One of the great things about having chickens is that they can consume a variety of kitchen scraps that you generally don’t use when cooking. As such, you may be wondering if all those pumpkin guts you just scooped out of your jack-o-lantern are also OK for your chickens to consume. Can you give your chickens pumpkin and pumpkin seeds? Yes, you can, and there are plenty of benefits to doing so! Keep reading to learn more about pumpkins and where they fit in your flock’s dietary needs.
What is Pumpkin?
Pumpkin is a type of winter squash that belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. It is a large, round or oval-shaped fruit with a thick, orange or yellowish skin, and a hollow center filled with seeds and pulp. The interior is sometimes referred to as the “guts.” Growing pumpkins is also relatively easy, which is why you may have some in your yard.
Pumpkins are commonly used in cooking and baking, particularly during the fall and winter months when they are in season. They are often used to make pies, soups, stews, and other dishes.
Can Chickens Eat Pumpkin?
Yes, you can feed pumpkin to chickens! The flesh of the pumpkin is perfectly safe and healthy. Your chickens can eat a little bit of pumpkin in moderation and will love you for it. That said, it is worth noting that while pumpkin flesh is safe for chickens to eat, the stem, leaves, and vines of the pumpkin plant are not safe and should not be fed to chickens. These parts of the plant contain toxins that can be harmful to chickens.
Furthermore, you should never give your chickens pumpkin that has started to decay or show signs of mold growth. This is potentially harmful and could end up making your entire flock very ill. Fresh pumpkin guts only!
Can Chickens Eat Pumpkin Seeds?
Just like the flesh and pulp of the pumpkin, the seeds are also safe for fully grown adult chickens to consume. Pumpkin seeds are just as healthy as the rest of the pumpkin. Too much pumpkin can cause stomach problems. Otherwise, this is an enjoyable snack that can be given to your chickens a number of ways.
Just remember to give your chickens only a handful of pumpkin seeds — no more than 10% of their daily diet.
Can Baby Chicks Eat Pumpkin and Pumpkin Seeds?
Newborn chicks should only ever be given their starter feed. Once your baby chicks are a few weeks old and ready for more food to be added to their diet, you can try a small morsel of pumpkin on them. Baby chicks have sensitive digestive systems, and it’s important to introduce new foods gradually to avoid digestive upset. You can chop up the pumpkin into small pieces or break up roasted pumpkin seeds as a treat. Be sure the pieces are easy enough for the chicks to swallow. Anything too large could end up getting lodged in their throats. You may want to hold off on the seeds until your chicks have grown a little larger.
Are There Benefits to Giving Pumpkin to Chickens?
Pumpkin is a nutritious and tasty treat that can offer many benefits to chickens. As a winter squash, pumpkins are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals that can help support the health and well-being of your feathered friends. Here are some of the key benefits of feeding pumpkin to your chickens.
Boosts Immune System
Pumpkin is a rich source of vitamin A, which is essential for a strong immune system. Vitamin A helps to maintain the health of the mucous membranes in the respiratory, digestive, and urinary tracts, which can help to prevent infections and other illnesses. Since chickens are often prone to respiratory issues, providing them with more vitamin A is an wise decision.
Promotes Digestive Health
Being that pumpkin is exceptionally high in fiber, it can be useful in promoting healthy digestion in chickens. The fiber in pumpkin can help to regulate bowel movements and prevent constipation, which is a common problem in chickens. Additionally, pumpkin contains enzymes that can help to break down proteins and aid in healthy digestion.
Provides Essential Vitamins and Minerals
Pumpkin is a rich source of many important vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, and iron. These nutrients are essential for maintaining good health in chickens, and can help to prevent deficiencies that can lead to illness or poor performance. Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of protein, healthy fats, and minerals like zinc and selenium.
Supports Egg Production
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein and healthy fats, which can help to support egg production in chickens. Additionally, the high levels of vitamins and minerals in pumpkin can help to ensure that eggs are of good quality, with strong shells and healthy yolks.
Helps with Molting
Molting is a natural process that chickens go through where they shed their old feathers and grow new ones. During this time, chickens can become stressed and may experience a decrease in egg production. Feeding pumpkin to your chickens during molting can help to support their health and well-being, as well as promote healthy feather growth.
Feeding pumpkin to your chickens can provide them with an enjoyable and nutritious treat, as well as a source of environmental enrichment. Chickens enjoy pecking and scratching at the flesh and seeds of the pumpkin, which can help to prevent boredom and stress.
How to Feed Pumpkin to Your Chickens
It’s important to note that you should always feed your chickens pumpkin and pumpkin seeds in moderation. Your chickens should not be given pumpkin every day or in excess. Too much can lead to digestive upset, and the seeds should be offered as a treat rather than a staple in their diet.
You have a number of options when it comes to feeding pumpkin to your chickens. Raw pulp and flesh with the strings of seeds is perfectly fine. You can also boil or roast up the pumpkin, cut it into tiny pieces, and serve it that way.
Raw or roasted, pumpkin seeds are also a wonderful addition. If you plan on roasting the pumpkin seeds, do not add any seasoning. Feel free to scatter the seeds around the chicken run or toss into their chicken feed with other dried seeds, fruits, and vegetables.
Another option is to puree the pumpkin. Pour the puree into ice cube trays then freeze them. On hot summer days, your chickens will enjoy this cooling treat!
Keep in mind that any pumpkin that does not get eaten will have to be cleaned up by the end of the day. Otherwise, the enticing smell of pumpkin or pumpkin seeds could attract a variety of pests and predators to the yard.
Final Thoughts on Pumpkin for Chickens
Overall, including pumpkin and pumpkin seeds in your chicken’s diet can provide them with important nutrients and help keep them healthy. Pumpkins and pumpkin seeds contain vitamin A, zinc, selenium, and much more. Plus, pumpkins are easy to prepare. Your chickens will thank you for this delicious snack and may start clucking for more! Just remember that moderation is key!
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.