Are you one of those chicken owners who is tempted to finish their kitchen leftovers by feeding them to the chickens? It seems natural to provide your chickens with all of your leftover food to prevent waste. After all, chickens are omnivores, and they are also the best no-waste managers.
But what about lunch meat or sandwich meat? Can chickens eat lunch meat? Is it safe? How much lunch meat can you safely feed your chickens?
Find out below!
Can Chickens Eat Lunch Meat? (The Quick Answer)
Yes, chickens can eat lunch meat, albeit in moderation. Chickens are omnivores, which means they can eat everything, including lunch meat. However, just because chickens eat everything doesn’t mean that you can feed them too much of everything. Lunch meat isn’t nutritionally balanced for our hens. Some varieties are also fattening and full of preservatives, salt, and other harmful additives.
Dangers of Feeding Lunch Meat in Excess to Chickens
While lunch meat, in moderation, is safe for chickens to eat, there are certain dangers to feeding it in excess to our chickens. These include:
Obesity and Chronic Diseases
Processed meats like lunch meat contain harmful chemical compounds that could result in obesity and other chronic diseases in chickens, especially if fed over a long time. The flavor of lunch meat is tempting. It can result in overeating, which can cause obesity in your birds.
Feeding too much lunch meat could result in salt toxicity in chickens. Most lunch meats are high in sodium chloride or salt. In excess, salt can cause symptoms of salt poisoning such as diarrhea, pain in the stomach, etc. in chickens.
Nutritional Deficiencies and Imbalances
Another reason why you must practice moderation when feeding lunch meat to chickens is that it is not nutritionally balanced. While your birds will get some protein and a few vitamins from lunch meat, they won’t get all of the nutrients that chickens require. This can result in deficiencies, which, in the long run, can cause health issues.
They Contain Harmful Chemicals
Fried lunch meats contain high levels of nitrosamine. In humans, this chemical has been known to increase the risk of stomach and bowel cancer. While more tests are needed on chickens, there is a chance that excess consumption of fried lunch meat can cause tumors in the birds.
Similarly, smoked lunch meat contains high levels of PAHs or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These compounds are known to cause cancer in animals.
Some processed meats also contain heterocyclic amines (HCAs), which are known carcinogens.
For these reasons, it is best to only feed small quantities of lunch meat to chickens.
Can Chickens Eat Sandwich Meat?
Chickens are omnivores, and they enjoy a varied diet just like we humans do. They love eating many human foods and most cooked foods are quite safe for chickens. This includes sandwiches and sandwich meat.
However, please practice moderation when feeding these foods to chickens. After all, sandwich meat and sandwiches are not nutritionally balanced foods for chickens. Chickens need a balanced diet consisting of grains, vegetables, fruits, and commercial chicken feed specially formulated for chickens.
Sandwich meat might contain some protein, but it also contains a lot of salt, additives, and preservatives. Most sandwich meat is also rich in saturated fat, sodium, and nitrates. These chemicals can cause a host of health issues in chickens.
The best thing to do is to practice moderation when feeding sandwich meat to chickens. Avoid making feeding sandwich meat to chickens a routine matter. Instead, just feed it once a week along with a balanced diet.
What Meats Can Chickens Eat?
Chickens that forage get most of their protein from bugs, worms, slugs, small lizards, maggots, and insects. In some cases, they even eat dead mice, rats, and rabbits. Chickens have a no-waste lifestyle and keep pest populations on farms to a minimum.
You can feed your non-foraging chickens cooked meat scraps of chicken, lamb, beef, turkey, etc. However, remember to practice moderation when feeding meat to chickens. If your chickens are also eating commercial poultry feed, it already contains balanced nutrition. Therefore, you do not want your chickens to get excess fat and protein from the cooked meat.
You can also feed your chickens fish skin in small quantities once in a while. Practice moderation when feeding any kind of fish to laying birds. Fish skin tends to spoil the taste of eggs.
If your chickens mostly eat vegetarian foods, you might want to replenish their feed with cooked meat once or twice a week; no more.
What Meats to Not Feed Chickens?
Never feed raw meat to chickens. Raw meat could carry salmonella and other bacteria, which can cause serious infections in your birds.
Similarly, avoid feeding heavily processed meats like ham, deli meat, bologna, sausages, lunch meat, burger patties, nuggets, etc. These processed foods contain a lot of salt, preservatives, colors, and additives, which can harm your chickens. They are okay to feed in moderation.
Can Chickens Eat Old Meat? Can I Feed My Chicken Spoiled Meat?
Never feed old or expired meat to your chickens. Even if you cook old or spoiled meat, it could still contain the by-products of bacteria and fungi. These are heat resistant and remain in the meat despite cooking it at high temperatures. These byproducts also tend to affect the taste and texture of the meat.
Moreover, old meat, just like moldy bread, can make your chickens quite sick. In extreme cases, it could even kill your birds.
So, please do not feed old meat to chickens.
Can Chickens Eat Leftover Meat?
Yes, you can feed your chickens scraps of leftover, cooked, and hygienic meat. Chickens are omnivores that enjoy a widely varied diet. Leftover meat can make a great treat for your pets. They will surely appreciate the extra dose of protein and enjoy its delicious taste.
Make sure to refrigerate any leftover meat from your dinner or lunch if you plan to feed it to your chickens a while later. Make sure the leftover meat is healthy and unspoiled.
Can Chickens Eat Expired Chicken?
You can cook the expired chicken well before feeding it to your birds. Ensure that the stale chicken does not emit a foul odor. If the smell or texture of the expired chicken seems off, then please avoid feeding it to your hens.
Remember: if it is safe for humans, it is safe for your hens.
Key Takeaways – Can Chickens Eat Lunch Meat?
Chickens can eat small quantities of lunch meat as an occasional treat. However, do not make it a habit of feeding lunch meat regularly to your chickens.
Lunch meat is heavily processed and contains a lot of salt, preservatives, and additives. So, please follow moderation when feeding it to chickens. Always feed a balanced diet of fruits, veggies, grains, and commercial chicken feed to ensure that your birds get the optimum nourishment.