Feeding leftover scraps to our chickens is a great way to prevent waste and provide a treat. But what about cucumbers? Are they suitable to offer and are there any benefits in doing so? This is what the research says!
So, can chickens eat cucumber? Chickens can eat cucumber, and generally enjoy doing so, although it should be fed infrequently and in moderation. Cucumber is mostly water and lacks any significant nutrition to be a staple for your flock, but it does provide some hydration and is easy for your chickens to eat so has its benefits now and again.
Despite being commonly used like a vegetable; the humble cucumber is actually a fruit. Who knew.
Its also considered to be very easy to grow if you fancy yourself as a horticulturist, or are looking to start. Besdies, it can be grow in the ground, via pots or in growing bags.
Failing this, cucumber is very versatile and cheap. It can be left in the fridge and fed to your chickens when you and your family are done with it, or if you fancy like picking a treat up for your birds during your weekly shop.
Let us now take a closer look at nutritional content and whether it can contribute to the health of your flock.
We will then be looking at how to offer it to your birds, and in what quantities, if you decide to do so.
Are Cucumbers Healthy For Chickens?
Cucumbers are considered healthy for chickens, being low in calories while providing some important nutrients and minerals.
Below are the main nutrients your typical cucumber provides:
Nutritional Content of Cucumber
|Vitamin K||16.4 µg|
|Vitamin C||2.8 mg|
As you can see, 100 grams of cucumber is almost 95% (95 grams) of water!
And adequate hydration is essential for your flock, especially in hot summer months or periods where they do not seem to be drinking as much as they need (remember it’s around 500 ml of water per day).
From there we can see that there is not too much energy, calories, in the form of either carbohydrate and/or fat.
So, the consumption of cucumber by your birds is unlikely to contribute to any weight gain. There’s just too little energy for it to be able to do so.
Then onto the vitamins and minerals.
The main ones of note include potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, manganese and vitamin A.
According to the research published on the MSD Veterinary Manual on the nutritional requirements for poultry, these all contribute to the healthy growth, development and for a range of bodily processes in these birds.
So, cucumbers are certainly healthy for chickens.
But, is there a limit?
There is, I’m afraid.
We will look at why in the next section.
How Many Cucumbers Should Chickens Eat?
Cucumbers are best included and considered as a treat in the diet of your chickens.
Thus, cucumbers should contribute (along with other treats) and not make up more than 5-10% of total energy intake.
In terms of specific serving sizes and feeding frequencies – this could be a whole cucumber for every 1-3 birds, 1-2x per week.
And here is why:
- Cucumber is not a complete food, missing important proteins, fats, and being low in certain important minerals such as calcium.
- Cucumber is very water-dense, and it can ‘fill-up’ your chickens, displacing other important foods in the diet.
The truth is, the basis of your flock’s diet should be their designated poultry feed. Whether this is pellets, mash, or crumble.
Of course, taking it one step further, this feed should be appropriate for the age, size and life stage of the chicken.
Chicks for instance should be fed different feed than layers.
However, the truth remains the same.
This feed should be the basis; its designed to be nutritionally complete and provide all that your birds need to thrive.
Cucumbers just cannot do this.
And, being high in water, if your chickens were to eat too much, it can start to lower their appetite and stop them from eating enough of the good stuff.
Malnutrition would be the worst-case scenario – but it’s certainly possible if not addressed in time.
How To Feed Cucumber To Chickens
Offering cucumber to your chickens is relatively simple and does not require much preparation. You can, however, decide to offer it whole, sliced, or hanging.
Either way, it comes strongly advised that you only offer your flock fresh cucumber – before it begins to go moldy or squishy.
If you are able to, organic cucumber is better yet to ensure that you are minimizing any exposure to pesticides or herbicides used while growing.
This is perhaps another reason to grow your own, if you can!
Otherwise, if an organic option is not available or affordable, just be sure to thoroughly wash the cucumber with cold water and perhaps leave it to soak in a bowl of fresh, plain water for a few minutes (disposing of the water after).
From there, you can do one of three things.
You can offer the cucumber whole to your birds. This is actually quite entertaining, as you watch your birds peck away until they get to the hydrating flesh inside.
You may even find your birds leave the skins – as a lot of chickens are not as enthusiastic about it.
You can also cut the cucumber up into halves and quarters, making it easier for your birds to access the insides.
Or, you can hang the cucumber from the coop/run. This is a great way to keep your birds interested and can also keep the cucumber from spoiling more quickly on the ground (which tends to happen fast in warm weather).
With whatever option you choose, just be sure to take away any leftovers soon after your birds have finished or loose interest.
You do not want this to attract any predators, such as rats, over to your birds!
Cucumber makes a great treat for chickens, being one of the more healthy scraps you could look to provide.
Better yet, many chicken keepers report that their flocks thoroughly enjoy them when provided, and little goes to waste!
What’s more, there are a variety of ways to serve cucumber, its easy to prepare and it is easily obtainable.
With all this being said, nutritionally, it is quite poor compared to other fruits and treats.
While it does provide some important vitamins and minerals, it is not as complete as other foods and it is in fact, mostly water.
So, 1-2 cucumbers for your flock a week will provide the benefits without the risk of malnutrition that could come from overprovision.
And just like any other treat or scrap; keep it to 10% of the diet and less.
A high quality and well formulated feed should always be the staple.
Can Chickens Eat Raw Cucumbers?
Chickens can eat raw cucumbers and in fact, this is perhaps the best way to feed them. They will naturally hold more water which can help to hydrate your flock. Just be sure they are sourced organic or properly washed prior to serving.