Can Chickens Eat Hamburgers? – What’s Safe & What’s Not

As we all know, chickens are particularly curious creatures. Especially when it comes to food — they’ll try anything and everything. But just because chickens will try to eat everything, it doesn’t mean they will be able to digest it, or that it will be healthy for them.

If you’re no beginner when it comes to raising chickens, you’ll know that table scraps can be perfectly healthy to include in your chicken’s diet. But even then, it’s always important to understand what your chickens can and can’t eat safely.

If you’ve cooked some hamburgers for the family and not everyone was able to finish, you may be thinking: can my chickens eat leftover hamburgers?

Chickens are omnivores and absolutely love a bit of meat, but can chickens eat hamburgers? Let’s look at everything chickens can eat out of hamburgers and what you need to avoid if you are feeding your chickens these table scraps.

Can Chickens Eat Hamburgers?

If you’ve got yourself some leftover hamburgers it’s a fair question to ask. The answer comes down to the hamburger itself, and what it actually contains. As a treat, it’s perfectly okay to feed your chickens table scraps. When it comes to hamburgers, there are actually some ingredients within it that will actually be healthy for the chickens to consume — but there may also be several that are considered unhealthy for chickens.

First of all, if your hamburger is processed like it’s come out of a box or from McDonald’s, then it’s not worth feeding it to your chickens. Processed food, in general, isn’t the best thing to give to chickens, and processed hamburgers have very little real nutritional value and would actually be considered unhealthy to feed your chickens.

However, if your hamburger was home-made with real bread, vegetables, and meat then it’s entirely okay to feed your chickens. Just be aware of the salt, carbohydrate, and fat content as too much can cause issues in your chicken’s health and egg production. I would also remove any ingredients known to be unhealthy for chickens, such as onions. 

So, chickens can eat hamburgers, but only if you’ve removed any unhealthy ingredients and if the hamburger was home-made rather than store-bought or processed.

When it comes to a healthy diet for chickens, it is all about balance. As a general rule, you should always ensure your chickens are getting at least 85-90% of their diet from their chicken layer pellets or seed mixes. This is because these chicken feeds are formulated to contain enough protein, calcium, energy, and nutrients for a healthy and happy chicken

What To Avoid If Feeding Chickens Hamburgers

Burger Deconstructed

Chickens are omnivorous and they’ll devour almost anything up. However, just because they can eat it doesn’t mean they should. Although you can feed your chickens hamburgers, it’s important to only give them the parts that will benefit them.

Here’s a list of things to check for before giving your chicken hamburgers:

  • Excess salt. Salt may help make some food taste nicer, but your chickens don’t need any extra it in their diets. In fact, sodium can be potentially toxic to chicken in large amounts.
  • Onions. Onions are rich in thiosulfates which are a big no-no for chicken feed. We’ll spare you the details, but it can lead to hemolytic anemia. Small doses will be completely fine, but it’s still best to remove them from the chicken’s diet.
  • Carb load. Carbohydrates aren’t toxic to chicken at all. But if you want to moderate their carb load, maybe it’s not a good idea to throw the whole bun to the chickens, but instead, just give them the meat and vegetables.
  • Saturated fat. Hamburger meat, whether it’s beef or pork, normally contains plenty of saturated fat. A small amount is completely okay, but I would avoid giving your chickens more than one or two patties between the whole flock to limit the intake.
  • Meat rot. If you’re giving your chicken cooked or raw meat, make sure you clean up any remaining pieces on the same day. You don’t want your birds pecking rotten hamburgers a few days later!
  • Processed Foods. Whether it’s the bun, cheese, or meat, it’s never a good idea to feed your chickens processed foods. Again, it’s all about balance so a little won’t hurt, but it also won’t help. 

Nutritional Benefit Of Hamburgers For Chicken

After removing any processed ingredients, onions, and maybe some of the bread, you’ll be left with the meat and vegetables of the hamburger

These parts can actually be healthy for your chickens and are perfectly safe table scraps for your chickens. 

Feeding your chickens some of the hamburger meat can be a great boost to their protein intake. Beef, ground beef, or red meat can help with the chicken’s muscle development and egg production. Other foods that can boost your chicken’s protein intake are things like game bird feed, flax seeds for chickens, or even feeding your chickens hot dog meat (unprocessed).

It’s also now thought that animals fats aren’t actually unhealthy for your chickens to eat in moderation, such as chickens eating pork fat for enriched egg yolks.

In general, it’s best to keep your chicken’s meat consumption low, and instead fill your chickens up with seeds, grains, pellets, vegetables, and fruits.

The typical vegetables found in a hamburger, such as lettuce, tomato, pineapple, cucumber, carrot, beets, etc are all amazingly healthy for your chicken. They provide a range of vitamins, fiber, and other important minerals.

Remember though, it’s all about balance. If you are feeding your chickens leftover hamburgers it should be a very rare treat, rather than every few weeks. Although some of the contents are perfectly healthy, the salt, sauce, or processed aspects of the hamburgers will not be healthy for your chickens.

The Bottom Line

Chickens can eat hamburgers, or hamburger meat so long as it’s not completely processed — but only as a treat. For example, feeding your chickens a homemade hamburger will be much better than feeding your chickens Mcdonalds.

Always provide your chickens with a steady and constant balanced diet of either layer pellets or chicken seed mixes. This should constitute about 90% of your chicken’s daily intake. The other 10% can be made up from foraging around the garden, or by providing fruit, vegetables, and safe table scraps for your chickens.

Keeping that in mind there is no harm in feeding your chickens a small amount of leftover hamburgers, so long as you’ve removed the processed and unhealthy ingredients.

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