I cannot honestly say that I know a single person that owns chickens, be they pets or livestock, that has not given in to the urge to let them try a little bit of our own food. It’s easy to see why…
Most people really want their birds to be happy, and since they are usually around us and interested in what we are doing a lot of the time, they naturally show interest in our food. It does smell pretty good!
But sadly, much of what we eat is not good for chickens and plenty is not even good for us!
Let’s look at one of the most common and beloved side dishes, french fries. Can chickens eat french fries safely?
No, french fries are not safe for chickens and they should not eat them. French fries contain lots of oil and salt which are very bad for chickens, and way too calorie dense to be a reasonable part of their diet.
The bottom line is that you don’t want to give your chickens french fries.
While it is true that a single french fry probably isn’t going to hurt them, any more than that can lead to serious digestive upset, and allowing them to chow down on a carton of fries can make them seriously sick or even kill them.
You’d feel terrible if you did that just because you wanted to share with your birds, or even did it as a joke.
I’ll tell you all about why giving french fries to chickens is such a bad idea down below…
French Fries are Technically Edible by Chickens
I do want to make something clear before we go on: there is nothing about french fries that is overtly poisonous to chickens.
Potatoes won’t hurt chickens, assuming they aren’t green and are fresh. It doesn’t matter if they are cooked or raw.
A little bit of salt won’t hurt chickens, and neither will a tiny bit of oil although they certainly don’t need very much in their diet aside from what they get out of various whole foods.
So put it all together and whip up a batch of french fries. If the ingredients are okay separately they should be safe for chickens. And, technically, they are.
But practically it is a matter of quantity, and chickens can have only the tiniest bites of french fries before they start courting some pretty serious side effects.
But French Fries are Seriously Bad for Them
French fries are not good for chickens, at all, and eating anything more than a single bite or perhaps two can set the stage for disaster. This is because french fries contain just too much.
Too much of what? Too much of everything that your chickens don’t need!
French Fries Have Way Too Many Calories
First and foremost, french fries are an extremely high-calorie food. Be honest, you already knew that.
Fries are made from deep-fried starch, and there is hardly anything you can do to make a higher-calorie food than frying starch in hot oil.
Chickens simply cannot handle the extreme amount of calories present in french fries without gaining weight, assuming they could put up with the other ingredients, which they can’t.
And, of course, chickens are highly food motivated and are already prone to overeating. Your chickens can gain unhealthy amounts of weight by eating wholesome foods that are otherwise good for them.
What do you think is going to happen if you let them pig out on french fries? You got it: they’re going to pack on the pounds.
They Also Have Too Much Salt and Oil
Then we come to the other major problem with french fries, and probably the one of even greater concern: french fries contain tons of oil and salt, two things that chickens don’t need very much of it all.
Eating too much of either, but particularly oil, can lead to serious digestive trouble for chickens and worse problems besides.
Digestive trouble usually means loose, runny stools or full-blown diarrhea and considering how much chickens poop this is going to turn into one hell of a mess even if only one chicken is afflicted.
If all of your chickens are suffering from it, you better clear your schedule this weekend because you’re going to be begging for mercy while cleaning the coop.
But worse than this, oil and salt can cause other, unique problems. Too much oil in a chicken’s diet is known to cause problems in their gizzard and their crop, with various yeast or bacterial infections being common.
Excess salt can put a strain on a chicken’s kidneys, or even lead to legitimate sodium poisoning.
That’s not a joke: chickens can get poisoned by salt if they eat too much of, usually resulting in collapse, seizures, and death.
Chickens that do survive might have neurological or physical problems afterward for the rest of their lives.
All in all, these are some pretty serious consequences, wouldn’t you say? Would a person who loves their chickens willingly risk inflicting any of the above on them?
I know you’re not one of those people, and accordingly you should never give your chickens french fries…
Are French Fries Safe for Baby Chicks?
Because someone would ask: no, french fries are in no way safe for baby chicks.
It really does beggar belief that anyone would think french fries are safe for chicks, they being already notorious for their extreme sensitivity when it comes to their diet.
Baby chicks cannot handle the calories, to say nothing of the truly extreme amounts of oil and salt in french fries. Either will make a chick gravely ill, or even kill them outright.
Giving french fries to chicks is abuse, period.
I Really Want to Give My Chickens French Fries. How Many Can They Have?
Against all of my advice, and against all common sense, you are still dead-set on letting your chickens try french fries, huh?
If I cannot persuade you, you should only give your chickens the tiniest little tidbit of french fry, each.
For adult chickens, try to ensure that they get no more than one-quarter of a single french fry each, and don’t make a habit of it.
Baked, Plain Potato Sticks are Safe and Healthy for Chickens
If you are truly hung up on the idea of giving your birds french fries, rejoice, because there is a safe and healthy alternative in the form of oven fries.
Oven fries are exactly what they sound like: fries that are baked, not fried.
All you need to do is cut up some russet potatoes into sticks that are the size and shape of normal french fries, and then bake them in your oven at home until golden and crispy.
Don’t add any salt, and don’t add any oil. That’s fine if you are making the oven fries for yourself, but your birds don’t need it and won’t really care about it besides…
They will enjoy a nice fluffy bit of baked potato just fine though, and you won’t have to feel guilty about risking their health.
Tim is a farm boy with vast experience on homesteads, and with survival and prepping. He lives a self-reliant lifestyle along with his aging mother in a quiet and very conservative little town in Ohio. He teaches folks about security, prepping and self-sufficiency not just through his witty writing, but also in person.