Illustration of a curious chicken pecking at a large, yellow block of cheese, surrounded by various types of cheeses, in a lush green farmyard setting.

Can Chickens Eat Cheese? A Comprehensive Guide


When it comes to feeding chickens, there’s a wide spectrum of dos and don’ts that chicken keepers need to be aware of. Among the many questions that arise, one that frequently pops up is, “Can chickens eat cheese?” This question might seem straightforward, but the answer is a bit more complex. This comprehensive guide will delve into the topic, providing detailed insights into the feasibility and implications of feeding cheese to chickens.

Chickens are known for their diverse diet, which can include everything from grains and vegetables to bugs and small rodents. But when it comes to human foods like cheese, it’s crucial to understand how they fit into a chicken’s dietary needs and restrictions. This guide will explore the nutritional value of cheese, the risks associated with feeding cheese to chickens, and how to properly serve cheese to chickens if it’s deemed safe. We’ll also look into alternative food options and the role of diet in chicken health.

Whether you’re a seasoned chicken keeper or a beginner in the field, this guide will equip you with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions about your chickens’ diet. So, let’s delve into the world of chickens and cheese.

Table of contents

Can Chickens Eat Cheese?

When it comes to the dietary needs and restrictions of chickens, one question that often arises is whether or not they can consume cheese. The simple answer to this question is yes, chickens can eat cheese. However, it’s not as straightforward as it may seem. Like any other food, cheese should be fed to chickens in moderation. Overfeeding cheese can lead to various health issues, which we will discuss later on in this article.

Cheese is a dairy product derived from milk and is rich in essential nutrients like protein, calcium, and vitamins. These nutrients can be beneficial for chickens, contributing to their overall health and well-being. Protein, for instance, plays a crucial role in the growth and development of chickens, helping to build and repair body tissues. Calcium is vital for bone health and eggshell formation in laying hens. Vitamins, on the other hand, support various bodily functions, including metabolism and immune response.

While cheese can be a good source of these nutrients, it’s important to remember that it should not replace a balanced diet for your chickens. Chickens require a diet that is rich in grains, greens, and protein sources to meet their nutritional needs. Cheese can be a supplement to this diet, but it should not be the main food source.

Moreover, not all types of cheese are suitable for chickens. Some cheeses, like blue cheese and roquefort, contain molds that can be harmful to chickens. It’s best to stick to plain, unflavored cheeses like cheddar or mozzarella. Avoid feeding your chickens cheese with added ingredients like onions, garlic, or chives, as these can be toxic to them.

In conclusion, yes, chickens can eat cheese, but it should be fed to them in moderation and as part of a balanced diet. In the following sections, we will delve deeper into the nutritional value of cheese, the risks associated with feeding cheese to chickens, and how to properly serve cheese to your feathered friends.

The Nutritional Value of Cheese

When considering whether chickens can eat cheese, it is important to understand the nutritional value that cheese offers. Cheese is a dairy product that is rich in protein, calcium, phosphorus, and various vitamins such as vitamin A and vitamin B12. These nutrients are essential for the overall health and well-being of chickens.

Protein is crucial for chickens as it helps in the growth and repair of their body tissues, feathers, and muscles. Calcium and phosphorus are necessary for strong bones and eggshell formation in laying hens. Vitamin A is essential for maintaining good eyesight and a healthy immune system, while vitamin B12 is important for nerve function and overall metabolic health.

While cheese can provide some beneficial nutrients to chickens, it is important to note that it should only be fed to them in moderation. Excessive consumption of cheese can lead to health issues due to its high fat and salt content, which may not be suitable for chickens in large quantities.

Risks Associated with Feeding Cheese to Chickens

While cheese can be a tasty and nutritious treat for chickens when given in moderation, there are some risks associated with feeding cheese to these feathered friends. It’s important for chicken owners to be aware of these potential drawbacks to ensure the health and well-being of their flock.

One of the main risks of feeding cheese to chickens is the high fat and salt content typically found in many types of cheese. Chickens have sensitive digestive systems that are not well-equipped to handle large amounts of fat or salt. Excessive consumption of cheese can lead to digestive issues such as diarrhea or obesity in chickens.

