Chickens love food and treats and are willing to try anything new with a curious peck. Chicken owners are always looking for new treats to feed their flock, especially if it’s something we enjoy or have a lot of. Several of our favorite treats are acceptable for chickens too, but what about marshmallows? The highly sugary snack isn’t too healthy for us, so is it unhealthy for your flock?
Can Chickens Eat Marshmallows
Marshmallows are not toxic to chickens but are high in sugar, which makes them an unhealthy treat. Their bodies can’t process sugar like ours, and too much sugar can cause obesity and a drop in egg production. Marshmallows do not have any nutritional value for your flock and can be a choking hazard.
Chickens will eat marshmallows and pretty much anything else you feed them. Here’s a video of an owner feeding their free-range chickens marshmallows.
The chickens will gladly eat them. It doesn’t mean you should feed them this or any other sugary treat. Let’s take a look at what marshmallows are, why they’re bad for chickens.
How Are Marshmallows Made?
The main ingredients in marshmallows are corn syrup, sugar, cornstarch, water, vanilla extract, and gelatin. One marshmallow contains about 4 grams of sugar. These popular Peep marshmallows (chick-shaped marshmallows) contain 30 grams of sugar for one serving!
None of these ingredients are necessary for your chickens.
The process of making marshmallows is interesting. The ingredients are combined and mixed with an electric mixer. Then spread in a pan and allowed to dry until set. Once set into the squishy form, they are cut into the blocks.
Are Marshmallows Good For Chickens
Marshmallows aren’t necessarily good for chickens. Giving them one every now and then won’t cause any harm. None of the ingredients are toxic to your flock.
The only concern is that marshmallows are very high in sugar. Chickens’ bodies aren’t designed to digest and process sugar like our bodies are. According to the University of Georgia, if a chicken consumes too much sugar, it can cause gastrointestinal troubles and even reduce growth. Too much sugar in their diet can also lead to obesity. Because of this, marshmallows do not make a healthy treat for your chickens.
Like other domesticated animals (dogs and cats), certain foods can pose a choking hazard. Chickens don’t have teeth, so giving them chewy substances puts them at risk.
Since they can’t break the marshmallow up, they will attempt to swallow it whole. The gizzard is an organ in the chicken’s digestive tract responsible for grinding the food they eat into smaller, more digestible pieces.
Since marshmallows are sticky, they might stick to the grit inside of the gizzard and won’t be properly digested by your chicken.
Although there is little evidence, it is also theorized that marshmallows are too squishy and gooey for your chicken’s gizzard to grind correctly.
It’s just not worth the risk.
Should You Feed Chickens Marshmallows?
Chickens do not need marshmallows in their diet. However, it’s not hard to find YouTube videos and social media posts of people feeding their chickens marshmallows, ice cream, donuts, and etc.
If you do share some with your flock, ensure you pull them into smaller pieces that will be easier for your chickens to swallow.
So, although marshmallows aren’t necessarily harmful for your chickens to consume, they aren’t the ideal treat, and there are many other healthier options to feed as treats.
How Often Can A Chicken Eat Marshmallows
Chickens can, and will, eat a wide variety of foods, even ones that are bad for them. As a chicken keeper, it’s essential to understand that 90% of your chickens’ diet should be their daily feed. The other 10% can be filled with treats.
If their daily food recommendation has been fulfilled, it doesn’t matter too much what you provide as a treat as long as it isn’t toxic or harmful. Even so, treats should be fed sparingly, especially if they are unhealthy and filled with sugar.
Marshmallows, along with other sugary food items, should be avoided as a snack option for your flock. However, a few pieces every now and then will not cause any harm to your chicken. Generally, sugary treats should only be fed every few weeks since your chicken’s body isn’t able to process it.
Ensure you monitor your chickens’ behavior. If you notice any unusual behavior, stop feeding them immediately.
If you’re worried about the health concerns associated with feeding your chickens sugary treats, there are many other healthier options such as fruits, vegetables, cereals, pasta, and bread.
Most of these healthier options are lying around our houses and should be given to your flock first before considering any other unhealthy options.
Chickens can and will eat marshmallows. That said, it is not a healthy snack and should be avoided.
Marshmallows are very high in sugar, which chickens aren’t able to process correctly. A chicken’s body isn’t designed to digest sugar the same way ours is; because of this, too much sugar can lead to health problems such as obesity, gastrointestinal issues, and growth reduction.
Like us, your birds need a well-balanced diet to ensure they get their daily requirement of essential vitamins and nutrients. A good diet will provide your flock with a healthy, happy life with minimal health issues. It will also ensure high-quality eggs from laying hens.
If you choose to feed your chickens marshmallows, make sure to break them apart so they are easier to swallow, and don’t give them more than a couple every few weeks.
Never feed them roasted marshmallows, as they are gooier than the regular ones. Also, refrain from giving them Peeps or any other flavored variety, as they usually contain more sugar.
S’mores are our favorites and we always give our chickens graham crackers, and they love them!
If you’re concerned about the health risks associated with sugary treats, there are many other healthier options, but it is entirely up to you as your flock’s owner to decide what you will and won’t allow your chickens to eat.