Can Chickens Eat Cantaloupe? [Nutrition & Concerns]

If you are raising chickens in the backyard, you probably have some questions about what they can and can’t eat. Chances are you have seen your flock already pecking at whatever they can find. So what would happen if you plopped a cantaloupe in front of them? Can chickens even eat cantaloupe? Turns out that melons are incredibly healthy for your feathered friends and can be used as a supplement to their normal feed.

What makes cantaloupe so amazing? Let’s find out.

cantaloupe

Can Chickens Eat Cantaloupe?

To answer the first question: Yes, chickens can consume cantaloupe safely. Now, cantaloupe may be a foreign name to some readers, as the melon has many names around the globe. You may have heard it also called rock melon, musk melon, Persian melon, or mush melon, depending on where you are from. Related to cantaloupe are cucumbers, honeydew melons, and watermelons — all of which are good for chickens.

Cantaloupe has a soft orange interior, greenish rind, and white-on-green netted skin, making it a striking fruit. There are also a variety of cantaloupes out there, including European, Asian, and the Charentais. Each one is slightly different in size, texture, and flavor, but they are all edible by a chicken’s standards.

The next time you bring home a couple of cantaloupe during the summertime, don’t forget to give a sliver or several to your backyard hens. They will thank you for it!

Can Chickens Eat Cantaloupe Seeds?

Yes, the seeds of a cantaloupe are safe for chickens to consume. You don’t have to worry about any adverse effects like you would if they ate apple seeds. Cantaloupe seeds do tend to be a little tough and probably don’t taste too great, so your chickens may not go for them automatically.

What About Chickens Eating Cantaloupe Rind and Skin?

Yes, the rind and skin are both safe for chickens to eat. You do not have to shave the fruit away from the rind before serving it. Unlike avocados, which have toxins in the skin and pit, cantaloupes are safe throughout. That said, the rind and skin are both a bit too hard for your chickens to eat. They may decide that the rind is their least favorite part and focus on the flesh instead.

Will Chickens Eat Cantaloupe Vines or Leaves?

melon vine leaves with bud

Being that the vines and leaves of the cantaloupe plant have little to no nutritional value or flavor, it is highly unlikely chickens will ever peck at them. If they do get curious and take a nibble, rest easy. There are no toxins on the plant that would make your flock ill. You still shouldn’t let your chickens traipse through the garden, though. Any chemicals — herbicides or pesticides — that were used on the fruits and vegetables could make them sick on contact.


What’s Good About Cantaloupe For Chickens?

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has called cantaloupes a “nutritionally dense” fruit that is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that balances out the high sugar content. Here is what is inside a cantaloupe that benefits your chickens:

Water

In a 100 gram serving of cantaloupe, about 90 g of it is pure water. This means that cantaloupe is a nourishing fruit that can protect your chickens from dehydration. The presence of sodium (16 mg) and potassium, as well as sugar, also helps balance out electrolytes. Chickens need water and electrolytes, especially in the summer, to support their high activity throughout the day.

Fiber

Fiber is crucial to the development of a digestive tract in younger chickens as well as supporting regular bowel movements in adults. Chickens can sometimes become constipated, but the water, fiber, and electrolytes in cantaloupe can make constipation and diarrhea easier to deal with.

Calcium

Want better quality eggs? Feed your chickens cantaloupe. 100 grams of cantaloupe contains a whopping 9 grams of calcium. Chickens cannot live without calcium. Not only does the nutrient assist with bone growth and development, it also is needed for egg production. If your egg-laying hens are not getting enough calcium, you may notice that their eggs are softer and more fragile.

Cantaloupe can help end calcium deficiency in your flock and get your hens laying eggs more often.

Beta Carotene

cockerel and red pullet background

Although not as important as some other vitamins and nutrients on this list, beta carotene is necessary. Chickens use beta carotene to color their beaks, skin, feathers, combs, and even egg shells. Beta carotene also works as an antioxidant.

Folate

One of the nutrients that is vital to chickens but hard to come by is folate. Even regular chicken feed lacks the folate required, often leading to folate deficiency. You want to amend this issue as soon as you can. A lack of folate can lead to anemia and poor growth. Folate is also needed for feather growth and skin health. Without it, your chickens are going to be scrawny and disheveled. Thankfully, cantaloupe is a natural source of folate.

