can-chickens-have-pizza-crust

Winging It: Can Chickens Really Dig into Pizza Crust?

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I know what you’re thinking – chickens eat chicken feed, not people food.

But hear me out.

Let me tell you about the time my buddy Jake and I ordered a pepperoni pizza and had some unexpected dinner guests…

It was a Friday night back in my college days at the University of Michigan.

My friend Jake and I were hanging out in the backyard of my off-campus house, just chillin’ on some lawn chairs and tossin’ back a few beers from the 30-rack we picked up earlier.

We were feeling hungry after a long week of classes and exams, so we decided to order a pizza for dinner.

Jake’s favorite pizza is pepperoni – he loves the savory, salty flavor of the cured meats on top of the cheese and sauce.

can-chickens-have-pizza-crust

My own personal fave is supreme pizza loaded up with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onions, green peppers, and black olives.

But to avoid an argument, we compromised and got a large pepperoni pizza from Buddy’s, a local Detroit-style pizza joint known for their deep dish square pies.

When the pizza arrived fresh and hot, we took it out to the backyard to keep the Friday night party going while we ate.

Jake and I were both starving, so within the first 15 minutes we had each scarfed down probably 3 huge slices of that cheesy, crispy goodness.

But about halfway through the pie, we noticed some movement coming from the bottom of my backyard.

To our surprise, a couple of my neighbor’s chickens had wandered under the fence and were now strutting across the lawn, heading straight for our deck.

Drawn in by the irresistible smell of hot pizza wafting through the air, those chickens bee-lined right for us and surrounded the pizza box.

Before we knew what was happening, they had jumped up onto the deck and were pecking at the leftover pizza crusts in the box!

Despite never having pizza before, those chickens went to town on the crusts like they were the most delicious thing in the world.

Turns out, chickens absolutely love munching on pizza crust!

The Appeal of Pizza Crust for Chickens

But what makes leftover pizza crust so appealing to chickens?

There’s a few reasons those birds can’t resist pecking away at a crusty triangle of baked dough and cheese:

Firstly, pizza crust is soft and easy for chickens to break apart and eat. With their beaks and small mouths, chickens prefer foods they can quickly snip, tear, and swallow.

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The spongy texture of pizza crust is perfect – it easily shreds into little edible pieces with a few simple pecks.

Secondly, pizza crust contains flavors that chickens naturally enjoy – namely salt, sugar, yeast, and fat from oil or cheese.

The seasoning and toppings provide a complexity of flavors that chickens find delicious compared to plain chicken feed.

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The salty pepperoni, sweet tomato sauce, umami cheese, and yeasty dough make for an irresistible flavor combo.

Thirdly, the texture and mouthfeel of pizza crust is novel and interesting for chickens. The soft and chewy dough offers something different from the dry pellets or grain they normally eat.

Chickens have a natural urge to peck, forage, and explore new foods, which pizza crust satisfies.

And finally, pizza crust packs a good amount of carbs, protein and fat to deliver a lot of calories and energy.

Chickens are omnivores so they are instinctively drawn to high-calorie foods to fuel up. The hearty dough and cheese provide more than enough calories to entice those chickens!

The Benefits & Risks of Feeding Pizza Crust to Chickens

Okay, so clearly chickens go crazy over the taste and texture of a tasty pizza crust.

can-chickens-have-pizza-crust

But is it actually good for chickens to eat as part of their diet? Let’s break down the potential benefits and risks of serving up this people food to your flock:

Potential Benefits:

  • Pizza crust provides a decent amount of carbohydrates from the dough, which gives chickens energy.
  • The yeast in the crust acts as a probiotic to support healthy gut bacteria.
  • Healthy fats from cheese or olive oil can contribute to feather health.
  • Offers mental enrichment through foraging for a new food.
  • Small pieces can serve as the occasional treat in moderation.
  • Gives chickens something different from their regular feed.
  • Provides entertainment watching the chickens enjoy a new snack!

Potential Risks:

  • Pizza crust is very high in refined carbs, fat, sodium and calories without much nutritional value.
  • The salty, oily dough can cause digestive upset if chickens eat too much.
  • Chickens may fill up on pizza crust instead of eating a balanced diet.
  • The seasoning and toppings may contain something toxic to chickens like onions, garlic or capsicum.
  • Chickens can become obese or develop health issues if fed pizza crust frequently.
  • Bread dough before it is baked can cause choke hazards.
  • Chickens may become aggressive toward each other when competing for the crust.

Based on these pros and cons, pizza crust is fine for chickens in strict moderation. An occasional small piece torn up as a treat is okay.

But pizza crust shouldn’t become a regular part of a chicken’s diet, for risk of health and behavior issues. It’s best reserved as a rare snack.

The Best Way to Safely Feed Pizza Crust to Chickens

Want to share a little pizza night luxury with your feathered flock?

Here are some tips for safely sharing a bit of your crust:

  • Pick a boring crust with no butter, garlic or herb seasoning which can be unhealthy for chickens. Plain dough is ideal.
  • Make sure there are no toppings like onion or capsicum which are toxic to chickens.
  • Only share fully baked crust – unbaked dough can pose a choking risk.
  • Tear the crust into small pieces so it’s easier and safer for chickens to eat.
  • Scatter the pieces widely on the ground so chickens can forage for the “treat.”
  • Supervise eating to ensure bossier hens don’t bully others away from crust pieces.
  • Offer just a few small crust pieces per chicken, 1-2 times per week max.

While eating pizza crust won’t provide much nutritional value, chickens absolutely relish this people food snack every once in awhile.

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Watching your flock run around excitedly pecking up crust pieces can be fun for you and your family too. Just be careful not to overdo it! Follow these tips to safely allow your chickens an occasional pizza crust treat.

