As chicken owners, we tend to treat our chickens like garbage disposal. We feed them our leftovers, vegetables, fruit, etc. But can chickens eat sweet potatoes? If so, what’s the benefit and the best way to feed it to them?
Can Chickens Eat Sweet Potatoes?
Sweet potatoes are not toxic to chickens are can be healthier than white potatoes. They are highly nutritious and incredibly high in vitamin A, and antioxidants fight cell damage caused by free radicals. Cooked sweet potatoes have 65% digestible nutrients, and raw sweet potatoes have 47% digestible nutrients.
It can be challenging to determine what it is okay to feed your chickens and what you should stay away from completely. Chickens make up their minds and eat just about anything they think could be slightly tasty because they are omnivores.
But when it comes to what they can eat regularly, it might take some more thought.
Let’s get into why it is okay for chickens to eat sweet potatoes.
Are Sweet Potatoes Safe for Chickens to Eat?
Sweet potatoes are incredibly delicious and more nutritious than regular white potatoes. Chicken owners tend to gravitate towards feeding their flock sweet potatoes because they can eat every single part of it with no issue.
That means you can feed chickens the peel of sweet potato as well as leftovers and scraps you may have from your meals.
You need to make sure the sweet potatoes aren’t moldy, which can cause infection and other health issues. It is also important to note that sweet potatoes don’t contain the same chemicals you would find in white, red, or yellow potatoes.
Benefits of Feeding Sweet Potatoes to Chickens
Sweet potatoes have tons of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals that are extremely important for healthy chickens. One vitamin that sweet potatoes have is vitamin A.
Chickens need vitamin A to grow, reproduce, and keep their cells in good condition. The high beta-carotene levels make vitamin A in sweet potatoes ideal.
Another essential vitamin found in sweet potatoes is vitamin D3. Chickens need vitamin D3 to utilize the calcium they have in their diet. This vitamin is vital for chickens who may have bone problems or issues growing properly. Vitamin D3 also makes for strong eggshells in egg-laying chickens.
Some other nutrients found in sweet potatoes vital for chickens include beta-carotene, potassium, and vitamin C.
The leaves, flowers, vines, and roots belonging to sweet potatoes are completely safe for chickens. This video talks about the many benefits found in sweet potatoes that can benefit your flock.
Nutrients In Sweet Potatoes
One cup of cooked in skin sweet potatoes contains:
|Dietary Fiber||6.6 grams|
|Total Omega-3 Fatty Acids||8.0 mg|
|Total Omega-6 Fatty Acids||120 mg|
|Vitamin A||38433 IU|
|Vitamin C||39.2 mg|
|Vitamin K||4.6 mcg|
|Vitamin B6||0.6 mg|
Sweet potatoes are often touted as being healthier for white potatoes, because of the nutrients they contain. That being said, moderation is the key whenever feeding your chickens any snacks.
Overfeeding them can lead to diarrhea, weight issues, and other health problems.
Sweet Potatoes as Chicken Feed
In the mid-50s, countries like Japan and other Asian nations used sweet potatoes as poultry feed because they contain 90% starch. Studies conducted on sweet potatoes and chickens show that diets consisting of cooked sweet potatoes positively impact them over time.
Sweet potatoes contain digestible carbohydrates, so chicks and chickens can metabolize them faster. They also provide a good energy source for chickens. These vegetables are also rich in essential vitamins and minerals that are vital for poultry.
According to several studies, chicks fed on a starter diet reached slaughter weight faster than those on a sweet potato diet. A 30% sweet potato had an opposite effect for broilers. (source)
According to a study from New Zealand, chicks less than eight weeks of age should consume meals that contain no more than 20% sweet potatoes. A 10kg ration should only constitute a 2kg ration of sweet potato.
As they get older, you can increase the ratio of sweet potato meal. In laying hens, sweet potato meals should never consume more than 30% of their regular diet.
Many developing countries continue to use sweet potato roots as poultry feed because it can replace the maize meal in broilers’ diet. (source)
Can Chickens Eat Cooked Sweet Potatoes?
Yes, cooked sweet potatoes are fine for chickens.
If you’re preparing sweet potatoes for yourself, you can prepare them the same way for your chickens. Ensure you leave off the toppings (butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, salt, maple syrup, etc.) Chickens will do best when fed plain sweet potatoes without toppings.
The toppings are not healthy for us and will likely not benefit your flock in any way.
Can Chickens Eat Raw Sweet Potatoes?
Yes, as long as the peel is not green. That said, they may not show much interest in eating raw sweet potatoes because it’s harder to eat them than when it’s cooked.
When feeding them raw sweet potatoes, consider using a food processor to break them down and making them easier for them to consume.
Can I Feed My Chickens White Potatoes?
No, other potatoes can be toxic to your chickens, including white Rooster, Arran Pilot, Cara, Pink Fir Apple, Salad blue maincrop potato, etc. Potatoes belong to the nightshade family, which can be toxic to pets.
Never feed your chickens:
- Any part of the potato plant, including the seed pods.
- Potatoes with green skin.
- Raw white potatoes
The solanine found in peels, leaves, and vines can be poisonous to your chickens. If you grow white potatoes in your backyard, ensure you have a high enough fence to keep them from flying over.
Can Chickens Eat White Sweet Potatoes?
Yes, the most significant difference is the taste. Many people refer to the white sweet potatoes as “Yams.” Other people refer to both the orange and white versions of sweet potatoes as yams.
Yams and sweet potatoes are not related. Instead, yams belong to the lily family, while sweet potatoes belong to the morning glory family. Both are tuberous root vegetables that are safe for your feathered friends.
Unlike sweet potatoes, yams must be peeled and cooked before giving to your flock. Yams have a thick tee bark-like skin with a white or purple coloring inside, making the skin hard to digest.
How Can I Feed Sweet Potatoes to Chickens?
Before feeding your chickens any root vegetables or fruits, it’s vital to ensure you wash them thoroughly. All vegetables and fruits contain harmful pesticides, even the organic variety.
Once washed, you can give your chickens sweet potatoes that have been boiled, mashed, or roasted. You are also able to feed your chickens raw sweet potatoes.
It has been shown that chickens tend to like boiled or mashed sweet potatoes best, though it isn’t apparent why.
Sweet potatoes that have been boiled or mashed are easier for chickens to eat and digest. They love eating french fries, but should fried foods are not the best foods for them.
You can also feed your chickens roasted sweet potatoes. You shouldn’t put anything on the sweet potatoes, no seasoning or anything. Keep them straightforward.
Unlike white potatoes, sweet potatoes are not toxic to chickens, and they can even be fed raw. While cooked sweet potatoes are more nutritious, if you are in a pinch and your chickens are pecking you down for some sweet potato, you can feed them raw.
Sweet potatoes are safe for chicken consumption. They contain nutrients that are essential for chickens. That said, a high-quality feed will provide your chickens with the crucial nutrients they need to eat a well-balanced diet.
Your chickens will enjoy boiled or mashed sweet potatoes, but it is also safe to give them raw. If feeding them yams, ensure you cook them as there are some toxins in raw yams that can be harmful to chickens.
Next time you’re at the store, try picking up a sweet potato to share with them, and see how they act when giving it to them. Not only will they be excited to eat something new, but you can also rest well, knowing they are eating a healthy snack that is beneficial for them.