Can Chickens Eat Bean Plants? [Bean Toxicity]

Chickens are notorious for eating all types of plants in the garden, whether they are supposed to or not. If you are growing or are planning on growing beans in your garden, you’ll probably want to know if it’s safe for your chickens to eat.

Can Chickens Eat Bean Plants?

In short, raw beans are toxic and can be dangerous to chickens. However, the actual bean plant itself will not cause any harm. This means that you can feed the bean plant leaves to your flock, but you should avoid them coming in contact with the actual beans.

If you’re still curious about feeding bean plants to your chickens, then you’re in the right place. This article will cover everything you need to know to keep your chickens happy and healthy regarding bean plants.

What Parts Of The Bean Plant Are Toxic?

Bush bean plants as a whole are not toxic. Only the raw beans growing on the plants are. Although the plant’s leaves and stems are safe to eat, you will still want to keep the plant away from your chickens as they can pull the beans off the stem or eat the raw beans that may fall to the ground.

The stalk is the toughest part, and your chickens will likely have a hard time eating them. Most won’t even eat them, even if you throw them on the ground for them to peck. 

When your bean plant has reached the end of its season, and you have harvested all the beans from it, then you can give the leftover greenery to your chickens. 

Will Chickens Eat Bean Plants?

Chickens will eat the leaves from the bean plant, but they typically prefer other food sources instead.

It’s also important to note that chickens can only eat the greenery from bush bean plants. However, most will be more interested in eating the actual beans than the plants. 

Bean plants like Castor beans contain ricin throughout the entire plant, which is extremely toxic and potentially fatal for your birds. 

Other plants your chickens will likely want to eat, but you should keep away from them are nightshade plants and elephant ears

If you’d like a more in-depth list of what is and isn’t safe for your chickens to eat, this list from Heritage Acres Market is another excellent resource.

What Happens If Your Chicken Eats Raw Beans?

Raw beans contain a protein called hemagglutinin that almost instantly causes food poisoning symptoms to the body. The toxin is naturally found in raw beans, including red kidney beans, broad beans, and white kidney beans. 

If you are not supposed to eat something, it’s safe to say your chickens are not supposed to either. 

While each type of bean varies in its levels of toxicity, you should keep them all away from your flock. The consumption of even a few raw beans will have adverse effects on your chickens. It will upset their stomach, cause diarrhea, create blood clots, and potentially be fatal. 

If your chickens happen to eat some raw beans, contact a poultry veterinarian immediately. That said, if your chicken eats 1 or 2 beans, they’ll likely be fine. 

It’s best to keep them away from your garden, especially if your chickens love eating your fresh plants. 

Are Dried Beans Safe For Chickens To Eat?

Dried beans fall under the same category as raw beans when it comes to chickens. The toxic component needs to be cooked out of the beans to eat them without any negative side effects.

When a bean is left to dry out, the toxin is still left within the bean. 

Purchasing store-bought dried beans is no different either. Regardless of how the beans are dried, they will still never be safe for your chickens to eat.

Are Cooked Beans Safe For Chickens To Eat?

Cooked beans are a completely different story and are safe to feed your chickens. Raw beans must be boiled for at least ten minutes to remove the toxins in them altogether. 

Other methods of cooking may not reach temperatures high enough to make them edible. For more information on cooking your beans properly, visit this page by State Food Safety.

Once the beans are fully cooked then they can be offered to your chickens as a snack. Cooked beans should not be a part of their regular diet and instead are a great way to supplement their nutrients.

Unlike raw beans, cooked beans have several health benefits that are great for your chickens’ well-being. Some of these benefits include high fiber, complex carbs, protein, iron, and manganese. These nutrients will vary depending on the type of beans you are feeding your chickens. However, all are healthy to eat.

Final Word

Overall, bean plants should not cause any need for worry as long as you keep the raw beans away from your chickens. 

If you can keep the raw beans away from the plants or the beans are cooked, your chickens will love to be offered this new source of food into their diet.

That said, if you’re worried about your chickens eating something they shouldn’t, don’t feed them plants from the garden. If you have free-range chickens, put up a fence to keep them out of the garden.

It may take some effort on your part, especially if you allow your chickens to forage everywhere in the yard. With a little training and some fencing, you can keep your chickens from eating something that can be toxic to them!