We all know the jingle: an apple a day keeps the doctor away. But can an apple a day keep the vet away?
Our chickens can eat pretty much all of the same fruits and veggies that we can, with a few exceptions.
It makes sense that they should be able to eat this most popular of fruits. But can they? Can chickens eat apples?
Yes, chickens can eat apples. Apples are a great source of micronutrients, and they provide many benefits such as boosting the immune system, improving digestion. Chickens should never be fed apple seeds, though.
If you have plenty of surplus apples or just want to give your flock a sweet treat, you can do so without fear.
But, as with most fruits and vegetables, there are some guidelines you should follow to make sure your chickens get the most out of them and avoid any bad side effects.
We will tell you everything you need to know in the rest of this article.
Nutritional Profile of Apples
Apples are a good source of fiber, a variety of vitamins, and minerals. Apples are a particularly good source of vitamin C, which is important for immune function, and potassium.
Apples also contain small amounts of other vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, folate, and magnesium.
Overall, apples are a well-rounded and nutritious fruit that can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet for chickens.
Health Benefits of Feeding Apples to Chickens
There are many health benefits associated with feeding apples to chickens. First, apples are a good source of fiber, which is important for proper digestion. Fiber helps to keep the digestive system functioning properly and can help prevent issues like loose stools.
Apples are also a good source of vitamin C, which is an important nutrient for chickens. Vitamin C helps to boost the immune system and can help chickens fight off disease and improve wound healing.
Apples also contain a variety of other vitamins and minerals that are important for chickens, such as calcium, iron, and magnesium.
These nutrients are important for growth, development, and overall health, particularly of the skeleton. In addition to vitamin C, apples also contain other antioxidants.
These nutrients help to protect cells from damage and can help improve overall health by preventing disease.
Can Chickens Eat Raw Apples?
Chickens can eat raw apples with no problem. In fact, raw apples are a great treat for chickens and offer more health benefits and better health benefits compared to cooked or processed apples.
Beware of Pesticides on Store-bought Apples
One thing to be aware of if you are feeding store-bought apples to your chickens is the possibility of pesticides.
Pesticide chemicals that are used to kill pests can be harmful to chickens if they consume them, and many common commercial pesticides exhibit significant bio-accumulation over time.
To avoid this, try to buy organic apples or wash the apples thoroughly before giving them to your chickens.
A thorough wash and scrub or a short soak in warm water with a few splashes of vinegar is a good way to remove any residue on your apples. You can also peel the apples, as the pesticide residue is often concentrated in the skin.
Can Chickens Eat Cooked Apples?
Chickens can eat cooked apples, but they are not as good for them as raw apples. Cooking apples break down some of the nutrients, including fiber, which is important for proper digestion.
In addition, cooking can also make apples much moister, and that can lead to crop issues. If you do feed cooked apples to your chickens, do so sparingly.
Never Give Apples Cooked with Harmful Ingredients to Chickens!
You should never feed apples that were cooked with any harmful ingredients to your chickens, e.g. salt, sugar, butter, oils, etc.
Pie spices like cinnamon are actually safe, but the excess fat and calories found in other common ingredients can cause major health problems for your birds, or serious weight gain at best.
Can Chickens Eat Canned Apples?
No. Chickens should not eat canned apples. Canned apples are often cooked with sugar and other sweeteners, which can be harmful to chickens or highly fattening at best.
In addition, the canning process itself can destroy many of the nutrients in apples.
Can Chickens Eat Apple Skins?
Yes, chickens can eat apple skins with no ill-effects, though many chickens don’t seem to like them.
The skin of the apple is a good source of fiber and nutrients, so if your chickens eat them, they will get some extra nutrition.
However, as mentioned above if you are concerned about pesticide residue, discard the peels or wash the apples before giving them to your chickens.
Can Chickens Eat Apple Seeds?
No! Apple seeds contain cyanide, which is poisonous to chickens (and humans). Do not let your chickens eat apple seeds as they are far more sensitive to it than people are.
Symptoms of cyanide poisoning in chickens include difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, change in comb color, and seizures.
If not treated quickly, cyanide poisoning can be fatal. To avoid this potentially fatal condition, it is important to keep your chickens from ingesting apple seeds.
It is imperative that you carefully and thoroughly remove the seeds from any apples you are going to give your chickens.
Can Chickens Eat Apple Cores?
Yes, though it is unlikely they will enjoy them. Larger chickens might make a point of pecking them apart, however.
The cores of apples are not as nutritious as the flesh and skin, but they are still safe for chickens to eat.
How Often Can Chickens Have Apples?
You can serve your chickens apples 1 or 2 times a week so long as it is part of a balanced diet.
Most experts recommend that you should not feed your chickens more than 10% of their total diet as fruit; too much can cause diarrhea. Remember that your chickens should eat mostly dry food and their chicken feed in particular!
If you want to give your chickens apples more often, cut back on other products and especially high-sugar fruits.
Preparing Apples to Give to Your Chickens
The best way to feed apples to chickens is to cut them into small pieces or slices. This will make it easier for chickens to eat them and will help prevent choking.
As mentioned, be sure to remove all seeds and discard them. If leaving the peels on, wash thoroughly before cutting and serving.
Can Baby Chicks Have Apples?
Yes, but they will need their apples cut up into smaller pieces. You can start feeding chicks apples as early as 6 weeks old.
Just be sure to cut them up into small, bite-sized pieces, and don’t forget to remove those seeds; chicks are highly vulnerable to cyanide!
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.