Can Backyard Chickens Eat Peanut Butter?


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Be it on apples or bread with a bit of jelly, peanut butter is a tasty treat for many of us! Therefore, it is only natural for us animal lovers to want to share it with our animal friends. As you may know, peanut butter is often used as a great dog treat, which has led many of us to wonder whether or not peanut butter is suitable for our other animals. For example, can backyard chickens eat peanut butter? 

Yes, chickens can eat peanut butter, but they should only really enjoy it as an occasional treat. It’s not toxic for them, and it’s actually full of nutritious protein – but it’s also high in calories, fat and sugar. Therefore, they can have too much of a good thing.

So, how should you feed peanut butter to chickens, and why else might it only be good for a rare snack?

Is peanut butter healthy for chickens?

Yes – peanut butter is actually rich in various nutrients that can help your chickens grow healthily and produce eggs. It’s a great source of folate, as well as zinc, and it boasts plenty of protein – and studies show that protein is essential to help boost chickens’ immunity as well as to assist with healthier egg production. Much as people need protein to grow and build muscle, the same applies to your backyard chickens. It also contains vitamin B complexes, as well as vitamins A, C and K.

It’s also important to note that, during the molting season, chickens may need additional protein to help provide the energy they need to keep laying eggs, and to grow feathers back. All chickens molt, and they will need adequate dietary support so they can regain full health and vigor. Molting can be very stressful on chickens, and a healthy energy increase can help them get to the other side of the process.

Anecdotal accounts suggest moving chickens onto a high protein diet to help counteract molting may be beneficial. However, what’s interesting is that there is renewed opposition against suggested molting diets – the jury appears to be out, and studies are ongoing.

Regardless, it is difficult to deny that additional protein is still great for a growing chicken, and for any hen that is laying eggs regularly. However, if you take a look at the label on any jar of peanut butter, you’ll see that there is still a fair amount of added sugar, salt, and fat. Given that peanut butter is made for human consumption, it stands to reason that these macronutrients are likely to overwhelm a chicken in the amounts people are used to.

Therefore, while chickens love to eat peanut butter, and while the protein contained within can make for a great nutrition boost, you should never rely on PB alone. With regard to increasing the treats during molting season – this certainly seems to be an individual choice.

How should I feed peanut butter to my chickens?

There’s plenty of great ways you could mix up small amounts of peanut butter in your chickens’ feed. Why not consider spreading some peanut butter within their grain or seed mix? This makes it easy for your chickens to eat, and it will be balanced out with their other nutrients. 

Try it out on a smaller batch of grains before emptying jars of peanut butter into your chicken feed! Not all chickens like peanut butter (rare, but true), so try it out on them first and see if they take to it.

You could also spread some peanut butter over an apple for them. Apples make for tasty, healthy feed for chickens, however, again, you need to ensure that you feed them safely. Keep in mind that apple seeds are relatively toxic for small animals – fruit pips and pits in general carry enough cyanide to harm them. It’s often top on the list of what you shouldn’t feed chickens.

What type of peanut butter should I give to my chickens?

The best peanut butter you can give to chickens as a treat will likely be smooth and/or organic. Crunchy peanut butter may prove to be hazardous – and what’s more, an organic option is less likely to contain harmful additives. As always, read the jar label – too much sugar and salt are never good.

In any case, it makes sense to go sparing with treats such as these. Why not consider mixing it up with a few sunflower seeds in chicken feed occasionally? Again – a balance is good.

What treats are healthy for chickens? 

If you’re raising chickens free range in your backyard, then you will be happy to know that there are plenty of super healthy treats you can find for them at short notice.

Chickens will eat nearly anything! Of course, there are certain foods that are dangerous for their systems, so do ensure that the organic food that you may have been planning on feeding them is completely safe.

Consider offering natural, nasty treats they can peck away at such as carrots, broccoli, peppers, apples, pears, lettuce, tomatoes, squash and pumpkins. Again, remove seeds and pips – even if you’re in doubt, take them out.

Take the time to try out a few of the treats on your coop, doing so gradually, ensuring that they have plenty of their complete chicken feed most of the time. Your chickens will easily tell you which treats they love and which ones they hate, so be vigilant for anything that gets left behind. Once again, balance is good as other experts will agree!

Above all, remember to not feed chickens anything that you have prepared for human consumption. Added salt, sugar, spices, or oils could make them sick and should therefore be avoided. Instead, opt for fresh ingredients. 

By all means break out the PB for your chickens every once in a while – just don’t rely on it as a complete meal for your coop!

About The Author
Robert has been an avid birdwatcher pretty much his entire life. Living in the suburbs he does his best to bring wild birds into his backyard. He currently has 13+ bird feeders in his yard and also raises and races homing pigeons. Robert writes part-time for Wild Yards, mostly about the subject he cares most about - birds.

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