Can Chickens Chow Down on Chicken Wings?



—> Last Updated:

Let me tell you ’bout the time my buddy Keith and I learned the hard way that chickens probably shouldn’t eat chicken.

It all started when we found a crazy good deal on frozen chicken wings at the supermarket. I’m talkin’ an entire crate of ’em for just 5 bucks! Being a couple of college kids, we jumped on that bargain quicker than cows on a hot tin roof.

Turns out most experts don’t recommend feeding chickens meat or bones from other birds.

There’s some risk of spreading disease, and chickens just ain’t designed to eat meat, anyway.

Their beaks and digestive systems are built for seeds and plants, not chicken wings.

But Keith and me, we didn’t know all that at the time. Anyway, back to my story…

Why We Tried to Feed Chicken Wings to My Hens

So here’s the thing – we stumbled on this bonkers sale on frozen chicken wings at the grocery store one day.


I gotta couple hens in my backyard coop so I can have farm-fresh eggs.

Well, Keith takes one look at that crate of discounted wings and gets this big goofy grin on his face. “Hey Tanner,” he says, “bet your girls would love some chicken wings!”

I kinda laughed him off at first. But then I started picturing my hens chowing down on those meaty wings, their little feathers all ruffled up in poultry bliss.

Plus, so much protein’s gotta lead to even better eggs, right? I was sold. We loaded up that crate and hightailed it back to my place with visions of well-fed hens dancing in our heads.

When we got to my backyard coop, my three girls – Chloe, Alice, and Sandy – came a-runnin’ like always. “Hey ladies, wait til you see the treat we got ya!” I said, tearing open the bag of frozen wings. Steam rose up from the icy chicken parts as I dumped them in the feed trough.

See also  Can Your Chickens Scoff Down Lobster Shells?

What Happened When We Fed Them Chicken


Well, those wings mostly met with confusion. As the ice melted, Chloe tentatively pecked at this alien drumstick lookin’ thing. You could practically see the question marks popping up over their little heads.

“C’mon girls, it’s chicken! You love chicken, right?” Keith said. I had my doubts though. They kinda just stared at it dumbfounded, givin’ each other side-eye like “You gonna eat that weird stuff?”

After a few minutes, Sandy tried nibbling a frozen wing tip. Her eyes got all wide and she shook her head violently like a wet dog, sending thawed meat juice and ice crystals flying. Then she let out the most offended chicken screech you ever heard. The other two scrambled back in alarm.

“Huh, maybe they don’t like ’em frozen,” I said, though I was admittedly confused. I figured birds gotta like eat meat, right? Guess my chicken biology knowledge was pretty lacking.

The Aftermath – Lessons Learned


Welp, my feathered ladies wanted nothing to do with Keith’s genius plan. In the end, them wings got pecked at a little, but the chickens only ended up making a weird meaty mess across my nice clean coop floor. And they were more uppity than usual for days after, glarin’ at me all offended like.

Keith and I felt real bad assumed chickens would dig eatin’ other chicken parts. I done some Googling and found out most chickens ain’t designed to be carnivores.

Their beaks, digestive systems – everything’s built for seeds and plants, not meat and bone. Turns out chicken can even make chickens pretty sick if they eat it. There’s disease risks too around chickens consumin’ other birds. Who knew?

So lemme give y’all some Uncle Tanner advice: just say no to feeding chicken wings, meat, eggs or bones to your backyard chickens! Stick with high quality layer feed and fresh fruits/veggies for treats. Trust me and my uppity ladies on this one!

See also  Chickens and Fire Ants: Safe Snack or Fowl Faux Pas?

The Biology Behind Why Chickens Shouldn’t Eat Meat

See, chickens may be birds, but they ain’t carnivores by nature. Over thousands of years of evolution, chickens became specialists in sifting through dirt and vegetation for seeds and insects to thrive. Their beaks evolved to handle that kinda work, not tearing meat off bones.

Their digestive systems also adapted to process plant-based foods, not animal stuff. Meat takes longer to digest compared to fruits, veggies, grains. A chicken’s short digestive tract is built to rapidly process their natural food sources, not protein-heavy meat. It just rots away in there, which can cause stomach issues.

