Chickens can enjoy a vast variety of fruits and vegetables in their diet. For a chicken keeper, introducing new treats can be a fun and enjoyable experience. For your chickens, the benefit is much the same. Fruits, in particular, make for tasty and nutritious treats that chickens adore. But can they safely enjoy plums? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll answer whether chickens can eat plums, cover the benefits of including them in your chickens’ diet, and even how to serve them. Let’s get started.
What Are Plums?
Plums are small, round, or oval-shaped fruits with a smooth skin that can range in color from red and purple to yellow and green, depending on the variety. These fruits typically contain a single, large pit or stone at the center, which should be removed before consuming the flesh. They are part of the Prunus genus in the Rosaceae family, which also includes cherries, apricots, and almonds. Plums are known for their sweet and juicy flesh, making them a popular fruit for consumption both fresh and in various culinary applications, such as jams, jellies, and desserts.
Can Chickens Eat Plums?
Yes, chickens can eat plums. More specifically, they can eat the flesh of a plum. The juiciness and texture of plums make them a highly sought after treat among chicken flocks. Plus, plums are packed with vitamins and nutrients that chickens need.
Can Chickens Eat Plum Pits?
While plums themselves offer a range of health benefits, their pits are inedible and potentially harmful to chickens. Plum pits contain a substance called amygdalin, which, when ingested, can break down into cyanide. Cyanide is toxic to both humans and animals, and even in small quantities, it can cause digestive problems in chickens. In larger amounts, it can lead to serious health issues or even death.
Therefore, it’s crucial to remove the pit before offering plums to your chickens. Because chickens are natural foragers, they might be tempted to peck at the plum seeds if they encounter them. To avoid any health risks, ensure that the pits are discarded properly.
Can Chickens Have Dried Plums?
Although dried plums — also known as prunes — may be a favorite among the elderly population, they are not always the best choice for your feathered friends. Chickens can and will eat prunes when the dried fruit is available. That said, prunes are loaded with sugar. Because chickens should only have a small amount of sugar in their diet, it is highly recommended that you avoid giving them too many prunes or simply stick to fresh fruit.
Are Plums Healthy and Safe for Chickens?
Yes, plums are very healthy for chickens. While you will have to cut away any trace of the pit, the flesh is healthy and safe. These juicy fruits also come with an array of benefits that promote overall well-being in your feathered friends. Here is a look at some of the nutrients and minerals plums contain and how they benefit your flock:
- Vitamin A: Necessary for the proper function of mucus-producing glands in chickens, including those in the nose, esophagus, and inner eyelid.
- Vitamin K: A deficiency in vitamin K can affect a chicken’s blood coagulation, making it difficult to stop bleeding in case of injury.
- Sorbitol: Studies have shown that sorbitol can lower cholesterol levels in chickens, making it a valuable addition to their diet, especially for broiler hens bred for meat.
- Potassium: This mineral plays a role in egg production and helps reduce heat stress in hot weather.
- Calcium: Vital for laying hens to produce eggs, calcium ensures the longevity of egg-laying capabilities. Lack of calcium can lead to a cessation of egg production in your hens.
- Folate: Necessary for normal feather and skeletal growth and the prevention of anemia in chickens.
Aside from being loaded with vitamins, here are some other things plums contain:
Plums are rich in antioxidants, such as vitamin C and other phytonutrients. Antioxidants are essential for your chickens’ general health because they help combat harmful free radicals in their bodies. These free radicals can damage cells and lead to various diseases. By including plums in their diet, you provide your chickens with a natural defense mechanism to ward off these health threats.
An interesting research finding suggests that plums offer immune-enhancing properties specific to chickens. When plums are included in a chicken’s diet, it may help prevent coccidiosis, a parasitic condition that affects a chicken’s intestinal tract. This makes plums not only a tasty treat but also a proactive way to maintain your flock’s health.
Plums are rich in dietary fiber, which plays a crucial role in promoting digestive health in chickens. Chickens can sometimes struggle with irregular bowel movements and even constipation, which can be uncomfortable and potentially harmful. The fiber content in plums aids in maintaining regularity in their digestion.
How Should You Feed Plums to Your Chickens?
Feeding plums to your chickens is straightforward and requires some basic preparation:
- Wash and Prepare: Begin by thoroughly washing the plums, removing any dirt or potential pesticide residue. Even though chickens can eat the skin of a plum, it’s a good practice to wash them to ensure their safety.
- Pit Removal: Once the plums are clean, remove the pit. The pit is firm, inedible, and potentially toxic due to its amygdalin content. Discard the pit properly to prevent your chickens from accessing it.
- Slice or Dice: To make the plums easier for chickens to consume and reduce the risk of choking, cut them into smaller pieces or cubes using a knife.
- Serving Methods: You can serve plums to your chickens in various ways. You may choose to toss the plum pieces to them directly, place them in a tray or feeder, or combine plums with other fruits for a delightful mix. Mixing plums with fruits like strawberries, blueberries, and apples adds variety to their diet and provides a broader range of nutrients.
- Frozen Plum Treats: On hot summer days, consider offering frozen plum slices to your chickens. Just like humans enjoy ice cream to cool down, chickens will relish frozen plums as a refreshing treat.
How Much and How Often Can Chickens Have Plums?
While plums are a healthy treat to add to your chickens’ diet, it is also an indulgence. Be sure to only give treats — all treats — in moderation. Chickens have specific dietary needs, and so their main source of nutrition should come from high-quality commercial feed.
As a general guideline, treats, plums included, should not make up more than 10% of a chicken’s daily caloric intake. Therefore, you can offer plums to your chickens in small amounts, up to twice a week.
Remember, chickens, like people, enjoy indulging in delicious food. However, overindulgence can lead to various problems, including a decrease in egg production, feather pecking, cannibalism, or even a decline in overall health. To maintain a balanced diet for your chickens, it’s essential to adhere to these guidelines and treat them to plums in moderation.
At the end, you can watch in the video below how the owner of the henhouse prepares his flock with plums from his hands.
Final Thoughts on Chickens Eating Plums
To answer the question, “Can chickens eat plums?” — That would be a resounding yes. However, that yes comes with caveats. Plums, packed with nutrients and antioxidants, can be a delightful addition to your chickens’ diet. They offer a range of health benefits, from strengthening the immune system to promoting digestive health. However, always remember to remove the pit before offering plums to your chickens, and feed them in moderation to ensure a balanced diet.
By following these guidelines, you can treat your chickens to the sweet taste of plums while ensuring their continued health and happiness. So go ahead, spoil your flock with this tasty and nutritious snack, and watch your chickens peck away in delight.
Valerie has been content writing since 2016 for websites and companies all around the world. A traveler, dancer, martial artist, Valerie loves gathering experiences and wisdom. Her travels have taken her to over 20 countries, and she hopes to see more of the world soon.