Can chickens eat candy? No, chickens should not eat candy in any shape, size, or form. There are no nutritional benefits and the high sugar content can cause lots of health problems. That’s before I even mention the choking hazard that candy causes.
Candy should never be given to your chickens, even as an occasional treat. Read on to find out everything you need to know about candy and chickens.
What is Candy?
Candy is a form of sugar that has been purified by repeated boiling and cooling which leaves crystals. The process is done multiple times, creating a delicious sweet treat for humans, but a huge health risk for chickens.
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Can Chickens Eat Candy?
No, candy is not acceptable food for chickens. There are no nutritional benefits to eating candy and it can cause lots of health problems.
Ingesting too much sugar can cause your chicken’s organs to work overtime as their bodies try to cope with the sudden influx of chemicals. This extra work puts stress on their body and could even be fatal.
Chickens that eat candy also have an increased chance of getting worms from the high sugar content in the candies they ingest.
What are the Risks of Feeding Chickens Candy?
While there are no nutritional benefits from feeding candy to chickens, there are lots of other reasons why this practice should be discouraged. These include:
The biggest risk is that a chicken might choke on tiny pieces of candy or swallow them whole and unchewed. You cannot easily see if they’ve swallowed something too big until it causes a problem and by then it may be too late.
Getting pieces of candy lodged in their digestive tract can be fatal as it prevents your chicken from being able to take in the nutrients they need to survive. These clogged feed tubes leave them malnourished and vulnerable to other health problems down the road.
Candy contains nothing but sugar and sugar rots your chickens’ beaks and can cause bacterial growth in their mouths.
Candies that contain chocolate or coffee are even worse for your birds because they contain caffeine which can also be fatal.
Swallowing whole pieces of candy rots your chicken’s crop and digestive tract. This makes it harder for them to digest food properly, causing malnutrition and making them more susceptible to other health problems down the road.
Chocolate contains caffeine so will make your chickens see red – not a good thing if you want eggs! Chocolate is toxic to any creature with a nervous system and giving him too much can lead to seizures and death. Human foods like chocolate should never be given to chickens under any circumstances as some people think it is okay.
What Can You Feed Chickens Instead?
You can feed your chickens any of the following treats:
Chickens love fruit and there are lots of different kinds to try. Bananas, strawberries, grapes (cut in half), oranges (peel first), or blueberries all make great treats for your flocks.
Make sure you wash any fruit before giving it to them as this will inhibit bacterial growth and rotting.
Cooked veggies like corn, beans, peas, and carrots also make good healthy treats for chickens. Again, make sure these have been cooked and cooled before feeding them to your flock as bacteria can grow on raw veggies that heat hasn’t killed off the first time around.
Good choices for treats include corn on the cob (remove the silk and husk first), green beans, peas, and carrots (cooked or fed raw).
Cereals like Cheerios and similar brands make great chicken treats. Avoid anything with sugar as this is an unnecessary indulgence.
Chickens love mealworms so they are a healthy treat to feed them if you catch them yourself in your garden. If not, freeze-dried mealworms from pet stores also make a good substitute.
You can also buy live worms online which will keep your chickens amused for hours when you’re not around. Make sure though that they are 100% dried out before feeding them to your flock.
Give your flock a bowl of fresh water and they’ll be happy as larry. During the summer you can add some ice cubes to cool it down for them as well as give them something to peck at and play with. Just make sure that any spilled water is cleaned up straight away or it will form a breeding ground for bacteria and rot their feed.
Why Can’t Chickens Eat Sugar?
Chickens in the wild don’t eat sugar and they get all the nutrients they need from foraging for insects, worms, and vegetation.
Modern industrial chicken farms have changed these birds so much that their bodies can no longer properly digest simple sugars like those found in candy.
Excess sugar is bad for humans, cows, pigs, horses, and other kinds of livestock as well. Chickens should never eat sugar or candy because it can’t provide them with the nutrients they need to survive making it dangerous for their health.
Dangerous Ingredients in Candy
Although chickens should never be given any kind of candy there are some ingredients that are more dangerous than others.
This is why you should always check the label before giving anything to your flock. Here are some common dangerous ingredients found in candy:
- Caffeine (like those found in coffee)
- Sugar (sorbitol)
- Xylitol (artificial sweetener)
- Gum Acacia (gum arabic) which can cause crop impaction, diarrhea, and even lead to death in some cases
Can Chickens Eat Sugar-Free Candy?
Sugar-free candy is okay for chickens to eat within moderation just like it is with humans.
The key here is moderation so only give them a couple of pieces in total per day along with other healthy treats.
Be aware that sugar-free candy contains other ingredients that are harmful to chickens including artificial sweeteners, caffeine, and gum arabic.
What to Do if Your Chickens Eat Too Much Sugar-Free Candy?
If your chickens have eaten too much sugar-free candy they may get a stomach ache or diarrhea. This is why it’s important not to give them any more of the treat for a while until their bodies have had a chance to absorb all of the excess sugars.
Make sure you clean up any spilled pieces from the ground immediately as well so it doesn’t form a breeding ground for harmful bacteria that could lead to illness in your flock.
Can Chickens Eat Candy – Final Thoughts
There is absolutely no nutritional benefit in feeding candy to your chickens, but there are lots of risks.
Candy of any sort is not good for chickens and giving it to your flock will only cause more problems than it solves. If you must, try some healthy treats like cooked or sprouted grains, vegetables, and fruit.