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Can Chickens Eat Coffee Grounds?

Chickens may accidentally eat coffee grounds used in the garden. However, chickens shouldn’t eat coffee grounds, since they contain toxic substances such as caffeine and methylxanthine that can harm them. For example, caffeine may cause high blood pressure in chickens, loss of muscle control, and affect the chicken’s gastrointestinal system, which is dangerous. Also, methylxanthine in coffee grounds is among the most consumed psychoactive substances. And its effects are harmful to chickens. So, it’s best to avoid using coffee grounds for your garden or in feeds, if you’re keeping chickens.

Chicken with coffee grounds

Additionally, coffee grounds alongside chocolate and tea may also pose harm to other small animals such as dogs and cats. Many chicken owners claim that their chickens don’t eat coffee grounds, but there’s no need to take the risk. Usually, chickens and other birds have unpredictable behaviors and they tend to forage for their food, so they may accidentally eat coffee grounds from the garden.

If you suspect that your chicken has consumed coffee grounds, keep a close eye on it for any ill effects and head to the vet immediately if your chicken is looking unwell. Generally, if your pet ingests caffeine, it takes 30 minutes to an hour for clinical toxicity signs to appear.


Caffeine Toxicity

Caffeine toxicity condition results from ingestion of too much caffeine. When animals ingest caffeine in any form, the symptoms that occur as a result are known as caffeine toxicity symptoms. Caffeine toxicity adversely compromises their immune system and calcium absorption in their body, which leads to heart and lung issues.

Studies conducted to see the effects of caffeine on chicken performance, involving the addition of coffee grounds or caffeine in layer feeds showed that it can interfere with their respiratory system, central nervous, and circulatory system. Caffeine in layer feeds can even lead to death. Chickens that ingested caffeine also had problems laying eggs and the quality of the eggs was questionable too. Furthermore, chickens are unable to digest methylxanthine. Therefore, you should keep chickens far away from coffee grounds, and substances that contain caffeine. Let’s take a look at the symptoms of caffeine toxicity.

Symptoms of Caffeine Toxicity

Caffeine toxicity symptoms in chickens may vary depending on the amount of caffeine ingested and the bird size. A few caffeine pecks may not have a significant impact on the chicken as a handful amount of caffeine can have. Here are some of the caffeine toxicity signs to look out for after a chicken has ingested substances such as coffee or chocolate, that contain methylxanthines.

  • Agitation
  • Vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Rapid heart rate or tachycardia
  • Hyperthermia
  • Panting

Carefully observe your chicken after it has consumed coffee grounds or products containing methylxanthines for any caffeine toxicity symptoms. A chicken may as well die if it has consumed large amounts of caffeine from the coffee grounds.

Tips to Prevent Caffeine Toxicity

Caffeine toxicity in pets can be a costly problem for pet owners. However, this problem can be avoided. Here are some tips to prevent caffeine toxicity in pets and livestock.

  • If you use coffee grounds as fertilizer in your garden, ensure that your chickens have no access to the garden. You can do this by installing a quality fence that will separate your garden from the hatch or coop.
  • Don’t store the coffee grounds near chicken feeds to avoid contaminating the feeds. Additionally, keep the coffee grounds from children’s reach since they may feed the coffee grounds to the chickens or other pets out of curiosity.
  • If you recycle your used coffee grounds for compost, ensure that the bins you use have solid bottoms and that the lids are secure. Also, you can elevate the bins to ensure that the chickens don’t peck through the ventilating holes. Ensure the compost base is strong enough to avoid being toppled by larger animals, since the contents may spill, and the chickens may forage through the contents.
  • Avoid using coffee grounds as beddings for your chickens. You’ll find that most people prefer coffee grounds for beddings since they are dust-free and great deodorizers. However, coffee grounds aren’t recommended. You can use other materials such as hay, wood shavings, sand, straw, and recycled paper for the safety of your chickens.
  • Also, avoid the use of coffee grounds for repelling pests and insects since they are not safe for your chickens. Here are some natural insect repellants that you can use. To repel ants, crickets, centipedes, and millipedes, you can either spray, sprinkle, or hang cloves, cinnamon sticks, black pepper, white vinegar, and rosemary, lavender, and thyme packets. To repel mites, you can use mint, peppermint oil, and cayenne pepper. Also, to repel flies, you can use citrus, chardonnay with mango peels, eucalyptus, and clover sachets.
  • If you don’t want to recycle your used coffee grounds, dispose of them properly in a tightly covered garbage bin. This way your chickens don’t come across the coffee grounds.

