Can Chickens Eat Cheese Pizza

Can Chickens Eat Cheese Pizza? A Slice of Advice for Chicken Owners

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As I strolled out to the coop on a sunny afternoon, pizza box in hand, my chickens started clucking and rushing the gate.

They could smell the cheesy goodness even before I opened the box! My feathered friends love human food, especially anything involving cheese or meat.

But is pizza really okay for chickens to eat?

Well, let me tell you about the time I first offered pizza to my flock.

It was a Friday night in the middle of summer and I had ordered a supreme pizza with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onions, green peppers, and extra cheese for dinner.

My family couldn’t finish the entire large pizza, so there were 2 leftover slices sitting on the kitchen counter.

Not wanting those last 2 slices to go to waste, I got an idea. Why not bring them out to the chickens as a special treat?

So I put on my muck boots, grabbed the pizza slices, and headed out to the coop.

As soon as I stepped foot inside the run, the chickens flocked around me in a frenzy of wings and excited chatter.

My 5 hens – 2 Rhode Island Reds named Ruby and Rosie, 2 Golden Comets named Sunny and Daisy, and 1 Barred Rock named Opal – clearly knew I had something tasty for them.

They pecked at my mud boots and looked up at me expectantly.

I placed the slices of pizza down on a flat rock and tore off a few small pieces of crust and toppings.

The chickens gobbled up those first bites in seconds.

Opal snatched up a chunk of sausage, while Sunny nabbed a slice of green pepper.

Daisy ate the onion pieces first before moving onto the cheese.

Rosie and Ruby had a brief squabble over a slice of pepperoni before dividing it up evenly.

They all looked so happy eating it that I continued breaking the pizza into nickel-sized pieces and tossing the bites out one by one.

The chickens eagerly snatched them up, cooing contentedly. In less than 5 minutes, they had polished off those two slices like vacuum cleaners!

Ever since then, I’ve occasionally treated them to leftover pizza crusts or scattered veggie toppings like mushrooms, onions, olives, etc.

But is pizza really healthy for chickens to eat regularly or is it more of a “sometimes food” like dessert for humans?

The Pros and Cons of Feeding Chickens Pizza

Pizza can make a tasty occasional treat for chickens.

Can Chickens Eat Cheese Pizza

In moderation a few times a month, it provides some nutritional benefits. However, serving pizza every day is not a balanced diet for chickens.

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Potential Benefits

  • Excellent source of protein from cheese and meat toppings like pepperoni or sausage – chickens need plenty of protein for egg laying
  • The crust provides carbohydrates for energy – chickens use carbs to be active foraging and moving around
  • Cheese offers calcium for strong eggshells, and phosphorus for proper bone development
  • Olive oil provides healthy fats for skin and feather health
  • Tomato sauce contains antioxidants like lycopene and vitamin C

For example, a couple bites of pizza could provide a nice protein boost for my chickens after a busy day ranging in the yard.

Ruby loves pecking at the cheese, so she gets an extra dose of calcium from her favorite topping. Opal gobbles up any meat first chance she gets!

Possible Drawbacks

  • High in calories and fat if feeding large amounts – can lead to weight gain
  • Excessive sodium from high salt in cheese, pepperoni, sausage, etc – can cause kidney problems
  • Spicy toppings like jalapenos or hot sauce may irritate chickens’ digestive systems and cause upset stomachs.
  • Tough pizza crusts can be difficult to digest and may choke chickens or impact their crops
  • Regular pizza meals could lead to obesity, fatty liver disease, and other health issues

For example, last month I gave each of the chickens an entire slice of meat lover’s pizza. Daisy ended up with runny droppings afterward, probably from all the greasy pepperoni upsetting her stomach.

And Sunny was so stuffed that she didn’t eat much of her lay crumble the next day – not good for consistent egg production!

Guidelines for Feeding Chickens Pizza

Can Chickens Eat Cheese Pizza

When sharing pizza with your flock, moderation is important.

Here are some tips to follow:

  • Limit pizza to occasional treat – no more than once or twice per month
  • Avoid rich, greasy pizzas like meat lover’s, supreme, etc.
  • Remove spicy toppings like jalapenos, banana peppers, etc. that can irritate digestive systems
  • Go light on the cheese and fatty meats like pepperoni and sausage
  • Always cut or tear pizza into nickel-sized pieces chickens can safely swallow
  • Make sure leftover pizza hasn’t sat out for more than 2 hours before feeding
  • Provide plenty of fresh, clean water to help chickens digest
  • Monitor chickens’ weight and droppings when first offering pizza
  • Adjust quantities or frequency if chickens have adverse reactions

For example, I stick to plain cheese or veggie pizza when treating my flock. I tear the pizza into bite-sized pieces and scatter them around the run so the chickens get exercise foraging for the treats.

And I always keep their feeder full of layer mash and freshen their waterer afterwards so they don’t fill up on just pizza.

