Today, we will answer one of the most asked questions in the chicken-lovers community:
Can chickens eat oranges?
Watching what your little critters eat is one of the best ways to take care of them. That is why it comes as no surprise that many owners and keepers have a myriad of questions about what their little ones could or could not eat. After all, one wrong meal could signal the end.
Recently, there have been multiple stories and claims on whether chickens should or should not avoid oranges. It has gotten chicken handlers scratching their heads, so let’s answer this question once and for all.
Below are the five things you should know about chickens and oranges.
Can Chickens Eat Oranges?
First of all, let’s answer the dreaded question before getting into detail.
The general rule is that if you can eat it, then your chickens too. This rule applies to chickens and oranges. In other words, yes, chickens can eat oranges!
Many have claimed that oranges are bad for chickens. However, there isn’t any convincing evidence supporting these assertions. Multiple keepers would contest this notion, as you will see in this forum.
One of the contentions is that the citric acid in citrus fruits interferes with calcium absorption. Since calcium is necessary for ensuring the sturdiness of the eggshells, this translates to the fact that citric acid is unfavorable for egg production. Currently, there isn’t much evidence supporting this. In fact, when it comes to humans, citric acid is known to help in calcium absorption.
It is understandable to argue that the human body works differently from chickens. However, scientific studies have also been made with chicken subjects. The findings contradict the notion that citric acid interferes with calcium absorption and is therefore bad for egg production.
Read more about this research here.
If you would look at the nutritional value of the fruit, then you would find out that it has a few eye-catching components. First, it contains various organic substances, one of which is vitamin C. Furthermore, it has minerals such as fiber and potassium. Also, we cannot forget to mention that it also has sugar. As you can see, oranges do not contain anything that could be considered toxic or poisonous.
Nutrition in One Medium-Sized Orange
After listing down the primary components of an orange, this would be the best time to answer the next question in this debate.
Do Chickens Need Oranges?
While oranges are not lethal for chickens, they do not necessarily need the fruit as well.
In the same way that oranges do not have any component that could be fatal for chickens, it does not have anything absolutely vital for their development.
Oranges are prominent and notorious for being a good source of vitamin C. However, chickens can produce this vitamin on their own. Under normal conditions, they would do well even without consuming it. On the other hand, there is insufficient production of this compound when a chicken goes into heat stress. Oranges might be a good source of vitamin C under this condition.
Furthermore, oranges also have minerals that are beneficial for chickens. The fruit might not be necessary, but with the presence of fiber and potassium, it would not hurt to feed them a few oranges from time to time.
Too much of a good thing is always bad, that’s what they say and it’s true! Like many other fruits, oranges have sugar, so too much would be bad for the little fellas. You can give your chickens oranges every now and then, but make sure they eat this fruit in moderation.
However, do you really need to worry about feeding your chickens too many oranges? That question leads us to the point below.
Do Chickens Like Oranges?
Like with us and food, there are many things we could eat but don’t simply because we don’t like it. The same is true for chickens. There are many things they could eat but are just not for their taste buds. So, remember, it does not mean that if chickens could eat something, they will.
As it appears, not a lot of chickens like oranges in the first place. Many chickens seem to dislike the fruit, and we’re not sure what puts them off. Maybe, it’s the smell, or it could also be it’s just too sour for them. We’re not sure, but oranges don’t seem to be a crowd favorite.
However, like many other things, this varies from one chicken to another, so while some may not like oranges, others might.
These fellas surely do like oranges though:
On the other hand, these guys don’t seem too excited for the citrus:
If you plan on incorporating oranges in your flock’s diet, try giving them a few small bits to see if they would like it or not before proceeding.
Can Chickens Eat Orange Peels?
While chickens can eat oranges, peels are a completely different story.
The answer to this one is still yes. However, we would suggest against it. Yes, the little critters could eat the peels, but there really isn’t anything much in there for them.
Additionally, there are several risks in allowing your chickens to eat orange peels. First, most oranges, especially store-bought ones, have chemicals coating their outsides. These chemicals are undoubtedly bad for your chickens. Also, the peels are quite tough, and your chickens might have some difficulty digesting them, therefore causing digestive problems.
Furthermore, in the same way that most of us don’t like the peels, so do chickens. Most – if not all – detest the peels. Chances are, even if you give them oranges with peels, they would leave the skin.
Chickens are not notorious for being picky eaters. However, some keepers have witnessed their chickens picking and eating things they like from the pile but noticeably leaving the things they dislike.
How Do I Serve My Chickens Oranges?
As we all know, chickens don’t have teeth. They only have beaks, and their only way to eat things is to peck at them. With that said, throwing them a whole unpeeled orange isn’t ideal. They’ll peck at it, taste the peel and probably leave it.
What you could do is chop the oranges and drop them in their feeder. You could just serve them the oranges, or you could mix them with their feed. On the other hand, you can cut the orange in half and leave it near your flock.
However, if you plan to serve oranges to your chickens, make sure to take care of the aftermath. It may not seem much, but this is an important part of keeping your chickens healthy.
If you’ve put it in their feeder, make sure to clean it, especially if you have chickens who dislike oranges. Chances are, they might decline the whole feed next time if there are traces of oranges left.
If you gave them a whole peeled orange or halved oranges, make sure your take it out of the pen or coop after. If they like oranges, they might keep pecking at it even after it’s been covered in dirt.
A great idea for when the hot seasons come in would be to freeze a few oranges. Give these oranges to your chickens as a treat when it becomes especially hot. This is probably the best way to optimize the utility of this fruit for your chickens.
A Word of Caution
Not everything organic is good for chickens (e.g., Avocado pits). Of course, this also applies to heavily commercialized feeds. It’s always a good idea to check the nutritional facts and values of the things you plan to introduce to your flock’s diet. You could also ask other chicken owners and keepers regarding your chicken’s diet. Experience is the best teacher, and these people have already gained the first-hand experience when it comes to this topic.
When it comes to health, I think we would all agree that a good and clean diet is as important as keeping a good and clean environment for our little critters.
Can chickens eat oranges? The simple answer is: yes, they most definitely can!
Many contend that oranges are bad for chickens. Right now, we don’t have much proof of its authenticity. Scientific studies seem to contradict these claims, and many chicken keepers also go in opposition to these notions.
Oranges don’t contain any substance that could be described as poisonous to chickens, but it doesn’t offer much nutrition for them as well. Nevertheless, if your chickens like its taste, oranges could be a tasty treat that you can give them every once in a while.
However, orange peels are different. While chickens could eat them, it is not advisable as, more often than not, peels offer more harmful substances than good ones.
Oranges could or could not be a tasty treat (depending on your chicken). Whichever way your chickens swing, it’s a good thing to know that they are not barred from this juicy goodness, but remember to feed them oranges in moderation!