It’s pretty normal in our household to offer whatever leftovers we have to our flock… Well, within reason.
Some table scraps and leftover foods are obviously safe for chooks. Fruits, vegetables, and even meats.
But of course, some foods are not so clear-cut.
Meet a current dilemma: Can chickens eat mac and cheese?
Here’s whether it’s safe for chickens to eat mac and cheese, whether it’s store-bought or homemade, and what you need to know first.
Can Chickens Eat Mac & Cheese?
Now, just to be clear, there’s not really a question of WILL chickens eat macaroni and cheese. I’m sure we all know that our feathery friends would happily go to town on a bowl of mac and cheese.
But, as chicken owners, it’s our responsibility to be sure what we are feeding our flock is actually safe and is considered healthy enough to actually provide them with nutritional benefits.
So, the real question is: is it safe for chickens to eat mac and cheese?
The truth is, macaroni does contain a good source of some macronutrients, such as carbs, protein, and fiber.
But, mac and cheese together are often packed full of too much salt, preservatives, and other additives – especially if it’s store-bought.
As a whole chickens should only eat mac and cheese in moderation, and only if it’s homemade, limiting the amount of salt and artificial additives it has.
Don’t Feed Store-Bought Mac & Cheese To Chickens!
Store-bought, packeted, or microwavable mac and cheese is normally far too processed and has far too much salt to be considered healthy for chickens.
Store-bought mac and cheese often have artificial colors, flavors, and other ingredients. None of which should be fed to your chickens.
Artificial colorings and preservatives are bad for chickens’ digestive systems. Their bodies are simply not used to these ingredients, and the high salt content.
Sure, small amounts of store-bought mac and cheese may be OK for your chickens to eat, but it’s certainly not considered healthy and so it should generally be avoided entirely.
What If It’s Homemade?
On the other hand, if you’ve made some mac and cheese yourself, you will know exactly what ingredients are in it.
If you’re looking to feed your chickens homemade mac and cheese, first be sure it doesn’t include any garlic or onions or any overly salty or sugary seasonings!
Then, so long as the homemade mac and cheese isn’t too heavy on the cheese, cream, or milk, it’s completely OK to feed it to your chickens as a rare treat.
Although chickens can eat some cheese in moderation, high amounts of dairy are not healthy or safe for chickens to consume!
In moderation, homemade mac and cheese will provide your chickens with a good dose of protein, and will serve as a yummy alternative to their feed.
Still, you should still be feeding your chickens their formulated feed for about 90% of their daily diets, as this ensures they are receiving optimal nutritional value every day.
Can Chickens Eat Raw Macaroni (& Other Pasta)
Pasta by itself is actually completely fine to feed your chickens in moderation. However, it should always be cooked.
Raw pasta, including raw macaroni, can be a bit tough, or can even cause digestive problems in chickens.
If you do give your chickens plain, cooked macaroni, they’ll be able to enjoy the protein, carbohydrates, and fiber it offers – so long as it’s still fed in moderation!
So, can chickens eat macaroni and cheese?
Only if it’s homemade, and only if it’s clear of any artificial seasonings, garlic, onions, or excess salt.
Avoid feeding your chickens store-bought, premade, or microwavable mac and cheese. These options often have far too many preservatives, artificial ingredients, and salt to be considered safe for chickens to eat.
However, if you’ve made a batch of traditional mac and cheese, you are welcome to offer some to your chickens as a snack – so long as it’s in moderation.
They’ll absolutely love it!