Can Chickens Eat Tuna? [How to Feed Them & More]

One of the great things about being a chicken owner is sharing your leftovers with them. Chickens will eat almost anything. Thus, allowing you to reduce feeding costs while making sure your food doesn’t go to waste. Sharing leftovers with your chicken is a favorite activity for many avid chicken owners, but can chickens eat tuna?

Can Chickens Eat Tuna?

Yes, chickens love to eat tuna. When fed in moderation, tuna contains protein and other vitamins that can be beneficial for your flock. However, too much tuna can expose your birds to an excess of mercury. It’s best to feed them fresh tuna or canned tuna free of additives such as salt and oil.

Chicken owners understand how much they love eating tuna and sardines. However, there are some things you should be aware of before you begin feeding it to your flock. 

Will Chickens Eat Tuna?

Whether tuna is good for your chicken or not, it won’t mean much if they don’t want to eat it in the first place. However, if your chickens leave tuna untouched, it would be a somewhat surprising response to this food. This is because chickens generally love tuna.

Anyone who has ever offered this tasty snack to a chicken can vouch for how delicious chickens find tuna to be. Your chickens will be more than ecstatic to see you come out with tuna on the menu and will happily gobble them up. 

Is Tuna Safe for Chickens to Eat?

Like with humans, just because you can eat something doesn’t mean you should eat it excessively.

This is the same for chickens eating tuna. Although tuna has the potential to provide your chicken with necessary nutrients and minerals, your chicken eating too much tuna can become problematic to their health.

Take a look below to see how your chickens eating too much tuna can impact their health:

Excessive Levels of Mercury

One of the main reasons why tuna can be problematic to your chicken’s health is its high level of mercury content. Even humans should not eat an excessive amount of tuna due to the mercury. 

And with chickens being more compact in size, they require even less mercury build-up than humans before it becomes toxic.  

How safe and how much they can eat depends on the type of tuna you give them.

In poultry, mercury poisoning has been found to result in the following symptoms: weakness, incoordination, diarrhea, ulcers in the mouth and esophagus, inflammation of the intestines, inflammation of the proventriculus, and hemorrhaging of internal organs.

Excessive Amounts of Vitamin D

Tuna also contains a significant amount of vitamin D (more on the positives of this later) that when too much is consumed can cause health issues. 

Too much vitamin D can cause what is known as hypercalcemia.

Hypercalcemia is when too much calcium builds up in the blood and causes illnesses such as gout, liver, and heart problems to arise.

Excessive Amounts of Fat

Tuna is also rich in fatty acids. Although it is a healthy source of fat, if eaten often enough, your chicken can run the risk of becoming obese and develop other health complications.

It is for these reasons that moderation is key when feeding your chicken tuna. However, the selection is essential as well. What is meant by that?

Fresh is Not Always Better

For most foods, the fresher it is, the better it is for you and your chicken’s health. However, this happens not to be the case for tuna, as tuna seems to be one of the rare exceptions to the rule.

This is because fresh tuna contains more mercury than canned tuna. 

Unfortunately, this is a fact that most people are unaware of when it comes to eating tuna. As such, opting to give them canned tuna would be the better option of the two if you wish to limit mercury intake.

However, keep in mind that when getting canned tuna, it is also important to look at the type of tuna. 

Light tuna contains less mercury than white albacore tuna. Therefore, if you feed your chicken tuna, it is best to stick with the light tuna to limit mercury intake.

You will also want to pay attention to the ingredients. Every brand is different, with not just any can of tuna being a good option for your chicken. 

It is better to stay away from tuna that is canned in oil or if it has salt added to it. The fewer additives, the better for both you and your chickens!

Preparation Matters

How any meal is prepared can significantly impact its health benefits. For example, when feeding your chickens tuna, you will want to avoid feeding them tuna if it is fried. 

Fried foods are high in fat and can cause obesity along with many other health concerns.

