Can Chickens Eat Coffee Grounds? (Nutrition, Benefits & Feeding Tips)

Coffee grounds are excellent materials for composting and organic gardening. Many farmers are now using this environmentally friendly material for their yards. However, this poses a significant concern for those raising chickens while also maintaining a garden- can chickens eat coffee grounds if they find them on the ground?

All About Coffee

do chickens eat coffee grounds

Where did coffee originate?

Coffee is a standard beverage in many households around the world. It’s a  favorite breakfast staple because it provides an energy boost and helps improve one’s attention span.

These benefits trace back centuries ago to the forests of Ethiopia. According to legend, a herder discovered coffee when his goats ate some berries that kept them exceptionally alert throughout the day. He then shared his discovery with an abbot who made a drink out of the berries. The drink kept the monks alert during their evening prayers.

 When news of the benefits of these berries reached the Arabian peninsula, the journey across the globe of coffee began. And until now, it is still a beloved drink among millions of people around the world.

What are the types of coffee? 

There are two major species of coffee plants- the Robusta and the Arabica. Each one produces coffee beans that have their unique flavor profile and caffeine content. Arabica has a sweet, fruity flavor, while Robusta has an earthy, bitter taste. Robusta also has double the caffeine content of Arabica.

do chickens like coffee grounds

How is coffee prepared at home?

While coffee is always readily available at coffee shops, many people still enjoy brewing at home. The key to making a good cup of joe is using fresh, whole coffee beans. The recommended coffee-to-water ratio is 1 gram of coffee to 17 grams of water.

What are coffee grounds?

Coffee grounds are by-products of the brewing process. The shapes and sizes of these leftovers depend on the beans used and the grinding process. However, they would often look like beans, grains, or needles.

While some people regard coffee grounds as waste, some farmers and gardening enthusiasts use them for several agricultural purposes. Coffee is rich in nutrients that can significantly improve the health of plants. It is an excellent compost material since it decreases greenhouse gas emissions and the concentration of heavy metals in the soil.

Coffee grounds are also used to repel garden pests such as flies, mosquitoes, slugs, and beetles since they contain certain highly toxic compounds to insects.

Can chickens eat coffee grounds?

chickens coffee grounds

Coffee contains compounds that are toxic to animals, so chickens shouldn’t eat coffee grounds. While some backyard raisers have claimed that their chickens ignored the coffee grounds on the soil, others have shared that their birds ate some.

It would be best not to take the risk of using coffee grounds in feeds or as gardening materials if you’re raising chickens. These birds have unpredictable behaviors and love to forage, and they might accidentally eat coffee grounds off the soil.

Why is coffee bad for chickens?

Coffee, like tea and chocolate, contains a chemical compound called methylxanthine. This compound is the most consumed psychoactive substance in the world. Caffeine, the most common substance in coffee, is a form of methylxanthine. If a chicken or any pet ingests caffeine, it will only take about 30 minutes to one hour before signs of clinical toxicity will manifest.

 What is caffeine toxicity?

Caffeine toxicity is a condition that results from the ingestion of excessive amounts of caffeine. This syndrome adversely affects calcium absorption and the immune system, which leads to issues in the heart and lungs.

Scientists have studied the addition of caffeine in layer feeds to see if it can improve the chicken’s performance. Results showed that it could interfere with their central nervous, respiratory, and circulatory systems. It can even lead to death.

The addition of caffeine in their diet can also affect the egg-laying performance of hens and the quality of eggs. So whether caffeine ingestion is accidental or intentional, it is not suitable for chickens.

 What are the symptoms of caffeine toxicity?

chicken drinking coffee

Chickens that ingest food products that contain methylxanthines such as coffee and chocolate may experience the following symptoms:

  •   Restlessness
  •   Agitation
  •   Tachycardia or rapid heart rate
  •   Vomiting
  •   Panting
  •   Hyperthermia
  •   Seizures

Here’s what chicken seizures look like:

Remember that the effect of caffeine depends on the size of the bird and the amount ingested. A few pecks may be negligible and can only cause your chickens to be extra rowdy. However, a handful can lead to significant health issues or worse death.

6 Ways on How to Prevent Caffeine Toxicity

Caffeine toxicity is problematic for pet owners and can be costly for backyard raisers. However, these problems can be prevented. The following tips can help you keep your livestock safe.

