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Can Chickens Eat Oranges? Orange Peels?

chickens eat grain and grass
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Have you ever thought about giving your chickens oranges or orange peels? Chickens enjoy a tasty snack once in a while; and since they are omnivores, they tend to eat just about anything. However, you should always be cautious about the food you give your chickens and know what’s toxic or not. So, with that in mind, can chickens eat oranges? What about orange peels?

Let’s find out.

Can Chickens Eat Oranges?

Yes, you can give your chickens oranges. Chickens will peck at oranges and eat a few pieces. However, chickens are the biggest fans of oranges and might not eat a whole lot of it. Still, if you’re going to give your flock some oranges, make sure you are cutting the fruit up into small pieces and mix the oranges in with other kinds of food. It’s best to experiment with a tiny bit of oranges first before giving a larger portion.

Can Chickens Eat Orange Peels?

orange peels
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There are some foods, like avocado and avocado peel, that chickens should never eat. It makes sense that you would be wary about giving your chickens orange peels without checking if it’s safe first. The good news is that orange peel is perfectly safe for your chickens to eat. The bad news is that, just like oranges, your flock might not be interested.

One thing you should know is that some people believe that the citric acid present in the peel is bad for a chicken’s digestive tract. Others say that the acid is beneficial. Because of this, you should give only a small amount to your chickens first. Don’t go overboard.

And if they hate the orange peels? Well, at least they can play with it. Chickens will enjoy kicking at the peels. Just remember to clean up any unused portion of food in the evening, so predators don’t come sniffing around.

Are Oranges Safe For Chickens to Eat?

There is a bunch of conflicting information about what you should and shouldn’t give your chickens. As long as you know which foods are toxic to chickens, anything else is fair game.

Oranges aren’t toxic to chickens when given to them in moderation. Chickens won’t be tempted to eat a lot of oranges, because they don’t like many citrus fruits. Again, it is always best to give your chickens only a small amount of oranges for starters.

The only downside to giving chickens oranges or oranges peels is that both can be tough for your flock to eat. Orange peel is especially difficult to swallow, so make sure the pieces are tiny enough.

How Much Oranges Are Safe For Chickens to Eat?

chickens graze on the meadow
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As you may already know, chickens can create their own vitamin C. That means you don’t have to worry about giving them vitamin C supplements. In fact, too much vitamin C may cause adverse effects in chickens, such as them pulling out their feathers. Vitamin C overload can also lead to disruptions in calcium absorption. In turn, any eggs laid will have soft or shell-less eggs.

However, a moderate amount of citrus fruit won’t be any trouble. How much is a moderate amount? About 1 to 1.5 sections of orange diced up.

This means small pieces mixed in with other scraps for a healthy spectrum of vitamins and nutrients. If you’re giving chickens oranges, avoid other fruits and vegetables that have a large quantity of vitamin C.

Nutritional Benefits of Oranges for Chickens

So you have decided to add oranges to a bucket of chicken feed or scraps. Watch how your chickens react to the fruit. You might find that they will go crazy for everything in their treat except for the oranges. That’s not to say that oranges are unhealthy for chickens. It’s just that oranges aren’t their favorite.

Still, oranges do provide a number of nutritional benefits that could give your chickens a boost. Oranges contain a small amount of vitamins A and B6, calcium, magnesium, folate and potassium. These brightly colored fruits also have a great amount of fiber, which is beneficial to gut bacteria. Even chickens sometimes need help with their digestive system, after all.

While chickens probably don’t care about getting antioxidants, oranges also contain anti-inflammatory compounds. These compounds, along with the vitamins and minerals in oranges, can combat food-borne illnesses that affect chickens.

How to Feed Oranges to Your Chickens

Although it was mentioned earlier, you only want to give your chickens a small amount of orange peel or oranges. Chickens don’t have teeth to bite into oranges like humans do, so the fruit and peel is difficult for them to peck at and swallow. You should chop or mince up oranges then mix those small pieces in with other foods that your chickens enjoy.

The other option is tossing larger pieces of peel into the yard for your chickens to peck at throughout the day. This can be a wonderful way for your chickens to reduce their boredom, since they can peck and kick at the orange peels. Keep in mind that, if you do decide to give your chickens the orange peel, you should always wash it first. Orange peels may have harmful pesticide residue on it.

Other Fruits to Give Your Chickens

Chickens don’t necessarily love citrus like humans do. In fact, a good number of the flock will probably turn their beaks up at oranges and orange peels. When you throw oranges into the yard, chickens will naturally run over out of curiosity; however, you will soon watch them strut away, disappointed.

So don’t feel like you have to give your chickens oranges. Since they don’t need the vitamin C, you can always choose other fruits to offer as a treat. Here are some other fruits that chickens prefer over oranges:

  • Grapes
  • Strawberries
  • Apples (just not the seeds)
  • Bananas and banana peels
  • Blueberries
  • Pineapple
  • Cherries
  • Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Pears
  • Peaches
chickens eating watermelon
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Final Thoughts

If you have leftover oranges or orange peels sitting in the scrap bucket, feel free to give them to your chickens. While not all birds are going to enjoy the taste of citrus fruits, oranges do have some nutritional benefits. In the event that your flock does give the oranges and orange peels a peck, such fruit is a completely safe snack and won’t do them any harm.