Part of the wonders of taking care of backyard chickens is the fresh, nutritious eggs that we can gather daily. The other part is endlessly watching and interacting with these feathery bundles of joy and chaos.
The key to a great quality egg production and a happy, healthy chook, comes from their diet. It’s perfectly healthy to feed your chickens fruit, vegetables, and other table scraps for 10% of their diet and is even considered best practice so that they get a variety of extra nutrients and vitamins than just what is in their standard layer pellets or seed mixes.
This doesn’t mean you should just feed your chickens willy-nilly. But, just like humans, chickens are allowed to indulge in a treat every now and then.
Here we go through whether chickens can eat Doritos as a treat, if corn/tortilla chips are safe for chickens, and what some of the other ‘healthier treat options are.
Can Chicken Eat Doritos?
If you’ve recently treated yourself to a bag of Doritos and you’re sitting in the backyard you might come across a curious chicken or two, wondering if they can have some too!
Well, since the main ingredient in tortilla chips like nachos and Doritos is actually derived from corn, a normal, healthy ingredient in a chicken seed mix, you may be thinking, can chickens eat Doritos?
Even though corn, cracked corn, or whole corn kernels are considered healthy for chickens, Doritos and other corn chips are most certainly not healthy for chickens. This is in part due to the preservatives and processed ingredients, and in part due to the seasonings which have been added.
So, although chickens can eat Doritos as a treat, as they aren’t necessarily toxic for chickens, they are far from healthy, and offer little to no nutritional value at all compared to other tasty treats you can offer your chickens!
Are Corn Or Tortilla Chips Bad For Chickens?
Chickens are no stranger to eating corn, whether it’s whole corn kernels in their seed mix, or cornmeal when feeding your chickens grits.
So how bad can corn chips or tortilla chips be for your chickens?
Well, although Doritos or other corn chips aren’t necessarily toxic for your chickens, the high salt content, processed flavors, and other additives are certainly unhealthy for your chickens.
Chickens should be limited to a daily salt intake of 0.12% to 0.2% sodium in their entire diet, which they typically get from their seed mixes or layer pellets. Excessive sodium in chickens can lead to eggshell production issues and can even cause more serious health complications for chickens.
Corn chips and tortilla chips are also processed foods, containing artificial ingredients and preservatives, specially molded into the iconic shape. Although chickens can have small amounts of processed foods safely, like feeding your chicken’s hamburger meat for protein, you should always prioritize unprocessed.
Flavored corn chips or tortilla chips usually contain small amounts of unhealthy additives like“thiosulfates” and “disulfate”. These are found in seasonings like onion powder, and if consumed in high amounts can be harmful to chickens.
Healthier Treats For Your Chickens
While Doritos and other corn chips or tortilla chips could be harmless in small amounts, they are far from healthy. Chickens require a very nutrient-rich diet to continue their busy schedules of laying, foraging, feeding, and dust bathing!
Although a laying hen’s diet should be made up of 90% layer pellets or a layer seed mix, the other 10% can be made up of treats and healthy table scraps. You can use this as an opportunity to add various different nutrients into their regular diet, boosting their intake of vitamins.
Although the odd ‘treat’ for your chickens is entirely fine, you should still try to feed them a treat that has some kind of nutritional value! You can try:
- Berries, including loquats, strawberries, and blueberries (great for fiber)
- Seeds, like poppy seeds or flax seeds (great for enriching eggs)
- Mealworms (great for protein)
- Cooked scrambled egg (great for vitamin B2 deficiencies)
- Root vegetables like beets, radishes, or parsnip (great nutritional content)
So, if you’ve cracked open a bag of Doritos or other corn chips and want to share one or two with your flock, it may be OK. But, even if it’s not exactly toxic, it is considered unhealthy and shouldn’t be made a part of the chicken’s regular diet by any means.
Instead, there are many other treats you can feed your chickens that they absolutely love, but have a bit more nutritional value to them. It’s a win-win. Your chickens are happy, and we get to enjoy their lovely eggs and chaotic personalities!