Can Chickens Chow Down on Cooked Rice and Beans?



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I’ll never forget the time my buddy Ryan and I tried to get creative with feeding my backyard chickens.

We had a bunch of leftover cilantro lime rice and black beans from taco night and figured, hey, why not offer it to the feathered ladies? They eat just about anything, right?

Well, let’s just say it didn’t go quite as planned! As soon as we put the rice and beans in the coop, the chickens flocked to it curiously.

A few hesitant pecks later, though, they started making the funniest noises – almost like they were offended that we served them lazy leftovers!

The bottom line after researching: chickens can eat small amounts of plain cooked rice and certain cooked beans, but seasonings and onion/garlic are no-no’s for their sensitive systems.

Stick to their standard feed to be safe!

Want the full scoop? Keep on reading, my chicken-loving friends!

Rice Rice Baby

Plain white rice is fine for chickens to eat in moderation. Many commercial chicken feeds even contain rice.

The key things to know…


Rice expands in chicken’s crops, so more than a handful can make them feel too full. I learned that the hard way when my ladies gobbled up a full cup of rice and moped around for hours afterwards!

Brown rice takes longer to break down, so stick with white rice varieties. Quick cooking minute rice can be more processed, so regular long grain is best.

Wild rice and rice pilaf mixes also aren’t recommended since they have extra seasonings. Best to keep it boring – plain white rice is safest!

Also be careful of cooking methods.

Rice cooked in onion or garlic infused oil or broth can irritate chickens’ systems. My girls had upset tummies for a day when I shared a batch that I sautéed onions and garlic in. Oops!

I’ve found mixing a few tablespoons of cooked white rice into their feed helps them eat it slowly.

Or sprinkling small handfuls in their scratch area keeps portion control in check. This way they won’t overload on those little carbohydrate nuggets!

Bean There, Haven’t Done That

As for beans, some cooked varieties are OK for chickens, but they should only be an occasional snack. Avoid raw beans altogether, as they contain toxins.


Kidney, black, pinto, and cannellini beans, lentils and split peas are all safe bets. But steer clear of undercooked dried beans, which as I learned can be rock hard in their gizzards. Ouch!

Garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas!) are iffy – some say their skins are indigestible. Mine will eat a few but not go crazy. Same for refried beans, which can be extra greasy.

Green and wax beans though are a hit! High in Vitamin A, they’re a healthy treat. I chop them up to avoid any choking. But beware green bean casseroles smothered in crispy onions – that’s asking for tummy troubles!

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With any bean, moderation is key. More than a handful, and excess protein and carbs can throw their digestion out of whack. Trust me, cleaning up the aftermath is no fun!

To play it safe, wait until after eggs are collected for the day. Then observe after feeding to ensure normal eating, drinking and pooping!

Feathered Gourmets: Exploring Additional Treats

Chickens are known for their diverse palate, and there’s a whole world of treats beyond rice and beans that can add excitement to their diet. Let’s delve into some additional options that your feathered friends might relish.


Fruits Galore: Berries, melons, and citrus fruits are not only delicious but also packed with vitamins. However, citrus peels can be too acidic for some chickens, so it’s best to offer them in moderation.

Leafy Greens: Expand their veggie intake with leafy greens like kale, Swiss chard, and lettuce. These greens provide essential nutrients and are a fantastic addition to their diet. Just be cautious with spinach, as its oxalic acid content may affect calcium absorption.

Protein Power: Insects and worms are natural protein sources that chickens love. Mealworms, crickets, and earthworms can be a tasty and nutritious treat. Just ensure they are appropriately sized for your chickens to avoid choking hazards.

Dairy Dilemma: While some chickens enjoy yogurt and cheese in moderation, others may be lactose intolerant. Introduce dairy gradually and observe their response. If they handle it well, it can be a good source of calcium and protein.

Seed Sensation: Seeds such as sunflower, pumpkin, and flaxseed are not only tasty but also provide essential fatty acids. These can be scattered in their run or added to their feed for a crunchy delight.

Vegetable Variety: Expand beyond the basics and offer vegetables like cucumbers, carrots, and bell peppers. These can be chopped into bite-sized pieces to prevent choking and add variety to their diet.

Remember, moderation is key, and it’s crucial to monitor their reactions to new treats. Each chicken is unique, and their preferences can vary, so pay attention to what your flock enjoys the most!

Cracking the Egg Dilemma

One common query among chicken keepers is whether it’s safe for chickens to eat eggs. The short answer is yes, but there are important considerations to keep in mind.

Shell Shock: Eggshells are an excellent source of calcium, which is vital for strong eggshells and overall health.

Crushed eggshells can be offered as a supplement, but ensure they are finely ground to prevent any association with whole eggs.

Scrambled Success: Cooked eggs are a protein-packed treat that chickens generally adore. Scrambled eggs are a popular choice, and you can add some of their favorite veggies for an extra nutritional boost. Just be cautious with excessive salt or seasoning.

Raw Dilemma: While some chicken keepers feed raw eggs to their flock, there’s a risk of encouraging egg-eating behavior. If chickens associate raw eggs with a tasty treat, they might develop a bad habit of breaking and eating their own eggs.

