If you own chickens, you probably already know that they can eat all sorts of fruits and vegetables. But how about one of the largest fruits around? Can your chickens eat watermelons?
Yes, chickens can eat watermelons safely. Although they contain only a fair complement of vitamins and minerals, watermelons are highly hydrating and generally nutritious when served to your chickens as a snack or supplement.
You might be happy to find out that one of the very best summertime treats around will be enjoyed just as much by your birds as it will be by you and your family.
That being said, like most produce you’ll want to serve watermelon to your flock in moderation.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know.
Nutritional Profile of Watermelon
Watermelons are generally healthy, but their most standout nutritional benefit is that they are mostly water, averaging 91% water by weight.
That being said, they do contain a meaningful amount of vitamins and minerals, and although they represent a small required amount for humans, they are more significant for chickens.
Watermelons contain vitamin A equivalent, beta carotene, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, and B6, choline, and vitamin C.
|– Dietary Fiber||0.4g|
|Vitamin A, RAE||28µg|
They also contain a little bit of magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, iron, calcium, and zinc.
Health Benefits of Watermelon for Chickens
The best benefit of watermelons for chickens, aside from giving them an interesting and tasty snack as part of a balanced diet, is the hydration they will provide.
On a hot, dry day watermelons can help rehydrate your chickens and keep their electrolytes in balance.
Beyond this, even though watermelons fall short of many other fruits and vegetables when it comes to vitamin and mineral content, they will still give your birds a boost of nutrition.
The B complex vitamins in particular are essential for all sorts of metabolic processes and for cellular health.
Magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus are all essential for the uptake of other vitamins and nutrients and also contribute to Bone and connective tissue health.
Iron, as you likely know, is vital for the production of red blood cells and for the transportation of oxygen through the bloodstream.
All in all, that is still a good deal considering that watermelon is usually viewed as a sweet treat more than a healthy food option!
Can Chickens Eat Watermelon Raw?
Yes, your chickens can eat watermelon raw and this is the best way to serve it to them. Raw watermelon is extremely juicy and will have its full nutritional profile as described above.
Can Chickens Eat Watermelon Seeds?
Yes, they can. Watermelon seeds are healthy and completely safe for chickens to eat, containing no dangerous toxins or other compounds which could harm the health of your birds.
However, you might want to keep an eye on smaller birds to ensure that they don’t accidentally choke on the seeds.
Can Chickens Eat Watermelon Rind?
Yes, your chickens May safely eat watermelon rind or skin, although many do not like it.
The skin has nutrients and vitamins like the flesh of the watermelon, so you should allow your birds to eat it if there are able to handle it and show interest in it.
Can Chickens Eat Watermelon Stalks, Vines and Leaves?
Yes, chickens may safely eat all parts of the watermelon plant, including the stalks, vines, and leaves. These parts of the plan contain no harmful toxins or other compounds.
Do note, however, that aside from the leaves your birds probably will not be interested at all in the other parts of the watermelon.
Can Chickens Eat Watermelon Cooked?
Your chickens can eat cooked watermelon safely, but watermelon does not cook very well at all and it will lose much of its meager nutritional value in the process.
Trying to cook watermelon is probably going to result in just a warm, slushy mess, so you can skip the extra steps and just give it to your birds raw.
Never Feed Watermelon to Chickens that Has Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
It should be noted that you should never serve watermelon to your chickens once it has been prepared with any other harmful ingredients.
For instance, some people and certain regions in particular watermelon is often served salted.
Your birds definitely don’t need the extra salt in their diet.
In other cases, watermelon rind is often converted into pickles using brine or other Solutions.
Things like salt, sugar, vinegar and certain spices present in this brine are not going to do any favors for a chicken, so you shouldn’t feed them watermelon rind pickles.
In short, never give watermelon to your birds when it has been prepared with anything harmful that they shouldn’t eat. The two do not cancel each other out!
Beware of Pesticide on Grocery-bought Watermelon
Assuming you don’t grow your own watermelon, if you are purchasing it from the grocery store with the purpose of serving it to your chickens you must take care to remove any pesticide residues from the rind or skin before serving to your flock.
Most consumer produce is heavily treated all the way through the growing process with various pesticides.
These pesticides are definitely bad enough for people, but they can be quite harmful to chickens.
You should thoroughly wash or simply cut the rind off of the watermelon before serving it to your birds.
How Often Can Chickens Have Watermelon?
Chickens can have watermelon once or twice a week as part of a well-rounded, balanced diet.
You want to be careful to only serve your chickens watermelon sparingly because it is very high in sugar, like most fruits, and this can lead to problems for your flock if you allow them to overindulge.
Most experts recommend that chickens should be eating anywhere from 80% to 90% of their total calorie intake in the form of a nutritionally complete chicken feed.
The remaining 20% to 10% of their calories should come from healthy, wholesome supplemental foods and snacks, of which watermelon can be a part.
Overfeeding watermelon to your chickens can lead to problems like sour crop, high blood pressure, and obesity.
Preparing Watermelon for Your Flock
You have several options for properly preparing watermelon for serving to your chickens, though as mentioned above you should always give it to them raw for best results.
Your first and least labor-intensive option is to simply slice the watermelon in half at the equator or lengthwise and then set the chunks out for your chickens to peck at to their heart’s content.
Alternately, you can slice a watermelon into discs to spread them out further and ensure that a large flock will be able to feed without too much pressure.
If you don’t mind working a little harder, you can scoop out the flesh of the watermelon and cut it into chunks before placing it in a bowl or on a tray for serving to your birds.
Can Baby Chicks Have Watermelon, Too?
Chicks may have watermelon just like adults but you’ll want to wait until the chicks are a little bit older before serving it to them for the first time.
Once a chick has reached about 6 weeks of age they can try their first bites of watermelon, though you’ll want to keep the portion very small and keep an eye on them: moist, sugary foods can easily give a chick diarrhea, and chicks are always vulnerable to crop impaction and other digestive maladies.
As always, chicks should be getting most of their nutrition from a nutritionally balanced starter feed with only a little bit of supplementation from other foods as an occasional treat.
Make Sure You Clean Up After Serving Watermelon to Your Flock
Last thing; make sure you clean up any errant chunks of watermelon or rind leftover after your birds have eaten it.
Watermelon is very moist and very sugary, meaning it will spoil quickly and also attract insect and rodent pests.
Chickens could get sick if they come back around later and nibble at watermelon that has begun to ferment, and the presence of harmful insects, mice, rats, or raccoons could spell disaster for your flock. As soon as they are done, clean it up!
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.