Potassium

Similar to bananas when it comes to potassium, cantaloupes are great for warding off dehydration and empowering the body during physical activity. Even chickens benefit from potassium regulating their body temperature and balancing the other electrolytes. Potassium also contributes to the water level in the body, as well as cell and metabolic functions.

Vitamin A

Known for preserving eye health, vitamin A is also essential to chickens. The amount of vitamin A present in cantaloupe can boost cell division and recovery and growth. Respiratory and skin health also improve when chickens are not lacking in vitamin A. Without this vitamin, your flock’s overall immunity will be dampened, and they may contract illnesses like conjunctivitis.

Vitamin C

Why do chickens need vitamin C? For their immune system and collagen synthesis. For starters, vitamin C contributes to a strong defense against disease. But it also contributes to stronger bones and tissue. Chickens are capable of making their own vitamin C, but when life gets stressful, they will often need more.

If a chicken looks like they are under the weather, cut them up a few pieces of cantaloupe. 

Other Antioxidants

Aside from the listed vitamins and minerals, cantaloupes also contain flavonoids and polyphenols. These antioxidants are overwhelmingly beneficial. As anti-inflammatory compounds, both flavonoids and polyphenols work to fight off free radicals, repair damaged tissues, and fight off infection. Your chickens will be more robust, and their feathers will have a natural luster.

Cantaloupe also contains trace amounts of vitamin K, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and manganese. All of these benefit your flock in some way, so make sure they are getting enough of each vitamin and mineral.

How to Prepare Cantaloupe For Your Chickens

As you know, chickens can eat cantaloupe. But that doesn’t mean you have to leave a whole melon in the yard and expect them to devour it. Your chickens are going to need a little bit of help getting to the meat of the cantaloupe. Purchase cantaloupes that are fresh, preferably organic. That guarantees that no harmful chemicals were used on the outside of the fruit that could potentially harm your flock. Wash off the exterior with water and a little vinegar to remove any bacteria.

When feeding your chickens cantaloupe, make sure it is no more than 10% of their diet. Treats should never outweigh their high quality feed.

With that in mind, here is how you prepare a cantaloupe for your chickens:

Cut Into Pieces

Once your melons are washed, cut them down into slivers. Then start cutting cubes of flesh off the rind and putting it into a bowl. You don’t have to worry about removing all of the rind or getting rid of the seeds, as every part of the cantaloupe is edible. Your chickens will love pecking at the juicy fruit and seeds on their own time. Serve the chunks on a platter or in a shallow dish.

Fruit Salad

Cantaloupe doesn’t have to be served alone. You can make a fruit salad using other safe fruits, such as cherries, apples, and blueberries. These can be frozen or fresh. Cantaloupe can also be paired with leafy greens and grains. Just keep in mind that the fruit is juicy, so anything that could soak up the juice and go bad should be avoided, such as fluffy bread.

Frozen Cantaloupe Chunks

Want to help your chickens beat the summer heat? Freeze up the cubes that you cut from the rind. You can also pulse the cantaloupe along with other fruits and vegetables, making a smoothie. Put the fruit into ice cube molds then wait for it to freeze. Chickens don’t mind pecking at ice, especially when it’s infused with delicious melon.

Cantaloupe Discs

cantaloupe melon slices

If you don’t feel like doing a lot of work to give your chickens cantaloupe, do this. Cut the fruit into discs and do not remove the rind. Hollow out the center of the disc then loop a string or rope through. Secure the disc with a knot then hang the fruit from somewhere within reach of your chickens. Not only does hanging fruit keep it from getting covered in grime from the ground, but it’s also more entertaining for your chickens as they eat. You can make discs with a variety of fruits, including watermelon, apples, and pineapple.

Cantaloupe Seeds and Yogurt

No food needs to be wasted when you have chickens. That includes the cantaloupe seeds that you don’t want to eat. Dry out the seeds then put them into a food processor or grind them down with a mortar and pestle. Add those crushed seeds to some unsweetened yogurt. Your chickens will love the combination. Try adding in cantaloupe flesh, as well as other fruits and vegetables.

Your chickens might think they have died and gone to Paradise.

Final Thoughts on Cantaloupe For Chicken

For chickens, most fruits are perfectly safe. So can chickens eat cantaloupe? They certainly can. Chickens love all kinds of melon, including cantaloupe, and they get a lot of hydration and nutritional benefits from the fruit. As with all treats, cantaloupe should only be given in moderation. Too much of a good thing is never great in the end for your flock. Feed them cantaloupe sparingly and watch them thrive.

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