can chickens eat a rotisserie chicken

Can Backyard Chickens Eat Rotisserie Chicken Bones? The Truth About Feeding Chicken to Chickens

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Alright friends, I’ve got a doozy of a story for y’all about a heck of an adventure I had with my flock last weekend that’ll have you shook, I promise!

So I was puttering around out back Saturday afternoon, tidying up the coop like I do every week.

But when I went to refill the feeder, I about had a conniption – it was clean empty! I knew the girls would be squawking for dinner any minute too.

I haul myself into the truck, muttering about how I really needed to start keeping more feed in stock. The co-op is always a zoo on weekends but I didn’t have much choice if I wanted to avoid a revolt!

When I got there, it was absolutely jam packed of course.

I weaved my way through the aisles grabbing the usual chicken chow.

But then as I turned down the deli section, something caught my eye among the rotisserie chickens spinning on the rotisseries.

They had the whole roast birds marked way down, like 75% off or something crazy.

Now normally I wouldn’t think nothing of it, but they looked so darn juicy and the price was right.

Plus I figured the girls would go wild for all that protein…

Before I even knew what I was doing, one of those suckers found its way into my cart.

Hey, no sense in letting good chicken go to waste, right? And it’d be a special treat for the flock!

When I got home, I cracked open the packaging and the aroma hit me like a freight train.

My mouth was watering just thinking about it, but this chicken wasn’t for me – it was for the ladies out back.

I tore off a leg and wing, then carefully made my way to the coop.

As soon as I flung that first piece over the fence, all hell broke loose like you wouldn’t believe.

Those birds turned into a frenzy of flapping feathers and claws scrambling to get at the meat.

I’ve never seen them go so hog wild, it was insane! They were battling each other Major Domo-style to snatch up the juiciest bits.

Part of me was absolutely tickled pink to see them enjoying a special snack so much.

But another part started wondering – is this really okay for them?

Should chickens even be eating other chickens?

It got me thinking maybe I should do some research before I made rotisserie bird a regular part of their diet.

So when I got inside, I pulled out my phone to do a little digging…

Is It Actually Good For Them Tho?

can chickens eat a rotisserie chicken

Now chickens will naturally go after any source of protein they can find, they aren’t too particular usually. But store chicken is a bit different than your average worm or bug if ya know what I mean.

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See those store-bought birds are usually pumped full of all kinds of flavorings, broths, seasonings and whatnot to make them extra moist and tasty for us humans. A lot of those ingredients like salt, sugar and MSG probably ain’t the best thing to be feeding your flock day in and day out.

Chickens have different nutritional needs than us, and too many additives can cause all sorts of issues down the line like high blood pressure, organ damage, you name it. Their bodies just aren’t meant to process all that junk on a regular basis.

Plus those store chickens are also way fattier than a chicken that’s been free-ranging and foraging like nature intended. Too much fat can lead to various digestive problems or weight gain if you’re not careful about portions.

So while my birds loved tearing into that rotisserie bird with gusto last weekend, the real question is if it’s an appropriate part of a balanced diet long-term. There’s definitely some pros and cons to ponder there.

Potential Bams And Hassles

can chickens eat a rotisserie chicken

To dive into some of those pros and cons more, I started making a list in my notes of things that could potentially be issues:

First off, all those flavorings I mentioned before like broths and seasonings are usually chock full of sodium which is no bueno if you feed too much long term. Too much salt isn’t good for any critter’s health, chickens included.

Next, because store chickens are mass processed on those big chicken ranches, there’s always a risk of bacterial contamination if food safety practices during processing weren’t so hot. You don’t want your flock getting salmonella or campylobacter or nothing nasty like that.

Occasionally probably wouldn’t cause an outbreak, but it’s still a risk. And if one chicken gets sick, it could spread through the whole coop quick as a cat through cherry tree branches.

Other things I noted were sharp little bone fragments could tear up their crops or cause cuts/infections if they start fighting over pieces. One of my girls Lydia is a right stinker sometimes and will pick on the weaker birds.

Also, store chicken isn’t exactly the most nutritious or balanced feed. It don’t have all the vitamins, minerals, calories and such in the right proportions chickens need to stay healthy long-term.

When you compare it to commercial feed specifically formulated by animal scientists, there’s no contest really which is the superior choice to keep your flock fit as a fiddle.

