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Are you a fan of figs? This exotic fruit is very popular due to it’s very sweet flavor and hardiness in many different climates. We love to eat figs so we were curious if our feathered friends would love them too. So, can chickens eat figs or is this tiny sweet a bit too toxic for their taste?
Keep on reading and find out if chickens can eat figs or not!
Can Chickens Eat Figs?
Yes, chickens can eat figs whole they are a healthy treat with lots of benefits for your chickens health. They can have fresh or dehydrated/dried figs as long as there is no added sugar in them. Figs are, however, a treat that should be given sparingly.
Figs should be fed in tiny amounts though. Despite it’s small size, figs are packed full of sugar. Enough sugar that even 1 whole fig could prove to be deadly if a chicken eats it and is not in good health already.
What is a fig?
Figs are a small, yet very sweet fruit that grows on the Ficus carica, or fig tree. It was originally only found in the western parts of Asia and the Mediterranean before being exported throughout the world. It is now found practically everywhere.
The fruit is small, typically no more than 2″ long and turns from green to brownish purple when it is fully ripe.
Is it safe for a chicken to eat figs?
As we mentioned, figs have a lot of sugar in them. Other than the sugar content, they are safe to eat. Following the 90/10 dietary rule is the best way to make sure that figs, when fed in moderation, are a delicious snack and pose no threat, at all.
Figs are not alone in this department, though. Many fruits and berries, like watermelon, cantaloupe, blueberries, raisins, cranberries, or cherries, can wreak havoc on your chickens’ bodies if they eat too many of them. The high levels of sugar can cause obesity, sugar addiction, and, worst of all, hypoglycemia.
Make sure when you are feeding treats to also do routine health checks on your chickens to ensure that they are doing OK with these added foods in their diet.
Need some help keeping your chickens health and care taken care of? Check out the Organized Chicken Keeper for an easy to follow system.
Hypoclycemia in chickens
If you were unaware, hypoglycemia can be a problem with many animals. We often think that this is a human disease commonly associated with diabetes. However, it is something that can impact just about any living creature.
When you break the word down, “hypo” means “low, under, beneath, down, or below normal” and glycemia refers to glucose in the bloodstream. So, hypoglycemia is the technical term for low blood sugar levels. Now, why is it dangerous?
Glucose is what the body uses for energy. It is carried through the bloodstream and “delivered” to various places to give them the energy they need to function properly. When something, in this case chickens, eats too sugar, it is broken down into glucose and enters the bloodstream. When a chicken has too much sugar in it’s system, it results in a spike in their glucose levels; known as hyperglycemia.
Glucose burns very fast, though, and is quickly depleted causing a steep drop in blood sugar levels. Without the proper amount of glucose to use as an energy source, their body is not able to work efficiently.
This can be as benign as feeling a little dizzy or as severe as losing consciousness or even death.
What are the nutritional benefits of figs for chickens?
Figs can be a healthy snack for your flock. They contain a wealth of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in a very small package. In fact, a quick glance at this table from the USDA FoodData Center will show you just how many nutrients are in a single fig dried fig (8..4g).
|Fiber, total dietary||0.823||g|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid||0.101||mg|
|Vitamin A, IU||0.840||IU|
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)||0.029||mg|
|Vitamin K (phylloquinone)||1.310||µg|
What do these nutrients do?
The above table might make a little more sense if you are familiar with how each of these nutrients affects the body. Below are some examples of what role various vitamins and minerals play in the development of a chicken.
- Vitamin B6: healthy blood vessels, eye/vision health, nervous system , immune system
- Calcium: bones and egg shell strength
- Fiber: only small amounts or they can become constipated, get a blockage, etc; energy, growth, and digestive health, reduce cholesterol, controls blood sugar, digestive health
- Vitamin K: blood clotting, bone metabolism
- Magnesium: bone strength and development, cellular metabolism, heart health, muscle function
- Potassium: temperature control; hydration & electrolyte regulation, metabolism; heart health/heart disease preventative
- Protein: muscle growth and development
Can Chickens eat fig leaves?
No, chickens shouldn’t eat fig leaves. Fig leaves and trees contain a substance called ficin. Which has been shown to be toxic for multiple animals such as cattle, dogs and cats. So, better to steer clear from exposing your chickens to it.
Can chickens eat fig stems?
No, chickens shouldn’t eat fig stems. Again, this is due to the ficin in the fig plant. Better to avoid anything that is potentially toxic to feed to your chickens.
Can chickens eat fresh figs?
Yes, chickens eat eat fresh figs as long as they are given in moderation. This is the best way to feed your chickens figs.
Can Chickens eat Dried or Dehydrated figs?
Yes, chickens can eat dried or dehydrated figs. BUT only if they don’t have any added sugars. As already mentioned figs are high in sugar already, so you shouldn’t feed them to your chickens if they have even more sugar added in.
How do you feed figs to chickens?
Figs are nice because you don’t really have a ton of options when it comes to feeding them to your chickens. Since they should only be fed sparingly, you won’t want to leave them openly available as a swinging toy. Your best options are either fresh picked or from the store or dried.
The best option for fresh figs is if you grow and harvest them yourself. You know exactly what they have been exposed to and you can feed them worry free. But, if you get them from the store, just make sure they do not have any pesticides on them and they should be fine for your chickens.
Just wash them thoroughly, cut them into quarters, and give them to your chickens. If you have a small flock, try to give them to each chicken individually. A larger flock is much harder to do this with. You just want to make sure that an aggressive hen or rooster doesn’t fight their way into eating half or a whole fig themselves.
As with cranberries and raisins, dried or dehydrated figs become highly concentrated with sugar; making them even more potentially dangerous. But, if you take that into consideration when feeding, it shouldn’t be a problem. For dried figs, we would try and split a single fig between 5 chickens instead of 5, if possible.
If you choose to buy store bought dried figs, you will just need to make sure they do not have any added sugar or other preservatives that can be harmful to your chickens.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Can I overfeed my chicken figs?
Yes, you can overfeed your chickens figs and it can be quite dangerous. Because of the high sugar content, chickens should not over consume figs.
We like to stick with the 90/10 rule which just says that only 10% of a chicken’s diet should come from supplemental feeds, treats, snacks, etc. While 90% should come from them free ranging and the chicken feed you give them.
Q2. How many figs can I feed my chickens?
As a general rule, you will want to split one fig for every four chickens. So, only give each chicken a quarter, or fourth, of a fig. Some larger chickens may be able to handle half a fig, but it isn’t worth the risk.
Q3. How often can I feed figs to my chickens?
We usually give snacks and treats 3 or 4 days a week. With figs, you will not want to do more than 3. Realistically, feeding them once a week is probably just fine.
Q4. Can I feed figs to my baby chicks?
We would advise against giving figs to baby chicks. If an adult chicken can only handle a fourth of a fig, a chick needs much, much less and it would be very difficult to measure that out. We recommend waiting until they are a bit older before giving them much more than starter grower feed.
Q5. Can chickens eat fig rolls?
While fig rolls may be a delicious dessert for us it can be a death sentence for your chickens. Figs alone have a ton of sugar, factoring in the extra sugar and other ingredients inside of a fig roll would just be too much for them.
Q6. Can chickens eat Fig Newtons?
No, absolutely not! Chickens cannot have Fig Newtons. The amount of added sugar would likely send them into a diabetic coma and an early grave.
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.