Keeping chickens comes with its own benefits. Not only will these feathery creatures keep you entertained, but they’ll also provide fresh and healthy eggs for your kitchen. The fact that these birds are not fussy about food is just another advantage of having them.
All chicken owners offer their chickens some fruits and veggies occasionally as a treat. Are you wondering if pumpkins can be used to treat them?
Can chickens eat pumpkins? Yes, chickens can eat pumpkins. With an abundance of Vitamin A and many other nutrients, Pumpkins are both healthy and delicious treats for the chickens. All parts of these fruits, including the flesh, seeds, and leaves, are safely edible for them. Furthermore, you can also offer your chickens frozen pumpkins after defrosting them properly.
This article will talk about everything you need to know about feeding pumpkins to chickens. We’ll also discuss whether or not can the seeds of these fruits act as a de-wormer for your pets.
Pumpkin for chickens: Health benefits
It is no secret that pumpkins are one of the healthiest seasonal fruits in the world. But what about your chickens? Will these fruits benefit them just as they benefit us? That’s what we aim to figure out in this section.
Let’s begin by taking a look at the nutritional table of pumpkins:
|Vitamin A||7384 IU|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||0.05 mg|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.11 mg|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||0.6 mg|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)||0.298 mg|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)||0.061 mg|
|Vitamin B9 (Folates)||16 mcg|
|Vitamin C||9 mg|
|Vitamin E||1.06 mg|
|Vitamin K||1.1 mcg|
|Calcium, Ca||21 mg|
|Iron, Fe||0.8 mg|
|Magnesium, Mg||12 mg|
|Sodium, Na||1 mg|
|Copper, Cu||0.127 mg|
|Potassium, K||340 mg|
|Manganese, Mn||0.125 mg|
|Phosphorus, P||44 mg|
|Zinc, Zn||0.32 mg|
|Selenium, Se||0.3 mcg|
Serving size: 100 grams
Now, we’ll explore all the health benefits that pumpkins can offer to your backyard friends:
- Pumpkins are rich in Vitamin A, a vitamin that is essential for the plumage and overall health of your chickens. The deficiency of this vitamin can make them vulnerable to health issues like poor feathering, pale wattles and combs, and nasal discharge.
- These fruits also contain Vitamin C in abundance, which is indispensable in maintaining their immune responses and protecting them from all kinds of diseases and infections.
- Pumpkins also contain potassium, a key mineral in helping your chickens deal with extreme heat. Additionally, if the egg-laying hens eat these fruits, their potassium will lend a deeper orange shade to the yolk of their eggs.
- Pumpkins are fiber-rich fruits, which can boost the digestive health of your chickens by regulating their gastrointestinal system.
These are just some major health benefits that your feathered pets can gain from eating pumpkins. Thus, it would be safe to assume that these fruits are quite healthy for them.
Risks involved with overfeeding pumpkin to chickens
Pumpkins are one of those fruits that are filled with all goodness. However, they can only benefit your pets when fed in moderation. The nutritional requirements of chickens are fulfilled by their specific feed mix, which should make about 80% of their diet.
No matter how nutritious it might be, any other fruit or veggie will only help them when they consume it in small amounts as an occasional treat. When overfed, these fruits can create a nutritional imbalance in their bodies, which will only lead to health issues in the long run.
Pumpkin seeds for chickens: a good or a bad idea?
As a pet owner, you must’ve realized that just because a particular fruit is safe for your feathered pet’s consumption doesn’t mean the seeds inside them are, too. What about pumpkin seeds? Can the chickens eat them?
Yes, they can. Pumpkin seeds are not hard enough to pose a choking threat to your birds, and neither do they contain any harmful chemicals. In fact, these seeds are quite nutrient-dense and, thus, a safe and healthy treat for chickens.
If you feel like your chickens are too young and might choke on the pumpkin seeds, you can easily crush them in a food processor beforehand.
Are you wondering why you should feed these seeds to the birds? Here are two reasons that can convince you to do it:
Pumpkin seeds are rich in Vitamin E
In the table given above, did you notice how pumpkins contain Vitamin E? Well, this vitamin is concentrated in the pumpkin seeds. It is also an essential nutrient for their immune health and can protect them from severe diseases like Bronchitis, Coccidiosis, and E. coli.
Pumpkin seeds contain plenty of Zinc
Pumpkin seeds are covered with an ultra-thin membrane of zinc on their outside. And since zinc plays a crucial role in the healthy growth and development of chickens, it’s always a good idea to add more of this micronutrient to their diet.
Whole or shelled pumpkin seeds for chickens?
Now that we’ve figured out that pumpkin seeds are healthy treats for the chickens, the main question is: which seeds should you feed them? Whole or shelled pumpkin seeds?
Before we answer that, let’s explore the differences between the two. Like many other seeds, the seeds inside pumpkins also have a shell or covering over them. This shell contains no significant nutritional value and is made of insoluble fibers.
In terms of taste, these shells have no individual taste, unlike the sunflower seeds. Therefore, whether you eat whole or shelled pumpkin seeds, you will hardly notice the difference.
The same is true for your backyard pets; they can easily eat both whole or shelled seeds. So, whichever kind is available at their disposal would be safe for their consumption.
Pumpkin seeds acting as a natural de-wormer: myth or reality?