Good Household Foods for Chickens

There are some household foods that you can feed your chickens with, aside from their usual feeds. This will help ensure that no food goes to waste and that your chickens get the treats they deserve. These household foods include:

  • Vegetables – vegetables such as cabbage and carrots are great for your chickens. Furthermore, chickens love vegetables and feeding will help them reap their benefits such as vitamins and minerals.
  • Pumpkin – Pumpkin is a great treat for your chickens. However, break them into small pieces before offering them to your chickens.
  • Grains – grains such as wheat, corn, and barley are good for chickens since they’re a good source of fiber and nutrients. Additionally, giving grains to your chickens stimulates their foraging behavior.
  • Peanuts –  you can serve your chickens with either raw or cooked peanuts. Peanut is among the chickens’ healthy treats.
  • Oats – oats (whether raw or cooked) are a good source of minerals and vitamins such as thiamine, magnesium, and manganese.
  • Herbs – Most common herbs such as parsley, thyme, and rosemary are safe for chicken consumption and an excellent addition to their diet. These herbs are a great source of vitamins and minerals for your chickens. Also, these herbs contain medicinal properties.
  • Fruits – fruits such as mangoes and bananas are a great treat for chickens and a good source of nutrients.  Other fruits are also refreshing for chickens, however, feed your chickens with the less sugary ones.
  • Cooked meats – you can give your chicken cooked meat that is chopped into small pieces. Raw meat may have some bacteria that may harm your chickens and other flocks.

Bad Household Foods for Chickens

Household foods can be a good treat for your chickens. However, you’re recommended to follow the 90/10 rule. This means that you should give your chickens 90% of the main feeds and only 10% treats. Additionally, keep in mind that not all household foods are safe for your chickens. Some of them besides coffee grounds will harm the chickens. These harmful treats include:

  • Unripe tomatoes
  • Chocolate
  • Raw eggs
  • Dried beans and lentils
  • Avocado skin or pit
  • Green potatoes
  • Uncooked rice
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Sugary sweets
  • Foods with high amounts of salt
  • Spoiled foods such as moldy bread

Are Coffee Grounds Good for Chicken Bedding?

As mentioned earlier, avoid using coffee grounds for chicken bedding. This puts your chicken at the risk of consuming the grounds, which are harmful to them. Here are some alternatives you can use for chicken bedding.

  • Pine shavings
  • Grass clippings
  • Cedar shavings
  • Recycled paper
  • Soft straws
  • Shredded leaves
  • Wood shavings
  • Hay

Are Coffee Beans Safe for Chicken Consumption?

Just like coffee grounds, chickens shouldn’t consume coffee beans. The caffeine in the beans is what makes them risky for consumption by chickens. Caffeine in any form will harm your chickens’ immune system, respiratory system, central nervous system, and circulatory system. Therefore, keep away coffee beans and grounds from your chickens.

Can Chickens Consume Instant Coffee?

Instant coffee is the worst form of coffee to give to your chicken. This is because it has undergone manufacturing, and most of the natural nutrients have been removed. Therefore, instant coffee is just left with high caffeine content which is harmful to chickens. So, don’t give instant coffee to your chickens.


Most people claim that their chickens don’t eat coffee grounds. However, you can’t be sure that your chicken won’t eat coffee grounds, since these birds are adventurous. Therefore, it’s best to avoid any contact of your chickens with coffee grounds. Coffee grounds may be beneficial to your garden but their presence will also cause harm to your chicken and other livestock. Therefore, if you have to use coffee grounds for your garden, ensure that you fence it properly so that there is no contact of chickens with the coffee grounds. Equally important, dispose of your coffee grounds properly if you are not planning to recycle them.

Also, if you realize that your chicken has eaten some coffee grounds whether accidentally or intentionally, observe it for any caffeine toxicity signs. These signs begin to appear 30 minutes to an hour after caffeine consumption. If your chicken shows any signs of toxicity, immediately consult your vet for further care. Furthermore, depending on the amount of caffeine consumed and the size of your chicken, caffeine toxicity may lead to death. Additionally, keep in mind that caffeine is also harmful to pets such as dogs and cats. These pets are more sensitive to caffeine than humans are.


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