Making gingerbread is a popular Christmas tradition. If you have pet chickens, it’s normal to want to give them treats during the holidays. But can chickens eat gingerbread? What about that old gingerbread house that’s been sitting on your counter for months? We’ve done all the research for you to get your questions answered.
Can Chickens Eat Gingerbread?
Gingerbread is fine for chickens if fed in moderation. When feeding them gingerbread houses, ensure there are no signs of spoilage, and remove any icing, candy, marshmallows, or any other toppings. Too much junk food can cause laying hens to produce low-quality eggs, plus your flock will be deprived of essential nutrients.
One of the things chicken owners love about these animals is they eat all the stuff you would otherwise throw out. Frozen pizza, leftover pizza, stale bread, old fruit, etc.
However, it’s important to understand that not all human food is good for chickens. For instance, chickens can’t eat bread often as it poses some danger to them.
Let’s take a closer look at why gingerbread is safe for chickens and how to feed it to them.
What Is Gingerbread?
Today, gingerbread is a baked sweet that contains ginger, cloves, nutmeg, anise, cardamom, cinnamon, and sweetened with honey, brown sugar, or other types of sweetener.
However, it wasn’t always a sweet dessert.
The tradition of gingerbread started in Medieval England and was known as a method of preserving ginger. It wasn’t until the late 15th century when people started using it as a dessert.
According to Best Gingerbread Houses, the first known gingerbread was founded in 2400 BC. Gingerbread houses originated in the 16th century in Germany.
Gingerbread Nutritional Information
One ginger bread cookie contains:
Is Gingerbread Safe for Chickens?
Gingerbread cookies or houses are not likely to be toxic for chickens, and ginger itself is known to several benefits for chickens. This baked bread also has some herbs such as cinnamon that is good for chickens.
Some people also make fermented gingerbread cookies, which is a traditional German Christmas cookie. Some fermented foods such as sauerkraut can be safe for chickens.
That said, it’s not the healthiest food to feed your chickens, but it won’t hurt your chickens if fed in moderation. Large amounts can cause obesity in chickens.
An excessive intake of fatty foods such as sunflower seeds, suet (flock blocks), and other junk food can kill your hens. It can also affect the production and quality of your hens’ eggs.
Benefits of Gingerbread for Chickens
According to Middletown Medical, the ginger root in gingerbread can aid women with morning sickness and menstrual cramps, but that doesn’t really help chickens.
Gingerbread has cinnamon, which is loaded with antioxidants and a good supplement for chickens. It likely doesn’t have enough benefits to make it a healthy choice for your chickens to eat every day. Besides, chickens wouldn’t be able to eat large enough portions to benefit from the cinnamon or other healthy spices found in gingerbread cookies.
If chickens are eating a high-quality feed, they don’t need to eat gingerbread. They would get all the necessary nutrients and minerals their bodies require from their daily meals.
Do Chickens Like Gingerbread?
Chickens are omnivores which means they enjoy various fruits, vegetables, grains, and even table scraps. Chickens will likely like the gingery and mellow combination of spices taste of gingerbread, especially the freshly baked variety.
Some chickens won’t even mind eating gingerbread houses that are a few months old. Here’s a video of some chickens eating gingered houses.
What About Gingerbread Houses?
Yes, chickens will eat gingerbread houses. If you have an old gingerbread kit with prebaked slabs, it should be fine to feed your flock as long as there are no signs of spoilage, icing, and candied decorations.
Keep in mind that one gingerbread house contains about 4,757 calories, which is a lot to feed your chickens. It also contains the following nutrients:
If your chickens have never eaten gingerbread, start out by giving them a small taste. Most chickens will want to eat the whole house, but if you only have a few chickens, it may be best to break up the house and give it to them in sections.
Gingerbread Snap Cookies
Some people eat gingerbread snap cookies throughout the year, especially, since you can buy them year round.
Store-bought gingerbread snap cookies are not toxic to chickens but should be fed in moderation. Ginger snaps are a better option than feeding your chickens other types of cookies such as chocolate chip, Oreos and etc.
However, they still aren’t a healthy option so allow your chickens to indulge occasionally.
How to Feed Chickens Gingerbread
Next Christmas time, make a small batch of gingerbread cookies for your flock. Opt for plain cookies without any toppings.
Crumble them up and scatter them on the ground. Your chickens maybe a little hesitant at first, especially if they’ve never smelled the combination of spices. However, once they get their first peck of food, they’ll likely gobble it up and keep begging for more.
If your chickens enjoy eating gingerbread, you can even get a little creative on how you feed them. For instance, we talked about how some chicken owners feed their chickens cabbage to their flock by hanging it on a string.
You could do something similar with your gingerbread house or cookies. Getting creative on how you feed your chickens table scraps makes it fun to watch them eat but can require them to get some exercise while eating the food. It can also keep your birds from getting bored as well.
No matter how much they beg, avoid feeding them too much as it can cause problems. Always monitor your chickens after feeding them any new foods.
Since gingerbread is a seasonal food item and you only make it once a year. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with giving your chickens a small taste once a year.
It’s also best not to give treats or table scraps to baby chicks. Wait until they are at least two months old before feeding them treats, especially table scraps.
If you notice any unusual behaviors, contact the avian vet. Signs of an upset tummy can range from diarrhea, lack of appetite, etc. It can be hard to tell if your chicken is not feeling well. However, if you’ve had them long enough, you know what’s expected and unusual behavior for your flock.
Gingerbread is not only popular with people during Christmas time. Chickens love eating this spicy, sugary snack. It is not toxic to the birds but should be fed in moderation as it can lead to obesity, stomach issues, and poor quality eggs.
Before tossing out an old gingerbread house or leftover gingerbread cookies, remove some of the icings and throw a couple of pieces on the ground for your flock.
Feeding your chickens a variety of foods is not only good for them but can help you cut down on the amount of food you waste!