Can Chickens Eat Bananas? [Nutrition & Concerns]

Bananas are one of the most popular fruits in the world, but does that mean your chickens should have them? If you are thinking about giving your chickens bananas, you definitely should. Chickens happen to love bananas, as well as all the benefits that they get from them. You may even be shocked to find that your chickens will eat the entire fruit, starting with the peel. Here is what you need to know about feeding your flock bananas.

Can Chickens Eat Bananas?

bananas

As mentioned above, yes, chickens can indeed eat bananas. The trick is to not overfeed your flock. Bananas have numerous health benefits for chickens, but overdoing it will negate all the good stuff. Therefore, you should focus on giving little pieces of banana to each member of your flock, or let them go wild with a single banana.

In case you were wondering, young chicks can also eat bananas, including green and brown bananas. Once your baby chicks have started eating foods beyond their starter, you can try giving them a few pieces of ripe banana. The nutrients in banana will help your baby chicks grow up stronger and healthier.

Can Chickens Eat Banana Peels?

Did you know that banana peels are edible? Now you do. That also means that you can toss a peel to your chickens for them to nibble. However, giving your chickens banana peels is not always a good idea. Banana peels are often exposed to harsh chemicals, including pesticides. Your chickens could end up imbibing pesticides and herbicides when they eat a banana peel, which is why you need to be careful.

But why are banana peels good for chickens? They are loaded with energizing vitamins, like Vitamin B6 and B12. Plus, there is an extra dose of potassium and magnesium. The peel also has fiber, polyphenols, protein, and carotenoids — all of which are beneficial to chickens.

Still, banana peels aren’t the easiest thing to eat, so you are going to have to chop up the peels into manageable chunks if you want them to get the most benefit. 

Are Plantains Safe For Chickens?

Since plantains are related to bananas and often confused for them, let’s discuss if chickens can have them. Plantains are perfectly safe for chickens. Although more starchy than bananas and less sweet when green, plantains contain a lot of the same vitamins and minerals as bananas.

If you plan on giving plantains to your chickens, make sure the fruit is slightly ripe. You can also boil or bake the fruit to make it easier for your chickens to peck at and swallow. Interestingly, the leaves on the plantain plant are also edible. Chickens will get a good amount of vitamin A and C from the leaves.

Are Bananas Good For Chickens?

chickens flock eating banana

You now know that bananas are a delicacy for your chickens. The fruit is also healthy. Bananas are full of vitamins and nutrients that boost your chickens’ health immensely, including fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. Bananas also have a lot of sugar, so you need to be careful with how much you give your flock. That said, 400 mg of potassium in a single banana is tremendous (and will make the eggs taste so much better). Each chicken will definitely get a fair share if you portion the fruit for everyone to snag a bite or two.

Here are some benefits of feeding bananas to your chickens:

  • Hydrating and satisfying. Bananas contain 75% water, a gram of protein, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and 22.8 grams of carbohydrates, which includes fiber.
  • Vitamin B6. Supporting the nervous system, vitamin B6 is necessary in the production of norepinephrine and serotonin. Vitamin B6 also stimulates metabolism.
  • Vitamin B12. This vitamin is used for metabolic processes, skin health, nerve functioning, and protects the liver.
  • Potassium. Chickens are extremely active throughout the day. Potassium will keep their electrolytes balanced and help their muscles function properly, even when it is hot outside.
  • Magnesium. Birds need magnesium for heart health, energy, and bone development. Magnesium works alongside calcium and phosphorus to promote bone health and the prevention of osteoporosis later in life.

Any Risk of Chickens Eating Bananas?

Is there anything bad about bananas that you should know about? There is. See, bananas are a fruit that is very high in sugar, especially when they are ripe. At that point, any starches in the fruit have been converted into the sweet stuff, and that can pose a health risk to your flock.

There is also a chance that if you give your chickens too many sweet things, they might become addicted. Your flock won’t want to eat their chicken feed, which could end up with them malnourished.

