The Truth About Chickens & Sweet Potato Skins : Feathered Feasts



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I gotta tell ya, nothing gets my feathers ruffled quite like seeing my chickens pecking away at something they probably shouldn’t be eating.

Just the other day I caught my prized Buff Orpington Henrietta eyeing up the potato peels in the compost bin.

That hen has a mind of her own let me tell you! She’s always getting into trouble trying to eat things that just don’t agree with her sensitive chicken tummy.

Which got me thinking – can chickens eat sweet potato skins? Let’s cluck our way through this together.

Now I may just be a simple chicken farmer, but I’ve learned a thing or two raising my flock of 25 hens and 5 roosters over the past 10 years.

And one thing’s for sure, chickens will eat darn near anything you put in front of them.

They’re curious little creatures, always pecking and scratching the ground to see what they can scrounge up to eat.

And those sweet potato skins seem mighty tempting to them, all rich and orangey looking. But that’s where this rooster has to draw the line!

While small amounts of sweet potato skins probably won’t hurt your chickens, the skins can be very tough and fibrous making them hard for chickens to digest properly.

Their digestive systems just aren’t designed to break down all that insoluble fiber. Better to cook the sweet potatoes until soft and feed them the mashed flesh instead.

Here’s the whole scoop on why you gotta be choosy about feeding those sweet potato skins to your flock. The skins are full of insoluble fiber, the kind that’s tough to break down and digest.

Chickens don’t produce enough of the enzymes needed to properly digest all that fiber.

Too much can lead to major digestive issues like impaired nutrient absorption, diarrhea, intestinal blockages, and even death in extreme cases.

I had a whole flock of Rhode Island Reds come down with nasty diarrhea once from eating potato peels. What a mess that was to clean up!

Sweet potato skins are also harder for chickens to physically breakdown with their beaks and swallow.

They just don’t have the same chewing and digestive capacity as us humans.

Parts of the skin and fiber can get lodged in their throats or clog up their digestive tracts.

And we all know chickens have very sensitive digestive systems as it is.

So it’s just not worth the risk feeding them those tough old skins.

Why Sweet Potato Skins Are a Feathered Delight

Now that I’ve got the green light, let’s peck into the juicy details of why sweet potato skins are a feathered favorite:

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  • Nutrient Powerhouse: Sweet potato skins are a nutritional jackpot for your flock. Packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, they contribute to overall feathered wellness. It’s like serving a buffet of goodness in one small peel!
  • Textural Temptation: Chickens are quirky eaters, and sweet potato skins offer that perfect combo of chewiness and crunch. It’s a textural delight that keeps your feathered friends pecking away happily.
  • Digestive Dynamo: The fibrous content in sweet potato skins acts as a digestive superhero for chickens. It keeps their digestive systems running smoothly, ensuring happy and healthy cluckers.

Now, let me break down these points with more detail, because who doesn’t love a deep dive into the world of chicken nutrition?

First off, the nutrient powerhouse.

Sweet potato skins are like a little vitamin bomb for chickens. Picture it: your feathery friends getting a dose of vitamin A, crucial for maintaining healthy vision and supporting their immune system.

The fiber content aids in digestion, preventing any feathered tummy troubles. And let’s not forget about the minerals—potassium, manganese, and copper—contributing to overall well-being. It’s like serving up a gourmet meal for your cluckers!

Now, let’s talk textural temptation. Chickens are, without a doubt, the food critics of the animal kingdom. They love variety, and sweet potato skins deliver just that.

The chewiness satisfies their need to peck and explore, while the crunchiness adds excitement to their dining experience. It’s like the perfect chicken snack—satisfying and entertaining!

And now, the digestive dynamo. The fibrous nature of sweet potato skins is a game-changer for chicken digestion.

Think of it as the broom that sweeps through their digestive tract, ensuring everything moves along smoothly. No one wants a constipated chicken, right? So, these skins act as the unsung heroes, promoting gut health and happy cluckers all around!