In most of the pumpkin feeding articles for the chickens, you might have read how it is claimed that pumpkin seeds can act as a natural de-wormer for these birds.
We’re here to tell you that the fact is merely a rumor and nothing more. As you already know, deworming is the process of cleaning your pets’ intestines of parasitic worms that can affect their health and productivity.
There are a lot of synthetic de-wormers present in the market that can accomplish this in your chickens, but pumpkin seeds aren’t one of them. While these seeds are full of various health benefits, deworming isn’t one of them.
Therefore, if your chicken has worms inside their bodies, the right way to treat them is by contacting your vet and choosing an authentic treatment or medicine. Because if you try to do it on your own by feeding them pumpkin seeds, you’ll end up being disappointed.
Pumpkins for chickens: raw or cooked?
If you’re planning to feed pumpkins to your chickens, it’s essential to remember that raw pumpkins are a whole meal for them. Unlike us, these birdies don’t need everything to be cooked before they eat.
In fact, raw pumpkins are a healthier choice for the chickens since cooking them (in heat) can dilute some of their nutrients.
If you can’t decide how to best serve pumpkins to your chickens, let us help you out.
The most popular method of feeding pumpkins to these poultry birds is by cutting the fruits in half and letting them peck on the flesh and seeds inside. This is a clean, hassle-free technique that requires very little work on your part.
However, there’s only one drawback: if you have only one or two chickens in your yard, half a pumpkin would be far too much for them. Consider buying a smaller pumpkin or cutting it into a smaller piece.
If you have more time on your hands, you can also scoop out the flesh and serve it to them in their dish, separating the seeds for later use.
Lastly, if you want to feed your feathered pets cooked pumpkin, be careful not to overcook it as it will take away all the nutrients present inside. Additionally, you should also avoid adding salt or other spices to the pumpkin as they’re quite unsafe for the chickens.
What about pumpkin skin? Is it safe for chickens to eat?
Whenever we cook pumpkins for ourselves, the skin or rind of these fruits always goes to waste. Have you ever wondered if you could use the skin by feeding it to your chickens?
Well, the first problem with feeding pumpkin skin to the chickens is that they might not find it palatable. Because of the bland taste of its skin, these poultry birds often leave it behind while they devour the flesh.
And even if you find a way to make your pets like the skin, there’s the threat of pesticides. You’re already familiar with how all inorganic fruits and veggies, including pumpkins, are sprayed with chemical pesticides to prevent pests from attacking them.
The skin of pumpkins might absorb some of these harmful chemicals. And when the chickens eat it, these chemicals might make them sick. To sum it up, feeding pumpkin skin to chickens is not a good idea.
Pumpkin leaves for chickens: safe or unsafe?
If you’re a passionate gardener who likes to grow pumpkin vines in their yard, does the thought of your chickens pecking on pumpkin leaves bother you?
Well, if you own both chickens and pumpkin vines, it’s the vine you need to worry about and not your chickens. It is because chickens are known to be fond of the leaves of all squash vines, including pumpkins, and will munch on them freely when given access.
Furthermore, these leaves are also completely safe for their consumption as long as they’re free of pesticides.
Therefore, you can occasionally feed them these leaves. But make sure your vines are protected from the free-ranging chickens. Because pumpkin plants are quite sensitive, if your chickens keep eating the vines and leaves, they might die.
What about baby chicks? Can they eat pumpkin?
Although chickens are generally opportunistic feeders that would eat anything they can find, these birds often grow up to be fussy eaters in captivity.
In order to avoid that from happening, most pet parents introduce several fruits and veggies into their diet earlier in life, when they’re still chicks. But can the same be done with pumpkins? Yes.
You can certainly introduce pumpkins to your chick’s diet as long as you can follow moderation. You should feed them only half the amount of pumpkin you’d feed an adult chicken because of their smaller appetite.
Moreover, the high amount of sugar and fibers in these fruits can also result in digestive issues for them when overfed.
Frozen pumpkin for chickens: yay or nay?
Although pumpkins are seasonal fruits that grow only during winters, if you want to eat them all year round, keeping them frozen is a great way to do it. But can your backyard pets enjoy these frozen treats just like you can? Well, why not?
Frozen pumpkins are just as safe for your birdies as the fresh ones when prepared properly. All you need to do is to bring them out of the refrigerator and let them defrost overnight, and they’ll be ready for chickens to snack on.
Canned pumpkin for chickens: yay or nay?
While frozen pumpkins are completely safe for your feathered friends’ consumption, the same cannot be said for canned pumpkins.
Most people tend to think that canned pumpkins are simply a preservable form of pumpkin, which is not really true. In truth, it is a processed food made of steamed, pureed pumpkin, which is often mixed with other squashes.
The main purpose of these canned goods is to make pumpkin pies and other dishes and not to eat them raw. Moreover, most canned pumpkins also contain sugar, other additives, and preservatives to give them a longer shelf life.
These additives, while mostly harmless for us, can affect your pet’s health adversely. Therefore, you should not feed canned pumpkins to your chickens.
With this, we come to the end of our article. Today, we’ve learned that pumpkins can make great treats for both us and our feathered pets. These fruits are rich in a number of nutrients, with both their flesh and seeds being safely edible to your chickens.
We also learned that while frozen pumpkins are okay for chickens to eat after defrosting, feeding them canned pumpkin is a bad idea and should be avoided.