Can chickens eat potato, sweet potato and yams?

My flock of chickens eating their way through some potatoes

For this article I ended up cooking up a few of the odd shaped and slug damaged potatoes that I had grown in my garden this year. When I gave plain boiled potato to my flock you would have thought that they had never been fed!

Below: My chickens trying to make you think they haven't been fed in ages!

The one thing I have learned over the years is that chickens do enjoy a variety of foods from different sources.

Can chickens eat potato?

Chickens can eat cooked potato without any trouble at all. Potatoes are a source of vitamins C, potassium, iron, and vitamin B6 but are also nearly pure starch which is bad for chickens in large quantities, or if fed too often.

You must never feed your chickens:

  1. Raw potatoes,
  2. Potatoes with green skins,
  3. The green parts of the potato plant,
  4. The flowers or the seed pods of the potato plant.

The green parts of the potato plant including the stems, leaves, flowers and seed pods contain solanine which is deadly in large concentrations. Green skins contain the same compound. All members of the nightshade family contain this chemical.

Raw potatoes contain anti-nutrients like a trypsin inhibitor and lectins, which can interfere with your body’s digestion and absorption of nutrients as well as two types of glycoalkaloids which can affect heart rate and cause drowsiness, itchiness, increased sensitivity and digestive problems and pains.

Being omnivores means that chickens can eat almost anything they want to as long as it fits in their beak. In the wild their diet would consist of varied plants, bugs, small animals and live rodents.

One of the things chickens would not have come across in the wild would be potato.

Treats and scraps need to be limited and as cooked potato contains a lot of starch it could upset the delicate balance of your flocks diet and give them dirty vent feathers.

What about white, red and coloured potatoes?

Potatoes come in white, yellow , red and blue colours and all of these are fine for chickens as long as the skins are not green and they have been cooked.

You can feed heritage variety spuds to chickens the same as store bought ones.

Can chickens eat cooked potato skins?

You can boil up your potato skins for your chickens.

Now I don't often peel my potatoes, I prefer them whole in their skins even if I am making fries.

My granddad on the other hand never ate a potato with it's skin on so he always fed his peelings cooked to his hens and they were fine on it, getting them twice a week or so for decades.

Can chickens eat new potatoes?

New potatoes are the early season , small waxy types available early in the year. You can feed new potatoes to chickens as long as they are cooked and you avoid any of the green parts.

Below: My egg flock getting their beaks into some left over new potatoes.

The rules for feeding are the same, not too much, not too often.

Can you feed chickens roasted and mashed potato?

Mashed or roast potato is fine for chickens as long as it is not too salty.

Can chickens have sweet potato and yams?

Sweet potatoes and yams differ in some respects but are both tuberous root vegetables that come in several different colours but are most commonly white or yellow fleshed.

Below: With sweet potato, anything below the ground can be eaten cooked or raw. Do not feed the green and leaves of the plants to poultry.

Although they look similar, yam is tuberous root vegetable that comes from a flowering plant which is part of the family Dioscoreaceae and sweet potato is part of Convolvulaceae family, so they are not related at all.

Sweet potato - Any part of the sweet potato tuber can be fed to chickens, cooked or raw.

Yams - Yams however, need to be peeled and cooked, the skin is too tough and fibrous to be easily digestible by chickens.

Below: Yams are bigger and have a thick fibrous skin which need to removed. They must also be cooked.

The sweet potato vine should never be fed to chickens or any poultry as it is known for its toxic ingredients, with similar characteristics to LSD and can adversely affect the kidneys, brain, heart and liver.

Too much of any food can upset the delicate balance in the chicken’s digestive tract.

How to feed potatoes to chickens:

Feed them as fries, mash, jacket or boiled, whole or in pieces, the chickens will have no trouble.

You can serve them up warm on cold morning to help get the hens up and about.

I would cut or break the potatoes up a bit and spread them out so as all your hens get some.

The definitive list of what chickens are allowed to eat and what should be avoided.