Chickens on a farm can be like having a flock of small pigs in the backyard. They seem to eat everything and you can give them a lot of the scrap material from your kitchen. But what about some of the fall décor that often gets trashed? Can your chickens eat pumpkins?
Can Chickens Eat Pumpkins?
Yes! Chickens love pumpkins and they are a really good source of nutrients for your flock.
When you get ready to carve jack-o-lanterns this year, keep all of the ‘guts’ of the pumpkin. You can feed your chickens the stringy parts, the seeds (if you don’t eat them yourself!), the cut out parts and the scraping from the inside. Put all of this into a food pan and let your chickens go to town on it!
Once your jack-o-lantern has been on display, you’ll need to check your pumpkin to make sure that it’s still safe for your chickens to eat. Open it up and check the inside. If you see mold, it may be best for you to throw it out. If it looks clean and you don’t see mold, then it’s safe for your chickens to eat it. Small areas of mold can be cut off.
If you have a bunch of chickens, you might want to break the pumpkin up into pieces just to make sure that everyone has a chance to eat it. This will also prevent the pumpkin from folding or collapsing on itself, making sure that the chickens can get all of the good out of it. Your birds will eat the entire pumpkin, from the skin to the insides, leaving just the rough stump of the stem. If you have pumpkins that you set out for decoration and didn’t carve, you can cut these open and feed them to your chickens as well.
Are there any benefits of feeding pumpkins to chickens?
Not only will your chickens love to eat the pumpkin that you send them, but they will get some pretty awesome benefits from eating it. Pumpkins are full of nutrients that your chickens will crave.
Pumpkin flesh contains vitamin A and potassium. Vitamin A is found in abundance in pumpkins. This is awesome because it’s a nutrient that is commonly deficient in chicken nutrition. Vitamin A helps to support a healthy immune system. Pumpkins also contain potassium, which can help in chick development. If you hatch your own eggs, potassium should be fed to your hens a couple of weeks before hatching eggs are collected.
Pumpkin seeds contain vitamin E, zinc and potassium. Vitamin E is important for the immune system to function properly. It has also been shown to help heal chickens that are suffering from coccidiosis, E. coli and bronchitis. Chickens that lack vitamin E can develop wryneck. Zinc is important in the formation of the shell membrane, the paper thin membrane that is under the shell.
You may see articles on websites that mention that pumpkin is a natural dewormer for chickens. Backyard chickens generally don’t have issues with worms, and the science around this is a little gray. The research behind all of this has been performed with other species of livestock, not chickens. The studies do show that pumpkin can be an effective wormer for those species and the thought is that it can be for chickens as well. I wouldn’t recommend this as the treatment for wormy chickens, but it may help as a preventative.