Chickens are miraculous creatures, being able to consume just about anything in the backyard and turn it into delicious, healthy eggs. Although they love their foods, it’s up to us chicken keepers to ensure they get the right foods, for a happy, healthy chook.
If you run yourself a backyard farm you may be big on zero waste, often trying to minimize food waste by feeding table scraps to your chickens and other backyard animals.
So, if you’ve been trimming up some pork and you’ve got extra fat you may be thinking, can my chickens have a bit of this, and is it actually healthy for them?
Contrary to popular belief, pork fat is incredibly nutrient-rich. Here we go through whether chickens can eat pork fat, what health benefits it actually has, what to be aware of, and what types of pork you should avoid feeding your chickens.
Can Chickens Eat Pork Fat?
There are always huge debates on what the healthiest foods really are for backyard chickens, with many myths being busted in recent times with the growing rise in the popularity of backyard farming.
Contrary to popular belief, pork fat is actually considered one of the highest nutrient-dense foods. Containing great quantities of healthy B vitamins and minerals, and containing less saturated fat than lamb or beef fat. You can even feed your chickens pork bones too, and they’ll peck all the leftovers and leave the bone clean.
However, just because it is considered to be nutrient-dense, doesn’t mean it’s healthy for your chickens. Chickens are incredibly sensitive when it comes to fat and sugar, as they don’t store excess fat as humans do. Instead, chickens store the excess fat around their belly and liver, which can eventually lead to health issues.
But, small pieces of pork fat fed to your chickens on only a rare occasion is completely healthy and will provide a good bolster of vitamin B and essential omega-3 fatty acids to enrich their egg yolks.
The general consensus is, a balanced diet is always the best approach, and you should try to feed your chickens 90% of their diet from a specially formulated layer pellet or layer seed mix. You can use the other 10% wisely as it can be a great opportunity to add additional vitamins and minerals to your chicken’s diet, such as small amounts of pork fat.
Can Chickens Eat Pork Sausages
Sausages are one of the most common household meats in the United States, so there’s no doubt it’s a common leftover in the fridge at the end of the week for many households!
The good news is chickens can eat pork sausages, but you need to be careful that they don’t have added ingredients that could be considered unhealthy for chickens, such as onions, or processed ingredients.
If it’s an all-natural pork sausage, then you can cut it into small bite-sized pieces and give a handful to your chickens for a healthy protein boost, which is perfect if your chickens are too cold over winter.
If you do have processed pork sausages, like hot dogs, you do want to be a bit more conservative and careful with how much you feed your chickens, as processed foods aren’t healthy for your chickens. So, although your chickens can eat hot dogs, it should be given sparingly, and only ever as a rare treat.
Nutritional Benefit Of Pork Fat For Chickens
Pork fat is an excellent source of B vitamins and minerals, as well as phosphorus and iron. It’s also rich in oleic acid, which offers numerous health benefits for chickens. In small quantities, this fatty acid can help reduce a chicken’s blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and regulate glucose levels.
Fat, in the form of animal fat from pork, beef, etc., is often used as a concentrated source of calories in a diet. Chickens must consume about 1,300 kcal per pound daily, which isn’t feasible without the addition of a fat source, usually from various seeds. This makes pork fat a good supplement when paired with regular chicken feed.
Pork fat also comes with a handful of nutritional benefits. It increases the absorption of crucial fat-soluble vitamins and improves the palatability, storage quality, and pellet quality of a feed.
Since chickens absorb fat without using energy, substituting calories with fat rather than carbohydrates is a fantastic way to keep chickens from feeling overheated during the summer months. Pork fat will also increase their energy during the winter months.
What Pork Chickens Shouldn’t Eat
So, pork can be good for chickens in normal, moderate doses. But feeding your chickens some types of pork will be considered unhealthy or even harmful to your chickens. Always be sure to avoid feeding your chickens:
- Raw Pork: Raw pork (except pork fat) can contain unsafe levels of bacteria. Although small amounts may be harmless, it’s always best to be conservative.
- Processed Pork: Processed pork can contain excessive amounts of fat, salt, sugars, and other additives that can affect your chicken’s health over the long term.
- Old/Off Pork: Never give your chickens pork that has sat in the fridge or on the bench too long, as they don’t have the gut power to fight off all the bacteria growth that may have occurred.
So, more and more we are discovering that fat really isn’t as unhealthy as we once thought. In fact, chickens can eat pork fat and it is incredibly nutrient-rich, containing good amounts of vitamin B and omega-3 fatty acids.
However, we do still need to be conservative with how much table scraps we feed our chickens, whether it’s pork fat or fruits. At the end of the day, a balanced diet is the best way to a happy and healthy chicken.
The same can be said for other meats – like feeding your chickens steak, lamb, or turkey.