Chicken farmers with a backyard garden would be happy to know that there is a lot of produce that can be given to chickens as a treat. With all these fruits and vegetables, one question that would probably come to mind is: Can chickens eat bell peppers?
This article will cover
- Green, yellow and red bell peppers
- Can chickens eat bell peppers?
- What makes bell peppers dangerous to chickens?
- 3 Health benefits of feeding bell peppers to chickens
- How often can chickens eat bell peppers?
- Preparing bell peppers for chicken feeding
- Other peppers
Green, yellow and red bell peppers
You have probably seen bell peppers in different colors during your grocery run. Let’s first talk about these bell pepper variations before answering the question: Can chickens eat bell peppers?
Bell peppers are available in supermarkets and groceries usually come in shades of green, yellow, and red. Because they often have different price tags, you would be wondering what makes them different from each other.
In a nutshell, green, yellow, and red bell papers are all the same in terms of the type of plant they are. However, they are in different colors due to their stage of ripeness. In effect, they have differences in taste and nutrition content.
Green bell peppers
All bell peppers start as green and eventually change color as they ripen and mature. Green bell peppers are unripe. These bell peppers comparably have a bitter taste compared to the other colors.
Yellow bell peppers
Once the bell pepper starts to ripen, it turns yellow then orange. It is in this stage where bell peppers are considered fairly ripe. Yellow and orange bell peppers taste sweet in comparison to bitter green bell peppers.
Red bell peppers
The last stage of ripeness is manifested through the red color in bell peppers. Red bell peppers are the ripest and have the sweetest taste among the different bell pepper colors.
Nutritionally, red bell peppers are also the best choice as they have better nutritional content versus the ones in the early stages of maturation.
Below is a quick comparison of the three color varieties of bell peppers.
|Green bell pepper||Unripe||Bitter|
|Yellow bell pepper||Fairly ripe||Sweet|
|Red bell pepper||Ripe||Sweeter than red and yellow|
Can chickens eat bell peppers?
The direct answer to this question is yes, chickens can eat bell peppers.
Bell peppers, regardless of color and ripeness, are all safe to feed your chickens. However, the best choice to feed them would be the ripe ones such as yellow, orange, and red as these are more nutritious.
As omnivores that eat both plant and meat, chickens will enjoy munching on bell peppers. Here is a video of a flock pecking at bell peppers as a snack:
Can chickens eat bell pepper seeds?
You can feed your chickens the bell pepper fruit, core, and even the seeds. Bell pepper seeds also have good nutritional content that will be very good for your chicken’s health.
This fruit serves as a great treat that you can give to your flock as these are not only natural but also very healthy.
Can chickens eat bell pepper steams and leaves?
While the bell pepper fruit itself is is a good snack, you should steer clear of feeding your chickens other parts of the bell pepper plant such as the leaves, stems, and flowers.
These parts are toxic and may do more harm than good to your flock.
What makes bell peppers dangerous to chickens?
Generally speaking, the bell pepper fruit is safe and chickens can eat them. Just like raw potatoes, there are exceptions when feeding chickens bell peppers.
In bell peppers, what should be avoided are the leaves, stems, and flowers. Why is that so?
Bell peppers belong to the nightshade family of plants together with potatoes and tomatoes. A unique thing about this plant family is that they have a natural substance called solanine.
Solanine is the plant’s natural line of defense against fungi and pests. When ingested by chickens, or any animal for that matter, solanine can cause health problems and when fatal, even death.
Effects of solanine on chickens
What if your chickens accidentally consume bell pepper leaves, stems, and flowers with solanine?
Here are some of the common health issues that may occur when chickens ingest solanine:
- neurological problems
- respiratory issues
Solanine causes different symptoms depending on the amount consumed by your chicken. While it can only bring minor health problems in small doses, taking in large amounts of solanine can gravely affect your chicken and may even cause death.
This is why you should avoid giving them bell pepper parts that have solanine content.
Other foods with solanine
Knowing what other food with solanine content is important for chicken raisers to avoid health accidents. Produce with solanine usually belong to the nightshade family together with bell peppers.
