For optimal health and growth, chickens should primarily be fed a nutritionally balanced commercial poultry feed. Many chicken keepers also like to offer their flocks human food scraps as treats. Not only does this provide the chickens with variety in their diet, but it also helps to decrease food waste. However, it is important to be sure the foods offered are safe for chickens to eat. Pineapple is a sweet and tasty fruit, but can chickens eat pineapple? Yes, pineapple is safe to feed chickens but in moderation and with a few precautions that will be discussed below.
Why Is Eating Pineapple Good for Chickens?
Besides giving chickens variety in their diets, pineapple contains several nutrients that may improve their health. Pineapple is also low in saturated fat and cholesterol. This is important to note as chickens should avoid high-fat foods, just like humans, to help keep their weight in a healthy range.
Pineapples are an excellent source of vitamin C. Vitamin C can help strengthen the chicken’s immune system. Healthy chickens are able to make their own vitamin C in their bodies. However, chickens may benefit from additional vitamin C especially if they are ill or otherwise under stress.
Pineapples also contain high levels of an enzyme called bromelain, which helps the digestive process. Bromelain is known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-clotting properties as well.
Because it contains these and other nutrients, eating pineapple regularly can help chickens improve their digestion, protect against getting worms, and combat arthritis.
Precautions to Take When Feeding Pineapple to Chickens
As discussed, pineapple can be a healthy and beneficial snack for chickens. However, there are a few precautions to take when feeding this fruit.
Pineapple should only be offered to chickens in moderation and not overfed. One reason for this is that pineapple is a high sugar fruit. Eating too much sugar can cause chickens to become overweight and impact their overall health.
As previously noted, moderate amounts of pineapple can improve a chicken’s digestion. However, overfeeding pineapple may have the opposite effect. Some chickens have trouble digesting pineapple and shouldn’t eat it at all. Even if the chicken can digest moderate amounts of pineapple, eating too much can lead to the development of a bezoar, a buildup of undigested material. Bezoars can result in serious medical complications.
Bromelain, while beneficial in moderation, can also cause issues if over-consumed. Too much bromelain may cause stomach upset and skin rashes in chickens.
As with many foods consumed by both chickens and humans, the key to safely feeding pineapple to chickens is to practice moderation.
How to Feed Pineapple to Chickens
Now that we have discussed the benefits as well as precautions to take when feeding pineapple to chickens, here are some guidelines to follow when offering this treat.
First, only feed your chickens ripe pineapple. Unripe or overripe pineapple can be too acidic and cause digestive problems. Chickens may also dislike the taste of pineapple that’s not properly ripe and refuse to eat it.
Only feed the soft flesh of the pineapple to your chickens. The rind and leaves are too tough for chickens and they usually won’t eat them. Some chickens may be able to peck hard enough at the rind to eat it. If that happens, a small amount usually won’t hurt them but too much can cause digestive troubles. To be safe, avoid giving your chickens pineapple rind.
Some suggestions for ways to feed pineapple to chickens include simply offering sliced pineapple for the chickens as well as making up a “salad” of pineapple and other safe fruits and vegetables for them. Another fun idea is to remove the top, rind, and core but otherwise leave the pineapple intact. Run a string through the hollow pineapple and hang it up for the chickens to peck at will.
If your chickens don’t seem partial to the taste of raw pineapple, it can also be offered cooked. Another option is to offer dried pineapple which doesn’t tend to cause digestive issues like fresh pineapple. Dried pineapple also keeps for longer and can be purchased in bulk if so desired.
Like humans, chickens have varying tastes and some of them just may not like eating pineapple. If your chickens don’t eat the pineapple offered, make sure you clean up the rejected fruit before it gets overripe or moldy.
Other Foods That Chickens Can Eat (and a Few They Shouldn’t)
If you do decide to make your chickens a pineapple “salad,” here are some other safe food options to consider adding in:
Certain foods should never be offered to chickens because they are unhealthy or toxic. A few common no-nos include the following:
A more extensive list of foods that are safe or off-limits for chickens can be found here.
Pineapple can be a safe and tasty addition to your chicken’s diet when fed in moderation. If you decide to offer your chickens pineapple, monitor them for any concerns or changes after eating it. And if your chickens happen to not like pineapple, no worries! There are a lot of other options out there to provide your chickens with a little variety and some extra nutrition in their daily diet.