Chickens love to eat a big variety of fruits and vegetables but majority of the time the food is cooked before given to the chicken. So the question for some chicken farms is can chickens eat raw potatoes safely or not?
We know that chickens love to forage for food and as potatoes grow underground this would be one of those foods they would need to dig and find.
Many chicken farmers are under the notion that raw potatoes are bad for a chickens health and therefore we will explore this question in a bit more detail to find out the real answer to this question.
Sweet vs. White
Before we can answer the question we need to discuss the different types of potatoes. The both may have the same or similar name but sweet and white potatoes are completely different from each other.
The white potato comes in a variety of colors such as yellow, red and white and is part of the nightshade family of potatoes. This particular type of potato is not toxic for chickens and is fine in both the raw and cooked forms as long as its ripe enough.
However its important to remove the green parts from the white potato as they are toxic for chickens. This includes the leaves, vines and flowers. Since they are toxic chickens will most likely ignore them but it is better to just avoid feeding those parts to your chicken.
On the other hand the sweet potatoes can be fully eaten by chickens which includes the flowers, stems, vines, and leaves. As well as the peels and flesh. It is important though that the sweet potatoes are stored properly otherwise if they are not they could develop mold and that would be bad for your chickens health.
The sweet potatoes are part of the morning glory family and as mentioned above safe for chickens to eat.
Reality compared to Myth
The myth is that chickens cannot eat raw potatoes as it is poisonous and toxic to them and would make them sick if they were to eat them.
The reality of the matter is that potatoes are only dangerous for chickens if they are stored improperly and grow mold. As the green parts of the white potato can be dangerous to a chickens health.
What the myth usually leaves out is the quantity a chicken would need to eat until they got sick is very large as well. Therefore if you chicken was to eat this vegetable in moderation and only ones store properly they should be fine.
How to tell if Potatoes are ripe
In order to know if a potato is ready to be eaten or not you can look at the skin and if it is green this means the potato is not ripe and not ready to be eaten. This same principle applies to humans as well.
If the potato is green it means that it will contain solanine which is a toxin that affects the nervous system and if large quantity are eaten it could cause health concerns.
It is also important to note that solanine isn’t only in potatoes but can also be found in tomatoes, chili peppers, eggplants, bell peppers and tobacco. However the quantity found in these veggies is a lot less than that found in green potatoes.
The risk of the nervous system being affected by green potatoes for humans is very low because the average human would need to ingest 4 and a half pounds of green potatoes in one sitting to experience any neurological side effects.
On the other hand chickens are significantly smaller and weigh less than humans and therefore need to ingest less green potatoes to get sick but it still would be a decent amount for them to eat as well.
As mentioned above the green parts of the white potato are poisonous to chickens because they too contain solanine. Therefore it is best if unsure which type of potato it is to remove all green parts anyways.
The side effects of solanine poisoning can vary from:
- slow breathing and pulse
- vision changes
If you think your chicken has eating a lot of green potatoes it is best to see a vet to get your chicken looked at if you are worried they got poisoned.
The most common health side effects include vomiting and diarrhea but the problems could become more serious depending how much they were to eat. However as mentioned above it would require a chicken to eat a lot of green potatoes for this to occur.
The good thing about solanine is that it should not build up in a chickens system over time and cause them to be sick after a few days of ingesting the green potatoes.
Potatoes are a very widely eaten vegetable and are included in a variety of dishes such as soups, stews and casseroles. Some of the benefits of eating potatoes include:
- vitamin c
- potassium (more than bananas)
- Vitamin B6
- No sodium or fat
- Cholesterol free
Another benefit of potatoes is that they are gluten free and are a great substitute for pasta dishes and bread.
However having said all this potatoes are still very starchy and will not provide a chicken with all their nutritional requirements. Therefore a well balanced diet is required to keep them healthy.
It is important that if you do give potatoes to you chicken that they are raw instead of cooked as the cooking process will reduce the nutrients available within the food.
But on the other hand if you were to cook the potatoes you would destroy most of the solanine that could possibly be contained within the potatoes. At roughly 338 degrees Fahrenheit the solanine will began to breakdown after about ten minutes but also the nutrients will decrease.
The short answer is that cooked or raw potatoes are fine for your chicken to eat as long as they are properly ripe. Make sure to remove all green parts and don’t overfeed potatoes to your chicken. Raw is better than cooked as it has more nutrients but more risk of solanine poisoning.