Today, we will be answering that question and putting the tomato under the microscope.
Tomatoes can be used for several things, and there is no surprise if you have a supply of them at home. However, it is still fresh produce, and it can only stay fresh for so long. If you have some chickens, then you might be asking if you can give the rotting fruit to them.
That is where we come in!
It is not always easy to know what we should give to our chickens. Like dogs, cats, and many other animals, there are things they should not consume.
We understand your problem, and we all want what is good for your little guys. So, let us go and study those tomatoes.
Can Chickens Eat Tomatoes?
If you ask if chickens can eat rice, the answer would be yes. On the other hand, if you ask if chickens can eat chocolates, the answer would be no. The answer is quite direct with the two. However, it is not as clear-cut when it comes to tomatoes.
When it comes to tomatoes, the answer is both yes and no. Furthermore, the chicken community does not seem to be united in its view of the fruit. It is a tricky fruit, as you can already see.
The confusion stems from the fact that tomatoes come from the nightshade family. Nightshades contain solanine which is a substance that is known to be poisonous to both people and animals.
As you already know, humans can consume tomatoes without any problem. The same is true for chickens. However, certain conditions should be met to ensure your critters’ safety when consuming this treat.
Ripe vs Unripe Tomatoes
Usually, red means stop, and green means go. However, the opposite is true when it comes to tomatoes. It is advisable that you only feed your chickens ripe tomatoes. Unripe tomatoes can pose a threat to your chickens because it still has traces of solanine in it.
Cooked vs Uncooked Tomatoes
As long as the tomato is ripe, you can already give it to your chickens. If you want to be extra careful, cooking the tomatoes before you give them to your flock will ensure you are giving them a safe and juicy treat.
However, do not forget that sodium is bad for your birds. If you ever want to give them cooked tomatoes, then refrain from adding any seasoning.
Can Chickens Eat Tomato Leaves?
Chickens can eat almost every part of the tomato. However, it is a different story with tomatoes. You need to be extra attentive when giving this fruit as there are parts your chickens can and cannot consume.
When it comes to the leaves, it is not advisable to give them to your chickens, it is considered toxic to chickens.
Can Chickens Eat Tomato Flowers?
The flowers could also be harmful to them. With nightshades, it seems that any green part is a good indication that it could be bad for your chickens.
Can Chickens Eat Tomato Stems?
Again, since this is a green part of the plant, it would be a good idea to stay away from it.
Examine the tomatoes you would give to your chickens since most tomatoes still have the stem intact. Remove the stalk before feeding the fruit to your little critters.
Generally, when it comes to tomatoes, it is best to stay away from anything green. For that reason, you might want to put your run and your tomato garden as far away from each other as possible.
On the other hand, you might not even need to worry. Chickens are pretty good at knowing what is good or bad for them. If they happen to reach some leaves or flowers, they might take a peck or two and never consider it again.
Can Chickens Eat Tomato Seeds?
Yes, it is safe to let your chickens eat tomato seeds, which means you can throw them the whole tomato fruit without worrying about taking out the seeds.
Can Chickens Eat Moldy Tomatoes?
Some handlers like to give their overripe fruits to their chickens. When fresh produce starts to look bad for our consumption, some keepers opt to give it to the little ones instead of disposing of it.
It is alright to give your chickens overripe tomatoes or any overripe fruit or vegetable at that. However, the general rule is, it is best to stay away from moldy food. Some say that there are molds that could be good, but it’s not that easy to distinguish what is good or bad mold. In this case, it is better to be safe than to risk it. If it has mold, away it goes.
Can Chicks Eat Tomatoes?
Since we are already talking about chickens and tomatoes, let us address if the little ones could also have a bite.
Yes, you could give your baby chicks tomatoes, but the same rule applies. Generally, do not feed your little chicks what you would not feed to the adults. Furthermore, do not forget that chicks are supposed to mainly be fed starter feed until they are 6 to 8 weeks old!
Do Chickens Like Tomatoes?
You have to remember that each chicken is different. One chicken might prefer a treat, while another might hate the said treat. However, it seems chickens generally like tomatoes. Just watch these fellas:
Again, make sure you examine the tomatoes you give them. Chances are, they would gobble it all up immediately once you present it to them. In case it has some leaves or stems left, they might accidentally ingest it.
Should You Give Tomatoes to Your Chickens?
We have established what parts of the tomato your chickens could and could not eat. We have also discussed if they like the fruit. Now, let us tackle if it is good for them.
Tomatoes, like a lot of other fruits, contain a lot of healthy components that could be good for your chickens. In that sense, yes, it would be a good treat in comparison to anything processed and heavily packed with salt and sugar. Click here to see the list of nutrients you can find in tomatoes.
1 Cup Cherry Tomatoes Nutrition
However, again, like a lot of other organic treats, it is only good in moderation. Tomatoes would make for a nice snack every once in a while, but it should not replace any of the essentials of your chickens’ meals.
Furthermore, too many tomatoes might not only mess up their health but also your run! Tomatoes are watery, and what chickens consume could affect what they bring out. If your chicken has one too many tomatoes, you might want to watch the consistency of their poo as it might become watery as well. They might step on it and spread it all around the run. Messy!
Alternatives to Tomatoes
There isn’t much preparation when it comes to tomatoes. You could simply toss them the whole fruit. If you want, you could hang it or chop it up and put it in their feeder.
However, we understand if you are uncomfortable with giving them to your chickens. Here are some alternatives you might want to give to your little critters instead:
Bananas: Bananas might be one of the safest treats you could give to your chickens. You might not believe it, but chickens can eat almost every part of the banana – even the peel!
Rice: There has been some debate in the poultry world when it comes to rice. Some say that you could only feed your chickens cooked rice. However, as we have said before, cooked or uncooked rice is safe for chickens. We do not know about your chickens, but rice is most probably one of the top favorites of the critters.
Grapes: If you want to give them something juicy, then you might want to give them some grapes. Like the banana, almost every part of the grape can be eaten by your chickens. You will not have to worry about any part.
Mealworms: Of course, we cannot forget about mealworms! It is probably one of the best options for treats.
If you’re looking to introduce your chickens to a wide variety of food, then you can check out our very own chicken feeding tips and this list.
However, always remember that it does not mean that your chickens can eat something, you should let them indulge in it without any restrictions. In addition to watching what your chickens eat, it is also a good idea to monitor how much they eat!
Let us sum everything up. Can chickens eat tomatoes? Yes and no.
Despite being part of the nightshade family, it is safe to feed your chickens ripe tomatoes. However, it would be best to avoid giving them unripe tomatoes along with the leaves and stem.
Tomatoes could be a nice treat for the little critters. However, extra caution should be taken when it comes to this fruit. Examine the tomato you give them, and make sure you remove every harmful part. Furthermore, do not forget to wash the tomatoes before you feed them to the critters, especially if it is store-bought.
Lastly, do not forget that almost every treat is only good in moderation!
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.