  1. Using coffee grounds as fertilizers can keep your plants healthy and free from harmful chemicals. If you decide to use them, make sure that your chickens have no access to your garden. Install fences to separate your garden from the coop or the range.
  2. Do not store the coffee grounds near the feeds to avoid contamination. It would be best if they were not kept in one shed. Please keep it away from children’s reach since they might feed them to the chickens or other animals out of curiosity.
  3. Some farmers and gardeners use coffee grounds to repel pests and insects. However, it is not safe to use them when you’re also raising chickens in your yard.

As an alternative, you may use the following natural insect repellants.

Insects Spray, Sprinkle, or Hang Plant Along the Run
Ants, crickets, millipedes, centipedes Black pepper


Lavender, rosemary, and thyme packets

Cinnamon sticks

White vinegar



Flies Chardonnay with mango peels

Citrus, eucalyptus, and clover sachets







Mice Cayenne pepper


Peppermint oil


Check this video out to see how to keep flies away.

  • If you use coffee grounds for composting, make sure that you use bins with solid bottoms and secure lids. Elevating them on a sturdy platform would be safer so chickens and other animals might not peck through the aeration holes. Make the base strong enough so the bin won’t be toppled by larger animals because if the contents spill, chickens might forage through the compost materials. 
  • Avoid using coffee grounds for beddings in your chicken coop. Some backyard raisers use them because they are great deodorizers and are dust-free. However, they are not recommended.  Use wood shavings, straw or hay, sand, or recycled paper on your beddings for a safer chicken coop.
  • If you have no plans of recycling coffee grounds, make sure to dispose of them in a tightly covered garbage can immediately.

 What other food is bad for chickens?

recycled coffee grounds for chicken bedding

It is excellent advice to feed your flock high-quality chicken feed. It is also beneficial for the chickens’ well-being to give them treats from time to time. However, as a rule of thumb, follow the 90/10 rule. It means providing them with 90% complete feed and a maximum of 10% of treats each day.

Keep in mind that other seemingly harmless food aside from coffee grounds can harm your chickens. These include the following:

  •   Chocolate
  •   Avocado pit or skin
  •   Dried beans and lentils
  •   Green potatoes
  •   Tomatoes
  •   Raw eggs
  •   Sugary sweets and treats
  •   Spoiled food or moldy bread (if you can’t eat it, don’t feed it to your chickens)
  •   Uncooked rice
  •   Food seasoned with high amounts of salt

Check out this video discussing food that is bad for your chickens.

What food is good for chickens?

Chickens will also enjoy eating other food aside from the usual feeds. Giving them leftovers will also ensure that no food will go to waste. Feeding your flock the following treats can be a time to bond with them and see how they are doing.

  • Oats – Raw or cooked oatmeal can be a good meal for your chickens. They are filled with vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, thiamine, and manganese.
  • Fruits – Although most fruits are great as treats for your birds, it would be a great idea to feed them the less sugary ones. Mangoes and bananas are not only a rich source of nutrients, and your chickens will find them delicious and refreshing, as well.
  • Vegetables – All animals, chickens included, will reap the fantastic benefits of most vegetables.
  • Cooked meat – If you’re giving meat to your flock, make sure to chop them into small pieces to avoid choking incidences. Avoid giving them raw meat that might carry harmful bacteria and could harm your chooks.
  • Grains – Grains such as barley, corn, and wheat help stimulate a chicken’s foraging behavior. They are also a good source of nutrients and fiber.
  • Herbs – Almost all common herbs are safe for chickens. They provide vitamins and minerals and contain medicinal properties. Herbs such as thyme, parsley, and rosemary are an excellent addition to your bird’s diet.

Coffee grounds are for the plants, not for the chickens.

So, can chickens eat coffee grounds? The answer is no. Coffee grounds may be an excellent organic material for gardening, but their presence in the yard can harm your flock. There are other treats that are beneficial to your chickens so it would be best to stick to those.

coffee grounds for chickens

1 thought on “Can Chickens Eat Coffee Grounds? (Nutrition, Benefits & Feeding Tips)”

  1. I’m sure you are also aware of this paper, which studied the incorporation of actual coffee, not straight caffeine, into chicken diets. While eggshell quality was affected, it did not cite any mortality amongst the subjects. And now that there is actually a coffee-based chicken bedding on the retail market, I have not heard of any chickens dying as a result. So, it makes me wonder… I mean, people also use pine in bedding all the time and pine oil (not just cedar) is extremely irritating to the mucous membranes and airways of not just people but also chickens. So that’s not really safe either but it’s THE standard for many people…


Leave a Comment

Chicken & Scratch

Chicken Scratch is the ultimate destination for you to learn about chicken breeds and improve your chicken farming skills. Explores the world of chickens from raising chicks to collecting eggs, Learn about different chicken breeds and discover the happy raising chicken tips.