Chickens are omnivores, which means that they can eat both plants and animals for food.
Pretty much every chicken owner finds this out pretty fast when their birds are pecking around taking a bite out of just about everything, including scraps from the kitchen!
One of the best ways to treat your birds and reduce waste is to give them leftover veggies from your own garden or dinner table. How about green peppers? Can chickens eat them?
Yes, chickens can eat green peppers or bell peppers. In fact, these peppers are a good source of vitamins and a fair source of minerals, including a massive amount of vitamin C, vitamin B6 and manganese. However, chickens should not eat any other part of the pepper plant as they contain toxic solanine.
Chickens tend to love getting fresh fruits and veggies as a tasty, refreshing snack and green peppers are no different.
You should be cautious, however, as other parts of the plant aside from the seeds and flesh contain toxins that can hurt your birds.
But with a little care this is a minor concern, and we will tell you everything you need to know in the rest of this article.
Nutritional Profile of Green Peppers
Bell peppers are a good source of nutrition, particularly vitamins and some minerals.
Bell peppers contain a massive amount of vitamin C, a good amount of vitamin B6 and a little bit of every other vitamin.
They are not a great source of minerals but do contain a fair amount of manganese. Bell peppers are also mostly water, making them a healthy and hydrating low-calorie veggie.
Health Benefits of Green Peppers for Chickens
Bell peppers are a refreshing and healthy supplement or treat for your chickens. The high water content helps keep your flock hydrated in hot or dry weather and the vitamins and minerals are good for their overall health.
In particular, bell peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C. Chickens need this vitamin to stay healthy, but they can produce it themselves and don’t really need it from their diet.
Vitamin C is important for many metabolic processes, helps with wound healing, and can even help prevent some diseases.
Vitamin B6 is another important vitamin found in bell peppers. This vitamin is needed for many different biochemical reactions in the chicken’s body, including metabolism and the production of hemoglobin.
Manganese is a mineral found in small amounts in bell peppers. It is an important cofactor for many enzymes, helping them to function properly. This mineral is also important for metabolism, bone growth, and antioxidant activity.
Can Chickens Eat Raw Green Peppers?
Yes, chickens can eat raw green peppers. In fact, they are more likely to eat them if they are fresh, crisp and crunchy.
Can Chickens Eat Green Pepper Skins?
They sure can. Green pepper skins are completely safe for your chickens. Keep in mind that smaller birds might struggle with a tougher pepper or individual birds just might not like the skin.
Can Chickens Eat Green Pepper Seeds?
Yes, they can, contrary to popular belief. Green pepper seeds are not poisonous to chickens and won’t hurt them.
Caution: Green Pepper Plants, Leaves and Stems are Toxic
Chickens can eat every part of the green pepper itself, rather they can eat all the flesh and the seeds, but they must not eat any other part of the plant, including the stems, branches and leaves.
These parts of the plant contain a toxin called solanine which can make your chickens sick.
Depending on the concentration of solanine in a specific part, it might only take a little for your birds to experience serious harm.
You must always remove the stem of the pepper and keep chickens away from any of your own pepper plants.
Signs of Solanine Poisoning in Chickens
The symptoms of solanine poisoning in chickens are vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weakness and tremors. If you think your chicken has eaten something toxic, take them to the vet right away.
There is no specific antidote for solanine poisoning, so there is nothing you can do up front, and all treatment will be supportive. Do not try to induce vomiting.
Can Chickens Eat Cooked Green Peppers?
Your chickens can also enjoy cooked green peppers. If you are cooking them for your own dinner, you can just toss the leftovers out to your flock.
Cooked peppers will not have as many vitamins and minerals as raw peppers (they lose some during cooking), but they are still a healthy treat for your chickens.
Never Serve Green Peppers Cooked with Harmful Ingredients to Chickens
If you are cooking green peppers for your own dinner or giving your chickens leftovers, never add any ingredients that could be harmful to your chickens.
This includes butter, oils, salt, sugar and other spices. These ingredients are all safe for humans, but they can make chickens very sick, or at the least cause significant weight gain due to excess calories.
Can Chickens Eat Other Colors of Peppers?
Yes, chickens can have yellow, orange and red bell peppers just like the green ones, and most of the time the color difference is just due to ripeness.
These peppers have all the same nutrients as green peppers, just in different amounts. For example, red bell peppers have more vitamin A than green peppers.
Beware of Pesticides on Grocery-bought Green Peppers
If you are feeding your chickens bell peppers that you have bought from the grocery store, make sure to wash them thoroughly.
These peppers are often sprayed with pesticides that can be harmful to your chickens.
The good news is that bell peppers do not absorb as many of these residues as some other fruits and veggies, so a thorough wash is adequate for safety.
If in doubt, you can buy organic varieties or just peel the peppers. If you grow your own peppers, you don’t have to worry about this as long as you don’t use any harmful chemicals on your plants.
How Often Can Chickens Have Green Peppers?
Chickens can have green peppers a couple of times a week as part of a complete and well-rounded diet.
They are a healthy, low-calorie, hydrating treat that your chickens will love. As with all treats, green peppers should only make up a small part of your chicken’s diet.
The vast majority of their calories (90%+/-) should come from a good quality chicken feed.
Preparing Green Peppers for your Flock
The best way to give your chickens green peppers is to leave them raw and slice them up into small pieces.
This way, they are easy for your birds to eat and you can be sure that they are getting all the nutritional benefits. You can feed them raw or cooked peppers but always remove the stem first.
Alternately, for larger birds, you can cut the pepper into quarters or even in half and let them peck at it for a little challenge. Sometimes giving your bird an interesting snack is good for their mental health, too!
Can Baby Chicks Have Green Peppers?
Chicks can have green peppers, but you should wait until they are at least 4-6 weeks old.
When they are first born, their digestive system is not fully developed and they are not able to process certain foods as well as an adult bird.
Once they are a few weeks old, you can start slowly introducing new foods like green peppers into their diet.
Keep in mind that chicks will need tiny pieces of pepper to swallow, as they may choke otherwise.
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.