If most chicken owners are being honest, they will admit to periodically giving their birds a little nibble of something that they shouldn’t have, usually tasty junk food.
But what might surprise you is that some things we consider junk food really aren’t, and can actually be good for your chickens in moderation. How about peanut butter? Can chickens eat peanut butter?
Yes, chickens can eat peanut butter. Periodically as a treat or supplement to their diet. Peanut butter is extremely high in protein, good fats, vitamins E and B-complex, and many minerals including selenium. It’s also high in calories, salt and sugar so limiting portion size is important.
Most of us already knew that chickens can have peanuts, but I never stopped to consider that chickens could have peanut butter.
As it turns out, most chickens really love the stuff and will pig out on it if you let them. You definitely don’t want to let them do that, so keep reading to learn everything you need to know about giving your birds peanut butter as a treat.
Nutritional Profile of Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is quite calorie dense, but it is equally dense in important vitamins and minerals.
First things first, peanut butter contains an almost ideal macronutrient profile for sustained energy, consisting of equal amounts of protein and carbohydrates with a good amount of fat, but there are mostly good monounsaturated fats.
Considering the vitamin payload, there is a lot to like about peanut butter. It contains a ton of vitamin E, all of the B complex vitamins, and folate, though vitamin A, vitamin K and vitamin A are conspicuously absent.
|Peanut Butter 100g
|Total lipid (fat)
|Carbohydrate, by difference
|Fiber, total dietary
|Sugars, total including NLEA
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
|Vitamin K (phylloquinone)
|Fatty acids, total saturated
Minerals, too, are abundant. Copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc, and calcium are all quite plentiful and hampered only by a good amount of sodium which you’ll have to be careful of if feeding to your chickens regularly.
Health Benefits of Peanut Butter for Chickens
Peanut butter is one of the best foods for giving your chickens a quick shot of energy or helping them during times when they need plenty of nutrition to help them overcome a challenging time like molting or egg laying.
The vitamin and mineral profile of peanut butter is nearly complete and will help your chicken’s metabolism, cellular health, bone, and connective tissue repair, skin, and more.
However, you must be cautious about overfeeding peanut butter because it is so high in calories and salt.
Excess calories will lead to weight gain no matter how nutritious the food is, and chickens are particularly vulnerable to sodium poisoning, so try to find peanut butter that has a low amount of salt.
Can Chickens Eat Smooth Peanut Butter?
Yes, chickens can eat smooth peanut butter although they generally do better with foods that are more solid and easier to manipulate and swallow with their beaks.
Smooth peanut butter can be made easier for chickens to eat by preparing it properly with other ingredients. We will talk more about that later.
Can Chickens Eat Crunchy Peanut Butter?
They sure can, and most chickens will delight to pick out the small bits of peanuts present in chunky peanut butter.
Compared to smooth peanut butter, the overall nutritional profile is nearly identical so you can give them whatever you have on hand.
Can Chickens Eat Peanut Butter and Jelly?
Sigh. No, you should not give your chickens peanut butter and jelly no matter how delicious it is and no matter how big a laugh it would give you.
You can do too much of a good thing, and unlike peanut butter which has genuine nutritional value, jellies, preserves and jams are just completely overloaded with sugar that will make your birds sick.
Don’t do it.
Never Feed Peanut Butter to Chickens that Has Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
Speaking of giving peanut butter to your birds that have other harmful things in it, you never want to give your birds any kind of peanut butter that has ingredients, additives, or mix-ins that are harmful to them.
One of the chief violators in this regard is chocolate. Chocolate is especially bad for chickens, and ingesting too much can prove fatal depending on the type.
Chocolate contains cocoa, as you know, but what you might not know is that cocoa contains theobromine, a compound that is profoundly toxic to many animals, including birds.
Mixed in with peanut butter, chickens would happily gobble up the chocolate, and do so quickly enough to ingest a lethal dose of theobromine.
Never, ever serve your chickens peanut butter that has anything harmful or dangerous in it.
How Often Can Chickens Have Peanut Butter?
Considering how much chickens will love peanut butter and how generally nutritious it is, the temptation is definitely there to serve it to them all the time.
You should resist this temptation, and chickens should have peanut butter no more than once or perhaps twice a week in a sharply limited quantity.
This is because the chickens should subsist mostly on chicken feed, which is nutritionally complete and well-rounded.
Peanut butter, despite being a nutritional powerhouse, is just too salty, sugary, and calorie-dense for chickens to eat it all the time without gaining weight or suffering other ill effects.
Approximately 80% to 90% of your chicken’s overall calorie intake should be comprised of feed, with the remainder being a varied and nutritious diet of supplemental foods, of which peanut butter should only be a part.
Preparing Peanut Butter for Your Flock
One of the trickiest parts about giving peanut butter to chickens is how messy and sticky this stuff is.
If you just plop a bowl of peanut butter out into their pen or feeding area, you’re going to have some nasty birds in very short order.
To prevent this, and to make the peanut butter easier to eat for the chickens, you should use a binding agent which will turn it more from a paste back into a solid.
This could be anything from their own chicken feed to something like oats or other grains or something else.
You can form it into small balls, a log that you cut up into portions, or something else, so long as it is solid enough for them to pick at it and then swallow a small chunk.
Can Baby Chicks Have Peanut Butter, Too?
Yes, baby chicks may have peanut butter but you’ll need to wait for them to get a little bit older before giving it to them, and then be extremely limited when it comes to quantity.
Once the chicks are at least 6 weeks old, you can treat them with a tiny dab of peanut butter.
Again, chicks have very sensitive constitutions, and excess sugar or salt can cause serious health problems for them, so go easy with the stuff and keep an eye on them after you feed them.
Like adult chickens, chicks should be eating pretty much nothing but chicken feed and early-life chicken feed appropriate to their age in particular.
They won’t need much supplementation to their diet until they are adults.
Make Sure You Clean Up After Feeding Your Chickens Peanut Butter
It is imperative that you clean up after your chickens once they are done with the peanut butter.
First, the longer it sticks around the stickier your birds will get, pardon the pun.
Second, pretty much every animal alive seems to love peanut butter, insects and mammals included. That means you’re going to have uninvited guests overlooking the scraps if you don’t clean it up.
Having insects infest your coop or rats and raccoons prowling around is not going to be good for the health of your birds. Reduce the possibility of this happening by cleaning up the scraps.
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.