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Healthy Pizza Toppings for Chickens

Can Chickens Eat Cheese Pizza

If you want to intentionally bake a “chicken pizza” to share with your flock, here are some healthy topping ideas:

  • Low-sodium grilled chicken or turkey for protein
  • Lots of chopped veggies like spinach, kale, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, mushrooms, sweet peppers
  • Substitute half the cheese for shredded chicken or turkey
  • Use just a light sprinkling of low-fat mozzarella or feta cheese
  • Top with omega-3 rich avocado slices instead of fatty meats
  • Use thin whole wheat or multigrain crusts
  • Drizzle lightly with olive oil instead of slathering with greasy pepperoni
  • Season with minced garlic and fresh herbs instead of salt

For example, I’ll bake a homemade pizza on multigrain crust with diced chicken, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, and a bit of goat cheese.

The chickens go crazy pecking up all the nutritional toppings! It gives them a fun, balanced treat without excess fat, sodium or spices.

Pizza Toppings To Avoid for Chickens

While chickens can enjoy pizza in moderation, there are certain toppings you should avoid feeding them.

These ingredients can pose health risks or provide little nutritional value for chickens:

  • Onions – Raw onions contain a compound that can cause hemolytic anemia in chickens.
  • Garlic – Can cause Heinz body anemia in high amounts. Use sparingly.
  • Chocolate – Contains toxic theobromine deadly to chickens. Avoid dessert pizzas.
  • Canned meat toppings – High in sodium, preservatives.
  • Raw bacon or uncooked sausage – Risk of salmonella or food poisoning.
  • Hot peppers – Spicy capsaicin can irritate digestive tract.
  • Olives – High in fat, may cause diarrhea.
  • Artificial colors or flavors – No nutritional value.
  • Sugary fruit toppings – Can cause crop issues.

For example, my neighbor offered her leftover bacon and onion pizza to my flock. But I politely declined since raw bacon may contain salmonella and onions can make chickens anemic.

I’ll stick to veggie or plain cheese pizza without risky toppings.

Pizza Crust Tips for Chickens

Pizza crusts can pose a choking hazard for chickens if swallowed in large chunks.

Follow these tips when sharing crusts:

  • Tear crust into nickel or dime-sized pieces.
  • Soak hard crusts in water to soften first.
  • Avoid thick, doughy artisan or deep dish crusts.
  • Crusts with seeds, grains, or sprouted grains have more nutrients.
  • Whole wheat or multigrain crusts have more fiber.
  • Check that chickens are actually swallowing pieces, not just pecking.
  • Remove uneaten crust pieces after 30 minutes.
  • Make sure chickens have access to grit to help grind up crusts.

For example, last week I gave my flock some leftover cheese bread crusts from Domino’s. The chunks were so big and doughy that the chickens struggled to break them down by pecking.

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So now I’m careful to tear crusts into bite-sized morsels my chickens can properly digest.

Pizza Party Tips for Your Flock

Want to host a special pizza party for your feathered friends? Here are some tips to keep the event fun and safe:

  • Stick to chicken-safe toppings like plain cheese, chicken, veggies.
  • Make mini chicken-sized “pizzas” using English muffins or rolls.
  • Scatter topping pieces around the run so chickens can forage.
  • Hang crusts from strings at various heights for enrichment.
  • Set out pizza crusts in a treat ball for entertainment.
  • Play Italian music and decorate coop for festive theme.
  • Have “pizzatizers” like cherry tomatoes, broccoli.
  • Make sure to monitor how much chickens eat.
  • Allow treats for only 30-60 minutes then remove.

For example, last month we had a pizza party for my cousin’s birthday. I made individual mini pizzas for the chickens using shredded chicken, spinach, and goat cheese on whole wheat English muffins.

The chickens had a blast pecking at the dangling muffin pizzas! It was a tasty and safe treat.

Signs Your Chicken Ate Too Much Pizza

Pizza should only be an occasional snack for chickens. Consuming too much can lead to health issues. Watch for these signs of overindulgence:

  • Loss of appetite or disinterest in regular feed.
  • Runny, watery, or bloody droppings.
  • Diarrhea or pasty vent area.
  • Decreased egg production.
  • Weight gain, especially around abdomen.
  • Difficulty breathing or lethargy.
  • Visible swelling around crop.
  • Signs of crop impaction like discharge or vomiting.
  • Standing hunched over and unwilling to move.

For example, last summer I gave my chickens too much pizza too often during a heat wave. Ruby developed diarrhea and stopped laying eggs.

I realized she’d put on weight and her crop felt swollen. Thankfully after a week on just layer mash and probiotics, she recovered fully.

Healthy Treat Alternatives to Pizza for Chickens

While the occasional scrap of pizza wont hurt chickens, you can also offer healthier treat alternatives like:

  • Fresh fruits like berries, melon, apple slices
  • Chopped lettuce, kale, chard, herbs
  • Cooked oatmeal with berries mixed in
  • Mealworms, crickets, or larvae for protein
  • Thawed frozen peas or corn
  • Chopped hard boiled eggs
  • Plain yogurt with seeds or chopped greens
  • Cooked rice, quinoa, barley or oats
  • Chopped seeded bread crusts or dinner rolls

For example, instead of cheese pizza I now give my chickens a homemade trail mix of mixed grains, chopped greens and berries.

This gives them a nutritious, low-fat treat they enjoy just as much as pizza!

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