Chickens have long had a reputation of being sort of like little mobile garbage disposals, gladly munching on just about any table scraps they come across–sometimes even animal matter!
But what about drinks?
Are chickens ever able to safely have a beer, wine, or vodka, or is all alcohol bad for them?
Let’s find out!
Chickens should not be fed or given access to beer, wine, vodka, or anything containing alcohol. Alcohol is toxic to most animals, including chickens, and their bodies are so small even a tiny amount of alcohol will potentially intoxicate and poison them.
Read on to learn more about what’s safe for your chicken to drink, what isn’t safe, and why chickens shouldn’t have alcohol despite being able to consume seemingly any table scraps you offer them.
We’ll also cover what you should do if your chickens happen to get into some alcohol and if and when a vet visit is worth considering.
Can Chickens Consume Beer?
Although beer has a pretty low alcohol content, it still isn’t safe for chickens to consume in any amount.
Chickens are much smaller than humans, so even a small amount of beer is a potential poisoning hazard to them.
Fortunately, most chickens and birds, in general, tend to not have much of a taste for alcohol, especially beer, since it is very bitter to them and lacks any kind of sweetness or savory flavor.
Sure, if you happen to spill a small sip of beer and your chickens come running to test it out, they’ll likely be fine.
However, you should keep a close eye on their behavior for at least the next half an hour or so for any signs of staggering, lethargy, or other unusual symptoms.
If your chickens consume too much beer, they risk developing alcohol poisoning, which is sometimes fatal in severe cases.
Can Chickens Consume Wine?
Wine is another seemingly tame option as far as alcohol goes, in part thanks to its sweet flavor and fairly low alcohol content overall.
However, even wine isn’t safe for your chickens, since like we touched on above, any amount of any form of alcohol from beverages will potentially poison or even kill them.
Like with beer, if you happen to spill a sip of wine or leave a few drops in a wine glass outside and your chicken takes a sip, they’ll probably be fine, if a little perturbed at the taste of what they probably initially believed was just water.
Just keep an eye on their behavior for any odd or troublesome symptoms like stumbling, difficulty moving, or drowsiness.
Can Chickens Consume Vodka?
We move on to vodka, a stiff beverage with typically very high alcohol content.
Like with beer and wine, vodka is also unsafe for chickens.
It’s far more dangerous than beer and wine!
While your flock will likely be fine if they take a sip – or even a few sips – of wine or beer, vodka presents much more of an immediate threat to their health.
Let’s break down the alcohol content to make a point here: most domestic beers tend to have somewhere between 5% and 8% alcohol.
This means the majority of the drink is water, so even a tiny chicken will be able to take a few sips and likely be fine.
On the other hand, vodka usually has a whopping 40% alcohol by volume.
This makes it between 5 and 8 times more potent than beer.
When comparing vodka to wine, the results are similarly frightening.
Wine has a slightly higher alcohol content than beer, but it’s still pretty mild at around 5.5% to 13% alcohol by volume.
Since vodka has a 40% ABV, this means it’s about 3 to 8 times more potent than wine.
If a chicken drinks a sip of vodka versus a sip of wine, it’s going to affect its small body much more significantly.
Keep vodka away from your chickens, no matter what!
It’s far too strong for them to consume any amount of safely, and even a single shot has the potential to cause alcohol poisoning and death depending on the bird’s size.
If you’re having a party in the backyard, keep the chickens in the coop, so they don’t come sniffing around.
Even though most birds will avoid the very bitter smell and taste of vodka, it’s pretty common for them to get a little curious about the consumption of alcohol.
Can Chickens Consume Any Kind of Alcohol?
As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t be offering your chickens alcohol or providing them with any kind of access to alcoholic beverages, even the occasional remains of a drink you pour out into the yard.
However, whether or not a chicken can drink alcohol and survive without any major issues depends largely on the ABV or, as we mentioned earlier, the alcohol by volume in the beverage.
After all, it isn’t unheard of for chickens to scavenge for just about anything they find.
