As the keeper of a thriving, happy flock, you are always on the lookout for tasty, healthy snacks for your chickens. Looking at all the fruits and vegetables chickens can eat, you may ask, “Can chickens eat tomatoes?” Chickens, as you know, will peck at just about anything. Turns out, they will absolutely love eating tomatoes in moderation.
Here is what you need to know about feeding tomatoes to chickens.
Can Chickens Eat Tomatoes?
In small amounts, tomatoes are perfectly safe.
However, you should never, ever feed chickens green, unripe tomatoes or the leaves of a tomato plant. While most chickens are smart and won’t touch the stems and leaves, there are some curious members who might take a nibble. The leaves of the tomato plant are poisonous, as tomatoes are part of the nightshade family.
Tripe, red tomatoes, on the other hand, can be given to chickens. Tomato seeds are also okay for chickens to peck at and swallow. You don’t have to worry about removing them.
The only chickens that shouldn’t eat tomato chunks are young chicks. Baby chicks need to be at least a few weeks old before trying any solid food. Once a chicken is about a year old, they can be given anything safe.
How Many Tomatoes Can a Chicken Eat?
Along with a varied and colorful diet, you can give your chickens tomatoes once or twice a week. Don’t go overboard with these fruits. Serve up a quarter or half a tomato for each chicken.
Since tomatoes have a high amount of sugar for chickens, you don’t want to give them too many throughout the week. The sugar could overwhelm their bodies. For that reason, tomatoes shouldn’t be paired with other fruits on the day you feed them to your flock.
If you want to blend other fruits and vegetables in with your flock’s treats, make sure you are limiting the quantity. For example, if you want to feed the chickens some apples and tomatoes, reduce the amount of each by half.
The Health Benefits of Tomatoes For Chickens
Although tomatoes should not be a staple in your chicken’s diet, they do provide vitamins and minerals that are essential to good health. Tomatoes are made up about 95% water, and they are rich in carbohydrates and fiber. The three kinds of fiber in tomatoes — cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin — assist with your chicken’s digestion.
Here are some other health benefits of tomatoes:
- Vitamin C – boosts your flock’s immune system and works as an antioxidant
- Vitamin K1 – plays a role in the bone health of your chickens; vitamin K also protects chickens from coccidiosis
- Folate (Vitamin B9) – promotes cell and tissue growth for healthier chicks; folate also stimulates red blood cell production
- Potassium – an essential nutrient for optional functioning in both humans and birds
- Lycopene – a powerful antioxidant
- Naringenin – an anti-inflammatory that protects your chickens from disease and inflammation
- Beta-carotene – converted to vitamin A when consumed
Additionally, tomatoes can help enrich eggs, making them higher quality. If you want eggs that are delicious and nutritious, give your chickens tomatoes throughout the week. It’s a small tweak to their diet that you won’t regret.
What Parts of a Tomato Can a Chicken Eat?
As mentioned earlier, there are some parts of a tomato that a chicken shouldn’t eat. Why can’t chicken have the leaves, flowers, and stalks of a tomato, you ask? Because these parts contain a compound called solanine, which is poisonous. Fortunately, most chickens know instinctively to avoid sources of solanine.
When a tomato is ripe and raw, it is safe for chickens to eat. Make sure that the tomato has been fully ripened and has no green parts in it. Green tomatoes should never be given to any animal, including chickens. Raw tomatoes are easy to feed to chickens, as well. You may even notice that any tomato that drops naturally from the vine will get pecked.
Tomato Sauce and Paste
Yes, tomato sauce and paste is safe. However, you should avoid sauces that contain ingredients that aren’t safe for your flock, such as garlic and onion. You can put the tomato sauce on bread crusts. The only downside to tomato sauce is that many chickens don’t like it.
How To Give Tomato to Chicken
Giving tomatoes to chickens is easy. You can use tomatoes as a treat on their own, or you can add it to a smorgasbord of food scraps. Make sure that the tomatoes make up no more than 5% of the treat, however. Since tomatoes are very high in sugars, going overboard with the tomato could lead to weight gain.
Here are some tips for giving your chickens tomato:
- Do not spoil your chickens. Use tomatoes only as a treat and do so infrequently. Otherwise, your chickens might stop eating their normal food.
- Feed only in moderation. Too many tomatoes in a chicken’s diet could lead up to harmful chemicals in their body.
- Cut up to tomato into small chunks and feed it to your chickens that way. Small amounts only.
- Use tomatoes a few times a week — no more than 3 times a week.
- You can give your chickens slightly more tomato (and food in general) in the wintertime when it is cold. Chickens will want to eat more to generate more body heat.
Can Chickens Get Diarrhea From Tomatoes?
One of the reasons why feeding tomatoes to chickens in moderation can’t be repeated enough is this: they get sick. Chicken poo is already watery enough. When you overfeed your chickens with a watery fruit, such as a tomato or watermelon, they could end up getting diarrhea. Keep in mind that, while most animals survive from a little stomach upset, chickens can die from too much diarrhea.
If you notice any changes in your flock’s excrement, make sure to evaluate the food they are eating. Reduce their intake of watery fruits and vegetables.
Final Thoughts on Tomatoes for Chickens
Can chickens eat tomatoes? You bet! Tomatoes are a wonderfully healthy fruit for your chickens. Not only do tomatoes have numerous health benefits, they are also incredibly tasty. The only thing to keep in mind is how many tomatoes your flock eats and the quality. Don’t give raw tomatoes to your chickens, and don’t use the fruits all of the time! Include tomatoes as a treat only.
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.