can chickens eat chicken breast

Unveiling the Truth – Can Chickens Safely Enjoy Chicken Breast?



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So the other evenin’ I was chillin’ in my backyard coop like usual, tossin’ scratch to the ladies and makin’ sure they had plenty of vittles and H2O.

That’s when ol’ Bill, my neighbor, hollers over the fence with a real head-scratcher of a question – “Hey Tarzan, I seen some leftover chicken breasts in yer trash.

Ain’t that like cannibalism to feed the hens other chickens?”

Well now, that sure had me stumped! Only one way to find out the real deal.

 Investigating Whether Chickens Can Feast on Chicken Breast

can chickens eat chicken breast

I figgered the best way to get answers was to do a lil trial of my own.

That night after the girls went to roost, I snagged a couple pieces of leftover crispy chicken tenders from the icebox and tossed ’em in with their feed come mornin’.

And whaddya know – them hens gobbled that protein right on up like they was at KFC! Didn’t seem to faze ’em one bit that it was chicken they was eatin’.

They didn’t hold nothin’ back, just pecked and scratched through the feed like usual.

Then I decided to see how much chicken they’d scrounge if it was the only vittles around.

So the next day I filled their trough with just plain grilled chicken – breasts, legs and wings, even some skin and bones.

Them ladies went hog wild, pluckin’ every last morsel clean in record time.

Few feathers even flew when Bernice fought Glendale for a juicy drumstick! Didn’t take long before there was nary a scrap left.

After they finished, I studied the flocks poop real careful like, hopin’ to see signs of any tummy troubles from all that bird on bird action.

But everything passed through normal as can be – no loosemess, no blood, nothin’ out of the ordinary.

Them chickens was feelin’ fight fit as a fiddle after their whole chicken feast.

So from my little hen house experiment, it sure seems like chickens don’t give two hoots about eatin’ other poultry.

As long as it’s cooked safe, they’ll chow down chicken with no qualms!

Wild Chickens is Born Scavengers

can chickens eat chicken breast

Lookin’ back through nature, it makes sense chickens enjoy an occasional taste of themselves.

Way back when, their wild jungle fowl ancestors was always on the prowl for any morsel of nutrition they could scrounge up.

Bugs, lizards, carrion, plants – you name it and a chicken would try noshing it if hungry enough.

And being natural omnivores in the wild, protein sources like small critters and meaty scraps was never off the menu for chickens either.

That predatory drive and will to survive means they still got a taste for tasty tidbits of all kinds, even if it’s their own kin once in a blue moon.

Their foragin’ instincts still run deep down in their peckish little bodies too, always on alert to spot potential pickins.

So it don’t faze a chicken none if they happen upon a stray chicken nugget while scratchin’ around in the dirt looking for grub.

In Moderation, It’s A-OK

can chickens eat chicken breast

Most experts in the poultry know will tell ya an occasional bit of other bird as a treat or supplement ain’t nothin’ for a chicken to crow about.

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Gets ’em good complete proteins and fats their plant-based feed can’t always give.

But go crammin’ em full a plain old chicken breast day in and day out, and that could start causin’ harm to their delicate digestion over the long haul.

After all, they was bred to thrive on a mostly vegetarian diet most the time through history on the farm.

So like with BBQ and brewskis, moderation is key when it comes to feedin’ fowl fowl flesh.

An itty bitty snack here and there sure won’t upset no hens.

But daily doses of straight up poultry prolly ain’t the best longterm plan for a coop’s health overall.

Cook It Through to Ward Off the Cooties

can chickens eat chicken breast

One thing ya gotta watch out for sure is only feedin’ the poultry crowd burned chicken parts that’s been thorougly cooked through like Thanksgiving turkey.

Raw or underdone bird meat poses big risks of sickness for chickens.

Parasites like worms and the bird flu bug can hitch a ride on uncooked poultry to infect a flock somethin’ fierce if they swallow it.

A lot of chicken ailments that’ll do a hen in real quick are perfectly happy makin’ more little chicken parasites in their gut too.

But cook the meat up sizzlin’ hot and those critters and germs got no chance.

Then it’s safe as can be for the ladies to scarf as a treat.

Just don’t be sloppin’ raw chicken scraps to them or it could spell big trouble down the road for the whole coop!

So in summary folks – chickens sure seem fine and dandy with nibblin’ on the occasional cooked pieces of themselves.