Even chickens’ behavior and instincts drive them to forage through pastures, not hunt prey. As prey animals themselves, chickens feel safest pecking at the ground, not trying to take down animals for meat. They just ain’t wired that way, y’know?

Health Dangers of Feeding Chicken Meat to Birds

Farmers know you gotta be real careful about chickens ingesting meat and bone from other fowl. See, diseases like avian influenza can hide away in raw bird flesh and organs. A nibble of infected chicken can pass that sickness right along to your flock. No bueno.

Salmonella risk is another big issue. Chickens carry it in their systems naturally with no issues. But when chickens eat infected chicken meat, all that concentrated salmonella bacteria can overwhelm their guts and make ’em sick. Then they spread it across your farm quick as a whip!

Some other nasty diseases like infectious bronchitis, bumblefoot, Marek’s disease and more can also spread through contaminated chicken meat and organs. It just ain’t worth the risk, ya know?

More Suitable Chicken Treat Options

Now, don’t get me wrong here – just ’cause chicken meat is off the table don’t mean you can’t spoil your flock with yummy treats! Mealworms, for example, are a favorite protein-packed snack chickens go bonkers over. And they digest creepy crawlers like worms just fine!

See also  Can Chickens Eat Apple Cores and Seeds?

Fresh veggies and fruits also make great options. Tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon, apples – try some healthy human foods in safe moderation. Makes for some spoiled rotten chickens, I tell ya.

And don’t forget ostrich or emu feed as an occasional meal mixer-upper. Some specialty feeds like these can add variety and nutrition to delight even the pickiest poultry pals.

Considerations for Meat Birds vs. Egg Layers

Got yourself some Cornish cross broiler hens bred specifically for meat production? Their bodies may actually handle chicken products a little better than skinny egg-layin’ breeds. After all, they gorge on high protein feed to bulk up fast for slaughter weight.

But even then, meat chickens ain’t designed to digest a pure carnivore diet. Bone shards can still cause internal lacerations and bleeding that leads to sickness and death. Always best to play it safe!

For backyard egg chickens like mine, feeding ’em meat almost always does more harm than good. Keep that protein restricted to their special layer feed for optimum health and egg production.

What About Eggs? Can Chickens Eat Those?

Ah, now eggs – those are a tricky topic too when it comes to feeding chickens! Farmers used to think crushing up shells and adding ’em to feed was a good calcium boost.

But studies show egg shells can actually attract predators. The scent grabs the attention of raccoons, minks and other chicken-eaters prowling for an easy feast. Bad news bears.

As for raw eggs – salmonella strikes again! Raw yolks and whites can transmit this bacteria cowabunga-style through a flock. So pass on scrambling up eggs for your ladies.

For strong shells, look to oyster grit or layer crumbles with extra calcium instead. Keep them eggs far away from your chickens, my friend!

how to raise chickens for eggs book pdf

Get Crackin’ on Your Own Egg Empire

Do you crave the rich golden yolks and thick whites that only come from the freshest eggs?

After nearly a decade running my own egg empire and mastering the art of keeping chickens, I’ve stuffed all my insider secrets into the aptly named “How to Raise Chickens for Eggs”.

how to raise chickens for eggs book pdf

Get Crackin’ on Your Own Egg Empire

Do you crave the rich golden yolks and thick whites that only come from the freshest eggs?

Dream of a waddling flock of feathered friends in your own backyard?

Then stop dreaming and start hatching a plan, people!

This ain’t no chicken game. After nearly a decade running my own egg empire and mastering the art of keeping chickens, I’ve stuffed all my insider secrets into the aptly named “How to Raise Chickens for Eggs”.

I’m talking building a palace of a coop guaranteed to impress the neighbors, concocting feed for peak egg production, collecting eggs so perfect you’ll weep tears of joy – plus hilarious stories and accidental mishaps along the way.

So get cluckin’ and grab the key to creating your own morning egg paradise before I sell out!