Can Chickens Eat Zucchini?
In the summer, home gardeners harvest mouth-watering crops, including zucchinis, also called courgettes. Zucchinis are often mistaken for cucumbers owing to the similarities in shape, color and, sometimes, size between the two. Zucchinis are fruits often mistaken for vegetables because they are green.
The fruits belong to the Cucurbita Pepe species, which also includes pumpkins and squash. Though botanically considered fruits, zucchinis are also considered vegetables for culinary and nutritional purposes.
When you harvest zucchini or have too much in your grocery shopping, you might want to feed some to your chickens. If you have been wondering if you can do so, yes, chickens can eat zucchinis.
The article below will guide you on how to feed zucchini to chickens, its advantages and potential risks to your birds, and how to grow the fruits.
Zucchinis as Food for Chickens
Zucchinis are not only good chicken feeds, but experts also recommend including them in the birds’ diet. Thankfully, you will not be forcing your birds to finish their servings because the vegetables are delicious treats. Chickens will gladly sit and peck at it. Moreover, zucchinis are full of healthy nutrients and vitamins that will benefit your birds and complement the nutritional value of commercial feeds.
Are Zucchinis Good For Chickens?
Yes, zucchinis have several benefits for your chickens and are a safe treat for them. Here are some of the benefits of zucchini for your poultry.
Summer-harvest vegetables and fruits like cucumbers, tomatoes and zucchini boast one thing in common- water. The high water content of zucchini makes it ideal for keeping your chickens hydrated and cool in the summer. Dehydration can cause chickens to lower or stop their egg production.
In other cases, dehydration reduces your hens’ egg quality. With over 95% water content and proteins, zucchinis will increase your egg quality and help your hens maintain their egg production.
– Minerals and Vitamins
Zucchini is rich in potassium, omega 3, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, folate and vitamin B6 that protect your chickens from diseases. It also has a high soluble and insoluble fiber count to add bulk to your chickens’ stool while boosting their digestive health.
Free radicals will harm the cells in your chickens and cause infections and disease. Zucchini has antioxidants that counteract these free radicals. Lutein, beta-carotene and zeaxanthin are some of the antioxidants that protect your chickens’ eyes.
Zucchini has been shown to be a natural dewormer. Its seeds reduce worms in the chickens’ gastrointestinal tract.
How to Grow Zucchini for Chickens
If you will be growing zucchini for your chickens, it is best to steer clear of pesticides that can be dangerous to your flock’s health. If you use any chemicals to grow your zucchinis, wash them thoroughly in cold water to get rid of the chemicals, insects and dust that have accumulated on them before feeding your chickens.
When growing zucchinis, ensure they are not contaminated with cucurbitacins before feeding them to your chickens. Cucurbitacins are biochemical compounds with toxic properties and are harmful when consumed in large amounts. Zucchinis with cucurbitacins are bitter.
Tips for Feeding Zucchinis to Chickens
There are several ways of feeding zucchini to your chickens based on the size of the vegetable and your flock’s size. For instance, if you are keeping a large flock, it is advisable to cut your zucchini into small pieces so that all your chickens can get the treat. Ensure all your birds have the flesh and seeds of the zucchini rather than only the skin since the former are the ones packed with benefits.
You should preferably feed your chickens fresh zucchini, but this might not always be possible. If you will feed leftover zucchinis or scraps to your chickens, ensure they are still edible to protect the bird from health issues.
You can mix zucchini with top-quality commercial pellets to help your chickens optimize their growth. Alternatively, you can combine zucchini with other vegetables to promote a healthy diet.
Though it is best to feed your chickens raw zucchini, you can also cook it for them. Cooked zucchini will be easier for younger chickens to get their beaks into, but it can get smashed and stuck on the beaks.
Zucchini Alternatives for Chickens
Though zucchinis are highly beneficial for your chicken, you might not always have access to it. Moreover, feeding the same vegetable to your flock every day will make it boring.
You can offer spinach, chard, squash, watermelon, lettuce, banana, celery leaves, carrots, kale, berries, cabbage and broccoli in place of zucchini or mixed with zucchini.
Be careful when offering treats with seeds and leaves to your chickens. Some leaves and seeds are safe to eat, while others are toxic. You can also alternate zucchinis with worms, eggshells, rice shrimp and pasta noodles.
Potential Risk of Feeding Zucchini to Chickens
Though zucchini is safe for your chickens, even the best foods can cause gastrointestinal issues when overfed. Overfeeding your chicken with zucchini can lead to bloating, diarrhea, and vomiting, among other signs of an upset tummy. Some poultry keepers feed zucchini to their chickens in bread.
Though zucchini bread is delicious, it has a lot of sugar and other spices that can harm your birds, so it is best to avoid it. While toxicity issues from consuming too much cucurbitacin in contaminated zucchini are rare, it is a potential risk if your chicken eats the vegetable daily. The vegetable should be fed to chickens as a treat weekly or every other week.
With the information above, you know how best to include zucchini in your chicken diet. The vegetable is laden with water, minerals, and vitamins that will boost your birds’ health. Zucchini can be given to chickens raw or cooked, but most birds prefer it chopped raw.
If you are giving your flock cooked zucchini, ensure it is edible, so it does not cause gastrointestinal issues. Be careful not to overfeed the treat to your chicken because it can lead to toxicity issues from the cucurbitacin found in some zucchinis.