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The more I thought on it, the more it seemed certain that while my chickens enjoyed the rotisserie treat, it just didn’t make sense for it to be part of their regular diet on the daily, you know?

Is The Risk Really Worth It In The End?

can chickens eat a rotisserie chicken

After mulling it all over and seeing both sides of the argument clearly, I had to conclude that feeding store chicken more than just as an occasional special treat probably ain’t the brightest plan.

I mean sure, the girls loved every second of scarfing down that rotisserie bird last weekend. It was a riot to watch them going totally ham over it!

But when I weigh it against potential health issues down the road from things like too much fat, sodium, additives or contamination risk, it really don’t seem worth the potential costs in the long run.

Especially considering it would be way more pricey in the long haul versus bulk feed I can get for half the dough practically. And my flock’s health ain’t worth cutting corners over a couple bucks saved, ya know?

Plus all the proper safety practices needed like discarding packaging, thoroughly washing hands, steaming potentially infected pieces if someone did get sick sound like way more of a production than it’s worth for an occasional treat.

In the end, the smart move is sticking to commercial feed made with nutritional balance and their well-being in mind as the number one priority over some impulse chicken spending spree.

It was an fun experiment I don’t regret trying out of curiosity! But from now on Freddie Friedchicken is staying off the menu unless it’s a very occasional special occasion type thing.

What About Leftover Bones?

One thing I didn’t consider in my original trial was bones.

Chickens love to peck and scratch at anything calcium-rich like egg shells or small bones.

But bigger bones from a whole rotisserie bird could pose dangers.

Sharp splinters or chunks could hurt their mouths and digestive tracts.

And if they start battling over bones, there’s risk of pecks and scratches too.

So it’s probably best to remove any sizable bones before sharing store chicken.

Smaller rib or wing fragments may be fine in moderation though.

How About Just The Meat?

Another option to reduce risks would be giving them just the meat.

I could strip all the meat off the bones once it’s cooled after eating some myself.

This way they still get the protein boost but avoid bones, fat and seasonings.

Portion size would need careful monitoring as meat alone is denser calories.

Overfeeding could still lead to issues like obesity if not mindful.

But an occasional small piece or two of plain meat may pose fewer health hazards.

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It removes the main risk factors while letting them enjoy a special protein treat.

Home Processed Chicken As An Alternative?

For a safer version of store chicken as an occasional feed, some folks process their own.

If you raise a few chickens of your own for meat each year it could work.

Home raised birds you butcher yourself avoid risks from commercial processing.

You know exactly how the chicken was handled and have control over additives.

Meat from your own humanely raised birds may integrate better into an overall healthy flock diet.

Of course, this requires actually having laying hens AND meat birds on your property.

For most folks with just a few backyard chickens, the added effort isn’t worth it solely for this purpose.

Should Chickens Eat Only Commercial Feed?

Some folks argue chickens should only eat commercially prepared feed.

And for the average backyard flock, prepared feed is certainly the easiest path.

It ensures balanced nutrition tailored specifically for poultry by animal scientists.

But an exclusively pellet-based diet lacks some natural benefits too.

Occasional foraging, bug catching and treat foods can enrich their lives.

As long as any non-commercial additions are done safely, a balanced approach has merits.

The key is monitoring intake of treats and ensuring the bulk calories come from a professionally formulated feed.

A mostly commercial diet with carefully-chosen occasional natural treats can work well too.

How Is Chicken Handled Commercially?

To properly weigh commercial chicken risks, it helps understanding typical handling.

Birds are raised in dense numbers sometimes in poor conditions sadly.

Processing involves de-feathering, evisceration and packaging hundreds per minute.

Hygiene standards do exist but issues still happen due to speed and scale.

Contamination introduced at any stage pre-packaging poses foodborne illness risks.

If sick with something like salmonella, birds can spread it easily to others.

For backyard flocks, even low commercial risks may not be worth potential consequences.

Special Diets And Life Stages To Consider

Different dietary needs exist for chickens at various ages and purposes.

Laying hens require extra protein and calcium for strong eggshells.

Growing chicks need higher calorie, protein-rich feeds for healthy development.

Meat birds being raised solely for the table have their own specialized diets.

During molting, hens may need extra protein, vitamins and minerals briefly.

Broody hens sitting on eggs will eat less so providing extra calories is good.

Taking these things into account ensures all birds get precisely what they require.

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