Chickens will eat basically everything you put in front of them, but not everything is healthy. What about beef fat? Can you throw in some lunch leftovers for your chickens?
As omnivores, chickens are presented with a variety of food – from fruit to meat products.
When you think about meat products, do you ever wonder, “Can chickens eat beef fat?” Should fat be allowed at all? We disagree with people who feed this to their poultry.
If you’re interested in finding out whether your chickens should have a taste of beef fat every now and then or not, continue reading this article, and you will come to a conclusion!
Can Chickens Eat Beef Fat?
Chickens should definitely consume a little stronger food, especially hens that are carrying eggs. However, the fat found in stronger foods (meat) is not an ideal supplement.
Therefore, beef fat is allowed in very small quantities and rarely. There is no need to pour beef fat into every other meal of your chickens, and now we will explain why.
The reason is rather simple and obvious. The more fat in your chickens’ meals, the fatter they will be. And this is a direct reason for many health problems.
You guessed it – moderation is key. Feeding your chicken fat is suitable during the winter when it needs stronger food. Only then, this fat can serve as an energy supplement. Other than that, it’s definitely not a dietary necessity.
To show you how “strong” this meat actually is, take a look at what it’s composed of:
As you can see, the number of calories is impossible to overlook, and this is one of the main reasons why it is important to give this in moderation to your chicken.
Beef fat (beef tallow) affects the calorie level and increases it even more when cooked. The exact amount of fat depends on the animal’s age, gender, and feed.
Processed meats like sausages and salami are considerably higher in fat than others.
Beef fat is allowed in small quantities because it contains:
- Vitamin B12: blood formation affects the nervous system
- Zinc: body growth and maintenance
- Iron: good absorption
- Vitamin B6: promoting good metabolism
Before we get to other parts, here are a couple of other benefits this meat offers.
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of any meat (beef in this case) is that it affects body mass. Consuming any part of beef meat increases body mass considerably, but you should pay attention to the amount.
We already mentioned that this is a good energy supplement. The strong composition of beef (fat) can boost your chickens’ energy levels. This is particularly beneficial during the winter when poultry needs stronger ingredients.
Beef fat also saves your chickens from anemia. If your chicks have been through a tough time, and their dietary plan was in deficit, just give them beef fat a couple of times. You will be able to see a difference after a month.
Now, what about other beef parts?
- Raw beef – Although some owners encourage this, it’s actually not a good idea. The chances of raw beef containing harmful pesticides and other microorganisms are too high. It would be best if you didn’t risk this, especially not with young chicks.
- Cooked beef – Unlike raw, cooked beef is less likely to contain toxic microorganisms because cooking would eliminate them. You are allowed to feed your chickens cooked beef occasionally, and they will easily peck on it.
- Beef stew – Dishes like beef stew are usually prepared with side ingredients like avocados, green potatoes, or green tomatoes. This ultimately makes it toxic for your chickens.
- Beef scraps – This might surprise you, but it’s illegal to feed your chickens beef scrap in the UK and Australia because of its detrimental effect. Animal and Plant Health banned this in order to prevent animal diseases.
- Beef jerky – Your chickens will probably love the smell of beef jerky, but this is not something you should feed them. This meat recipe contains onions and garlic, which are hazardous to your chicken’s health.
- Beef liver – This is by far the best beef part you can feed your chickens. It’s high in protein, and your chickens need this ingredient. According to some farmers, this should be a regular meal, but we believe in moderation.
- Beef bones – While chickens might not eat bones, they will peck on the meat that’s left on them. So, you are free to give this to your chickens as a snack.
There are, after all, a lot of beef parts that your chickens can consume. But have you wondered what could happen if your chickens consume more than recommended?
What are the possible consequences you and your chickens could expect?
The most common side effect of consuming too much fat is obesity, and with omnivore chickens, this is even easier to happen. You might think that making your chicken a bit fatter would be better – it will actually cause the opposite effect.
For those who sell chickens and transfer them for further processing, obese chickens create a major drawback because their meat is far less nutritious.
How do you know if your chicken is overweight?
- You can feel it from the front. If you can feel the crop and it’s full, your chicken has gained a few extra pounds.
- You can also go your fingers through the chicken’s surface and feathers. If there is no loose space in between feathers and you can feel some cleavage, you can consider your chicken chubby.
How do you help your chicken lose this unwanted cleavage?
You should let your chickens run around more in the backyard. Get used to letting them out of their chicken coops more than once a day. Walking around the backyard will help them lose weight.
You should also avoid giving them too many treats. After they get used to consuming scratch, they will be asking for more, and each time you increase the amount, their weight will increase as well.
Another health threat you should be looking out for is heart failure. With chickens, this is also called the “flip-over disease” because often you just find your chicken flipped over and dead, unfortunately.
One of the causes of this disease is excessive consumption of fat. Your chicken’s heart and the overall organism are not capable of digesting large amounts of fat. 90% of outcomes include immediate heart failure.
How do you recognize the symptoms? Well, you will notice that your chickens are weaker than usual or that they have difficulty breathing. Usually, lack of exercise tolerance is the first step towards this health problem.
There are a couple of ways in which this could be treated:
- Isolation: You should isolate the chickens that have the following symptoms somewhere they have access to a limited but healthy new diet and water supplies.
- Diet modification: Your chickens might need a new dietary plan. If so, this should only be done with the help of a professional (vet). They will give you a list of what, how much and when you should feed your chickens.
Since the topic is fat, here is one ingredient that you should always have in your kitchen, but never let your chickens near it.
The ingredient in question is butter.
Your ordinary butter has more than 80% of fat, which is why this is unacceptable. Butter contains:
|Polyunsaturated fats||0.43 gr|
|Saturated fats||7.29 gr|
|Trans fats||0.4 gr|
Food with saturated fats is the least dangerous, and it can be consumed moderately. Here are some food choices with saturated fats:
- Pork, beef, and lamb meat
- Dairy products
- Tropical oils
Butter can be very dangerous if consumed in large quantities. Your chickens cannot digest this fatty food, and you should avoid giving it to them. Also, it would be best if you skipped any dishes that were fried on butter.
What happens if your chicken consumes too much butter?
Too much butter can lead to obesity, FLHS, and heatstroke.
The first one, obesity, is pretty much explained in the previous section. The symptoms and treatment methods are practically the same.
Next, we have FLHS, which is a fatty liver hemorrhagic syndrome. This is characterized by clinical death on the spot.
Heat strokes occur when chickens eat too strong ingredients after which they have trouble breathing in small suffocating chicken coops.
Get rid of all those fatty toxic ingredients and ramp up your chicken diet with some healthy greens. Here are some fine choices for your hens and roosters:
- Kale – chickens will absolutely love and easily digest this leafy green. Kale is rich in magnesium, potassium and calcium – all beneficial for chickens.
- Broccoli – This is healthy for both humans and chickens. You can feed your chickens cooked and uncooked broccoli – they will eat it either way.
- Lettuce – Lettuce leaves are a common addition to your chicken’s diet, and they are extremely healthy.
- Swiss chard – Giving your chickens some swiss chard can help lower the chances of a crazy chick disease.
- Turnip greens – You should throw in some turnip greens in your hens’ diet since they improve the egg yolk later.
- Collard greens – This leafy green is rich in vitamins A and it helps your hens produce strong eggs.
- Mustard greens – Another veggie that improves the overall growth of your chicken.
- Carrot tops – Greens from carrot tops are essential for your chicken because they can help prevent dermatitis around their beaks.
Learn More: What Can Chickens Eat?