Most chicken owners already know what adventurous eaters their beloved birds are. From fruits and seeds to bugs and seemingly everything in between, there is precious little that chickens won’t chow down on.
In fact, chickens can safely eat things that some people will struggle with. How about the roiling heat of a jalapeno pepper? Can chickens eat jalapenos?
Yes, chickens can safely eat jalapeno peppers, but no other part of the plant that they grow on. Chickens do not perceive the heat of the pepper the same way that people do, and will enjoy eating them. Jalapenos are also jam-packed with important vitamins and minerals that will help chickens stay healthy.
You might be sweating already just thinking about eating a whole, raw jalapeno, but your chickens won’t have that problem.
Jalapenos are a healthy snack or treat for your chickens and can serve as a well-rounded part of their diet so long as you are cautious to not overfeed them and to keep them from getting at other parts of the plant, which are toxic.
We will tell you everything you need to know about feeding jalapenos to your chickens in the rest of this article.
Nutritional Profile of Jalapenos
Jalapenos are usually thought of as a great way to spice up a given dish, but these tiny, potent peppers are actually nutritional powerhouses.
Jalapenos are absolutely packed with vitamins, including a phenomenal amount of vitamin C, and an abundance of vitamins B6, E, and K. Vitamin A, B3, and folate are also present in good amounts.
Considering minerals, jalapenos seem to fall somewhat short compared to the vitamin payload, but nonetheless can prove quite healthy for your birds.
Potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and calcium are all present in small but meaningful amounts.
Health Benefits of Feeding Jalapenos to Chickens
Jalapenos are an exciting snack for your birds, but definitely not junk food. These peppers can actually contribute to the health of your chickens in a few ways.
The high concentrations of vitamins and minerals will help keep your birds’ immune system functioning properly, ward off sickness and disease, and promote healthy bones, cellular regeneration, and feather quality.
Another perk for jalapenos: the capsaicin in jalapenos has been shown to have antibacterial properties, which means it can help keep germs at bay.
Can Chickens Eat Raw Jalapenos?
Yes, chickens may eat raw jalapenos and this is generally the best way to serve them.
The vast majority of fruits and vegetables start to lose some nutritional benefits when they are cooked as vitamins and some minerals are destroyed or displaced during the cooking process.
So long as they’re eating just the flesh of the pepper and everything within, they won’t have any problems. Make sure you see the cautionary segment below concerning the rest of the plant though.
Can Chickens Eat Jalapeno Seeds?
Yes, chickens may eat the jalapeno seeds that are the source of much of its heat for human beings. Chickens love all sorts of seeds and nuts, and these are no exception.
Can Chickens Eat Jalapeno Skins?
Absolutely. There is nothing in the skin of the jalapeno that is harmful for the birds.
Do keep in mind that tougher peppers and smaller or old, infirm birds might struggle to puncture the skin or they might just not prefer it. In any case, you can peel your jalapenos or leave the skins on.
Aren’t Jalapenos Too Spicy for Chickens?
This is something of a surprise to many chicken owners. Most of us have had an unfortunate run-in with a spicy pepper or some other spicy food that is entirely too potent for our delicate palates.
The scorching heat and eye-watering pain is something of a defense mechanism for these peppers, and functions by protecting them from the interest of mammals, like us!
The compound that is responsible for the simulated but entirely real feeling heat is called capsaicin. Capsaicin is the same ingredient found in pepper spray that gives the stuff its name.
The greater the concentration of capsaicin, the more intense the burn and the worse the pain for any mammal that ingests it.
However, chickens don’t have the same nerve structure or capsaicin receptors as human beings or other mammals.
This means that when they munch on an emerald jalapeno, all they get to do is enjoy the sweet juiciness while being spared the pain. Must be nice!
At any rate, you don’t have to worry about your chickens ingesting too much hot stuff for this reason.
Caution: Other Parts of the Jalapeno Plant are Toxic to Chickens
The chickens are immune to the effects of capsaicin, there are definitely not immune to the toxic compounds that are present in all parts of the jalapeno plant itself.
Aside from the flesh, skin, and seeds of the pepper, all other parts contain solanine, a compound poisonous to chickens and other animals.
This includes the roots, stem of the pepper, branches, and leaves of the plant. Never, ever serve these parts to your chickens, or allow them to get at the plants where your jalapenos are growing.
Pay particular attention when preparing jalapenos for your chickens that you remove all parts of the stem from the pepper itself.
Can Chickens Eat Cooked Jalapenos?
Yes, jalapenos may be served cooked to your chickens. As mentioned above, this will deplete the nutritional profile a little bit. Gentle cooking may soften up peppers while preserving more of the vitamins and minerals.
Don’t Feed Your Chickens Jalapenos Cooked with Any Harmful Ingredients
If you are serving your chickens cooked jalapenos, or leftover jalapenos from your dinner table, you must not give them any that were prepared with harmful ingredients.
Salt, sugar, oils and extremely fatty or caloric foods like bacon, cream cheese, sour cream and the like will have negative health effects for your birds or at best promote serious weight gain.
Beware of Pesticides on Grocery-Bought Jalapenos
Much of our modern, grocery-bought produce has been heavily treated from inception to packaging with pesticides and other chemicals intended to preserve it until it gets to market.
Many of these chemicals are harmful for people, and many more compose serious health hazards to your birds.
If you purchase jalapenos from the grocery with the intention of serving them to your chickens, make it a point to thoroughly wash them before preparing in order to remove these pesticide residues.
If at all possible, purchase organic jalapenos that are free from these pesticides and other chemicals.
How Often Can Chickens Have Jalapenos?
Your chickens can have jalapenos fairly often as part of a well-rounded diet.
Jalapenos are definitely good for them, no doubt about it, but your chickens should be subsisting primarily upon chicken feed and not fresh produce no matter how good it is.
Generally speaking, you want anywhere from 10 to 20% of your flocks total calorie intake coming from supplementary foods while the remaining 80 to 90% is in the form of a nutritionally complete chicken feed that is appropriate to their stage of life.
Overdoing it on the additional food can lead to malnutrition and other unwanted health effects.
Preparing Jalapenos for Your Flock
Is easy to prepare jalapenos for your flock. The best way to serve them, as mentioned previously, is raw.
First things first, make sure you remove the stem completely as you don’t want your birds eating that.
Next, you can cut the pepper in half before chopping it into chunks, or dice it into small, bite-sized pieces that your chickens can swallow whole.
These pieces can be placed in a dish, given to them with their other food, or scattered around the run to give them something to hunt for.
Also, again as mentioned you don’t need to worry about the seeds as your chickens can eat them with no problems.
Can Baby Chicks Have Jalapenos?
Jalapenos are a healthy option for supplementing the diets of baby chicks, but you’ll want to wait for them to get a little bit older before serving it to them, around 6 weeks.
These young birds are growing quickly, but their digestive systems need to develop a little bit before they are ready for many kinds of fresh produce.
When they do get old enough, make sure you chop up the jalapenos finally if you want them to have bite-size tidbits, or choose the softest peppers before splitting them open and seeding them so the chicks can take tiny bites of the flesh.
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.