Chickens are notably open when it comes to their feed. They’re willing to give a lot of different foods a try. Being omnivores, they also benefit from a varied diet and do best with a mixture of different foods. But what about Avocados? Can they be safely fed and can you give this ‘fruit’ to your chickens?
So, can chickens eat avocado? Chickens should not eat avocado. Avocados carry a poisonous compound called Persin which is found in the skin, pits, leaves, and flesh. Ingestion of any part of the avocado has been associated with toxicosis. Even the consumption of just 5% of one avocado has been known to kill a small bird in just 48 hours.
Whether or not it is safe to give your chickens avocado is a topic of controversy within the chicken pet owner and poultry community. While some individuals will state you can, others will outline that you can serve the flesh (albeit in limited quantities).
Either way, avocados are known to carry a toxic compound that can be very dangerous to your chickens. For the most part; it is not worth the risk.
Let us now take a closer look at why avocados are not the best for chickens and how this controversy unfolded.
Chickens and Avocados
While there are reports of chickens safely consuming small traces of avocado here and there, for the most part, this is a seriously dangerous fruit for chickens.
Avocado is a fruit from southern America. It is botanically a large berry that contains a single large seed in the center.
Avocados are often cited as a superfood, with a range of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients with health benefits that have been confirmed through scientific study.
Such benefits include anti-cancer effects, the lowering of cholesterol and triglycerides (fats in the bloodstream), antioxidants for eye health, and better nutrient absorption.
These are fantastic for us humans, and as such, it would be wise to include them regularly in our diets.
But can these effects be experienced by chickens? Unfortunately, no.
This is not the type of ‘scrap’ you should ever look to provide.
Research by the Merck Veterinary Manual is clear with their findings and how avocados can be fatal when consumed by many animals; most notably birds (including chickens).
Avocados naturally carry a toxic chemical known as Persin. This is abundant on the skin, leaves and is also present in high quantities in the inner seed.
It is also present within the inner flesh (just in minor quantities).
However, when you consider that the flesh is surrounding the seed, it is only logical to suggest that the flesh will be more contaminated with this poisonous substance.
Can Avocados Kill Chickens?
Avocados can kill chickens. Of course, whether or not this happens depends on the dose and on the bird. Older and weaker birds will be more susceptible than younger, more robust ones.
Ingestion of Persin (even in relatively small doses) has been known to cause:
- Increased heart rate
- Myocardial tissue damage
- Labored breathing
Naturally, some of the above symptoms are not fatal in the immediate realm of time. However, they do not contribute to the long-term health of your chickens.
They also leave them susceptible to other illnesses, diseases, and issues as their immune system is weakened and more prone to and against attacks.
In higher doses, ingestion of Persin from avocados can lead to an acute respiratory syndrome where death is likely to occur within 12-24 hours.
Beyond just the Persin, avocados also contain acids that chickens find particularly difficult to digest.
This can cause troublesome diarrhea (that can last for several weeks). While this is not going to be great for your birds, it’s also not preferable as their owner either!
While the research does suggest chickens are more “resistant” to the effects of avocados than other birds, this is not something you should look to risk.
What Can Chickens Not Eat List?
Now that we know why avocados should not be fed to chickens, here are some other foods which you need to be aware of. And why.
- White potatoes – these contain another toxic compound. This time its Solanine. Ingestion of Solanine can cause diarrhea, destruction of red blood cells and heart failure. Cooking mostly destroys this compound but again; is it worth the risk?
- Plant Leaves (Especially from Nightshades) – The most problematic are Tomato, Eggplant and Rhubarb leaves. Again, a lot of leaves contain Solanine and other toxic chemicals.
- Apple seeds – these contain trace amounts of Cyanide which can be fatal for chickens.
- Onions – Another toxin carrier. Its called Thiosulfate. It damages and destroys red blood cells resulting in likely death.
- Chocolate & Caffeine – from Coffee and Tea.
- Processed Foods – particularly those high in salt and fat.
A Safer Treat For Your Chickens
Just because chickens cannot eat avocados and those items referenced above, does not mean that you should not give them treats. A lot of fruits and vegetables can be fed, and in doing so, you can promote the health and longevity of your birds.
A lot of fruit and vegetables contain many vitamins, minerals, and nutrients which will serve the health of your chickens.
Aside from this, another excellent food to provide for your chickens is mealworms.
So long as they are all-natural and sourced safely, these can be one of the best things to feed your chickens.
Mealworms and other insects should be included in your chicken’s diet. They naturally mimic wild chicken and their foraging diet. Here is a brief overview of just some of the vitamins and minerals they provide:
So if you really want to treat your chickens, and give them something not only that they will enjoy but boost their health, opt for mealworms instead.
I get my mealworms for a great price on Amazon. This is truly an exceptional brand, plus they are easy to store, seal and my chickens love them!
Chickens should not be eating avocados. Sure, the odd chicken owner may have gotten away with the odd feeding here and there, but the risk is higher than the reward.
It’s always better to be safe and sorry; why feed your chickens a food that could potentially be fatal when there are other foods that can provide the same, if not more nutrition. One such example would be mealworms.
I personally avoid giving my chickens anything that is considered toxic. But, of course, the choice is all yours. I’m just presenting to you the research.
However, if you simply must provide avocados; you need to be very careful. You should only provide a very small amount of the flesh and be very sure no skin, leave, or pit is offered.
Ultimately, avocados are not the best food source for your pet chickens, even as a treat and even in moderation.
Wondering what else chickens can eat? Check out my other chicken feeding guides below!
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.