Watch out for these foods that are toxic for chickens because of solanine content:
- Green potatoes
- Potato stems and leaves
- Eggplant leaves and flowers
3 Health benefits of feeding bell peppers to chickens
You now know the answer to: Can chickens eat bell peppers? The next thing you should know is why you should consider giving bell peppers to your chickens.
High water content
Bell peppers have high water content which means that water makes up about 92% of the fruit.
As such, this makes bell peppers great refreshing treats for chickens especially during the sunny months. You can give bell peppers to your flock as a treat during summer to help them combat the heat.
Rich in carbohydrates
Bell peppers are a good source of carbohydrates, particularly the sugars glucose and fructose.
On top of their regular chicken feed, bell peppers can serve as one source of energy for your flock to help them get through their daily activities.
Packed with vitamins and minerals
Not only are bell papers loaded with water and carbohydrates, but they are also packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals that with chicken growth and development.
Bell peppers, especially the red ones, have beta-carotene which is converted into much-needed vitamin A. Moreover, antioxidants like vitamin E can also be found in this fruit aiding in muscle function. Other vitamins in bell peppers include B6 and K1.
For minerals, chickens can get a good dose of potassium and folate from bell peppers – all of which are important in keeping your chickens healthy and strong.
For reference, here is the nutrition content of a small red bell pepper weighing 74g as per the United States Department of Agriculture:
|Carbohydrate, by difference||4.46 g|
|Vitamin B6||0.215 mg|
|Vitamin A||2320 IU|
|Vitamin E||1.17 mg|
|Vitamin K||3.63 µg|
How often can chickens eat bell peppers?
Bell peppers are healthy, nutritious, and will definitely give chickens vitamins and minerals vital for their health and growth. They will really enjoy munching on bell peppers especially red ones that are sweet.
While bell peppers are a good natural choice, you should remember to give them only as a treat or a supplement to their existing diet.
The rule of thumb among chicken farmers is to give fruits and vegetables as an add-on to chicken feed rather than being the sole source of energy and nutrients.
Chickens can eat bell peppers as much as they like but it is your responsibility as the owner to ideally give it in moderation. You can switch different produce from your garden and feed them to your flock alternately as snacks to peck at.
Preparing bell peppers for chicken feeding
You can simply toss whole bell peppers as-is for chickens to enjoy pecking at. The best way to feed this fruit to your chickens, though, is to cut it in half before laying it on the ground for them to consume.
Another way you can prepare bell peppers is by hanging them in your flock’s feeding cage. This makes it not only a treat for them but also an activity they can do to pass time.
Aside from bell peppers, there are other peppers from the genus Capsicum which your flock will enjoy as well on top of their daily diet. These may either be under the hot varieties such as chilies or sweet varieties like bell peppers.
Can chickens eat Jalapeno peppers?
Jalapeno peppers, known for being spicy, are safe for chicken consumption. These chili peppers have vitamins and minerals that are good for poultry.
Fun fact: Unlike humans and other animals, chickens do not have the receptor that detects capsaicin which is responsible for the hot flavor in chilies.
Some chicken farmers feed their flock Jalapenos to boost their immune system. It is also said to help chickens whenever they are feeling unwell.
Can chickens eat paprika and cayenne?
Paprika and cayenne are spices made of ground peppers. Both spices are safe for chickens to consume.
Unlike bell peppers and jalapenos that are fed as treats, paprika and cayenne are often mixed with chicken feed as they add nutrients to your chicken’s diet.
Another advantage of putting cayenne on your chicken feed is that it keeps rodents away as the spiciness scares them off.
Can chickens eat bell peppers? Yes, bell peppers are a healthy option for treats and supplementary food for your flock. In conclusion, you can feed your chickens the fruit, core, and seeds. However, do not give them bell pepper leaves, stems, and flowers as they have solanine and, therefore, are toxic.
Joseph Hudson has been raising chickens for over 15 years. In 2018, he completed the Agriculture & Natural Resources program at Mt. San Antonio College. He currently raises over 1400 chickens on his 7.5-hectare farm. He keeps sharing his experience on raising healthy and happy chickens on Chicken & Scratch.