean they know how to keep to a balanced diet. If they have the option they will eat too much of something that is not good for them, like mashed potatoes.
The mashed potatoes are not too bad for chickens when fed in moderation but the importance is on moderation. Mashed potatoes can tend to stick together a bit too much so you should mix it up good. Mix it with other food scraps and with the commercial chicken feed to give them a balanced meal.
Also, do not give them too much at a time and also not too often. Keep it down to about weekly and only a little bit per chicken per week.
Chickens can eat potato peels without any issues. The peels are not much different from the rest of the potato but there is one big difference to be aware of. This difference is that commercially grown potatoes may contain several chemicals and they will mostly be on the peels of the potatoes.
To make sure your chickens only get the best you can grow your own potatoes to make sure there are no chemicals involved.
So, can chickens eat potatoes? In small amounts, there should be no issues but larger amounts may harm your chicken as potatoes contain some toxic compounds.