As delicious as it may taste, if fried tuna is a regular meal in the household, it will be better to skip sharing your tuna with your chickens.

What Are the Health Benefits of Tuna?

Now that you know how important it is to give your chicken tuna in moderation, we can move on to the health benefits they have for your chicken. 

Tuna supplies your chicken with a generous amount of vitamin D. If unaware; vitamin D plays an essential role in your chickens’ diet. 

This is due to vitamin D promoting good bone health and development, with a lack of this vitamin resulting in deformities in the legs or beak of chicks. 

A lack of vitamin D also results in inadequate egg production. This is because vitamin D is essential for your chicken to absorb the calcium in their diet, affecting their bones and eggs.

Besides supplying an ample amount of vitamin D, tuna also contains the following: potassium, vitamin B6, iron, selenium, iodine, protein, and Omega-3. 

Omega-3 is another excellent addition to your chickens’ diet. Although limited, recent studies have shown a relationship between the amount of omega-3 in a chicken’s diet decreasing the likelihood of a hen developing ovarian or oviductal cancer.

Let’s take a closer look at the nutrients found in tuna.

Nutrients In Tuna

One ounce of boneless fresh tuna (28g) contains:

NutrientsQuantity
Total Omega-3 Fatty Acids68.7 mg
Total Omega-6 Fatty Acids2.3 mg
Niacin2.8 mg
Choline18.4 mg
Vitamin A 17.0 IU
Vitamin C0.3 mg
Calcium4.5 mg
Sodium10.5 mg
Selenium10.3 mcg
Vitamin B60.3 mg
Vitamin B120.1 mcg
Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol)0.1 mg
Phosphorus125 mg
Magnesium14.1 mg
Iron0.2 mg

(source)

Best Tuna Brands to Feed Chickens

With so many different brands of canned tuna, it’s easy to wonder which ones are the best for my chickens?

A popular low sodium tuna is the StarKist Selects® Chunk White Albacore is a mild hand filleted tuna that has low sodium. It is high in protein and can be a great snack for your flock.

Other healthy canned options to choose from are:

  • Wild Planet Albacore Wild Tuna
  • American Tuna
  • 365 Everyday Value Albacore Wild Tuna in Water
  • Tonnino Tuna Fillets in Spring Water
  • Safe Catch Elite Pure Wild Tuna

Bumble Bee Solid White Albacore is the worst brand to feed your chickens as it is soaked in vegetable oil.

Always read the label, so you know what you’re feeding your flock!

How Does Feeding Your Chickens Tuna Affect Eggs for Consumption?

Although your chicken will reap the rewards of Omega-3 being added to their diet, so too will you. 

Giving your chicken tuna as a source of Omega-3 every now and then can help your chickens produce delicious, healthy eggs that are rich in Omega-3. 

How Often Can Chicken Eat Tuna?

You know now that chicken shouldn’t be given tuna as a staple food in their diet, so how often can they eat it?

When it comes to tuna consumption, the smaller the body, the less often tuna should be eaten. 

How often a chicken can eat tuna safely is relatively hard to say. If anything, tuna should only be a special treat for your chicken.

Keep in mind, how safe tuna is for human consumption and how often to eat it is still highly debated and will vary depending on one’s size. 

To give you some perspective on your chickens, humans should not even be eating tuna frequently. 

It is recommended that a twenty-pound human should wait up to three weeks between servings of light tuna to maintain safe mercury levels.

With this in mind, if tuna is a staple food in your diet, then you may want to skip out on sharing it with your chicken after each time you have it.

Can Baby Chicks Eat Tuna?

If your chicks are still on starter feed or less than a year old, you should avoid feeding them tuna. Their bodies are too small and will be affected by mercury faster than older chickens. 

Final Word

There’s no shortage of chicken owners that feed their flock tuna, because they love it. However, it’s essential to keep it to a minimum and choose the right type to feed them.