Additionally, some chickens may be lactose intolerant or have difficulty digesting dairy products like cheese. Feeding cheese to chickens with lactose intolerance can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, bloating, and other digestive problems. It’s essential to monitor your chickens’ reactions to cheese and discontinue feeding if any adverse symptoms occur.

Another risk of feeding cheese to chickens is the potential for choking hazards. Cheese can be a dense and sticky food that may pose a choking risk, especially if fed in large chunks or without proper supervision. To prevent choking incidents, it’s crucial to cut cheese into small, manageable pieces or consider grating it before offering it to your chickens.

Furthermore, certain types of cheese, such as those containing herbs, spices, or other additives, may not be safe for chickens to consume. Some additives commonly found in cheese can be toxic to chickens or cause allergic reactions. Always opt for plain, unseasoned cheese varieties when feeding your chickens to avoid any potential health risks.

In conclusion, while cheese can be a tasty and enjoyable treat for chickens, it’s essential to be mindful of the risks associated with feeding cheese to these birds. By offering cheese in moderation, monitoring your chickens for any adverse reactions, and choosing plain, low-fat varieties, you can safely incorporate cheese into your chickens’ diet as an occasional snack.

How to Serve Cheese to Chickens

When it comes to serving cheese to chickens, there are a few important considerations to keep in mind to ensure that it is safe and beneficial for your feathered friends. Here are some tips on how to serve cheese to chickens:

  • Small Portions: Cheese should be offered to chickens in moderation. As a treat, it should not make up a significant portion of their diet.
  • Cut into Small Pieces: To prevent choking hazards, it’s best to cut the cheese into small, bite-sized pieces that are easy for chickens to peck at.
  • Soft Cheese: Opt for soft cheeses like cottage cheese or cream cheese, as they are easier for chickens to consume compared to hard cheeses.
  • Plain Cheese: Avoid giving chickens cheese with added flavors, spices, or excessive salt content. Plain cheese is the safest option for chickens.
  • Supplemental Treat: Cheese should be viewed as an occasional treat rather than a staple food item in a chicken’s diet. It can be offered alongside other healthy treats.
  • Monitor Intake: Keep an eye on how your chickens respond to cheese. If any digestive issues or adverse reactions occur, discontinue feeding cheese to them.

By following these guidelines, you can safely offer cheese to your chickens as a tasty and occasional addition to their diet.

Alternatives to Cheese

While cheese can be a tasty and protein-rich treat for chickens, there are several alternatives that can also be beneficial for their diet. These alternatives can provide a variety of nutrients and flavors to keep your flock healthy and happy:

  • Yogurt: Plain, unsweetened yogurt is a great source of probiotics and calcium for chickens. It can help improve their digestion and overall gut health.
  • Cottage Cheese: Cottage cheese is another dairy option that can be fed to chickens in moderation. It is high in protein and calcium, which are essential for egg production and bone health.
  • Vegetables: Vegetables such as leafy greens, carrots, and bell peppers are excellent alternatives to cheese. They provide essential vitamins and minerals that can support a chicken’s immune system and overall well-being.
  • Fruits: Fruits like berries, apples, and melons can be a sweet and nutritious treat for chickens. They are rich in antioxidants and can help boost their immune system.
  • Grains: Grains like oats, barley, and corn can be a good source of energy for chickens. They can be fed whole or as part of a balanced feed mix.
  • Mealworms: Mealworms are a protein-packed snack that chickens love. They can be fed live or dried and are a great source of essential amino acids.

By incorporating these alternatives into your chicken’s diet, you can provide them with a well-rounded and nutritious meal plan that promotes their health and happiness.

Cheese as a Treat

While cheese can be a tasty and nutritious treat for chickens, it is important to remember that moderation is key. As with any treat, cheese should only be given to chickens in small quantities and as part of a balanced diet. Too much cheese can lead to health issues such as obesity and digestive problems in chickens.