Here are some other issues that could arise if you give your chickens too many bananas and peels:

General Unrest and Feather-Picking

Sometimes your chickens will start showing signs of anxiety when their diet is lacking in nutrients. You may notice a few more feathers on the floor of the coop than usual. Reassess how many bananas and other treats you have been giving your chickens. You may have to limit their sugar intake by cutting out fruits until your chickens calm down.

Reduced Egg Laying

If the season hasn’t changed but your hens are producing far less eggs than usual, it could mean they aren’t getting enough protein. Unfortunately, bananas have a lot of sugar (carbohydrates) but little to no protein. If you end up giving your chickens far more sugar than protein, you will find that they can’t develop eggs anymore.

Ensure your ladies are getting enough chicken feed and calcium.

Poor Quality Eggs

When your chickens do not have a nutritious diet, egg production falls off. When your chickens do drop a couple of eggs in the nesting box, though, the shells may be too thin to handle, or you could get double yolks.

How Often Should Chickens Eat Banana?

Sugary foods, even ones that are inherently healthy like bananas, should not make up more than 5% of a chicken’s diet. This means a couple of slices per chicken 2-3 times a week is enough for them. Alongside that 5% of banana in their diet, your flock should also be eating high quality chicken feed that is rich in protein and has access to fresh water.

Avoid giving your chickens under-ripe bananas, as there is too much fiber for them to digest. They will end up passing the banana without gaining much from it. That said, overly ripe bananas are also not the best. Remember, you should avoid giving your chicken too much sugar. If they overdo it with sugar, their bodies will have a hard time digesting anything else. They will miss out on important nutrients.

How to Prepare Bananas For Chickens

sliced banana

You don’t have to do a lot of work before giving your feathered friends their banana treat. Chickens can easily peel the banana on their own and devour the fruit inside without any issues. You can help them along by peeling the fruit and slicing it. Optionally, you could do what was mentioned above and boil an unpeeled banana. Give them the whole thing and watch your chickens get to work.

The main reason to give your chickens the peels is the additional fiber. You want your chickens to stay regular, after all.

So with that in mind, here are some fun ways to get your chickens to eat bananas (not that they need to be persuaded):

  • Slice the banana (peel and all) into circles and lightly coat in oats or laying feed. The natural stickiness of the banana will cause the grains or cereal to stick without any additional ingredients.
  • Make a banana smoothie and freeze it. Blend a banana along with other fruits and vegetables, such as mango, blueberries, grapes, cucumber, broccoli, or pumpkin. You can also add flax seeds to the mix. Put the pureed blend into ice cube molds, freeze, then serve on a hot day.
  • Suspend bananas from above with string. Simply tie a string around the stem of the banana and let it dangle in front of your chickens. They will be entertained, exercised, and fed all at once.
  • Toss pieces of banana peel in with their chicken feed for an additional supplement.
  • Make banana chips without oil (avoid store-bought ones that have been flavored or salted) and crumble those chips into a bird-friendly trail mix. This can include dried cranberries, organic cereal, cracked corn, layering feed, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

How to Prepare Banana Peels For Chickens

banana peels

As mentioned earlier, banana peels are a healthy treat for chickens. Though, you will have to do a little work to make them safer and easier to digest. Since banana peels often have pesticides or other chemicals on them, you want to remove that junk first. First, wash off the peels, just as you would any other fruit. You may want to dilute some vinegar with water and use that to remove any grime.

Next, you need to make the peels easier to peck and digest by boiling them. Boiling banana skins softens up the fibers inside, so you can cut or tear the peel into chunks. The recommended method is to boil an unpeeled banana, making both the peel and the fruit inside warm and gooey. Your chickens will love the mix of sweet and sour flavors.

Going Bananas

Can chickens eat bananas? They sure can! Bananas and the peels are both delectable snacks that your feathered friends are going to love. Just remember to feed your chickens any kind of sugary fruit in moderation — bananas included. Your chickens will love how delicious bananas are while enjoying wonderful health benefits.

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