Chickens can eat all kinds of produce, from leafy greens to tropical fruits and root vegetables and seemingly everything in between.
Potatoes are one of the most common and most popular vegetables regularly eaten around the world, and one might wonder if they are good for chickens. Can chickens eat potatoes?
Yes, chickens can eat potatoes so long as they are not green (containing solanine) or rotten. Potatoes contain abundant vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B3, folate, lutein, calcium, potassium, phosphorous, and zinc.
Chickens should not, however, eat any other part of the plant.
Potatoes are one of those veggies that most people keep on hand in abundance, and whether you grow them yourself or get them from the grocery store, they make a good snack or supplement to your flock’s usual diet.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about feeding potatoes to chickens.
Nutritional Profile of Potatoes
Potatoes are delicious, but also surprisingly healthy. Potatoes contain abundant protein, lots of fiber, and a good amount of carbs for quick energy.
More importantly to the overall health of your chickens, they have an excellent variety of vitamins and minerals, too.
Vitamin C and vitamin B3 are plentiful as are folate and lutein. Potatoes are also packed with calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium, and they even have a little bit of iron, zinc, and selenium.
It is worth noting that potatoes, even raw ones, contain a fair bit of sodium so you want to keep an eye on that if feeding them regularly to your chickens.
Health Benefits of Potatoes for Chickens
Chickens can drive many health benefits from potatoes. Sadly, one of the most abundant vitamins present in potatoes, vitamin C, is sort of lost on chickens since they can synthesize their own internally.
However, vitamin B3, folate, and lutein play a vital role in the processes of cellular health, maintenance of bones and connective tissue, and as antioxidants.
The minerals are no less important, with calcium being critical for bone growth and shell health in laying hands while potassium is as ever vital for maintaining electrolyte balances.
Can Chickens Eat Potatoes Raw?
Yes, chickens may eat raw potatoes with no problems as long as the potatoes are not green and are unspoiled.
Can Chickens Eat Potato Skins?
Yes, chickens may eat potatoes skins with no issues so long as they don’t have any green or mottled patches on them.
Because some potato skins are tough and slightly rubbery, your chickens might not show much interest in them.
However, if they want to eat them they will get a boost of nutrition out of them.
Can Chickens Eat Sweet Potatoes?
Sweet potatoes are not in the same family as actual potatoes, which are actually a type of nightshade in the solanum genus.
Nonetheless, sweet potatoes are completely safe for chickens to eat, all parts including the skin and other parts of the plant.
Can Chickens Eat Green Potatoes?
No! It is imperative that you never feed a green potato, or any part of a potato that has turned green, to your chickens.
These green parts of the potato can accumulate glycoalkaloids, namely solanine, which can be extremely harmful or deadly to your birds, and are most commonly present in these sprouts and skin of the potato.
Always cut off the green parts of a potato, and if you have any doubts discard the affected potato entirely.
Can Chickens Eat Other Parts of the Potato Plant?
Chickens must not eat any other part of the potato plant, particularly the sprouts and fruiting sections.
All of these parts of the plant contain dangerous amounts of solanine and are highly likely to kill your birds.
Can Chickens Eat Potatoes Cooked?
Yes, chickens may safely eat cooked potatoes, although it is worth pointing out that cooking does not meaningfully reduce or neutralize the amount of solanine in the potato.
If a potato is green or has green patches on it, cooking it will not make it safe for your flock!
Never Feed Potatoes to Chickens that Has Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
Since we are talking about cooking, you must never feed potatoes to chickens that have been prepared with harmful ingredients that they shouldn’t eat, or if the potato has been included as an ingredient in something that they shouldn’t eat.
Things like salt, sugar, butter, oils, preservatives, and other additives are only going to hurt the health of your birds, even if they aren’t immediately fatal.
At the very best, you’ll be looking at upset stomachs and weight gain, but at worst your chickens might become fatally ill.
Cooked potatoes should only be plain if they are going to be fed to chickens.
Beware of Pesticide on Grocery-bought Potatoes
It is worth pointing out that all grocery store produce, with very few exceptions, are heavily treated with pesticides and other chemicals for a long time prior to being brought to market.
This is to ensure the produce looks its best and is free from insect damage prior to sale.
However, these pesticides and other chemicals can be harmful to the health of your birds, particularly if they consume them regularly since most of them build up in tissue over time.
Always make it a point to thoroughly wash potatoes before serving them to your birds, and if you have any doubts peel them and discard the skins.
How Often Can Chickens Have Potatoes?
Chickens can have potatoes a couple of times a week so long as it is part of a balanced diet.
Most experts recommend that around 10% of a chicken’s total calorie intake comes from wholesome supplemental foods and snacks, and potatoes fit into that category.
Your chickens should be subsisting primarily on a nutritionally complete chicken feed that will give them everything they need to thrive.
Also, make sure you pay attention to their total salt intake if you plan on regularly feeding them potatoes.
They don’t contain that much sodium, but they contain significantly more than other fruits and vegetables and chickens are vulnerable to salt poisoning if you aren’t careful.
Preparing Potatoes for Your Flock
It is easy to prepare potatoes for serving to your chickens, whether you cook them or not.
Most chickens are capable of tearing bits of the potatoes flesh off and swallowing it whole, so you might need only to split the potatoes in half or into quarters before serving them to your birds.
Alternately, you can chop or cube the potatoes to scatter them out or for serving in multiple bowls. If you are cooking potatoes, you have even more options.
Mashed potatoes are one food that chickens seem to love and will have great fun with, though you might need to be prepared to help them clean up after they’re done eating!
Can Baby Chicks Have Potatoes, Too?
Yes, baby chicks can eat potatoes so long as they are old enough.
Once they are between 4 and 6 weeks old they are probably ready to have a few tiny bites of soft potato flesh, though you should not serve them the skins at all.
Keep in mind that chicks have digestive systems that are significantly more sensitive than adult chickens, and there are also more vulnerable to crop impaction and salt toxicity, too.
Only feed baby chicks supplemental foods besides their chicken feed very, very sparingly as a treat.
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.