Gives ’em good nutrition and satisfies those foragin’ instincts.

Just keep meals light, cook it through, and don’t make it an everyday experience.

Follow that advice and your flock will stay rarin’ to go!

Hope that answers your question satisfactory-like, Bill! Lemme know if you need any other poultry pointers.

Now I best mosey on back and refill water for the girls – it’s fixin’ to be a scorcher!

Chicken Feed vs. Chicken Meat

Folks often ask if I think chicken feed or chicken flesh is better vittles for the flock.

Now while feed is formulated with all the balanced nutrition hens need day in and out, it sure lacks that hearty meaty savor chickens crave.

Commercially mixed feed contains ground up grains, soy, minerals and such – basic core nutrients but bland as can be.

Meanwhile, a morsel of moist meat is packed with protein, fat, and flavors chickens find irresistible through their keen sense of taste.

Protein is king as an energy source for active chickens always hustlin’ around the coop through their day.

And omega fatty acids in dark meat or skin nourish glossy feathers and healthy organs far better than fatty veg oil in pellets.

Even in small portions, cooked meat supplements feed with important nutrients in a very bioavailable form chickens love.

So while commercial feed alone suffices, mixing in meat as a topper adds real benefits for natural health, behavior and egg production.

I find incorporating cooked meat 1-2 times weekly works as a sustainable, enriching diet booster without reliance on feed alone.

Raising Chickens for Meat

Some folks in these parts take raisin’ chickens a step further beyond just eggs.

Instead of keepin’ hens as layers, they focus on growin’ meaty chicken breeds like Cornish Crosses exclusively for the dinner table.

These poultry powerhouses pack on muscle much faster than typical egg layers through selective breeding.

With top-notch care and feed, Cornish Crosses can get 4-5 pounds plump and ready for the processor in just 6-8 weeks.

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That means a lot less time, money and coop space invested before recouping profits from meat sales compared to natural layers.

Of course faster growth strains are prone to flaws like heart attacks if overfed or not properly exercised, so diligence is key.

And while efficient, intensive raised chickens lack the joys of the slower lifestyle our egg ladies enjoy free rangin’ their yard.

Overall the meat chicken business presents unique financial and animal welfare considerations beyond the household flock.

Butchering and Cooking Your Own Flock

When the time comes to say goodbye to our senior ladies, we handle the task ourselves here at the farm.

While it certainly ain’t the cheery, upbeat side of chicken keepin’, respectfully tendin’ to flock transitions is part of responsible stewards.

I find whole-flock butchering most humane versus sporadic individual slaughters that can distress survivors.

With sharp, clean equipment and quick cleanly cuts, death comes swiftly with minimal pain or panic witnessed.

After defeatherin’ by scalding and pluckin’, evisceration and dressing completes the hands-on lifecycle experience.

Whether we enjoy the meat ourselves or pass it on, I appreciate connectin’ to my food’s origins through this solemn process.

And boy howdy, doesn’t those birds ever taste sweeter knowing all the tender care that went into their happily lived days!

Chicken Treats and Additions

Free-range chickens love nothin’ more than foragin’ beyond their coop confines whenever weather permits.

But on rainy days or deep winter when yard time ain’t an option, I like to bring the foragin’ indoors for ’em.

Simple, homemade chicken treats like chopped veggies, herbs, mealworms or scratch grains engages their natural scratchin’ urges.

Chopped endive, radicchio, carrot tops – all favorites that provide enrichment better’n plain pellets ever could.

Mealworms packed with protein keep things interestin’, though too many can trigger undesirable pecking if underfed.

I’ll even toss in flower petals, pinecones or shells for sensory stimulation that encourages natural dust bathin.

Additive-free living gives my ladies long, happy lives layin’ eggs with deeper yolks thanks to their healthy habits.

Dealing with a Bully Bird

Even in ideal coop conditions, chickens still a complex social species that don’t always play nice.

So it’s inevitable every flock may have one ornery ol’ hen that asserts her rank through merciless peckin’.

At first signs of aggression, I calmly watch to ensure bully ain’t just enforcin’ a minor transgression.

But serious targeted attacks call for action before injury or stress-induced illnesses flare up.

Options range from temporary separation, adding distractions like coops or moving up the pecking order gal in question.

Elimination is an unfortunate last resort, though occasionally a chicken’s just born plain mean without cause.

