Pears are a delicious and healthy fruit. They are stacked full of dietary fiber and lots of vitamins. Given this, you may wonder, can chickens eat pears or are they a forbidden fruit of the chicken world?
Will our fine feathered friends survive this fantastic feast or will their discovery become an unfettered fiasco? Keep reading to find out.
Can Chickens Eat Pears?
Yes, chickens can eat pears as a nutrient rich treat. Pears are safe for chickens to eat whole, raw, cooked. The entire pear is safe to eat (except the pit), flesh, skin, seeds, and stem, so no worries about accidentally feeding your chickens something dangerous.
In fact, not only will they find it delicious, but it is also nutritious for them too. Healthy treats are an important part of keeping healthy chickens and should be incorporated into their diet. You can feed them treats during their routine health checks.
Much like when chickens eat oranges and other fruits, pears area also high in sugar content. Due to the sugar content, you will only want to feed about one pear per five chickens and between two and four times a week.
Finally, pears are also soft enough to be given whole but are best cut into small cubes and spread in a wide area to avoid fights.
Can Chickens eat pear skins?
Yes, chickens can eat pear skins. If you are just feeding the skins, they may not enjoy those as much as the whole fruit. The skins contain a majority of the nutrients in the pear, so you certainly dont' want to exclude it when feeding pears to your chickens.
Can chickens eat pears whole?
Yep, chickens can eat pears whole. Now, they aren't going to just gobble it in it's entirety. They will likely peck pieces off and eat it bit by bit.
Can chickens eat pears raw?
Yes, chickens can eat pears raw just like humans do. Raw pears are the most common way pears are eaten.
Can chickens eat pears cooked?
Yes, chickens can eat cooked pears. However, you want to ensure that they weren't cooked with dangerous additives like sugar, alcohol or other foods that chickens cannot have.
Can chickens eat pear seeds?
No, chickens can't eat pear seeds. You may have heard that their seeds are poisonous. And technically, like feeding chickens apples, they do contain a small amount of cyanide. However, if they get a seed or two, they will likely be OK.
It would probably take half an orchard to amass the quantity it would take to become dangerous. Maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but I think you get the point.
The only real safety concerns we would have are potential choking hazards and the high level of sugar. We'll discuss how to avoid choking later when we review how pears should be served. Right now, though, let's talk about the high sugar content.
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Just like when chickens eat nectarines, when chickens eat raisins, and when chickens eat peaches which are also full of sugar, you need to be mindful of how much you are allowing your chickens to eat.
A single cup of Bartlett pear has a whopping 13.6 grams of sugar! That is a ton, especially when you consider the average hen weighs less than 3 kilograms.
Overeating sugar is just as bad for chickens as it is for humans. It can lead to obesity, putting excess strain on their heart, joints, and ligaments, sugar addiction, which can cause them to stop eating their regular food in pursuit of their next sugar fix (no, really), and hypoglycemia or low blood sugar, which can range from feeling a little dizzy all the way up to being fatal.
Are pears healthy for chickens?
Yes, pears can be a healthy snack when given in moderation. In spite of the high level of sugar, pears contain a ton of water which will help your chickens stay hydrated. They are a good source of dietary fiber which assists in digestion as well as improving their heart function with potassium.
Both copper and iron will help your chickens have a healthy circulatory system. And, finally, high levels of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and plenty of antioxidants keep their immune system running at peak performance.
What are the nutritional benefits of pears for chickens?
The table below, courtesy of the USDA FoodData Center, has a breakdown of the nutritional analysis based on a serving size of 1 cup (140g) raw Bartlett pear.
|Total lipid (fat)||0.2||g|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||21.1||g|
|Fiber, total dietary||4.3||g|
|Sugars, Total NLEA||13.6||g|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid||6.160||mg|
|Vitamin A, RAE||1.400||µg|
|Vitamin K (phylloquinone)||5.3||µg|
|Vitamin A, IU||11,500.0||IU|
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)||0.4||mg|
|Vitamin D (D2 + D3)||0.0||µg|
|Vitamin K (phylloquinone)||1.4||µg|
What do these nutrients do?
Earlier we gave you a small list of how nutrients specific to pears affect your chickens' health. Here are some more nutritional facts to help decode the above table.
- Antioxidants: (Beta Carotene, Lycopene) repair damage from free radicals, fight off/prevent future damage, protect from oxidative damage, anti-inflammatory, lower blood pressure, improve heart health in high enough doses, development and health of tissue, skin, and feathers
- Vitamin A: eye, skin, respiratory, and digestive health
- Carotene, Beta (Beta Carotene): egg, feathers, skin, beak, and comb color; converts to Vitamin A
- Vitamin C: joint, cellular, and immune health; collagen synthesis
- Calcium: bones and egg shell strength
- Carbohydrates: give chickens energy
- Copper: helps digestion and elevates the immune system
- Vitamin E: immune system support, cell regeneration
- Fiber: only small amounts or they can become constipated, get a blockage, etc; energy, growth, and digestive health
- Folate (B Vitamin): folate deficiency; helps blood formation; healthy feathers & size
- Iron: prevents anemia; assists in blood circulation
- Vitamin K: blood clotting, bone metabolism
- Magnesium: bone strength and development, cellular metabolism, heart health, muscle function
- Manganese: bone development, immune system, breaks down carbs, cholesterol, and amino acids; controls blood sugar
- Phosphorus: bone formation
- Potassium: temperature control; hydration & electrolyte regulation, metabolism; heart health/heart disease preventative
- Protein: muscle growth and development
- Zinc: immune system and mineral retention
How do you feed pears to chickens?
You can avoid the choking by making sure to cut your pears up before feeding them. A whole pear is soft enough that they will have no problem pecking through it. However, they will not have as much control over the size of the pieces they get and a single pear or two between a flock is going to provoke a lot of peck and run style and eating.
If you want to mix things up a little you can literally mix things up by making a fruit salad or chicken treat medley. Most likely, your chickens aren't going to really care about clashing flavors so feel free to add in whatever snacks you like.
Since chickens can eat peanut butter you can use it to make a chicken treat ball. Chickens can eat blueberries, chickens can eat blackberries, chiciens can eat radishes, rhubarb, and chickens can eat unseasoned rice. Roll them all together and feed it as a treat.
You can also take a mix of treats and string them together with fishing line. Now, hang is somewhere your chickens like to hang out and watch them have one peck of a good time with their new chicken toy!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Can I overfeed my chicken pears?
Just like most things in life, even too much of a good thing can be harmful. As we mentioned earlier, because of the amount of sugar, overfeeding your chickens pears can lead to some health issues like hypoglycemia, obesity, and even sugar addiction.
Q2. Can chicks eat pears?
Technically, yes, but it isn't a great idea to feed your chicks pears. Keep them on a high quality starter/grower feed until they are a bit older.
Q3. How many pears can I feed to my chickens?
An average size pear, when cut into small chunks or cubes should be able to feed 4 or 5 chickens. The average backyard flock will probably be perfectly happy with one or two pears split between them.
Q3. How often can I feed pears to my chickens?
With the sugar content, we wouldn't feed our chickens pears more than 3 or 4 times a week and would decrease that if they started to show any signs of poor health. We always advocate for the 90/10 rule when feeding our chickens. All that means is 90% of your chickens' diet should come from free ranging and a high quality, chicken specific feed; like layer crumbles. The other 10% can then be reserved for other snacks, treats, and supplements.
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.