We’ve all been there. You’re sitting there in your backyard, the middle of summer time, enjoying a cool and delicious ice cream cone. Life is good.
But then you notice one of your chickens staring at you with a sorrowful expression. Perhaps, you think, your chicken would like some ice cream and you start to feel guilty for holding out on it.
Can chickens eat ice cream?
No, chickens should not eat ice cream. Ice cream is junk food and does not contain any nutrition whatsoever for chickens. High amounts of calories, extremely high sugar and the presence of other, harmful items that chickens cannot have means ice cream should never be given to your birds.
I know it seems like a crime, but you should never give your chickens ice cream.
Even a small quantity is enough to make them sick, and ingesting a large amount or eating it regularly is only going to lead to substantial health problems. Sad, but true.
Keep reading to learn why you should never give ice cream to chickens.
Ice Cream Does Not Have Anything Chickens Need
As much as we humans love ice cream, it isn’t good for us. There is almost nothing good about it for us except, perhaps, for the calcium that it contains.
The same applies to chickens, only in this case, they won’t even be able to make use of the calcium because their bodies are not equipped to handle milk.
Unlike other supplemental foods and treats which are at least wholesome and have genuine nutritional benefits when given to chickens in moderation, ice cream has absolutely no redeeming qualities for your birds.
This is not to say that anything in the ice cream is necessarily harmful, up front, to your birds but anything more than a taste, a little nibble perhaps, will start to impact their health. Keep reading to learn more.
Ice Cream Contains Way Too Much Sugar
First and foremost, ice cream contains entirely too much sugar, and that means a massive load of calories but also a sugar intake that chickens simply cannot handle.
The likelihood of digestive upset is certain, and you will dramatically increase the chances that your birds will experience sour crop, diarrhea and other maladies.
Chickens Don’t Need Milk
They can eat all sorts of foods, but chickens neither need nor can they process milk properly. I hope this is not a surprise to anyone, but birds are not mammals.
Chickens can, in fact, eat dairy products and even derive a little bit of nutrition from them, but the vast majority of the benefits are entirely lost and anything more than a sparing amount rarely is once again going to cause serious health problems.
So, we have way too much sugar which chickens don’t need and can’t handle and we have that sugar in a product which is almost entirely milk.
Not off to a great start with ice cream. What’s next?
Chickens Definitely Don’t Need Chocolate
One of the most common other ingredients present in ice cream is chocolate, something that chickens absolutely, definitely should not have in any quantity.
Cocoa contains a compound theobromine which is harmful to many animals, chickens included, and it does not take much for serious and potentially fatal symptoms to begin.
Too much theobromine can lead to lethargy, seizures, organ failure, and death in chickens.
Want to give your chicken a little bite of your double brownie batter fudge mega ripple ice cream? I think it will be cute, funny, or a great photo op that you can post on social media?
Well, I hope it was worth it because you might have just doomed your bird to a lengthy, miserable and agonizing death.
At Best, Ice Cream Will Cause Serious Health Problems
No matter how you try to square it, ice cream is completely bad for your chickens.
At best, it will lead to substantial weight gain which has health complications of its own. At worst, it can result in the onset of other, far more serious health effects.
Namely, the chances of your chicks contracting sour crop as a result of eating too much ice cream are extremely high.
The combination of being wet in nature and packed with sugar means that the micro environment of the chicken’s crop is going to change in a way that is favorable for a bloom of yeast or bacteria.
Sour crop can make it hard for your birds to eat, will eventually become painful and then fatal.
Beyond this, packing in way too many calories can result in a condition known as fatty liver hemorrhagic syndrome, a type of liver malfunction that will eventually result in internal bleeding and then a slow, excruciating death.
And last, but not least, the lactose present in ice cream is broadly indigestible by chickens and their body will respond my generally going haywire, refusing or misusing calcium that is present in other food sources and this can lead to bone density problems, malformed eggs and a host of other issues.
This stuff is serious, and all of it is going to make your birds miserable if it doesn’t kill them outright.
I hope, by now, that you have given up any idea of feeding ice cream to your chickens.
Still Want to Give Your Chickens Ice Cream?
Let’s say, let’s just say, that despite all of the information I have giving you, despite my sincere pleading to the contrary, and despite my appeal to your humanity and reason you are still dead set on giving your chickens a taste of that delicious Frozen treat.
Is there any way that you can give your chickens ice cream safely?
Yes, in a way, but it is only by limiting the quantity to a tiny amount. Broadly, you can give any given chicken a tiny taste of ice cream, maybe a small dribble off of a spoon, and expect them to be okay.
Despite the high sugar, despite the dairy content, chickens are generally hardy and adaptable birds.
They get into all kinds of things that they probably shouldn’t eat, and survive.
Ice cream fits into that category and though you shouldn’t give it to them at all if you care about them, a tiny taste isn’t going to hurt them. But keep in mind what was discussed about.
At no time should chickens have any amount of chocolate or any other food containing cocoa nor any other food that is strictly harmful for them.
If your ice cream contains any kind of chocolate whatsoever or is full of other mix-ins and ingredients, don’t give it to them at all.
Can You Give Ice Cream to Chicks?
No, no you should not give ice cream to chicks under any circumstances.
The biology of a chick is even more sensitive, more delicate than an adult chicken and they are particularly vulnerable to crop impaction and to digestive upset. Ice cream can exacerbate both crop problems and intestinal problems.
Just don’t do it, I’m begging you.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.