Can Chickens Eat Bread? The Impact Of Bread On Their Health

Published: October 31, 2023

A girl is surrounded by chickens in the garden waiting to be fed

You might wonder, 'Can chickens eat bread?' The short answer is yes, chickens can eat bread! Knowing what your feathered friends can and cannot eat is essential to ensure their health and happiness.

In this article, we'll explore the impact of bread on a chicken's health and provide you with valuable information about the types of bread they can safely consume. 

Chickens are known for being omnivores, which means they happily munch on various foods, from grains to insects. But what about bread? Do chickens like it? Is it beneficial or harmful for them?

We've got answers to those questions and more, so read on as we dive into the world of feeding bread to your backyard flock. From safe food lists to feeding methods, by the end of this article, you'll be well-equipped with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions about whether or not incorporating bread into your chickens' diet is right for you and your birds.

Can chickens eat bread?

Whilst it is safe to feed most bread to your birds, it's essential to understand that not all bread types suit them and should be given in moderation. Chickens love pecking at various treats, and bread can be a delightful addition to their diet if done with care and proper knowledge. Feeding your flock some bread now and then can be a delightful treat, as long as it doesn't exceed 10% of their daily diet.

As a responsible chicken owner, knowing what kind of bread is safe for your flock is important.

Feeding too much bread may cause obesity and other health issues in your chickens due to its high carbohydrate content. So keep the portions small and occasional while ensuring they have access to a balanced diet with appropriate nutrients necessary for their growth and overall health.

The importance of fresh, healthy food for chickens

The importance of fresh, healthy food for chickens cannot be overstated. Their unique digestive system requires a diverse range of foods to function properly. Feeding your feathery friends fresh and nutritious meals is crucial for their well-being, ensuring they get the essential nutrients needed to thrive.

A balanced diet of grains, vegetables, fruits, and proteins will help maintain their health and improve egg production and quality. Too much of any one type of food can lead to digestive issues or nutrient imbalances.

What kind of bread can chickens eat?

There are various types of bread that chickens can eat. For example, they can enjoy sourdough, hamburger buns, rye bread, and garlic bread. You may also wonder if they can eat bread crusts, wheat bread, crumbs, or bread and butter treats.

The following discussion explores these types and their impact on your chickens' health.

Can chickens eat sourdough bread?

Sourdough bread cut in half on a cutting board
Credit: / @tunnuz

Sourdough's a popular choice at the bakery, but is it safe for our feathered friends?

Generally speaking, chickens can eat sourdough bread in moderation. The fermentation process used in sourdough lowers its sugar content and makes it easier for chickens to digest than other types of bread.

That being said, you should still limit how much sourdough your chickens consume. Bread lacks essential nutrients for optimal health and should only be provided as an occasional treat.

Can chickens eat hamburger buns?

Hamburger buns might be a tasty addition to your cookout, but should they appear in your flock's diet? Yes, but in moderation. Chickens can eat hamburger buns as an occasional treat, but it shouldn't be a staple in their diet.

Can chickens eat rye bread?

Side view of brown sourdough rye bread on a countertop
Credit: / @chrisfarr_

You might wonder if rye bread differs from other types of bread when feeding your feathered friends.

Chickens can eat rye bread without any major health concerns, just like other types of bread. Rye bread may contain seeds and grains beneficial to chickens, but it should only be a treat rather than a staple in their diet.

Can chickens eat garlic bread?

While chickens can technically eat bread without immediate harm, garlic is known to be toxic. Garlic contains compounds that can cause Heinz body anemia in chickens, leading to weakness and other health issues.

In addition, feeding your chickens too much garlic bread may lead to nutritional imbalances due to its high carbohydrate and low nutrient content.

Therefore, don’t feed your chickens garlic bread or any other heavily seasoned or processed food as a treat or supplement. Stick with healthier options like fruits, vegetables, and grains instead.

Can chickens eat bread crust?

Just like regular bread, bread crusts are generally safe for chickens to consume in moderation. However, it's important to remember that the nutritional value of bread crusts is quite low compared to the balanced diet they should be getting from their regular feed or foraging.

Can chickens eat wheat bread?