Through minor adjustments, I find most flocks capable governin’ themselves given proper space and stimulation indoors and out.

Preserving Fresh Eggs

Nothing beats the pure joy of crackin’ into a egg still warm from the hens!

But with our ladies crackin’ out around 4 dozen beauties weekly, morethan we can gobble up fresh is inevitable.

Washin’ aids preservation by rinsin’ away surface bacteria prone to grow on shells over time.

Then it’s fridge storagepointed air cell upin their containerwhere they’ll stay fresh consuming within3-5 weeks.

For longerrations through winterlean months, I gently preserve dozens through waterglass picklin’ or simple salt water solution immersion.

Both lock the eggs in a vinegar and salt brine to inhibite microbeswithout penetratin’ the protective shells.

Pickled this a-way, our eggs keep perfect for 9months or more,recallin’ summer sunshine to fuel us through the cold!

Is Pecking Order Related to Cannibalism?

The pecking order in a chicken flock plays an important role in their social dynamics and behavior.

Dominant hens will peck lower ranking chickens to establish their place, which causes stress if taken too far.

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Disruptions to the pecking order from adding new birds or removing the top hen can shake up flock stability and increase aggressive pecking incidents.

When a hen feels threatened in the pecking order it may view weaker chickens as competition for resources rather than flockmates.

In some cases this triggers protective or predatory instincts that can escalate to actual cannibalism rather than dominance displays.

Maintaining a stable hierarchy and providing ample space, shelters and distractions helps chickens feel less pressured by dominance challenges.

This can help reduce stress-induced pecking behaviors like cannibalism caused by an unstable pecking order structure.

Genetics and Breed Behavior

Some chicken breeds have been bred specifically for meat production traits.

Meat breeds like Cornish Cross chickens grow very large breasts quickly but have poor foraging instincts.

Their overly fleshy mass and sedentary lifestyle may satisfy predatory instincts in other breeds if given access.

Egg laying hens have also been selectively bred for maximum egg output over several generations.

The metabolic toll of constant laying can impact hormones and behavior, making hens more aggressive or unpredictable.

Playful heritage breeds often display natural foraging and parental behaviors that makes them safer flock mates.

When possible, choose breeds well-suited to your management style to minimize abnormal pecking triggered by genetics.

Chicken Math: Stocking Density and Space Issues

The amount of usable indoor and outdoor space per chicken is a key factor.

Overcrowding increases stress, competition and frustrates natural behaviors like scratching and dust bathing.

A general guideline is at least 2-4 square feet per large chicken and 1-2 square feet for bantams indoors.

More space is needed for pastured or free-range chickens that spend most daylight hours outside.

In crowded flocks chickens may view one another as threats rather than flockmates.

This leads to increased pecking plus there’s a higher risk of injury from accidentally pecking another chicken.

Providing the minimum recommended space helps dilute density and minimizes triggers for pecking issues.

Culling vs Rehabilitation: What to Do with Chronic Cannibals

Sometimes despite preventative measures a hen will repeatedly attack or attempt to eat other chickens.

At this point most experts recommend permanent removal either by culling or rehoming to prevent harm.

However some dedicated keepers attempt rehabilitation by isolating the aggressive chicken with no visual/auditory access to flockmates.

Over several weeks positive reinforcement training is used to change its pecking behavior pattern.

If successful it can be reintroduced but needs close monitoring with a stress-free environment.

This option takes patience and for liability reasons culling may be preferable to avoid potential injuries.

Either way the welfare of the entire flock must take priority over any individual chicken.

Common Misconceptions About Cannibalism

“Chickens only do it if they aren’t happy” – not true, it’s a natural behavior in some contexts.

“My chickens won’t because they are pets” – all chickens may exhibit this instinctually depending on triggers.

It’s the rooster forcing hens to do it”- roosters don’t directly cause cannibalism, stress is usually the root.

“If they eat eggs it must be nutritional deficiency” – not always, other factors like stress can cause egg/chick eating.

“There’s a bad chicken in the flock making others do it” – while some individuals may be predisposed, it’s rarely one “bad apple”.

“It means unhealthy chickens” – it depends, cannibalism isn’t always due to illness and healthy flocks can still exhibit it occasionally.

“As long as they have food/shelter it won’t happen” – other stressors like noise, mingling unfamiliar flocks can still cause issues.

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