How to Serve Sweet Potato Skins to Your Feathered Friends

Now that we’ve established sweet potato skins are a clucking hit, let’s talk about the right way to serve them up:


  1. Cooked and Cooled Goodness: Before you toss those peels to your feathered friends, make sure they are cooked and cooled. Raw sweet potato skins might pose a challenge for chicken digestion, and we definitely want happy and healthy cluckers!
  2. Moderation is Key: Like any treat, moderation is crucial. While sweet potato skins are a nutritional powerhouse, too much of a good thing can lead to an upset chicken stomach. So, sprinkle these tasty treats sparingly.
  3. Organic Goodness: For an extra feathered-friendly touch, opt for organic sweet potatoes. This ensures you’re serving up pesticide-free peels, and your cluckers get the purest, tastiest treat possible.
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Now, let me dish out some pro tips for serving sweet potato skins that will have your feathered friends clucking with joy:

When serving cooked and cooled sweet potato skins, consider adding a sprinkle of mealworms or sunflower seeds on top.

It’s like a clucker’s dream snack, with added protein and flavor. Imagine the joy on their beaks as they discover this delightful surprise!

And speaking of moderation, I like to follow the 90/10 rule.

Ninety percent of my chickens’ diet consists of their regular feed, while the remaining 10 percent is reserved for exciting treats like sweet potato skins. This way, I ensure they get a balanced diet without compromising their nutritional needs.

Finally, the organic touch. Going organic not only benefits your chickens but also contributes to a healthier environment.

It’s like giving your feathered friends a premium ticket to the organic feast, where they can indulge in the purest, tastiest sweet potato skins without any unwanted additives.

Can Chickens Eat Cooked Sweet Potatoes?

Now hold your horses, I’m not saying you gotta ban sweet potatoes from the coop altogether. Once they’re cooked soft, sweet potatoes make a fantastic, healthy treat for chickens.


The orange flesh is packed full of important vitamins and minerals like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, B Vitamins, potassium, and magnesium. All good stuff for keeping your flock healthy, energetic, and laying.

I like to steam or boil whole sweet potatoes until they’re soft enough to mash easily with a fork. Then I’ll dice up the cooked flesh into bite-sized pieces or mash it all together into a sweet soft paste.

You can mix some into their feed or serve it up on its own in a communal dish for the flock to share. Just a handful or two of cooked sweet potato per chicken is plenty. Too much can cause diarrhea just like anything else. Moderation is key here.

Another great way to feed your chickens cooked sweet potatoes is to dehydrate the cooked flesh into chips.

I use a dehydrator, but a low oven works too. The dried chips retain most of the nutrients but become shelf-stable and portable. It’s an easy way to bring some sweet potato goodness along on road trips with my chickens!

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The Best Way to Feed Sweet Potatoes to Chickens

In my experience, moderation and proper preparation are absolute musts when feeding sweet potatoes to chickens.

Here are my tips for serving up sweet potatoes safely:

  • Wash, peel, and chop sweet potatoes into 1-inch chunks
  • Cook until very soft – boiled, steamed, baked, or microwaved
  • Mash the cooked flesh with a fork or potato masher
  • Let the mash cool before serving to your flock
  • Mix a few tablespoons into their feed
  • Serve as a stand alone treat no more than once a week

Some of my favorite specific recipes to try include:

  • Diced cooked sweet potatoes mixed into their feed
  • Mashed sweet potatoes with pureed carrots and peas for extra nutrition
  • Baked sweet potato fries crumbled over their scratch grains
  • Sweet potato and egg scramble served warm
  • Pureed slow cooker sweet potatoes with yogurt and oats

The key is to always cook the sweet potatoes very soft and thoroughly mash any big pieces.

And don’t just throw whole raw sweet potatoes into the coop! They’ll never be able to properly digest them. Cook them first every time for chicken health and safety.

My Verdict on Sweet Potato Skins for Chickens

I hope this gives you a good understanding of how to safely feed sweet potatoes to your flock.

They can make an affordable, nutritious supplement to your chickens’ diet when cooked and prepared properly. Just make sure to remove the tough skins first, as they are very difficult for chickens to digest.

Stick to feeding your chickens the soft, cooked orange flesh only.

Avoid the fibrous skins to minimize any risks of digestive upset, impaction, or other issues. And always feed sweet potatoes in moderation – they should just be an occasional treat!

Well folks, thanks for letting this old chicken farmer gab your ear off about sweet potatoes today.

Here’s to happy, healthy chickens and plenty of fresh eggs!

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