When it comes to wheat bread, you must be mindful of the portions you give your feathered friends and how it fits into their diet. Chickens can eat wheat bread in moderation if it doesn't become a significant portion of their daily food intake.

Wheat bread contains more nutrients than white bread, but it still lacks the necessary vitamins and minerals that chickens require for optimal health. Feeding your chickens too much wheat bread can lead to obesity and other health issues.

Ensure you're providing a well-balanced diet with commercial chicken feed as the primary source of nutrition. You can occasionally give them small amounts of wheat bread as a treat or snack, but always ensure they have access to fresh water and grit for proper digestion.

Can chickens eat bread crumbs?

A bowl of breadcrumbs on a wooden kitchen table

Feathered friends can nibble on breadcrumbs, but as with other human foods, moderation, and balance are essential to keep them clucking happily. Bread crumbs can be a fun treat for your chickens to scratch and peck at, but it's important not to overdo it.

Too many breadcrumbs can lead to obesity and other health issues in your flock. When offering bread crumbs to your chickens, consider these key points:

  • Limit the amount: A small handful of breadcrumbs per chicken is sufficient. Overfeeding can lead to malnutrition or obesity.

  • Mix with other treats: Combine breadcrumbs with fruits, vegetables, or other healthy snacks.

  • Don't replace their regular feed: Breadcrumbs should never replace your chickens' primary source of nutrition – their layer pellets or mash.

Can chickens eat bread and butter?

It's tempting to share your bread and butter with your feathered companions, but it's crucial to consider the potential effects on their well-being before indulging them.

We have established that small amounts of bread in your chicken’s diet are generally safe in moderation. However, adding butter could lead to issues as chickens don't typically consume large amounts of fats in their regular diet, so it's best to steer clear of butter and other spreads for the health of your flock.

Is bread actually good for chickens?

While bread can be a tasty treat for your flock, providing them with some energy and nutrients, it can also pose health risks if given in excess. Let’s look at some of the benefits and drawbacks of feeding doughy treats to your birds.

Benefits of bread for chickens

Feeding your feathery friends those leftover crusts can actually provide some unexpected benefits for their well-being.

  1. Bread provides energy: Chickens use carbohydrates found in bread as a fuel source for maintaining body heat, laying eggs, and other daily activities.

  2. Aids in digestion: Feeding small amounts of moistened bread can help digestion by adding variety to their diet and ensuring they consume enough grit for proper digestion.

  3. Boredom buster: Tossing bread pieces into the yard or coop encourages natural scavenging behavior while providing mental stimulation and reducing stress in your flock.

Drawbacks of feeding bread to chickens

By limiting the amount of bread you feed your chickens and ensuring a balanced diet, you can offset some significant issues.

Decreased Egg Production

Credit: / @emielmaters

Alt: two freshly laid chicken eggs

Chickens require a balanced diet with the right nutrients, like proteins and vitamins, to consistently produce healthy eggs. Bread, low in nutritional value and high in carbohydrates, can cause an imbalance in their diet by filling them up without providing essential nutrients.

This imbalance hampers the chickens' ability to lay eggs at their optimum level and might lead to lower-quality eggs.

Poor Eggshell Quality

Alluding to the age-old saying 'you are what you eat,' a diet heavy on bread can result in poor eggshell quality for your feathered friends. Bread lacks essential nutrients, like calcium, that chickens need for strong and healthy eggshells.

When hens don't get enough calcium in their diet, they'll pull it from their bones to produce eggs, leading to weaker shells and potentially causing health issues for the hen itself.

Do chickens like bread?

Chickens like eating bread and will happily peck at it when offered.

Here are six things to keep in mind when feeding bread to your chickens:

  1. Limit the amount: Offer only small amounts of bread occasionally, as too much can lead to obesity and other health issues.

  2. Break bread into small pieces: Large chunks of bread may pose a choking hazard, cause compacted crop issues, and help prevent choking hazards.

  3. Avoid moldy or stale bread: Mold can be toxic to chickens and have detrimental effects on their health, with the potential to cause respiratory problems and other health issues.

  4. Combine with other healthy treats: Mix small pieces of bread with greens, fruits, or other fresh vegetables and grains to provide additional nutrients while still satisfying their craving for something tasty.

