If you own a flock of chickens, then you will naturally wonder what other kinds of foods that they can eat outside of their pelleted feed. But what about cantaloupe? Is this specific type of melon safe to offer, healthy or even something in which you can look to provide? I spent some time researching the suitability of this food in the diet of chickens and will be sharing my findings here with you today.
So, can chickens eat cantaloupe? Chickens can eat cantaloupes, in a variety of different ways, and they typically enjoy eating this type of melon. There are many benefits in feeding cantaloupes; they offer a range of nutrients including Vitamins C and A and minerals such as Potassium and Calcium, and provide good amounts of fiber and antioxidants. The rind, seeds and flesh are all edible and all can be provided.
Cantaloupe is a great, versatile food for chickens. You can offer it to your birds whole, which can turn the feeding into an enjoyable experience for your birds as they peck away.
Otherwise, cutting it up into small and more manageable chunks is another approach to getting this healthy treat into your birds die.
With all this being said; chickens should consume most of their food from their designated pelleted feed. This should make up the bulk of their diet, as it provides all the nutrition they ever need.
Cantaloupes, like many other treats, are best served in moderation and fed in a variety of different ways. Equally, mixing up the fruits, vegetables and other treats is a good way to keep the diet interesting for your birds and to ensure they obtain as much nutrition as they can get.
Let us now take a closer look at the suitability of this fruit in your flocks diet. We will be running through the nutrients on offer, how to feed them and other great fruits you should consider. So, be sure to read to the end to get all the information you need!
- 1 Are Cantaloupes Healthy For Chickens
- 2 How To Feed Cantaloupes To Chickens
- 3 Other Great Fruits For Chickens
- 4 Finally
Are Cantaloupes Healthy For Chickens
Cantaloupes are a very healthy treat for chickens. They are low in calories (energy), low in fat and relatively low in carbohydrates too when compared to some other high sugar fruits.
In fact, when you look at the nutritional breakdown of this melon, you notice that it is mostly water. Of course, water is essential to the hydration of your birds and foods high in water can ensure that they meet their requirements (especially in warmer temperatures and hotter climates).
Let us now take a closer look at the specific vitamins and minerals found in Cantaloupes, before we turn to how these support the health of your flock.
Cantaloupe Nutritional Information
|Vitamin C||25 mg|
|Vitamin A||117 µg|
As you can see, even in a relatively small serving size (1 medium sized wedge), there are plenty of different vitamins and minerals available.
Below, we will take a closer look at the main ones and why they should be provided in your flocks diet.
Good Amounts Of Calcium
Cantaloupe is high in a number of minerals, with perhaps the most important one being calcium.
Calcium plays a crucial role in the health of all chickens; irregardless of their age, although it is extra beneficial to egg-laying hens.
Calcium is what is used to make strong eggshells; and broken or weak shells are often an indicator that a chicken has insufficient calcium intake in the diet.
For all chickens, calcium supports strong bone health along with bone formation. It also plays a crucial role in a number of associated with cellular functions.
Good Amounts Of Potassium
Potassium is another integral mineral, playing a key role in a number of metabolic and cell functions.
In particular, potassium works closely and enables the effective use of water. Its essential for maintaining proper electrolyte balance. So, it can help these birds regulate their body temperatures.
Beyond this, potassium is known to support heart health and helps lower the risk of heart disease.
High Vitamin C
Vitamin C plays a key role in collagen synthesis; which is essential for these birds to support healthy joints, and the repair and maintencence of cells.
Vitamin C also plays a very important role in healthy immune function and resistance to bacteria and infections.
Good Amounts of Folate
Folate is a B-vitamin that is relatively hard to come by in the diet. It comes as no surprise to learn that folate deficiency is common in these birds.
Nevertheless, its vital that chickens get enough of it as it plays a key role in blood formation, along with healthy growth of the body and of their feathers.
High In Antioxidants
Cantaloupe is rich in a number of antioxidants including beta carotene, flavonoids, and polyphenols.
These compounds help fight and repair damage caused by free radicals. Oxidative damage results in many health problems, and it accelerates the aging process.
Antioxidants are ant-inflammatory and serve the body in a number of ways (both in chickens and humans). The lowering of blood pressure and protection of the heart have been observed in individuals with a higher intake.
For your flock, antioxidants can support the development and maintencence of body tissues; including both their skin and feathers.
Good Amounts Of Fiber
Fiber is important, but only in appropriate amounts.
