If you own chickens and like to feed them scraps, you may be wondering about apples. Where do these fall? (no pun intended). Can you safely feed this fruit to your chickens and will they benefit by consuming them? What about the core and the seeds which are often cited as being a source of potentially dangerous components?
So, can chickens eat apples? Chickens can eat apples and generally enjoy doing so. With that said, apples should only be offered as a treat and not exceed their main poultry feed. The seeds should also be removed before serving as they contain cyanide which can be fatal if consumed in excess. Cutting up the apple is also advised to prevent choking.
While it is appealing to just throw some apples down to your birds, this is not a recommended nor great idea.
Instead, carefully preparing them into bite-size slices is one of the best things you can do.
Let us explore the topic further so keep reading to find out exactly how to feed apples successfully and appropriately to your birds.
Do Chickens Like Apples?
Chickens generally enjoy eating apples. However, preferences can vary from chicken to chicken, and some might enjoy apples more than others.
The only way to find out is to offer apple and see how your flock respond!
Are Apples Good For Chickens?
Apples are good for chickens when given in moderation. They are high in vitamins A and C, which can boost the chickens’ immune system. The fiber in apples aids digestion.
Apples are very low in protein, but they do contain minerals, vitamins, pectin, and amino acids, and you can serve apples to your hens in a variety of exciting ways:
They Can Help Combat Disease
Apples, packed with Vitamin C, strengthen chickens’ disease resistance, notably during heat or stress situations.
They Can Help Lower Cholesterol
Apple peels, loaded with antioxidants, can lower bad cholesterol (LDL) in chickens, potentially influencing the cholesterol content of their eggs.
They Can Improve Gut Health
Apple pulp, rich in antioxidants and fiber, optimizes chicken’s bowel health by boosting intestinal nutrient absorption.
They Can Strengthen Immunity
Abundant in apples, pectin has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, enhancing chickens’ immune system and preventing obesity-related health issues.
How Do You Prepare Apples For Chickens?
To prepare apples for chickens, first wash them thoroughly to remove pesticides.
Next, core the apples to remove seeds, which contain cyanide.
Finally, cut the apple into small, manageable pieces.
These can be given directly to the chickens or mixed in with their regular feed as a treat.
How Much Apple Can Chickens Eat?
Apples should be given as a treat, not as a staple in a chicken’s diet. A small amount, like a few slices or a quarter of an apple per chicken once or twice a week, is usually sufficient.
When feeding apple, offer only small pieces at a time.
If you notice your birds are not attempting to eat it or enjoying it, stop offering it and leave it out of their diet.
You cannot force your birds to like apples if they don’t, it will just be a waste.
Also be sure to clean up any left apple or any other uneaten food from the coop regularly and as soon as possible.
This can be a major source of rats which you really do not want in and around your chickens.
How To Offer Your Chickens Apple
Offer Chopped Slices
You can chop or slice apples with or without the skin. Some hen keepers like to combine them with other foods.
Create A Garland
Among the creative ways to serve apples to your hens are to string apples with thread along with other foods like popcorn, cranberries, raisins, and watermelon, etc. to create a garland.
Hang The Apple
You could hang the apples on the chicken run, where your hens will enjoy pecking at them from where they hang.
Make sure that you remove the string, as soon as the birds finish eating, as it could be a potential choking hazard.
Some keepers get very fancy and offer stuffed apples to their chickens; you could stuff them with peanut butter and or dried fruit, but make sure you remove the core and the seeds.
Can Chickens Eat Apple Peels?
Chickens can safely eat apple peels, though it is typically best to cut them up first. They are nutritious and typically well-liked by chickens. However, remember to wash the apple peels thoroughly to remove any pesticides before feeding them to your chickens (or choose organic).
That being said, you may notice that your birds neglect apple peel, or even apples with the peel still on.
This will take some experimentation on your part; see what your birds like and go from there.
Can Chickens Eat Apple Cores?
Chickens can eat apple cores, but be cautious. Apple seeds contain cyanide, which can be harmful to chickens in large amounts. It’s generally safer to remove the seeds before feeding apple cores to chickens. Equally large cores can present a chocking hazard.
You may be able to feed apple cores, but be careful:
- The seeds contain cyanide – which in excess can kill your hens through poisoning
- Apple cores are difficult to break down by chickens and can end up getting stuck in your chickens throat. Leading to choking and other issues.
If you really wanted to offer the core, you would need to break it down and make it more manageable to consume.
You’d also want to remove all seeds.
So for the most part and in the interest of time, when you are offering apples to your birds, its better not to include the core.
Some chicken keepers will tell you that their hens eat every bit of apple (seeds and all) with no consequences.
However, that’s a decision only you can take.
Let’s look at what cyanide is and how its deadly effect on chickens.
Why Is Cyanide Dangerous To Chickens?
Cyanide is a fast-acting, lethal chemical, and it is highly toxic to chickens.
Cyanide stops cells in the body from using oxygen when this happens, cells die. When cyanide is combined with iron, it can block cellular respiration.
Many foods contain cyanide glycosides such as apple seeds, white clover, johnsongrass, arrowgrass, sudangrass, peach pits, elderberry, cherry, and almond trees. Cyanide poisoning can cause death within minutes.
Signs Of Cyanide Poisoning In Hens
Hens that die from cyanide poisoning have bright red, oxygenated blood, and have blood-filled body tissues.
Hens will die within 30 minutes of ingesting the toxic chemical in lethal doses.
Clinical signs include:
- Difficulty breathing,
- Blue to purple colored comb,
- Sudden death.
Treatment For Cyanide Poisoning In Hens
Specific antidotes, along with supportive veterinary care, is the way to treat cyanide poisoning.
For the remedy to work, it must be given before irreversible cell damage has occurred, within minutes of exposure. Intravenous amyl and sodium nitrate are administered to treat cyanide poisoning.
Prevention is always better than treatment. If you are intentional about avoiding cyanide poisoning among your flock, you will need to prevent the feeding of seeds of particular fruits to your chickens. These include the seeds of: apples, cherries, apricots, peaches and/or pears. Other foods include almonds.
As much as chickens love to forage, you must make sure that they are not foraging among plants that accumulate cyanide.
Chickens certainly can eat apples, even the peel.
You may feel like not giving your chickens apples because the seeds are so toxic.
But as long as you’re careful to avoid offering the core and seeds, apples are a delicious snack.
As well as giving apples to your hens, offer fruits such as berries, melons, and bananas are widely enjoyed.
Vegetables should include leafy and non-leafy greens, carrots, cucumbers, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.
You can offer your chickens bread (in moderation) grains like cooked rice and wheat; oatmeal is also a tasty treat.
As chickens are omnivores, be sure to offer them some cooked meat as well.
When it comes to treats variety is vital, enjoy being creative with food, but do be careful what you give them.
Personally, my birds love to mealworms that I get from Amazon. I suggest you give them a try!
Can chickens eat raw apples?
Chickens can eat raw apples, so long as you remove the seeds before offering.
Can chickens eat apples with skin?
Chickens can eat apples with skin. The skin contains beneficial antioxidants. However, make sure to wash the apples thoroughly to remove any pesticides, if not organic.
Wondering what else chickens can eat? Check out my comprehensive guide below:
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.