Chocolates and their expanding variety have been a relatively popular food for humans. It has been associated with many essential celebrations and is present in almost everyone’s household as well. While chocolate is famous to humans, there are many inquiries about chocolate’s effect on animals. Is it safe? So, can chickens eat chocolate?
Chocolates are from a plant termed Theobroma Cacao. This is a tropical plant that means and is often termed “food of the gods.” Chocolates are labeled as food for the gods because of their heavenly flavor. Almost everyone on the planet loves chocolates. It has been one of the most popular plants for people who manage plantations. Thus, the chocolate expansion in the market.
This “food for the gods” has grown exceptionally more prominent after each year that passes. Its popularity is evident almost everywhere around the world. Fine Chocolates are grouped into three categories, namely dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate. These groups differ in their components, and so, their taste is also different, therefore remarkable and easy to distinguish.
- Dark chocolates contain chocolate liquor, lecithin, cocoa butter, cacao beans, vanilla, and sugar. This category is void of milk solids. Dark chocolate usually contains 50%-90% cocoa solids. These types of chocolate also tend to have more theobromine than others.
- Milk chocolates share almost the same ingredients like dark chocolate. However, this category includes milk fats and milk solids. Thus, the name milk chocolate.
- White chocolates, this time, share almost the same ingredients as milk chocolate. The only thing missing from this chocolate category is chocolate liquor. There has been a debate about white chocolate and its nature. White chocolate is at the edge for having no chocolate liquor. Today, it just depends on whether they consider white chocolate a bar of chocolate or a confectionery.
Chocolates have taken a significant part in people’s lives, from eating them as bars to using them as flavoring. As evident in the market, there are a lot of products that offer chocolate-flavored food.
A considerable part of the dessert industry incorporates chocolates or provides chocolate-like flavor. From cakes, icecreams, donuts, and drinks, the chocolate flavor is everywhere. It’s almost impossible to find a house without any chocolate inside them. And so, if this food is everywhere, people can get lenient and just allow their animal friends to get a munch.
Chocolates and Chickens
While chocolates are perfectly safe for human consumption, it is a no-no for some animals. It can be widely known today that it’s harmful to some mammals, dogs, and cats in particular. “But what about chickens?” one may ask.
Unfortunately, no matter how tasty chocolate is, it is a big no for them to be eaten by your chickens. Chocolates are also toxic for birds, and chickens are no exemption to the rule.
While your chickens can have a peck on some leftover chocolate in the backyard, this trivial thing can put them in imminent danger. Chickens are known to just peck whatever edible and delectable thing they have their eyes on. This is why it’s essential to watch what they eat and especially what you put out there for their consumption.
Chocolates are rich in theobromine and caffeine. These are the toxic components that harm the chickens. While these are helpful for humans and are present in coffee, colas, etcetera, they are unwelcome to chickens’ bodies.
The amount of theobromine increases as the chocolate gets darker. A little peck or piece of dark chocolate can immediately affect your chickens. The dangers of this toxic food take place in less than or within 24 hours.
There is no exemption for whatever type or variation of chocolate you choose. All of them are harmful to your flock. You might wonder whether there may be a type of chocolate that can be fed to your chicken friends.
There’s one swift answer, and it is no. White chocolate can seem a bit safe because of its color but do not be fooled by looks. These types of chocolates still contain theobromine. They are also equally high in fat, calories, and sugar which can harm your flock in the long run.
As almost every household can have chocolate somewhere in their kitchen, it pays to be careful where you throw stuff with chocolate in them. Even a small amount of chocolate with higher theobromine content in them can kill your chickens in less than a day, and in some cases, even right after their intake.
Dangers of Chocolate Intake for Your Chickens
While chocolates offer many benefits and helpful nutritional contributions to humans, it’s different for birds, specifically chickens. The intake of chocolate can cause harmful effects on your chickens. Here are some risks, complications, and dangers that can happen to your flock when they happen to eat chocolates.
Theobromine, one of the toxic components of chocolate, lowers your chicken’s red blood cells, which also lowers your hemoglobin levels. Low hemoglobin levels result in poor access to oxygen.
This means the oxygen needed by your chicken does not reach the entirety of their bodies. As a natural reaction for survival, their hearts will beat at an abnormal pace. They can either die from lack of oxygen or irregular heartbeats that can lead to cardiac arrest.
Kidneys are responsible for the excretion of wastes and excess fluid from the body. This is the same for chickens too. However, there is a massive difference between a human’s kidney and those of an animal. For chickens, their kidneys are incapable of excreting highly concentrated substances. Thus, chocolates are not something their kidneys can take.
Diarrhea is a body’s response to substances that should not be inside the body fast. By this hasty response of the body against foreign and toxic substances, your chicken’s digestive system can be upset as a result.
Too much discharge from your chickens can cause dehydration. When many electrolytes and nutrients are lost from their bodies at a swift and abrupt pace, it is fatal and leads to death.
Both components, namely theobromine, and caffeine interfere with and affect the central nervous system. And so, too many of these components can cause seizures. Seizures are not something to be lenient about. Seizures can lead to more dangerous outcomes like death.
One thing to note is the amount of chocolate and the level of concentration it has. While it’s impossible to determine, it’s good to rethink the possibilities to know what you need to do.
Chocolates are bad for their digestive tract. These types of food also directly attack their hearts, resulting in heart problems and ultimately cardiac arrest.
Other Food Chickens Should Avoid
Chocolate is one of the foods your chickens should avoid. However, it’s not the sole food to avoid. Here are some of the other foods you should refrain from giving to your flock.
Beans (Dried or Raw)
Beans not properly cooked are fatal to poultry. One of the most fatal beans out there is kidney beans. Nevertheless, any beans that may be raw or improperly cooked can cause damage or harm to your poultry.
Beans have this toxin called phytohaemagglutinin. This toxin has always been and is still toxic to poultry. This toxin found in beans can kill a chicken in a minimum time of an hour. This bean can be called a death pill. Once your chicken eats it, there will be no going back and no recovery.
On the positive side, chickens avoid these beans! But even so, it’s best to keep any beans out of the way for them. As people usually say, prevention is better than cure.
Avocado pit and peel
While only the peel/skin and the seed or the pit are emphasized, chicken’s intake of avocado fruit should still be in moderation. A component called persin can be found in both the seed and the peel of an avocado. This component is dangerous. Persin causes heart issues in chickens. This toxin can kill a chicken in as long as 48 hours.
It may be easy to discard junk food leftovers like chips into the yard for chickens to eat, but it is not suitable for chickens too. As these food harm humans’ bodies, they also cause harm to your flock. Chickens cannot take food that has too much concentration, which many junk food may have.
Food that’s either rotten or moldy
While some molds can be good, humans don’t have the time to judge and decipher whether a mold is bad or not. And so, it’s advantageous for you just to avoid feeding anything with mold to your chickens. It’s fine to feed your poultry overripe food, but when you see and announce that it’s rotten, then it’s better just to throw it to the food waste section.
Watching what your flock eats is one of the primary duties once you raise chickens. Like humans and any other creatures, they also have foods that can be toxic for them. There is still a lot to learn about chickens. The question of “Can chickens eat chocolate?” is one of them, and now, you know the answer. This way, you can make smarter decisions.
Joseph Hudson has been raising chickens for over 15 years. In 2018, he completed the Agriculture & Natural Resources program at Mt. San Antonio College. He currently raises over 1400 chickens on his 7.5-hectare farm. He keeps sharing his experience on raising healthy and happy chickens on Chicken & Scratch.