Like dog owners, many chicken owners ask the question ‘can chickens eat chocolate?’ Well, the answer is a straight up NO they cannot.
Chocolate is not safe for your chickens, even in the smallest amounts. Chocolate is also on the list of the most toxic foods that you can feed your flock. What makes chocolate so unsafe for your chickens is the high amounts of theobromine and caffeine. These can cause negative effects on the chickens health and even cause death.
If you were wanting to treat your girls with a bit of yummy chocolate, don’t worry. There are many other safe treats you can give to your chickens instead.
What this article covers
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Can Chickens Eat Chocolate? What About Baby Chickens?
No, baby chickens cannot eat chocolate either. They require a high-quality diet that supports their rapid growth. Giving chocolate treats to young chicks can make them very sick or even result in death.
Given that chocolate can make adult chickens very sick and even prove fatal, those effects can manifest even quicker in baby chickens. The toxic effect chocolate has on adult chickens would make it near impossible for baby chicks to recover.
What Happens When Chickens Eat Chocolate?
Chocolate contains two specific components that are toxic to chickens being theobromine and caffeine. Each of these components can cause dangerous health conditions that can be fatal to your chickens. Combined together the risk of negative consequences is even more likely.
Theobromine is an alkaloid that occurs naturally in cocoa beans. Humans can generally safely consume theobromine however this compound affects animals a lot differently. Chickens are a lot smaller than human beings and they can’t tolerate the same amount of theobromine that a human can. This study concludes that theobromine is a stimulant and can increase heart rate in human beings, so when given to chickens in a high enough dosage they can suffer seizures and heart attacks as a consequence.
Caffeine is another substance that can also be safely consumed by human beings. Caffeine is a stimulant and natural diuretic. This study found that chickens who consumed caffeine had poorer egg production, quality and higher mortality (death) rates.
Is All Chocolate Bad For Chickens?
Yes. All chocolates can have a toxic effect on your chickens. Generally the darker the chocolate the more toxic due to the higher quantities of theobromine found in the cocoa bean. Even so, white chocolate and milk chocolate still contain cocoa powder and can still cause negative health effects on your chickens. Secondary in importance, the high fat and sugar content of chocolate is very unhealthy for them. It’s just not worth the risk feeding chocolate treats.
How Much Chocolate Is Too Much For Chickens?
Can chickens eat chocolate? But come on, what about even just the tiniest amount? Ok so your chicken has accidentally consumed some chocolate. At what point should your chicken see a veterinarian for help?
This is something you are going to have to monitor in the behavior of your chicken. Due to size, breed, age and other individuality factors there are too many variables to know how much is too much. If you are in doubt over your chickens health. Please take them to a veterinarian for a check up.
The best amount for chickens is zero. Stick with that amount to avoid any potential issues. There are many other safe treats you can feed your chickens. Here is what we give to our own flock for a safe treat.
Action To Take If Chickens Eat Chocolate
As we mentioned earlier, if you are ever unsure whether your chicken is suffering from the toxic effects of consuming chocolate the best course is to seek veterinarian advice for the appropriate course of action that should be taken.
Your vet may ask you to bring in the chicken for a check up or advice to monitor the chickens behavior for signs of toxicity.
You are likely to start to see signs of toxicity fairly quickly and generally within 6-12 hours. The early signs can include diarrhoea, increased thirst and restlessness.
These initial signs can then progress to more serious issues like kidney failure, seizures and heart rate or rhythm irregularities. These effects are serious and can ultimately result in the fatality of your feathered friends.
Other Foods Chickens Should Not Eat
Other foods that are toxic to chickens as well are uncooked or dried beans. They contain hemagglutinin, which can inhibit proper digestion in birds.
Avocado pits and skin should also be avoided because the ‘persin’ contained in these is harmful too. Avocado flesh is a safe part of the avocado and can be eaten by chickens.
Any moldy foods are also a no go.
Avoid giving your chickens too much garlic and onion too because it can cause a condition called Heinz anemia. Read more about it here.
We hope you now know the answer to the question of “Can chickens eat chocolate?”. Most foods chickens can indeed eat with no issues at all but chocolate is definitely not one of them. Your chickens must not be given chocolate in order to remain healthy and happy.
Chicken Care Shopping List
Are you looking for a shopping list of everything you need when caring for your precious flock? We have put together an easy reference of items for your convenience.
- Chicken coop
- Wood shavings bale
- Nesting Box
- Layer pellets
- Chicken scratch/grain
- Shell grit
- Chicken Safe Disinfectant
- Coop cleaner
- Chicken dust
- Calcium supplement
Theobromine study – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3672386/
Caffeine Study – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33102566/