If you have backyard chickens, you are probably always looking for what you can and can’t feed them. To keep your chickens healthy, you want to give them a varied diet so that they lay lots of lovely eggs for you to collect. So, is it safe for chickens to eat tomatoes?
Yes, it is certainly safe for your chickens to eat the ripe red fruits of the tomato. In fact, tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other beneficial compounds that will keep your chickens happy and healthy. And your hens will love this tasty treat.
Benefits Of Feeding Tomatoes To Chickens
As already stated, tomatoes contain plenty of vitamins and minerals that will benefit your chickens. They’re also low in calories but high in Vitamin C and other antioxidants.
Additionally, tomatoes are high in a compound called lycopene. This will help to protect your chickens from diseases and illnesses. You can feed your chickens tomatoes in a variety of different forms, including fresh, cooked, and even dried.
Only Feed The Ripe Fruit Of The Tomato To Your Chickens
If you also grow your own tomatoes rather than buying them from the store, it’s vitally important that you only feed the ripe fruit to your chickens. This is because all the other parts of the tomato plant, including the leaves and the stem, are highly toxic to both chickens and even humans.
This also includes the fruits that are still green, so avoid giving these to your chickens as well.
Tomatoes are part of the Solanaceae family, which also includes potatoes, eggplant, chili peppers, and the highly toxic deadly nightshade plant. These plants contain an alkaloid called solanine. If ingested, this could cause serious health problems in your chickens.
That’s why it’s important always to wash your hands after you’ve been pruning or training your tomato plants. Or to wear gloves. It’s also why both green potatoes and green tomatoes are considered toxic and should not be consumed.
Luckily, however, green tomatoes and potatoes will have a bitter taste. So, if you accidentally throw some green potato peels or tomato skins into the chicken coup, the hens will likely not eat them due to the unpleasant taste.
How Can You Feed Tomatoes To Your Chickens?
As long as you’re only feeding the red tomato fruits to your chickens, you can serve these in a number of different ways. You can just give your chickens a few ripe tomatoes that they can peck at and consume. This should keep them busy for some time.
Alternatively, you can dice or chop up the tomatoes and mix these with their regular feed. You can even mash up the tomato fruits and mix this with the regular treats that you feed your chicken.
If you regularly cook tomatoes and you have some leftovers, you can feed these to your chickens once they’ve cooled down. On the other hand, you can even dehydrate tomatoes if you have a lot to harvest and then give these as a treat to your chickens.
You also want to ensure that you don’t feed your chickens any tomatoes that have mold on them because this can make them sick.
Will Chickens Eat Tomatoes Off The Vine?
If you let your chickens roam free around your garden, you might be wondering whether they will eat the ripe tomatoes off the vine.
Because chickens absolutely love tomatoes, they might be tempted to steal a few of the ripe fruits to eat. Most chickens will avoid eating the toxic leaves and stems of the tomato plant due to the unpleasant and bitter taste, but it might be a good idea to keep your chickens away from the plants to protect both the hens and the tomatoes.
You can do this by putting some tomato cages around the plants themselves or even fencing off the entire garden area where your tomatoes are growing. All you have to do is put in some posts and then run the chicken wire around them to keep both your chickens and your tomato plants safe.
Can Feeding Tomatoes To Hens Affect Their Egg Quality?
If you feed your hens too many tomatoes, this can affect the quality of the eggs that they lay. Because tomatoes are packed with nutrients, this can alter the concentrations of yolk carontieinds and lipid pexorodidation in the eggs. Ultimately, this can actually change the taste of the eggs.
Additionally, too many tomatoes can also have an effect on the laying frequency of the hens.
How Often Should You Feed Tomatoes To Your Chickens?
Like other supplementary foods, tomatoes should only be fed to your chickens as a special treat and no more than two to three times a week. This will provide your hens with all the benefits of nutritional tomatoes, but it won’t affect their egg quality or their laying capacity.
Important Points To Remember When Feeding Tomatoes To Your Chickens
If you want to provide your chickens with the nutritional benefits of tomatoes, here are the most important points to remember:
- Only feed juicy ripe red tomatoes to your chickens
- Limit the tomatoes to a treat two or three times a week to limit their effect on egg production
- Never feed any part of the tomato plant that, includes leaves, stems, and flowers, to your chickens
- Don’t feed unripe green or moldy tomatoes to your hens
- Make sure that you only offer tomatoes as an addition to a regular, well-balanced diet
- Fence off your growing tomato plants to keep chickens away from them to both protect the tomatoes and the hens from accidentally pecking at the plants or unripe fruits