What Ingredients in Pizza Crust Do Chickens Like Best?

Pizza crust contains a variety of ingredients that make it enticing to chickens. But which specific components do chickens seem to enjoy most when they peck away at that crust?

The abundant carbohydrates in the dough itself are a major attraction. Chickens have a natural drive to forage for grains and seeds, which pizza dough satisfies. The soft, chewy texture alongside the carbohydrate energy makes bread-like products irresistible.

Interestingly, chickens seem particularly fond of foods with yeast. The fermented, tangy flavor of yeast apparently tastes great to chickens. And yeast provides probiotic benefits for their digestion. So the yeast in pizza dough adds to the appeal.

Chickens also love salt, so the sprinkling of salt atop most pizza crusts makes them even tastier. That hit of sodium and savory flavor entices chickens to gobble it up. Some chickens even appear addicted to the saltiness.

Finally, oily or fatty ingredients like cheese, olive oil, or butter can make crust more desirable. Chickens have a limited ability to taste sweetness, but they can certainly taste fat. So greasy pizza crust adds rich mouthfeel and calories.

In summary, chickens go after pizza crust for the carbohydrate-dense dough, yeasty flavor, sprinkling of salt, and fatty mouthfeel.

All those elements come together to hit chickens’ sweet spots for taste and texture. It provides an exciting diversion from plain old chicken feed!

Can Eating Pizza Crust Make Chickens Sick?

Giving chickens the occasional small piece of pizza crust as a treat is fine. But could regularly feeding chickens pizza crust cause health problems?

If chickens eat pizza crust frequently, the high fat and salt content could certainly cause issues like diarrhea, digestive upset, and inflammation. Too much salty, oily food can irritate chickens’ gastrointestinal tract.

An excessive amount of pizza crust could also lead to obesity, fatty liver disease, and heart issues in chickens. Chickens evolved eating a vegetable-based diet, not high fat, high carb pizza crust.

Another risk is if chickens fill up on low-nutrition pizza crust, they may start refusing their regular complete feed. Picky eating could lead to nutritional deficiencies.

Additionally, chickens who aggressively compete for pizza crust pieces could injure each other with pecking. Human food treats tend to trigger bullying.

Finally, molds or fungi could grow on uneaten pizza crust left in a chicken run, introducing harmful pathogens. Stale crusts need to be promptly removed.

So while the occasional nibble won’t harm them, regular pizza crust portions can definitely cause both physical and behavioral issues. Moderation is key to keeping your flock happily healthy.

Can Chickens Eat Pizza Crust With Cheese?

What about giving chickens pizza crust with those delicious, gooey melted cheeses still attached? Is cheese safe for chickens too?

In small amounts, most cheese toppings are perfectly fine for chickens to eat. Hard cheeses like parmesan or cheddar are the best option. Soft cheeses like mozzarella are okay too.

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The fat, protein, calcium, and probiotics in cheese provide valuable nutrients for chickens. Just monitor portion size, as too much fat isn’t healthy.

Be very careful to avoid cheese containing the herb garlic, onions, or hot peppers, all of which are toxic to chickens. Check the ingredients first.

Also limit soft cheeses to a few times a week, as the high moisture content causes them to spoil faster, which could grow harmful molds.

The salt content in many cheeses could also cause issues if chickens eat too much. So serve cheese-topped crusts in strict moderation.

For the healthiest cheese option, go for an unseasoned Mozzarella or Swiss. And shred or cut it small so it’s easy for chickens to eat. In balance, cheese can be a tasty crust topper chickens enjoy.

What Are Some Healthy Alternatives to Pizza Crust for Chickens?

While the occasional pizza crust nibble is fine, chickens’ regular diet should focus on healthier, more nutritious foods. What are some good alternatives to diversify their meals?

Chopped fruits and vegetables are great for adding variety and nutrition. Try bits of tomato, spinach, sweet potato, blueberries, watermelon, or apple.

Cooked beans, peas, and lentils offer protein without excess fat. Whole grain pasta or brown rice provides healthy carbs.

Unsalted nuts and seeds also deliver protein, fats, and fiber. Offer a sprinkle of unsalted sunflower seeds or chopped walnuts.

Leafy greens like kale, chard, or lettuce provide beneficial vitamins and minerals. Just chop finely before serving.

Natural yogurt delivers probiotics, protein, and calcium – just be sure it’s unsweetened plain yogurt. A few tablespoons provides a nice treat.

And sprouted grains are digested easier than dry grains, allowing chickens to absorb more nutrients. Sprouted barley, wheat, or rye are great options.

Swapping just one feeding per week with a mix of healthy leftovers gives chickens variety without compromising their diet. They’ll benefit from the nutrition boost!

Should You Share Pizza Crust With Wild Birds Too?

If chickens go crazy over pizza crust, surely wild birds like pigeons would enjoy it too, right? But is it actually safe for wild birds to eat?

In moderation, tossing a few small pieces of crust out for wild birds is generally fine. Just like chickens, they appreciate the treat.

However, too much can cause obesity and other health issues in wild birds as well. They still require a balanced diet.

Also be cautious about attracting large groups of pigeons or starlings who may aggressively compete and spread disease. Sparrows, doves and songbirds are safer to feed in small amounts.

Avoid crusts with much cheese or oil, as the rich foods could cause digestive upset in smaller wild bird species. Plain bread crusts are best.

And never feed moldy or rotten crusts, as the fungi and bacteria could be pathogenic. Only offer fresh crusts in clean conditions.

With proper precautions regarding quantity and quality, an occasional pizza crust scrap can be a fun way to engage with wild birds. But their overall nutrition still needs to come from whole foods in nature.

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