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Feathered Cannibals: In some cases, chickens may turn to cannibalism, especially if their diet lacks essential nutrients. Ensure their diet is well-balanced, and if egg-eating becomes a concern, promptly address it by providing adequate nutrition and calcium supplements.

Ultimately, eggs can be a nutritious addition to their diet, but careful management is crucial to avoid potential pitfalls.

Understanding Grit: The Digestive Aid

Grit plays a vital role in the digestive process for chickens.

It consists of small, hard particles like pebbles and rocks that help grind down grains and food in their gizzards. Understanding the importance of grit is essential for maintaining optimal digestive health in your flock.

Natural Foraging: In a free-range environment, chickens often pick up small stones and grit as they forage. However, for confined flocks or those without access to a natural grit source, supplemental grit is necessary.

Size Matters: Grit comes in different sizes, and the appropriate size depends on the age and size of your chickens. Fine grit is suitable for chicks, while larger particles are better for adult birds. Providing the right size ensures effective digestion.

Offering Grit: Grit should be offered in a separate container, allowing chickens to consume it as needed.

It’s especially important when introducing new grains or treats to their diet, as it aids in breaking down these foods in the digestive system.

Calcium Grit: Some grit mixes include crushed oyster shell or other sources of calcium. This type of grit is beneficial for layers, as it helps in forming strong eggshells. However, for non-laying hens or roosters, a standard grit without added calcium is preferable.

By understanding the role of grit in digestion and providing it appropriately, you contribute to the overall well-being and digestive health of your chickens.

Crunchy Critters: Exploring Insects in Their Diet

Chickens are natural foragers, and insects are a crucial part of their diet. Beyond being a tasty treat, insects offer essential nutrients that contribute to their overall health. Let’s explore the world of crunchy critters and how they can benefit your feathered friends.

Mealworm Mania: Mealworms are a favorite among chickens, and they provide a rich source of protein. Whether dried or live, mealworms can be offered as a special treat or mixed into their regular feed to enhance its nutritional content.

Cricket Craze: Crickets are another protein-packed option that chickens enjoy. Like mealworms, they can be offered as a standalone treat or added to their diet for variety. Just ensure the crickets are appropriately sized for your chickens.

Earthworm Extravaganza: Insects like earthworms not only offer protein but also provide additional benefits. They help aerate the soil, promoting a healthier environment for your flock. When chickens have access to forage, they may naturally consume these beneficial insects.

Cautionary Considerations: While insects are beneficial, it’s essential to ensure they come from a safe source. Avoid offering insects from areas treated with pesticides, as these can be harmful to your chickens. Cultivating a designated insect-foraging area is a thoughtful way to provide them with a safe and natural food source.

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Integrating insects into your chickens’ diet adds variety, excitement, and valuable nutrients. Just remember to do so in moderation and prioritize the safety and well-being of your flock.

Feathered Health Check: Signs of a Happy Flock

Understanding the health and well-being of your chickens is crucial for responsible and attentive flock management. By regularly observing their behaviors and physical condition, you can identify signs of a content and thriving flock.

Active Foraging: A healthy chicken flock engages in active foraging, scratching, and exploring their environment. If your chickens are consistently lethargic or disinterested in foraging, it may indicate a health issue that requires attention.

Plumage Perfection: The feathers of a healthy chicken should be clean, glossy, and free of mites or lice. Regular grooming, dust baths, and access to clean bedding contribute to a vibrant and well-maintained plumage.

Regular Egg Production: For laying hens, consistent and well-formed egg production is a positive indicator of their health. Any sudden changes in egg production or the quality of eggs may warrant a closer look at their diet and environment.

Alert Demeanor: Healthy chickens are alert and responsive to their surroundings. They should exhibit curiosity, react to stimuli, and display a general awareness of their flock members and surroundings.

Respiratory Wellness: Clear and unlabored breathing is essential. Any signs of wheezing, coughing, or nasal discharge may indicate respiratory issues that require prompt attention, as respiratory diseases can spread quickly through a flock.

Regular health checks and prompt intervention in case of any abnormalities contribute to the overall well-being of your chickens. Remember that a happy and healthy flock is a testament to your dedicated care and responsible chicken keeping.

The Verdict: Use Caution with Leftovers

While chickens will eagerly eat all sorts of table scraps, seasonings and onion/garlic can irritate their digestive systems. And portion control is key – their main nutrition should still come from quality layer feed and treats.

So Ryan and I learned the hard way – no more crazy leftovers for our feathered ladies! Now we know even plain rice and beans can cause issues if they have too much.

We mainly stick to healthy chicken-safe foods that they absolutely devour like cabbage, spinach, tomatoes, apples, strawberries, watermelon and grapes. Mealworms are their ultimate favorite protein-packed snack!

When we do offer leftovers, tiny portions of plain meat, veggies or rice get gobbled right up. We mix them into their feed for slowed digestion. Then like doting chicken parents, we watch closely afterwards!

So in the end, chickens and food scraps can happily coexist – with some ground rules. By understanding limits and signs of trouble, backyard flocks will thrive on their egg-cellent diets!

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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”.

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