Just like humans, chickens enjoy snacks every once in a while. Chickens are omnivores and can, and should, have a wide range and variety of foods in their diet. What about French fries? The tasty treat is one of our favorites. Can our chickens have it too?
Can Chickens Eat French Fries
French fries are not toxic to chickens. They are heavy in saturated fats, which can cause weight gain, heart disease, and other health issues. Opt for sweet potato fries, as they don’t contain solanine that is bad for chickens. That said, moderation is the key when giving your chickens french fries.
Chickens will love eating tasty fries, but they should only be fed as a treat as they are not part of their natural diet. Let’s take at everything you need to know about feeding chickens french fries.
Are French Fries Healthy For Chickens
French fries are not the healthiest food option for chickens. However, they are not unhealthier for your feathered friends than they are for you.
French fries are greasy foods containing high amounts of saturated fats, salt, salt, and other seasonings that can be harmful to your flock.
What Are Saturated Fats?
According to Heart.org saturated fats are unhealthy fats that become solid at room temperature because they lack the double bonds between carbon molecules. For example, think about the leftover bacon grease, how it becomes solid after being left out.
There are several types of fats, and saturated and trans fats are the most harmful to your health.
Are French Fries Safe for Chickens?
Feeding your chickens a few Mcdonalds or homemade french left over from your plate won’t harm them. Avoid feeding them fries regularly, as they can’t digest fat the same way we can.
An experiment to help understand the digestion of fat and the effects on the gastrointestinal tract of broilers, chickens, and other birds. The study found lower digestibility in long chain fatty acids (14 or more carbons) than short chain fatty acids, those containing fewer than six carbon atoms.
Poultry birds were able to digest unsaturated fatty acids better than saturated fatty acids. The age of the bird will also influence the ability to digest and absorb fat.
Younger birds will have an easier time digesting fat than older birds.
How Does Preparation Change How Healthy French Fries are for Chicken to Eat?
French fries are typically deep-fried in oil and seasoned on the heavy side with salt as the main ingredient.
Cooked this way diminishes its nutritional value as it soaks up some of the cooking oil. Besides being loaded in fats and high in salt, if your french fries are prepackaged, they will likely contain other not-so-healthy ingredients that may prevent you from sharing your meal.
For example, fast food and store-bought french fries contain higher levels of salt and other preservatives that are harmful to both human and chicken health.
Certain fast-food chains can contain up to twenty different ingredients in their french fries. So, you may want to skip sharing any fast-food fries if you only want to provide your chicken with the best food options.
On the other hand, fresh, homemade french fries offer healthier choices that are free from preservatives. If the french fries are baked in the oven or cooked in an air-frier, they will be even healthier to consume as they would be free from harmful preservatives and oils.
They will also offer your chicken more in the way of nutrients than what deep-fried french fries would supply them.
Even though the difference in nutritional value changes based on how french fries are prepared, exactly how bad or good they happen to be for your chicken will also depend on how often it is added to their diet.
Are there Health Benefits to Feeding Chicken French Fries?
There seems to be a common belief that french fries have no nutritional value (having a lot to do with how they are prepared), overlooking the fact that french fries are made from vegetables.
French fries are made from potatoes. Potatoes offer your chickens with the following nutrients, vitamins, and minerals: protein, carbs, fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, niacin, and folate.
Here’s a table of the quantity of nutrients found in french fries.
Nutritional Information for French Fries
In this table, we’ll take a closer look at the nutrients found in regular french fries vs sweet potato fries. These servings are based off of a 3-ounce serving.
|Nutrients||Sweet Potato Fries||French Fries|
|Trans fat||1 gram||1 gram|
|Saturated fat||1 g||1 g|
|Sodium||170 mg||282 mg|
|Protein||3 grams||2 grams|
|Protein||0.8 grams||4 grams|
|Sugars||3.1 grams||0.3 grams|
|Fiber||1 gram||2 grams|
There are literally several fast food chains where people get their fries from. When sharing fries with your chickens, consider feeding feeding them small amounts of McDonald’s, and Sonic fries. Both have a the lowest percentage of bad fats, (trans fat and saturated fats)
Can Chickens Get Solanine from French Fries?
