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hen eating Christmas scraps

Is It Safe to Feed My Hens Christmas Leftovers?

Christmas dinner! There is always far more food than anyone can eat. And then there are the leftovers that you have to eat the days after the big day. You can’t beat bubble and squeak, cold stuffing, and cranberries.

It’s tempting to think that our hens can join in the festive fun but should you be scraping the leftovers from your Christmas spread into the hen’s feeders? 

The short answer, no. You may not realise but it’s actually illegal to feed your hens the leftovers of your Christmas dinner and other food from your kitchen. Defra has specific guidance on this which you can find here.

By law, only totally vegan households can share food from the kitchen with their flock. Hens everywhere can, however, enjoy veggies straight from the garden and hen treats produced specifically to feed to hens, but even these should be given in moderation. Hens can get fatty livers just like us and treats should be restricted to a dessert spoonful daily per hen.

Why is it breaking the law?

welfare wednesday hen caviar

Little Brownie here, eyeing up the caviar, would technically be breaking the law if she tucked into this particular treat. Why? Because hens should not be exposed to high levels of non-appropriate protein and the memory of mad cow disease caused by the cross-species feeding of sheep produce to cows soon reminds us of the importance of heeding the advice.

Remember that your hens take great delight in eating bugs and worms. The best thing to do is to keep it simple and keep it safe.

Great treat ideas for your hens this Christmas:

If you’d like advice on your hen’s health, why not visit our Hen Health page, where we discuss important things to look for in your hen’s health, whether its personality or physical symptoms. Or, head to our Hen Examination Guidelines where we can show you where to find things like the crop or the wattle.

If you need to seek medical advice, click here to find your nearest Hen Friendly Vet.
You can also call Hen Central on 01884 860084 to speak to one of our rehoming assistants.

Giving a gift today helps fund our Hen Helpline. It helps support hen keepers, giving them the best advice on how to care for their hens. If you have found our advice helpful, please consider giving a gift towards the hen helpline here.

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