If you are raising chickens, you want them to be healthy at all times. This is why their diet is vital. There are a lot of things that you can feed your chickens. If you are wondering if they can eat butternut squash, then stick around and find out!
What’s a Butternut Squash?
Before feeding anything to animals, including chickens, you need to know what it is exactly. There are some things that you cannot give to certain species. Knowing what you are feeding them is crucial. Disregarding this can be detrimental to your chickens as it can lead to something fatal.
Get To Know The Butternut Squash
A Butternut Squash is a winter squash that belongs in the same family as pumpkins and gourds. Its scientific name is Cucurbita Moschata. As a winter squash, the skin is much thicker than the summer ones. It has a really good storage life, lasting all through the winter. If you store it correctly, it can last for three to four months.
This variety has a very interesting history. It was developed in the 1940s by a man named Charles Leggett from Stow, Massachusetts. He combined the gooseneck squash with other squashes. Thus, the Butternut Squash was born.
The name comes from its taste and texture. When Leggett presented the new breed of squash, it was a hit! Since then, there has been no looking back for the Butternut Squash.
The popularity of Butternut Squash grew. To this day, it remains a favorite add-on for baking, grilling, roasting, steaming, and a whole lot more! The Butternut squash that we know now is a result of the development of modern varieties.
Apart from being a favorite ingredient for some people, Butternut Squash has also been a staple in some animals’ diets. Some farm and poultry owners love feeding their chickens with this.
Is It Safe For Chickens?
This is a very necessary question to ask. Whether you are raising your chickens as pets or as part of your coop, you have to make sure whatever they consume is safe for them to eat.
If you have got some Butternut Squashes lying around your home or farm, you can definitely give them to your chickens. They can safely munch on this winter squash with no problem! However, as with most things, feeding Butternut squash to chickens must be done in moderation. Too much of something is never healthy. And this includes this type of squash!
What Can Chickens Get From Butternut Squash?
There are plenty of benefits that chickens can get from incorporating Butternut Squash into their diet. If you want your chickens to grow as healthy as they possibly could, you should add something like this to their meals. There are a lot of vitamins, minerals, and many other benefits that they can get from this.
A calcium deficient chicken might encounter some problems with its skeletal system, including its bone development. And as they grow older, there is a risk of developing osteoporosis. The egg production of hens might also be affected if they aren’t getting enough calcium. If they get enough calcium, they might avoid experiencing these kinds of health issues.
It’s not that hard to spot chickens having issues with calcium deficiency. If the chickens exhibit weakness, lameness, and poor-looking feathers, they might need to take in more calcium.
The Butternut Squash is a good source of calcium. Adding this to the chickens’ diet might help them avoid the possibility of encountering these types of health concerns. As the lack of calcium affects egg production, you need to make sure that your chickens are getting enough. By doing so, you won’t encounter any issues once they start laying and hatching eggs.
Chickens who have poor diets are most likely to suffer from Vitamin A deficiency. Those who lack this type of vitamin are most likely to get sick. If they are getting enough vitamin A, it helps their immune system function better.
When a hen lacks Vitamin A, it can affect its chicks. Here are some telltale signs that you can see in baby chicks:
- Poor feathering and growth
- Discharges from the nose and eyes
- Paleness of wattles and comb
If you want to make sure that your chickens and their chicks are not as susceptible to infections and other health problems, you can add Butternut Squash to their diet. It is a great source as it contains a high level of Vitamin A.
Chickens, just like people, also experience stress. Whenever they go through stressful situations, they need more Vitamin C in their diets.
One of the main stressors that chickens have is heat. When they go through so much heat stress, their ability to maintain their body’s core temperature is affected. When this happens, it impacts their weight, egg production, fertility, hatchability of eggs, immunity, and a whole lot more.
While chickens produce vitamin C, it’s often not enough, especially if they are stressed. During these times, they need more vitamin C. This is where you can add more vitamin C to their diets. You can get that from food such as Butternut Squash.
Another important mineral that chickens must have is zinc. It plays an essential role in the production of insulin and enzymes in the chicken’s body. Whenever there is Zinc insufficiency, there is a huge effect on the different bodily functions of a chicken. It affects their growth and development. It also takes a toll on their body’s immunity.
Zinc is also important for egg-laying hens. If they lack this, it can affect the development of the embryos. It can then affect the chicks once they hatch. To make sure you avoid this, try adding more Zinc into their diet. Perhaps add some Butternut squash. Apart from being rich in Zinc, it’s safe to eat too!
Butternut squash packs a lot of potassium. So if ever you have chickens that suffer from the lack of this mineral, you can feed this to them!
You would know if your hens lack potassium when they have issues with both the development of the embryo and chick. If you don’t want anything like this to occur, check if your hens are getting enough potassium before they start laying eggs.
As some chickens are prone to heat stress and stroke, having enough potassium in their system can help them out. It is, perhaps, because Butternut squash is a good source of hydration.
Other Health Benefits
Apart from the ones mentioned above, there are other benefits that chickens can get from the consumption of Butternut squash. They can also get the following:
One Cup of Butternut Squash Nutrition
457% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
52% of the RDI
13% of the RDI
10% of the RDI
10% of the RDI
13% of the RDI
10% of the RDI
15% of the RDI
17% of the RDI
All of these play important roles in the growth and development of a chicken. Given this, it’s not hard to conclude that chickens can get a lot from Butternut Squashes.
How Can Chickens Eat Butternut Squash?
Healthy chickens require well-balanced, healthy meals. And if you have plans of serving them Butternut squash, there are several ways this can be done.
Chickens can eat every single part of the Butternut squash. You can give them either the seeds, skin, or flesh. If you want, you can mix them all together. You can also try mixing and matching the Butternut squash with other types of food for your chickens.
As with most foods, you have to watch the amount you give to the chickens. If you feed them this all the time, there might be some dietary consequences that they would be facing in the long run.
Can They Eat This Raw?
Yes, you can feed raw Butternut squash to chickens. The Butternut squashes come in different sizes. If they are a little bigger than usual, you might want to cut it into smaller pieces. However, if you want to see your chickens having a feast, you can keep it as it is and watch them peck on it like there’s no tomorrow!
Perhaps you can also observe the way the chickens eat their Butternut squash. If they love nibbling on the skin, keep it on! If it’s something that they lean towards, you can always remove it before serving.
Can You Cook This For Chickens?
The exterior part of the Butternut squash can be quite hard. While that might not be a big issue for the chickens, cooking it in various ways can also be good for them.
You can try roasting, boiling, or mashing the Butternut squash. It’s good to let your chickens try it in different ways! The changes in texture would probably be good for them as well.
Before feeding Butternut squash to the chickens, don’t forget to wash it. This gets rid of chemicals such as pesticides. These chemicals might be bad for the chickens and put them in harm’s way.
Feed Your Chickens Butternut Squash STAT!
Chickens can eat Butternut Squash and other nutrient-rich foods. With that said, you, the poultry or flock owner, have a responsibility to them. You have to make sure that your chickens are getting the right vitamins and minerals during their meal times and throughout their existence.
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 The Foundry.