Ever wondered, "can chickens eat bananas"? We all want our feathery friends to be happy and healthy. So why wouldn't fresh fruit be okay for them to eat?
So, Can Chickens Eat Bananas?
This one is easy. Yes, chickens can eat bananas. There are a few caveats to this answer like how much is good for them, or the proper way to feed them. But, yes, bananas are safe for chickens to eat.
Are Bananas Safe For Chickens?
In a word, yes. However, like just about any fruit, they need to be fed in moderation. Chickens can eat apples, chickens can eat cherries, chickens can eat pears, chickens eat peaches and other fruits. However, fruits, in general, are high in sugar content and can throw off a chicken's natural nutritional balance.
So, you can feed them bananas, but in order to be sure your chickens are healthy, you also want to make sure they are also getting plenty of time to free range or have access to a well balanced layer feed.
How To Feed Your Chickens Bananas
Now that we know it's safe, how exactly should you feed bananas to your flock?
Whenever we give our chickens banana, we like to peel it first and slice it into thin chips. Usually somewhere between ⅛" and ¼" is thin enough for them to safely eat. You don't want them to try and eat a large chunk and have it get stuck in their throat.
How Much Banana Can My Chicken Eat?
You may hear people talk about the dangers of excess potassium. That is not something I would worry about. It would take a HUGE amount of bananas for your chicken to experience potassium poisoning.
However, the real danger in bananas is in the amount of sugar they contain. Depending on the size of your flock it is best to give a small amount of banana. I would say split 1 or 2 bananas between a 10 chicken flock.
Giving more than that likely won't hurt them if only done occasionally. The important thing here is you don't want to throw off their blood sugar levels too much so make sure you are keeping track of how much they are eating.
Are Bananas Better Unripe Or Ripe?
Unripe is less soft and has less sugar.
Are Overripe Bananas Safe?
They are still safe but be frugal with the amounts you feed. Over ripened bananas are extremely soft and very, very sweet. Excessively soft and sweet bananas (or foods in general) can lead to sour crop.
Can I Feed Chickens Banana Peels?
The peels are a sticky area (pun completely intended).
The dangers of giving your chickens banana peels to eat are:
- pesticides that remain on the peel
- thick, tough exterior can lead to choking
- minimal amount of nutrition compared to the risk
You can, however, prepare the peels to be a bit safer for your chickens.
Need some help keeping your chickens health and care taken care of? Check out the Organized Chicken Keeper for an easy to follow system.
How To Prepare Banana Peels
Instead of giving your chickens raw banana peels you should cook them first. The best way is to simply boil banana skins or peels first. Bring a pot of water to a boil, drop in your peels, and let them cook until they are soft enough to easily tear.
While boiling will not add any nutritional value, it will break the peel down enough that your chicken will not burn more calories trying to tear it apart than it will gain from the peel.
Also, boiling will clean the peel from any unwanted pesticides and poisons remaining.
Can Chickens Eat Banana Bread?
It's probably best to avoid feeding your chickens banana bread. In small amounts it is probably not going to cause a huge problem, but banana bread does have a lot of sugar from using over ripe bananas. Some recipes even have more added sugar and chocolate chips! It's probably best to skip this snack and just eat it yourself (so awful, we know).
Can Chickens Eat Banana Pudding?
Just like with over ripened bananas and banana bread, banana pudding can be very sweet and have too much sugar. We suggest not feeding your chickens banana pudding. If you do try it, only give them a very small amount and see how they handle it.
Can Baby Chicks Eat Bananas?
Yes, baby chicks can eat bananas. Just like adults, they can eat both bananas and banana skins or peels. And they can be used as a tasty treat with some nutritional benefits.
However, Since chicks are much smaller, Make sure to keep the pieces you give them very small so that they are not a choking hazard.
In addition, you need to be sure to give them even less than you would a full grown chicken. So, just small quantities are appropriate for baby chicks. It is also best not to feed them overripe bananas due to softness and sweetness issues.
So, what are the benefits of feeding your chickens bananas? There are some potential health benefits to feeding chickens bananas. Bananas are full of several different vitamins and minerals which make them a healthy treat for adults and baby chicks.
- Calories: A chicken that is on a regular laying schedule needs around 300kcal per day. A full banana is around 100 kcal, give or take a few depending on the size. (But remember, you don't want to feed an entire banana to one chicken.)
- Vitamin B6: This will help your chicken maintain a healthy nervous system.
- Vitamin B12: Offers a variety of health benefits including eyes, skin health, nervous system, among others.
- Potassium: Helps chickens maintain muscle strength and a healthy metabolism.
- Magnesium: Keeps their hearts healthy, as well as improves their energy level and their overall temperament.
Quick Tips For Chicken Treats
In addition to bananas, your chickens will actually like all sorts of different types of treats. Here are a few different categories of treats your chickens will love!
With fruit you will always want to be careful with the amounts you feed to your chickens. Most fruit contains a high level of sucrose, or sugar.
Too much sugar can throw off a chicken's natural balance and cause some mild to severe health issues if not managed properly.
- Apples (not the seeds)
Vegetables & Gourdes
Vegetables do not have near the same level of sugar as many fruits have. You can safely feed your chickens more vegetables because of this. However, you still want to make sure they are not getting too much.
- Tomatoes (even though tomatoes are technically a fruit)
- Yellow Squash
Berries are very similar to fruit in that they usually have a very high sugar content. Chickens love, love, LOVE them though! Feel free to let them eat the berries listed below in moderation.
- Mountain Ash Berries
- Rowan Berries
Berries To Avoid
You want to avoid giving your chickens both elderberries and gooseberries. Gooseberries and elderberries are both highly toxic to chickens. DO NOT let them eat either of them.
Things To Avoid Feeding Your Chickens
Here are a few things you should keep away from your chickens.
- Acorns: acorns and oak leaves contain tannic acid (or tannins). Can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and even death.
- Alcohol: too many bad things to fully list; dehydration, sugar content, etc,
- Apple seeds: the cyanide can be lethal
- candy: too much refined sugar is not good for your chicken
- chocolate: same as candy
- dry beans: they contain a toxin called phytohaemagglutinin. They MUST be cooked to be safe for your chickens.
- jam, jelly, or preserves: too much sugar
- pesticides: this should be obvious but pesticides are poisons used to keep pests off of produce. Wash anything you're going to eat yourself or feed to your chickens.
- raw/green potato peels or skins: green potato skins have a toxin called solaninwhich can be deadly for a chicken
- tea bags: contain tannins and are dangerous, similarly to acorns
If you need more help with taking care of your chickens, check out The Organized Chicken Keeper for a complete system for managing their health through keeping their supplies stocked and coop clean.