Many farmers and hobby farm owners have noted that their chickens have taken occasional sips of beer with no issues.
In contrast, others have had more serious mishaps where their flock ended up finding half-empty bottles and feasting on their bubbly contents.
Either way, don’t give alcohol to chickens in any form or amount, even empty cans or bottles with just a few drops!
Chickens are way smaller than us, so it takes a tiny, tiny fraction of the amount of alcohol a human would need to have a nasty bout of alcohol poisoning.
You are able to get medical assistance, and your stomach pumped if necessary–your chicken is not!
Even if you take a chicken with alcohol poisoning to one of the best farm veterinarians, there isn’t much they’ll be able to do, and it’ll end up costing you a seriously hefty bill, too.
Here is a quick table on types of alcohol and their ABV for reference.
|Type Of Alcohol||Type Of Alcohol||Safe For Chickens|
|Beer||5-8%||No, but not dire in small amounts|
|Wine||6-16%||No, but not dire in small amounts.|
|Vodka||40%||Not at all|
|Whiskey||40-50%||Not at all|
|Rum||40%||Not at all|
Can Chickens Become Intoxicated or “Drunk?”
Most animals can become intoxicated.
But this doesn’t mean you should ever deliberately get them drunk!
Alcohol affects animals’ brains in mostly the same way it affects humans.
More specifically, alcohol blocks certain chemical signals between your (or your chicken’s, in this case) brain cells attempting to communicate information to one another.
As a result, an intoxicated person (or chicken’s) body starts displaying some odd symptoms, such as:
- Lack of impulse control
- Slurred speech
- Impaired memory
- Slower reflexes than usual
- Coma and death (in severe cases of alcohol poisoning)
While a human is (mostly) able to control the rate at which they drink, your chicken does not have this kind of critical thinking or forethought.
They also don’t understand what alcohol is or what it does to their bodies.
Because of this and their already extremely omnivorous and curious nature, a chicken will potentially drink to excess if they are given access to, say, a half-empty bottle of vodka in the trash or a beer can in your back yard.
Fortunately, most chickens tend to dislike the very bitter and unpleasant taste of alcohol, especially in high-ABV drinks like vodka and whiskey.
More commonly, chickens end up eating spoiled or fermented fruit they manage to find, which has a small amount of alcohol.
What to Do if Your Chickens Consume Alcohol
If one or even a whole flock of your chickens happens to get into some alcohol, the actions you should take to monitor and/or help them will depend on a few factors.
The most important details here are the alcohol they consumed and the ABV of the alcohol type in question.
If you know exactly how much alcohol your chicken got into and the exact type, make a mental note of both details if you need to take them to a veterinarian for treatment like additional fluids or anti-nausea medications.
As we covered earlier, beer and wine are a lot less harmful than high-ABV drinks like vodka and whiskey.
Next, keep a close eye on your chicken’s behavior over the next hour or so if possible.
Do they seem normal, or are they stumbling about and struggling to breathe?
Are they socializing and eating as they usually would, or are they unresponsive?
Use good judgment here to determine if a trip to a vet is necessary.
Finally, provide your chicken (or the entire flock) with plenty of water and a bit of food for when their appetite returns.
Keeping them well-hydrated will lessen the alcohol’s negative effects, especially if they didn’t consume enough to warrant immediate medical treatment.
Do Chickens’ Eggs Taste Different If They’ve Consumed Alcohol?
If you primarily use your chickens for eggs, it’s understandable you’d be worried about how they’ll taste if your feathered friends have gotten into some booze recently.
You’ve likely heard about how the nutritional content of a chicken’s diet affects how their eggs taste, so it might make sense to assume alcohol consumption would make their eggs taste pretty unusual or even downright nasty.
Fortunately, unless they’ve managed to consume a lot of a high-ABV drink and managed to survive the ordeal, a few sips of alcohol won’t be enough to affect the overall taste of their eggs.
After reading about what they can drink (or not), check out our article on what chickens can eat in our comprehensive guide.