The Dos and Don’ts of Feeding Food Scraps to your Animal Friends

Animals need sustenance just like the rest of us, but for people who don’t have extensive knowledge of what foods animals primarily eat, knowing what to give them can get quite confusing. So, can you give animals food scraps if need be?

Animals can eat food scraps. While house animals, such as dogs or cats, shouldn’t eat food scraps as their primary source of food, they can if necessary. However, farm animals can eat food scraps, and giving these animals scraps can save farmers a lot of money while reducing waste.

The rest of this article will discuss which animals can eat food scraps. I’ll also go over the best ways to deal with food scraps.

What Animals Can Eat Food Scraps?

Before giving your leftovers to your beloved dog, you should know which animals can eat food scraps and which you should avoid giving this type of food to.

Farm animals, such as chickens or pigs, can eat food scraps. It’s best to donate any edible food to other people for consumption. However, sending your food scraps to a farmer is excellent, as it saves farmers money, feeds the animals, and reduces overall food waste.

Below, I’ll go over various farm animals and which food scraps are best for each animal.


Chickens can eat a wide range of foods. While they should primarily eat good quality poultry feed, they can also eat various food scraps.

Some food scraps that are safe for chickens and hens include:

  • Vegetable peels
  • Berries
  • Carrots
  • Bananas
  • Spinach
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Bok Choy
  • Apples
  • Cabbage
  • Cooked pasta and beans

However, some food scraps can be dangerous to chickens, especially those with high salt or fat content. Some examples are:

  • Chocolate
  • Citrus fruits
  • Uncooked rice
  • Onion
  • Garlic

It’s also essential to note that you should never feed your chickens rotten or spoiled food, as it can be dangerous.


Pigs are known to be big eaters, and while some people may think that pigs can eat anything and everything, there are some foods you shouldn’t give them.

Some food scraps that are acceptable for pigs include:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Bread
  • Vegetable oils
  • Grains
  • Eggs
  • Dairy

However, it would be best if you didn’t feed pigs any meat, fish, or anything that comes into contact with them.

Is It Illegal To Feed Pigs Slop?

It’s not illegal to feed pigs slop. Slop, by definition, includes a messy mix of various leftovers. However, the Swine Health Protection Act of 1980 made it so owners must be licensed to feed their pigs food waste that has been in contact with poultry, meat, or fish.

This act requires owners to cook food waste at 212℉ (100℃) for at least 30 minutes before giving it to their pigs. Therefore, while feeding pigs slop, or any food waste, is allowed, it’s essential to avoid meat, poultry, or fish unless you’re licensed and authorized.

can cattle eat scrap food


Believe it or not, cows can eat a large variety of food waste, even food past its expiration date or has started to spoil.

Some examples of food scraps fed to cattle include:

  • Pumpkins
  • Oranges
  • Sugar beets
  • Pinto beans
  • Potatoes

Best Ways To Deal With Food Waste

Nobody likes to waste food, especially if you could use that food to help others, whether animals or people. Therefore, there are various other options instead of throwing food scraps away. I’ll go over some of these options below.

Give Food Scraps to Your Local Farmer

As I’ve already mentioned, farmers can use food scraps. The various animals on a farm, including chickens, pigs, and cows, can eat food scraps and survive off them. So, if you know your local farmer and want to lend a helping hand, consider donating your food scraps to them.

However, you’ll want to ask farmers which scraps they want, as farmers might not accept foods containing meat, poultry, or fish products.

Donate Food Scraps to a Zoo

If you don’t know any farmers or are not around, consider donating your food scraps to a zoo. As we know, zoos house various animals with different eating needs. So, if you want to help a zoo, you can contact them and see if they accept food scraps.

However, you should check your local and state regulations beforehand to see if there are any limitations on which food scraps you can donate.

Compost Your Food Scraps

If you’d rather not give your food waste to animals, you can prepare your food scraps for compost. Compost is excellent to prepare and add to your soil, as it helps plants grow. However, there are only certain foods that you can compost.

The foods you can compost include:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Eggshells

You should never compost:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Dairy products, such as eggs, butter, or milk.

How To Compost Your Food Scraps

Composting your food doesn’t have to be challenging, and it should be a breeze once you have the materials and knowledge you need to do it. So, before you get started, ensure that you have the three essential ingredients required to compost:

  • Greens (vegetable or fruit waste)
  • Browns (dead leaves or branches)
  • Water (provides moisture)

Here is a basic step-by-step of the composting process:

  1. Begin in a dry, shady spot.
  2. Collect green and brown materials, but make sure that the materials are chopped small enough.
  3. Keep the dry materials moist as you add them to the pile.
  4. Mix grass clippings into the pile.
  5. Bury the food waste (fruits and vegetables) 10” (25.4 cm) under the compost material.
  6. Keep the compost moist.
  7. Your compost is ready when the bottom is dark in color.


Feeding animals food scraps is not only okay to do, but it’s an ideal way to deal with food waste.

Farm animals can survive on various food scraps, and farmers regularly feed scraps to them. However, each animal is different, and there are various regulations on preparing the scraps for them.

While giving animals food scraps is ideal, you can also compost the food scraps yourself to add to your soil and increase plant growth.

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