  5. Avoid additives: Make sure the bread doesn't contain harmful ingredients such as preservatives or added sugars that might harm your chickens’ digestive systems.

  6. Balance their diet: Make sure that bread-based treats are only offered occasionally, not replacing essential nutrients in their regular feed.

Can baby chicks eat bread?

A single chick walking on straw
Credit: / @ourselp

Feeding tiny chicks with morsels of bread should be done sparingly, as it could affect their delicate growth and development. Instead, it is best to provide them with a balanced and nutritious feed specifically designed for baby chicks.

Can chickens eat moldy bread?

Chickens cannot eat moldy bread. These harmful substances can hurt your flock's health due to mycotoxins. They can cause issues like reduced egg production and weakened immune systems. It's crucial to avoid giving them moldy food to keep them healthy and thriving.

Feeding moldy bread to your chickens increases the risk of them ingesting these harmful substances, which can lead to long-term negative effects on their overall health. To prevent the possibility of mycotoxicosis in your flock, always inspect the food you provide for any signs of mold or spoilage.

Discard any questionable items immediately and maintain proper hygiene practices when storing feed. These precautions help ensure your chickens remain healthy and provide you with delicious eggs and quality meat for years.

Bread feeding methods

For an extra special treat, try creating your own DIY chicken treats with healthy ingredients like whole grains, seeds, and dried fruits that your flock will love!

Incorporating Bread into Chicken Treats

Incorporating bread into chicken treats is easy; you can get creative with the combinations. For instance, you could mix small pieces of bread with fruits, vegetables, or even yogurt to create a well-rounded snack.

You could also moisten the bread with water or broth to make it easier for your chickens to consume. When incorporating bread into chicken treats, consider using whole grain or sprouted grain varieties, as they provide more nutritional value than white or processed bread.

You can even use stale or leftover bread that would otherwise go to waste, just make sure there are no signs of mold on it, as this can be harmful to your chickens.

Mixing other healthy ingredients and monitoring portion sizes ensure these special treats remain enjoyable and safe for your feathered friends.

Warm Bread Mash

Who doesn't love a warm, comforting dish on a chilly day? Your flock will surely appreciate it too! A warm bread mash is an excellent treat for your chickens during colder months, as it helps keep them warm and provides them with some extra nutrients.

This is a delightfully simple dish to make!

1.    Soak some bread in warm water or milk until soft and mushy.

2.    Add other ingredients, such as veggies and fruits, like chopped apples, carrots, or spinach. Just avoid adding anything toxic to chickens, like onions or avocado.

Offering a warm bread mash occasionally will help keep your flock happy and healthy while also providing a delicious way for you to bond with them during those cold winter days!

DIY Chicken Bread

Now that you've learned about the benefits of warm bread mash for your chickens let's take it a step further by making your own DIY chicken bread.

By creating homemade chicken-friendly bread, you can ensure that only safe and nutritious ingredients are included in their diet.

To make DIY chicken bread, start with a basic bread recipe but replace some less wholesome ingredients with these healthier alternatives:

  • Swap refined white flour for whole wheat or oat flour to add fiber and nutrients.

  • Mix in some seeds, such as sunflower or flaxseed, for extra protein and healthy fats.

  • Avoid any additives like sugar, salt, or artificial preservatives.

Once your dough is ready, bake it at a low temperature to create softer bread easier for your chickens to digest.

Feel free to get creative and experiment with different flavors and textures – consult a reliable source on what's safe for chickens before adding new ingredients!


Let’s not turn our feathery friends into carb-craving gluttons; moderation and variety are key to keeping them cluckin' happily. While it's true that chickens can eat bread, it should be given sparingly as a treat rather than as their main source of nutrition.

A well-balanced diet with proper chicken feed, fruits, vegetables, and occasional treats will ensure your flock remains healthy and productive. Encouraging responsible chicken-feeding practices is essential for every chicken owner. Remember to monitor your chickens' consumption of treats like bread and adjust their diet accordingly to maintain a balanced intake of nutrients.

With some care and attention, you'll have a farm full of happy chickens providing you with farm-fresh eggs in no time!

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