Chickens are notoriously greedy and will eat almost anything. The question naturally follows what is actually safe and healthy to feed them? What about bananas where do these stand? I decided to conduct some research into the topic which I would like to share with you today. Knowing the important of diet to any pet, this will ensure your chickens live a long, happy and healthy life.
So, can chickens eat bananas? Chickens can eat bananas and it is among the safest fruits they can eat. However, bananas should be fed in moderation and should never be fed instead of, or in replace of, their natural and nutritious diet.
Chickens enjoy eating a diverse range of fruits, vegetables, protein, and whole-grains. You can even give them the leftover scraps from your cooking. However, some foods are toxic for them and should never be provided so you do need to be careful.
Let us now explore the topic further looking at why bananas are safe to eat and some other diet considerations that you need to be aware of.
Chickens And Bananas
Bananas, like any treat should be offered to chickens in moderation, they love fruit but it should only make up a small percentage of their main diet.
As stated above, bananas are a safe and popular fruit for a chicken to consume, the potassium present in bananas is good for them and will improve the quality and taste of their eggs. Hens especially love the taste of overly-ripe bananas, because they are sweet.
However, the banana peel may be unsuitable to give to them, mainly because there could be chemicals present on the peel such as insecticides that could make your chicken very sick. It will also affect the quality and disposition of their eggs.
Some chicken keepers feed their chickens small amounts of banana peel, with no harm done. If you do wish to offer banana peel, the best way to prepare it is to boil it until it’s tender, mash it, and then offer it to your bird. Also be sure to opt for organic bananas when and where possible.
Many would say to avoid peels due to the chemicals but banana peel is loaded with nutrients that are beneficial to the health of your chicken, it’s a shame to discard it altogether.
Let’s look at a list of these wonderful nutrients found within the banana itself, and its peel:
- Potassium – this provides muscle strength, assists in the metabolic process, and facilitates the electrolyte function
- Magnesium – this increases energy, promotes a healthy heart, and better sleep
- Vitamin B6 – this benefits the nervous system. It is used to make norepinephrine and serotonin, making life happy for chickens
- Vitamin B12 – B vitamins promote nerve function, help to increase energy, promotes healthy eyes, skin and liver
With all of this being said, there is a down-side to feeding bananas to chickens; they have a high sugar content. Most birds, including chickens, able to process sugar very well well.
Bananas are no substitute for a nutritionally balanced feed, and chickens should obtain most of their dietary requirements from dry food.
So, in summary, you can feed bananas to chickens but only infrequently and in small amounts at a time.
What Fruit Can Chickens Eat?
Now that we have established that chickens can eat bananas, the next question is – what fruit, beside bananas, can chickens eat?
There is a wide range of fruits that are safe and nutritious for a chicken to consume. Let’s look at what some of these are:
- Apples (sliced or chopped without their seeds)
This is just a small list of the fruits that chickens can eat. It’s good for them to be able to enjoy a variety of fruits and keep their diet interesting and healthy.
Some fruits and plants are toxic to chickens such as:
- All citrus fruits,
- Apple seeds,
- Green potatoes,
- Potato leaves,
- Rhubarb leaves and
- Tomato leaves
These foods should never be provided, even in small and limited quantities.
How Much Fruit Should Chickens Eat?
The average chicken eats less than a cup of feed per day. If the chicken feed is complete and nutritionally balanced, treats should really make up no more than 5% of their diet.
Specifically, this means two tablespoons of treats a week – fruit should be offered according to that limit.
Many fruits have a high sugar content that could be difficult for a chicken to absorb, if given in excess. Fruit with a higher fiber content makes an ideal treat as it slows the metabolism of sugar down and helps them to process it.
Certain fruits have a higher sugar content ratio to fiber, like grapes, so are less preferable and are the best fruit to feed in excess.
Fruit does have a lot to offer in terms of nutrition, but should never exceed the main feed. You must follow the instructions with the chicken/poultry feed and give the correct portion amounts because obesity is a serious problem.
Obese chickens are over-sized often because they are overfed coupled with being confined to coops that don’t provide sufficient room for hens to run and get the exercise that they need.
A mature hen should not continue to put on weight, if she does this will be stored as fat in the liver and abdomen.
The Dangers Of Obesity
Obesity can lead to health issues such as infertility, over-sized eggs which can cause peritonitis, and multiple-yoked eggs. However, the two most common obesity-related causes of death are – fatty liver hemorrhage syndrome (FLHS) and heatstroke.
FLHS occurs when an excess of fat builds up in the liver and the liver becomes fragile and splits from the weight. This can cause the bird to die from heavy bleeding. During egg-laying, the smallest impact to the chest of a hen with FLHS can cause serious internal bleeding, which can be fatal.
Heatstroke is another real threat to an obese hen, the excess fat on her abdomen obstructs her ability to breath properly. As chickens rely on respiration to regulate their body temperature, when they can’t breathe properly, they will die of heatstroke in minutes.
There are only two ways for a chicken to combat obesity, and that is a healthy diet and lots of exercise. You must weigh them as this is the only way to know how treats are negatively affecting their health. Adult hens should maintain the same weight throughout their lives, any change in their weight is a clear indication that something is wrong – losing weight is equally problematic to gaining weight.
You must feed your chicken a balanced diet If you decide to create your own mix, you must be precise with your calculations. Feeding them on pasture is ideal; they can self regulate and obtain their protein from insects and bugs, this is the most natural diet for chickens.
Don’t be tempted to over-feed your hen during winter, it’s understandable that you would want your hen to be well-fed and warm, but it’s doing more harm than good. Even during the cold season, chickens still need a healthy diet and plenty of exercise.
Chickens can eat bananas. It is a nice way to treat them every now and again and you’ll be improving the variety and nutrition of their diet simultaneously.
Just be sure that you are not overfeeding them, this is true for any fruit for that matter. The best staple for chickens is a premium feed, suitable for the current stage of your chickens in their life-cycle.
There are some very highly regarded brands on Amazon if you are looking for a premium brand of feed and source of regular nutrition for your chickens.