Can Chickens Eat Lima Beans? (Yes, But What To Avoid)

can chickens eat lima beans

As a chicken owner, you must be cautious about what you feed them to ensure their health and safety.

One question that often arises is whether chickens can eat lima beans. Chickens can eat cooked lima beans, but avoid giving them raw lima beans due to potential toxins such as cyanide, phytic acid, and lectins.

In this article, we will dive deep into why chickens can eat lima beans, discovering what lima beans are, their benefits, potential drawbacks, feeding procedures, and many more.

Topics Covered In This Article

What are Lima Beans?

lima beans
Image Credit: The Spruce

Lima beans, also known as butter beans, are large, flat, kidney-shaped beans that belong to the legume family.

They are packed with essential nutrients such as magnesium, manganese, and copper, and have a mild, buttery flavor. Other members of the legume family include

  • Lentils
  • Peas
  • Broad beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Soybeans
  • Peanuts

What are the Nutritional Contents of Lima Beans?

According to FoodData Central, A 100-gram serving of lima beans contains (1)

Fiber, total dietary4.9grams
Calcium, Ca34milligrams
Iron, Fe3.14milligrams
Magnesium, Mg58milligrams
Phosphorus, P136milligrams
Potassium, K467milligrams
Carbohydrates, by difference8milligrams
Manganese, Mn1.22milligram
Folate, total34µg
Folate, DFE34µg
Choline, total40milligrams
Source: Food Data Central

Lima beans offer a variety of nutrients that can benefit chickens. They are a good source of protein, which is essential for building and repairing muscle tissues.

They also contain carbohydrates that serve as a valuable energy source for chickens.

Lima beans are rich in phosphorus, maintaining skeletal health and soft tissue and supporting egg production.

However, raw lima beans contain a toxin called cyanide, which can be harmful to chickens if consumed excessively.

The cyanide content in raw lima beans is about 100 to 170 mg/kg, making them toxic when uncooked.

What Are the Benefits of Lima Beans for Chickens?

The following are the benefits of lima beans for chickens (If it’s cooked)

Protein Source

Lima beans provide good protein for chickens’ growth and overall health. Protein supports muscle development and is essential for egg-laying hens to produce healthy eggs according to research done by PubMed Central on specialized protein products in broiler chicken nutrition. (2)

Carbohydrate Energy

The carbohydrates in lima beans are an excellent energy source for chickens, helping them stay active and maintain their daily activities.

According to The University Of Georgia, carbohydrates make up the biggest component of the chicken diet.

Phosphorus For Skeletal System And Soft Tissue

Lima beans contain phosphorus, which is vital for maintaining a chicken’s skeletal system and soft tissue according to Benison Media. (3) It is especially important for laying hens, as it supports proper eggshell production.

What Are the Potential Drawbacks of Raw Lima Beans for Chickens?

The following are the potential drawbacks of raw lima beans for chickens

Cyanide Toxicity

Raw lima beans contain a toxin called cyanide, which can harm chickens if ingested in large amounts according to PoultryDVM. (4)

Cooking the lima beans thoroughly breaks down the cyanide, making them safe to eat.

Phytic Acid

According to the Department Of Poultry Science in Bangalore, Lima beans contain phytic acid, which can bind to essential minerals in a chicken’s body, making them unavailable for absorption. (5) This can lead to mineral deficiencies over time.


Lectins are proteins in lima beans that can irritate and cause inflammation in a chicken’s digestive tract if consumed excessively according to Poultry Extension.

How to Safely Feed Lima Beans To Chickens?

To safely feed lima beans to your chickens, follow these guidelines:

  1. Cook Thoroughly: Always cook lima beans thoroughly to eliminate the cyanide content. Boiling or steaming is recommended.
  2.  Moderation: Feed lima beans in moderation, as too many can lead to potential issues with phytic acid and lectins.
  3.  Limit Raw Consumption: Avoid giving chickens raw lima beans altogether, as they can be toxic.
  4.  Balanced Diet: Offer lima beans as part of a balanced diet alongside their regular chicken feed.
  5.  Treat, Not Staple: Treat lima beans as occasional treats rather than a staple food source.

What Are the Alternatives To Lima Beans For Chickens?

Some of the alternatives to lima beans for chickens are:

  • Lettuce.
  • Beets.
  • Broccoli.
  • Carrots.
Related Read: Can Chickens Eat Artichokes? (Expert Advice)

Can Chickens Eat Lima Beans? Key Takeaways

Yes, Chickens can safely enjoy cooked lima beans as a nutritious treat but avoid giving them raw lima beans due to their cyanide content and potential toxicity.

These beans provide valuable protein, carbohydrates, and phosphorus, benefiting the chickens’ health.

Lima beans can be a healthy addition to a chicken’s diet when properly prepared and offered in moderation.


What kind of beans can chickens eat?

Chickens can safely eat black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, and navy beans.
It is essential to ensure that the beans are cooked thoroughly before feeding them to chickens, as raw beans contain toxins harmful to birds.

Can chickens eat lima bean sprouts?

No, chickens should not be given lima bean sprouts. Lima beans, in any form, contain a compound called linamarin, which can release cyanide when consumed. Cyanide is toxic to chickens and can lead to serious health issues.

Do birds eat lima beans?

Wild birds generally avoid eating lima beans due to the presence of toxins like linamarin.
In the wild, birds naturally instinctively avoid potentially harmful substances. It’s best not to offer lima beans to birds as it can harm their health.

Are beans safe for chickens?

Yes, many types of beans are safe for chickens when cooked properly. Cooked beans provide a good source of protein and nutrients for chickens. 

However, avoid feeding them raw or undercooked beans as they contain anti-nutritional factors that can harm chickens. 

Always ensure the beans are fully cooked and free from any seasonings or additives before offering them to your feathered friends.


VeryWell Animals uses high-quality sources, such as scientifically reviewed studies in its articles. Discover our unique approach to fact-checking and ensuring our content remains accurate and trustworthy.
  1. Lima Beans NutrientsFood Data Central
  2. Specialized Protein Products in Broiler Chicken NutritionNational Library of Medicine
  3. Role of Phosphorus in PoultryBenison Media
  4. Cyanide PoisoningPoultry DVM

Last Updated on 28 February 2024

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