When offering cheese as a treat to your flock, it is best to opt for low-fat varieties such as mozzarella or cottage cheese. These types of cheese are lower in saturated fats and salt, making them a healthier option for chickens. Avoid feeding chickens highly processed or flavored cheeses, as they may contain additives that are not suitable for chickens.

One way to incorporate cheese into your chickens’ diet is by mixing small amounts of grated cheese with their regular feed or scattering it in their outdoor foraging area. This encourages natural behavior and provides mental stimulation for the chickens as they peck and scratch around for the cheese.

Remember that treats should only make up a small percentage of a chicken’s overall diet. The majority of their nutrition should come from a balanced commercial feed specifically formulated for chickens. Supplementing their diet with occasional treats like cheese can add variety and enjoyment for your flock, but should not replace their main source of nutrients.

The Role of Diet in Chicken Health

Ensuring a well-balanced diet is crucial for maintaining the overall health and well-being of chickens. Just like humans, chickens require a variety of nutrients to support their growth, development, and immune function. A proper diet not only impacts their physical health but also influences their egg production and quality.

When it comes to feeding chickens, it’s essential to provide them with a diverse range of foods that meet their nutritional requirements. A balanced diet for chickens typically includes a mix of grains, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and protein sources. By offering a varied diet, you can help prevent nutrient deficiencies and promote optimal health in your flock.

Incorporating a variety of foods into your chickens’ diet can also contribute to their mental stimulation and overall happiness. Chickens enjoy pecking and exploring different food textures and flavors, which can help prevent boredom and encourage natural foraging behaviors.

Additionally, the quality of the food you provide to your chickens can impact their health outcomes. Opting for fresh, organic, and non-processed foods whenever possible can help minimize the risk of exposing your flock to harmful chemicals or contaminants.

By paying attention to the nutritional content of the foods you offer and ensuring a well-rounded diet, you can help support the immune system, digestive health, and overall vitality of your chickens. Remember, a healthy diet is the foundation for a happy and thriving flock.


Q: Can chickens eat all types of cheese?

A: While most types of cheese are safe for chickens to consume in moderation, it’s best to avoid feeding them extremely salty or heavily processed cheeses. Stick to mild cheeses like cheddar or mozzarella.

Q: Is cheese a good source of protein for chickens?

A: Cheese can be a decent source of protein for chickens, but it should not be their primary protein source. Chickens require a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of proteins, grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Q: Can cheese be harmful to chickens?

A: While cheese can be a tasty treat for chickens, feeding them too much can lead to health issues such as obesity or digestive problems. Always offer cheese in moderation.

Q: How often can I give cheese to my chickens?

A: Cheese should be given to chickens as an occasional treat rather than a regular part of their diet. Limit cheese treats to once or twice a week to prevent overindulgence.

Q: Are there any cheeses that are toxic to chickens?

A: Avoid feeding chickens any cheese that contains ingredients like garlic or onion, as these can be harmful to poultry. Stick to plain, mild cheeses to ensure the safety of your flock.


In conclusion, while chickens can eat cheese in moderation, it is important to consider the nutritional value, risks, and serving methods when incorporating it into their diet. Cheese can provide additional protein and calcium to chickens, but it should not be a staple part of their diet due to the high fat and sodium content.

It is crucial to be mindful of the potential risks associated with feeding cheese to chickens, such as digestive issues and obesity. To minimize these risks, it is recommended to offer cheese as an occasional treat rather than a daily food source.

When serving cheese to chickens, it is best to provide small amounts in a way that is safe and easily consumable. Cheese can be offered in small cubes or grated to make it more manageable for chickens to eat. Additionally, incorporating cheese into a balanced diet that includes a variety of other nutritious foods is essential for maintaining optimal chicken health.

While cheese can be a tasty and enjoyable treat for chickens, there are also alternative options that can provide similar nutritional benefits without the potential drawbacks. Foods like yogurt, cottage cheese, and certain vegetables can be healthier alternatives to cheese for chickens.

Overall, understanding the role of diet in chicken health is crucial for ensuring that they receive the necessary nutrients to thrive. By offering a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods, including treats like cheese in moderation, chicken owners can help promote the well-being and longevity of their feathered friends.