Cantaloupe has a fair amount of fiber; which supports the digestive system of chickens and a healthy, regular, digestive tract.
At the same time, it is not too high in fiber that it can lead to constipation, blockages or any other issues associated with an abnormally high intake.
How To Feed Cantaloupes To Chickens
Chickens are not particularly fussy eaters, and tend to attempt to eat food whenever they come across it, find it, or when it is provided for them.
This is great news for us chicken keepers, especially when it comes to cantaloupes as all of the fruit can be safely consumed by your flock!
The flesh is generally the most wholesome and tastiest part; it contains the highest amount of water and is easiest for your birds to eat.
The seeds can also be fed, and chickens are able to safely digest them.
The rind (outer shell and layer) is of course the least appetizing, and is mostly fibrous. Chickens usually attempt to eat it but will only eat a small amount as it is generally filling. This should be expected.
With all this being said, you will want to prepare cantaloupes in advance, to ensure that they are not carrying any harmful pesticides, herbicides, chemicals or debris that you do not want your birds ingesting.
If preferable, organic options should always be sought out. This is true for all fruits and vegetables for your chickens – especially if you are looking to offer the rind (which will naturally carry most of these harmful substances).
If you cannot seek out, nor afford, organic options, then you may want to not offer the rind at all. Ultimately, it depends on where your cantaloupes have been sourced and your attitude towards exposing your birds to potentially harmful substances.
Nevertheless, with some washing in advance, you can reduce or minimize their exposure. This is of course, the first step in offering this fruit:
Prepare The Cantaloupe
Before serving any cantaloupe to your birds, begin by washing and scrubbing the melon thoroughly.
You can do so with clean water.
Cutting In Half
The most simple and one of the most effective ways to offer this fruit is to simply cut it in half, thirds or quarters.
You can then place the melon in your chickens coop and let them peck at and eat it as and when required/desired.
Just be sure that you do not leave any uneaten melon out for too long as it can begin to rot. this will not only cause bacteria to start collecting but can also attract unwanted visitors, like rodents to your birds.
Dice And Offer Chunks
Another option is to dice and cut the cantaloupe into chunks ahead of time. This is an effective way of managing portion sizes.
Begin by removing the rind with a knife, before cutting the fruit into small cubes. You can then either refrigerate and serve later, or offer them straight away.
If you do decide to refrigerate, consider that you should look to feed it to your birds within 1-2 days. Any longer than this and you risk bacteria developing which can cause illness in your birds.
When offering the chunks, you can either do so as a standalone treat or mix them into other foods, like their pelleted feed.
Providing treats in this way is an effective strategy and approach for keeping your birds interested in their food.
Offer The Seeds
If you want to offer the seeds, perhaps the best way to do so is to dry them first. In doing so, you make them much easier for your birds to consume.
You can mix the seeds into other foods, or even into their main pelleted feed for a nutritional boost.
Offer The Rind
You may or may not want to do this and your chickens may not even have a taste for it, but you can offer the rind.
Again, you cut this up into smaller pieces, or offer it whole. Your birds may peck at it and eat as much as they desire.
Consider that some of the rind will be likely left and will need removing.
Other Great Fruits For Chickens
Chickens generally enjoy a range of different fruits, and many like cantaloupe, can provide a range of vitamins, minerals and nutrients to support their health.
Equally, fruits can be used to provide variety and enjoyment in the diet – especially in birds that are sick or those that are going off their regular pelleted feed.
Let us look at some of the best fruits to consider offering your birds:
- Watermelon and other melon varieties
Cantaloupes make a great addition to the diets of chickens; offering a more rounded, nutritionally balanced and varied source of energy.
That being said, cantaloupes should be offered as treats and as an addition to the diet. They should never displace your flocks regular feed, but are ideal to offer in moderation.
As a general rule of thumb, fruit (including cantaloupe) should make up a total of 5% of your birds total food intake. Whether you offer this in small quantities each day, or a once per week treat is ultimately up to you.
Never offer too much in any one serving, as this can lead to digestive upset and even diarrhea. A couple of wedges typically should suffice.
One final consideration is ensuring as they are fresh. If you notice them beginning to rot, or changing color, then it is best to discard of them. Bacteria and pathogens can develop and these can cause issues with your birds at the expense of any benefits.
Nevertheless, cantaloupes are generally safe for your chickens, and many keepers report that their birds love to consume these melons when they are provided.
You can offer the flesh, the seeds or even the rind! They are very versatile, nutritious and widely available. So, for these reasons, make them an excellent treat for your birds.