There is a common misconception that potatoes are bad for chickens because they are part of the nightshade family. Nightshades contain a toxin called solanine, which is a natural neurotoxin. Solanine is highest in the skin of green potatoes and can mostly be killed by cooking.
The toxin in minimal amounts won’t do any harm. Still, it can cause respiratory distress, gastrointestinal issues, neurological damage, diarrhea, convulsions, and paralysis if it builds up in the body. If the dosage is high enough, it can even cause death.
If your chicken eats a small fry once in a while, solanine won’t be able to build up in their body. However, you should never let them eat the green part of nightshade plants as they can be toxic to poultry.
It is up to the chicken owner to decide whether they want to take this risk or not.
Sweet potatoes are not part of the nightshade family and do not contain any toxin. Chickens can eat sweet potatoes and have many benefits. It makes them a perfect treat for chickens, so if you’re concerned about white potatoes harming your chickens, you can always try sweet potatoes or sweet potato fries.
Fresh Eggs Daily recommends avoiding all parts of the white potato but mentions that if you feed it to them, only stick with well-cooked and fully peeled ripe potatoes.
How Often Can Chickens Eat Treats
A chicken should receive 90-100% of their nutrients daily from their feed. The other 10% can consist of treats.
Good chicken feed will contain proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fats, and enzymes for digestion and shouldn’t need another food substitution. However, just like humans, chickens enjoy eating treats every now and then.
It’s important not to overfeed your chickens with treats. Treats don’t have as much if any, nutrients that they receive from their feed.
If your chickens eat too many treats, you may find them ignoring their feeder because they have filled up on unhealthy food. It could result in your chickens not getting enough nutrients.
Chickens can eat healthy treats like broccoli, carrots, kale, squash, herbs, plants, fruits, etc., daily. But unhealthy foods such as processed, fried, or sugary foods should be fed very rarely if not avoided altogether, and this includes French fries.
Chickens should only consume 1 or 2 French fries/chips every few weeks. Ensure the French fries are not salted or contain any other spices that could be bad for your chicken.
Chickens and chicks info states that a few fries here and there will not hurt your chicken, but it is essential to understand that your chickens are much smaller than you, which means they don’t need to consume that much to push their daily value of salt and fat over the limit.
Can Baby Chicks Eat French Fries?
If your young chicks are old enough to eat starter feed, they will gladly eat the french fries you feed them. French fries are not toxic to young birds, and like their adult counterparts, they will love the taste!
A young bird that is growing requires specific nutrients that they won’t get from junk food. Avoid feeding your baby chicks any human foods, as they are not necessary.
Stick with a good quality starter feed that is high in protein. Once your chicks are four months of age, you can introduce them to table scraps and other human foods.
Can Chickens Eat Frozen French Fries?
Frozen fries are some of the worst type to feed your flock, as many brands use palm trans fats and palm oil which are terrible for the heart. Before feeding any new types of food to your flock, ensure you read the lable.
It’s important to know what ingredients the foods contain and if they can be harmful to your birds.
Chickens can consume French fries, but only in moderation. Treats should only make up 10% of your chicken’s diet and should mostly consist of healthy fresh fruits and veggies.
Avoid feeding your flock sugary and processed foods. Instilling good feeding habits can help your flock live a healthy and longer lifespan.
French fries are no worse for your chicken than they are for us, meaning they can’t eat them often without health consequences, just like humans.
As long as you give your chickens 1 or 2 fries every few weeks, the solanine released from potatoes shouldn’t have the chance to build up their body, but it is entirely up to the chicken’s owner to decide what and how they want to feed them.