Can Chickens Eat Fish? [Salmon, Shrimp, Tuna & Others!]

Have you ever wondered if it’s safe to feed fish to your chickens? You’re not alone. It’s a very common question among chicken owners and for a good reason. Chickens are omnivores, meaning that they can eat plant-based foods as well as animal-based foods. However, just because they can eat a large variety of different foods does not mean that you can feed them anything you want.

can chickens eat fish

Today, we’re going to take a closer look at whether chickens can eat fish. We’ll take a look at several different kinds of fish to discover which ones are safe to eat and which ones should be avoided.

If you’re in a hurry and need a quick answer to the question of whether chickens can eat fish, here it is: Chickens can eat fish and it can in fact be a good source of protein, vitamins, omega acids, and minerals for them. However, it should only be an occasional treat as part of a balanced diet. They can eat both raw and cooked fish but it’s recommended to cook it first. When feeding raw, make sure that it’s directly from the freezer or very fresh. Never feed your chickens spoilt fish.

However, I do recommend reading the entire article to learn everything you need to know to feed fish to your flock safely.

Is fish good for chickens?

Most fish is rich in minerals, vitamins, omega fatty acids, and protein while at the same time being much lower in fat and calories than meat. Because of this, fish can be a very good source of nutrients for your chickens.

One of the most important nutrients that fish is very rich in is Omega fatty acids. Studies have shown that Omega acids in the diet of chickens are beneficial for their metabolism, growth and productive performance, immune response, and anti-oxidative properties. In addition, it can improve meat quality, bone growth, and aid development.

On the whole, fish can definitely be good for your chickens. Do keep in mind though that while fish can be beneficial for your chickens you should not overfeed them on it. The most important thing is that you give your flock a balanced diet consisting of seeds, grains, fruits, vegetables, and the occasional piece of meat or fish.

Is fish toxic to chickens?

Fish is not toxic to chickens. However, you do have to be a little careful when feeding your chickens some large fish species such as swordfish or tuna because they contain high levels of mercury. Science has shown that too much mercury is toxic to chickens. For that reason, you do have to be careful that you do overfeed your chickens on fish species that have high mercury levels.

The kinds of fish that chickens can eat

So, now you know that chickens can eat fish but that you do have to be careful when feeding them certain fish species.

To find out more, let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular fish species to see if your flock can safely eat them and if there’s anything in particular that you should be careful about.

Can chickens eat salmon?

Yes, chickens can eat salmon and it’s one of the better fish for them to eat. Salmon is not high in mercury and contains very high levels of omega acids. In addition, it’s one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, making it a great choice for your flock.

Chickens can also eat the skin and bones of the salmon.

Can chickens eat herring?

Yes, chickens can eat herring. Like salmon, herring is low in mercury while being rich in many other nutrients, including omega fatty acids

Can chickens eat tuna?

Yes, chickens can eat tuna but as previously mentioned, it is a fish species that you have to be a little more careful with. It’s not that the fish itself is bad for chickens, but because it’s a large, predator fish they have a lot of mercury build-up. Only feed tuna to your chickens in small quantities and not too frequently to avoid any adverse effects from the mercury that they contain.

Also, not all tuna species are equally high in mercury. Some species, like the skipjack, are much lower in mercury than others, like the bigeye tuna. It’s best to feed your chickens species that are lower in mercury.

Can chickens eat shrimp?

Chickens can definitely eat shrimp and many chickens absolutely love to snack on this Crustacean. Because shrimp is so low and low on the food chain you do not have to worry about mercury levels.

Furthermore, they’re relatively low in calories while containing a boatload of important nutrients such as protein, Selenium, Vitamin B12, Iron, Phosphorus, Zinc, and Niacin. On top of that, it’s a good source of omega-3’s and omega-6’s while also containing astaxanthin antioxidants.

You can feed your chicken the whole shrimp, including head the shrimp head, tail, and shell.

Can chickens eat cod?

Chickens can safely eat cod. Cod is a good source of many important vitamins and minerals that your chicken can benefit from as long as it’s fed in moderation. Cod is rich in B Vitamins, phosphorus, selenium, and protein, all of which can be beneficial to your flock’s overall health.

Other fish species that you can feed to your chickens

  • Basa
  • Bass
  • Black cod/Sablefish
  • Blowfish
  • Bluefish
  • Bombay duck
  • Bream
  • Brill
  • Butter fish
  • Catfish
  • Crab
  • Dogfish
  • Dorade
  • Eel
  • Flounder
  • Grouper
  • Haddock
  • Halibut
  • Ilish
  • John Dory
  • Kingfish
  • Lamprey
  • Lingcod
  • Mackerel
  • Mahi Mahi
  • Monkfish
  • Mullet
  • Orange roughy (in moderation)
  • Patagonian toothfish
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Pollock
  • Pomfret
  • Pompano
  • Sablefish
  • Sanddab
  • Sardine
  • Sea bass
  • Shad
  • Skate
  • Snakehead
  • Snapper
  • Sole
  • Sturgeon
  • Surimi
  • Swordfish (in moderation due to high mercury levels)
  • Tilapia
  • Tilefish (in moderation, this fish has the highest mercury levels of all)
  • Trout
  • Turbot
  • Wahoo
  • Whitefish
  • Whiting

Can chickens eat fish skin, heads, bones, and tails?

Yes, chickens can eat the fish you feed them whole, heads, tails, skin, and bones included. Chickens are not picky eaters and while most people do not enjoy eating fish heads, chickens definitely do not mind.

Can chickens have fish eggs?

Yes, chickens can eat most fish eggs safely. Here are some of the fish eggs that your flock can safely consume:

  • Caviar
  • Ikura (salmon eggs)
  • Kazunoko (herring eggs)
  • Lumpfish roe
  • Masago (capelin eggs)
  • Shad roe
  • Tobiko (flying-fish eggs)

Can chickens eat mollusks?

Chickens can eat mollusks just fine. Here are some examples of mollusks that you can safely give to your flock. Do make sure that the mollusks you feed them are not spoilt and that you do not overfeed them on it.

  • Cockle
  • Conch
  • Cuttlefish
  • Slugs
  • Loco
  • Mussels
  • Octopus
  • Oyster
  • Periwinkle
  • Scallop
  • Squid
  • Snails

Frequently asked questions

Can chickens eat fried fish?

Technically your chickens can eat fried fish but it’s definitely not good for them. It’s very high in fat and can lead to rapid weight gain. A small piece of fried fish on occasion is not going to be all that bad but don’t make it a regular part of their diet.

Can chickens eat fish fingers or fish sticks?

Again, chickens can technically eat fish fingers and fish sticks but that’s because chickens can eat almost anything. The breading that is used to make these fish products is not good for your flock and they’re also full of additives. On the whole, they can eat a small amount of it, but it’s not good for them.

Can chickens eat sushi?

If you’ve got some leftover sushi that’s been kept in the fridge and has not spoilt yet then you can feed it to your chickens as long as it does not contain wasabi or anything like that. If it’s just fish, rice, seaweed, and veggies then your chickens will enjoy eating it.

Jesse A.