Can Chickens Eat Ice Cream?

ice cream cone outside

Ice cream is a lovely treat. But not for chickens.

No, chickens shouldn’t eat ice cream. But can chickens eat ice cream?

Technically, yes. But it’s not a good idea. 

Read on to learn more.

The Dairy Problem

The problem isn’t that chickens won’t eat ice cream. They certainly will. And they will probably enjoy it.

The problem is the dairy. Dairy — which refers to milk, cheese, cream and, you guessed it, ice cream — is hard for chickens to digest.

It kind of makes sense from a logical standpoint:

When do chickens ever encounter dairy in the wild? Nowhere in the history of chickens’ evolution would they have naturally eaten dairy.

So, they never evolved the stomach to digest it.

You can observe this same effect in humans. People whose ancestors are from regions that didn’t raise cows for milk often have lactose intolerance.

It’s the same thing in chickens. Dairy products like ice cream hurt chickens’ stomachs and can lead to diarrhea.

So, it may be fun going in, but it’s not so fun coming out.

The Health Factor

Here’s the other thing: Ice cream isn’t healthy. It’s not healthy for chickens or humans — or anyone, really.

It’s a treat for humans (who don’t have dairy digestion issues). Chickens will like the taste, too.

But ice cream is packed with fat and sugar. That’s not healthy for your flock.

Meanwhile, ice cream provides relatively empty calories. It’s not going to provide any of the vitamins, protein, minerals, or other building blocks of healthy eggs and meat.

In other words, you’re better off feeding something other than ice cream to your chickens.

Can Baby Chicks Eat Ice Cream?

Baby chicks really shouldn’t eat any ice cream. 

That’s for the same reasons that adult chickens shouldn’t eat ice cream, plus one more:

Baby chicks are growing. They need a starter feed packed with nutrients, vitamins and minerals. 

And their stomachs are even more sensitive than the stomachs of mature hens and roosters. 

It may look cute to watch the chicks scramble to eat the melting ice cream in their brooder. But it’s only going to hurt them in the long run.

Save the Ice Cream for the Humans

I’m not knocking ice cream. It’s great. It’s just not great for chickens.

And it’s not meant for chickens, either. So, save it for the humans in your family. They’ll get a lot more out of it.

Listen — ice cream is not toxic to chickens. (Unless it’s spoiled and that’s why you’re wondering whether chickens can eat ice cream.)

But it is unhealthy for them. And that’s good enough reason to avoid giving ice cream to chickens.

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