As omnivores, chickens can eat a wide range of foods without having any complications. However, you shouldn’t give your chickens just anything because of this. That being said, can chickens eat kiwi? Are kiwis healthy for chickens? If they are, how many kiwis should you give your chickens, and how often? Read further to find the answers to these questions.
Kiwi: Seeds, Skin and Flesh
Kiwis are one-of-a-kind food for chickens as all parts are edible. Besides, these green fruits are healthy and tasty.
Kiwi seeds are tiny in size and, as such, don’t pose any harm to your chickens if swallowed. They go through the digestive tract unbroken and also facilitate the easy passage of other foods. The seeds aren’t only non-toxic; they’re packed with lots of nutrients. For instance, they contain fiber, antioxidants, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids.
If you’ve eaten kiwis, you can testify to the toughness and strange taste the skin has. However, this doesn’t make the skin non-edible or less nutritious. Most of the nutrients in kiwis are concentrated in the skin.
For instance, it contains vitamins E and C, fiber, and folate. The high concentration of microscopic elements called raphides plus the acidic content of the fruit cause the strange taste and toughness of the skin. However, if you feel your chickens might not like it or are allergic to it, you can peel it off and serve the other parts of the fruits. You can only know this by keen observation.
The flesh is the softest and juiciest part of the kiwi fruit. The variety of the kiwi determines its color. Some varieties have their flesh color as deep yellow, while some are bright green. Usually, the color of the flesh influences how sweet kiwis taste.
For example, deep-yellow flesh will be juicier than other varieties. You can keep this in mind when buying kiwis for your chickens. The tastier the fruit, the higher the chances of your chickens liking it.
If you’re still wondering whether your chickens can eat kiwis or not, the answer is yes. As long as they’re mature enough and not allergic, they can.
To increase the chances of them eating the fruits, ensure you buy ripe kiwis. Unripe kiwis are sour, and the acidic content can be dangerous to your chickens. Usually, unripe fruits cause several gastric disorders due to the high amounts of papain they have.
3 Health Benefits Of Kiwis For Your Chickens
Kiwis are probably among the most nutritious fruits in the world. Every part is packed with essential nutrients that enhance the well-being of your chickens. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, below are the nutrients found in kiwis and their proportions.
|Vitamin C||64 mg|
|Vitamin K||27.8 µg|
|Of which sugars||6.2 g|
Here is how kiwis contribute to the well-being of your chickens:
One of the benefits of kiwis for your chickens is that they boost immunity. Chickens are very fragile animals that will go down at the seeming appearance of a disease. This is why poultry care isn’t a matter to be taken lightly.
For example, chickens die from oxidative stress. But kiwis contain antioxidants like vitamins C and E, which fight oxidative stress. These antioxidants also regulate and improve the immune system’s performance so that it is strong enough to resist disease.
Kiwi skin and seeds contain high amounts of fiber, which helps deal with constipation and gastric disorders and maintains the bowel system. While you should give your chickens healthy foods, you should also ensure they can easily pass through their digestive tract.
Blockage at any point along the digestive tract equals death, and you want to avoid this at all costs. Besides fiber, kiwis have high water content too, which is an essential component of their diet.
Builds the body
Another essential nutrient you can find in kiwis is proteins. Chickens need lots of proteins to build their bodies. They need strong and healthy bones and muscles and adequate weight; proteins help provide all of these.
As such, your chickens won’t have problems when laying eggs, and their carcasses will be meaty enough for a good sale. Kiwis also contain carbohydrates and fats, broken down to provide energy and a healthy covering for their bones.
Kiwis: Treat Or Feed?
Before you start feeding your chickens kiwis, you should settle the question of whether they should serve as treats or the main meal.
Kiwis are nutritious and tasty but should not replace your chickens’ main diet in any capacity. As regards chickens’ food, there are 2 main classes: treats and main feed. Treats are goods that should only constitute 10% of your chickens’ diet because they don’t contain all the essential nutrients your chickens need.
Besides, they can cause complications for your chickens if ingested in high amounts. For example, kiwis are high in sugar, and excessive amounts can cause piles, obesity, high blood pressure, etc., among other diseases for your chickens.
The main feed is the food that contains all the essential nutrients your chickens need and can’t harm them when consumed in high amounts. It’s usually made with grains like oats, soybean, wheat, alfalfa, peas, etc. You can buy it in stores or make it yourself. Other foods apart from the regular chicken feed are called treats.
Since it’s been established that kiwis are treats, don’t overfeed your chickens with them. The maximum should be thrice a week in the ratio of 6-7 chickens to one kiwi fruit.
Moderation is crucial if you want your chickens hale and hearty after eating the fruit.
Other treats you can give your chickens
If you’re wondering whether your chickens will love to eat cottage cheese or not, take a slice and give it to them. You can tell by the excitement and satisfaction on their faces if they love to eat it. Cheese is tasty and nutritious- it has calcium and protein, 2 essential nutrients for egg-laying hens. Ensure you get the right cheese.
Watermelon isn’t only good for you; it’s good for your chickens too. It has lots of water, vitamins, and minerals. You can infuse watermelon chunks in your chickens’ water or serve the pieces alone. Either way, your chickens will thank you by increasing their excitement when they see you.
This is very uncommon, but chickens love it. Cook the pasta, but don’t season it. You can mix it with vegetables like kale, asparagus, broccoli, etc., instead. You’ll find how much they love the pasta flowing out of their beaks as they run around your backyard.
You can read this for more chicken treat ideas.
5 Serving Tips When Giving Your Chickens Kiwis
While kiwis are the right treats for your chickens, you have to feed them the right way. Below are some feeding tips.
Serve only ripe kiwis
Either you’re buying kiwis from the store or growing them yourself, ensuring they’re ripe and healthy. Unhealthy fruits will cause a lot of trouble for your chickens. Most of the nutrients in such fruits aren’t well-developed enough for your chickens to handle. However, kiwis ripen fast, so you can buy unripe ones if you intend to buy the fruits in bulk. In addition, Inspect every part of the kiwis you buy; healthy fruits shouldn’t smell awkward or be rotten. To be on the safe side, you can grow kiwis on your property, but the process is intensive. You’ve to be committed.
Wash the kiwis before serving
As much as possible, you should keep your chickens away from eating dirt because of their sensitive internal organs. Wash the kiwis thoroughly with water before you serve them. If the kiwis are ripe, handle them with care.
Serve the kiwis in slices
Your chickens might get fed up if you throw the whole kiwi fruit to them. Cut up the kiwis into small slices or 2 parts so that they’ll be able to peck at it.
If your chickens don’t like the skin, remove the skins before you give them the fruit to avoid wasting it. You can also mix the flesh of the kiwis with the regular chicken feed or mix the kiwi slices with other fruits like apples, pineapples, berries, etc.
Serve in moderation
Whether you’re growing kiwis yourself or buying them for the stores, it doesn’t cost anything. You’re either spending time or money. As such, don’t give your chickens so many kiwis to the extent that they waste some. One kiwi is enough for 6 to 7 chickens. Besides, it’s unhealthy to overfeed your chickens with kiwis.
Clean the coop
Chickens aren’t the cleanest of animals; therefore, you must clean their coop after every meal. If you leave the remnants, the kiwis will become rotten and possibly be an entryway for internal parasites. Clear all remnants and standing water before you provide new food and water.
Chickens can eat all parts of kiwi as long as they want to. You can serve kiwis alone or mix them with other foods as a variety in their diet. However, ensure that the kiwis aren’t rotten or diseased. You might have to grow kiwis or buy from local farmers if you can’t get good ones in stores.
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.