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UPDATE: Feeding kitchen scraps to hens

Until now our APHA guidance has always been that it is illegal to feed your hen kitchen scraps unless you live in a totally vegan household. 

This guidance was brought in following the Foot and Mouth outbreak in the early 2000s to avoid cross contamination caused by cross-species feeding. 

Until recently, it was our understanding that if you live in a vegan household which does not handle any animal products then you were able to give them food that had passed through your kitchen. 

The current situation 

However, it has been brought to our attention that guidance on APHA’s page regarding the supply and use of animal feeds as a by-product stipulates even food from a vegan household cannot now be fed to your hens. 

The specific guidance is as follows: 

You must never use catering waste as farm animal feed, regardless of whether it’s vegetable or meat based or whether it comes from restaurants, households, or other sites. 

You must never use: 

  • scraps and catering waste from any restaurant or commercial kitchen (including vegan kitchens) 
  • scraps and kitchen waste (including from vegan households) 

We are duty bound to give you the most up to date information relating to keeping pet hens so you are able to make an informed decision. As it stands, it is now illegal to feed your hens kitchen scraps even if you live in a vegan household. 

However, as we understand it, providing food has not passed through your kitchen it is safe to give your hens. We would therefore recommend that, if you wish to give your hens treats such as fruits and vegetables, that they are taken into your garden via a side gate. 

For example, taking a cauliflower or cabbage into your garden and hanging it up as a treat for your hens avoids the food having to pass through your kitchen, which is where the risk of cross-contamination occurs. 

The bottom line on feeding your hens 

While we all like to treat our hens (and ourselves!) from time to time, we must remember our hens are not waste disposal units and should not be fed anything other than the odd treat. 

There are products on the market which are specifically made for pet chickens so, to err on the side of caution, our recommendation would be to purchase these for your hens rather than risking being caught out. 

For example, these tasty treats are available from our shop: 

For further questions surrounding feeding your hens please call our Hen Helpline on 01884 860084. 

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