Can Chickens Eat Watermelons? Delicious Treat or Danger?
People who raise backyard chickens are always looking for nutritious treats to give their chickens as a supplement to their regular diet. Have you wondered if chickens can eat watermelon?
Is It Safe For Chickens To Eat Watermelons?
Watermelon is perfectly fine to feed to your chickens. In fact, you might find that they actually love it and will get quite excited when they see you bringing some out. And, watermelon is also good for your hens as it contains many different vitamins and minerals that they will benefit from.
In addition, eating watermelon will also keep your hens well hydrated during hot days in summer. And, when your hens are well-hydrated, they’ll lay more eggs.
Let’s look at the many nutritional benefits that watermelon can provide your chickens.
Nutritional Benefits Of Watermelon
Watermelon has a whole range of nutritional benefits for your hens. Here’s just a summary of all the goodness contained in this summer fruit.
- Watermelon contains more antioxidants than any other fruit. Antioxidants are important to guard against free radicals that can destroy healthy cells and lead to disease.
- Watermelon contains lycopene. This is a carotenoid that helps to boost the immune system.
- There are high levels of Vitamin C in watermelon. This is important for your hens, especially when they’re under heat stress, because it’s difficult for them to produce themselves.
- Watermelon also contains high levels of magnesium and potassium. These minerals are regarded as electrolytes and will keep your chickens well-hydrated even during hot weather.
- There are no saturated or trans fats in watermelon. This is good news because your hens won’t become obese when eating this delicious fruit. Bear in mind, though, that watermelon does contain a fair amount of sugar, so it should be fed in moderation.
Can Chickens Eat Watermelon Flesh?
Most chickens adore the bright red flesh found inside the watermelon and will devour it before you can blink. Once the watermelon ripens, the juicy red flesh will contain concentrated levels of vitamins, including beta-carotene. This vital carotenoid is responsible for giving egg yolks their orange color.
Is It Safe For Chickens To Eat Watermelon Seeds?
Watermelon seeds are perfectly safe for your hens, and you might find that they devour the seeds before they make a start on the juicy flesh.
Plus, the seeds provide even more nutrition for your hens. These seeds contain around 25% protein and a healthy amount of calcium. And, we all know how important calcium is in relation to egg production. The seeds also contain a healthy amount of potassium to keep your hens adequately hydrated.
Is It Safe For Chickens To Eat Watermelon Rind?
While watermelon rind is perfectly safe for chickens, you’ll find that it’s just a bit too thick and tough for the hens to eat. However, this is often the most nutritious part of the entire fruit.
You see, the rind contains a compound known as L-citrulline. This is an amino acid that helps chickens to reduce their body temperature and avoid heat stress. It’s also known to increase digestive health and reduce harmful gut bacteria.
In addition, watermelon rind also contains fiber which can help your hen’s digestive system.
One of the best ways to get your chickens to eat watermelon rind is to grate it and then add it to some cubes made from watermelon flesh for a refreshing summer salad for your flock.
Just remember to wash the skin and rind well in order to get rid of any residual chemicals or pesticides that may be present if you purchased your watermelon at the store.
However, don’t hesitate to throw some rinds out to your hens after you’ve finished munching on a slice of watermelon. While the chickens will always prefer the lovely soft flesh, they’ll definitely have a go at the rinds if that’s all you’re going to give them.
In fact, if you happen to grow watermelons in your garden and you let your chickens free-range, don’t be surprised if they attack the fruits by working their way through the hard outer skin.
Can Chickens Eat Unripe Watermelons?
It is perfectly safe to give unripe watermelons to your hens. However, the unripe flesh of watermelon doesn’t contain nearly as high a concentration of nutrients as the fully ripe red flesh does.
Therefore, you might just want to wait until the watermelon is fully ripe before giving it to your hens so that they can enjoy the most nutritional benefits from this fruit.
Can Baby Chicks Eat Watermelon?
Even baby chicks can benefit from the nutritional value found in watermelon. You can feed the flesh to baby chicks once they reach 2 weeks of age. Remember, to only feed it in moderation and only as a treat to supplement their regular feed.
In general, you shouldn’t feed the watermelon seeds to your chicks because their digestive system hasn’t developed enough to be able to digest the seeds well. However, once the chicks reach about 6 weeks of age, they should be able to digest the watermelon seeds along with the juicy red flesh.
How Do You Feed Watermelon To Your Flock?
When feeding watermelon to your flock, you can keep it simple and just cut the fruit into wedges and then give one or two of these to your flock to enjoy. Or, if you have a lot of hens, you can just slice a whole watermelon lengthwise and place the two halves out for your chickens to peck away at during the afternoon.
For an even better treat on a hot day, why not freeze some watermelon slices before you give them to your hens? Your hens will really appreciate the lovely cool treat on a hot summer’s day.
Or, you can get a little more creative and make them some watermelon and mint soup. This is one of the best ways to keep your chickens hydrated on a hot summer’s day.
You see, chickens find it difficult to deal with the heat because they don’t have sweat glands as we humans do. The only way they can expel heat is through their skin and their comb. Therefore, when the temperature rises above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll notice that your hens will start to exhibit some interesting behavior.
Commonly, they’ll hold their wings directly out from their bodies in order to let air pass under them. You might also notice your chickens panting, which is exactly what dogs do to cool down.
So, on hot days, apart from giving your chickens some slices or wedges of watermelon to feast on and hydrate themselves, here’s how you can make some watermelon soup for them.
- Scoop out the flesh from a halved watermelon. The seeds are fine too.
- Throw this in a blender together with a handful of ice cubes and a few sprigs of fresh mint.
- Once the watermelon soup is blended nicely, pour it into the empty halves of the rind and take these out to your chickens.
Place the watermelon soup in a shady spot and watch your hens run excitedly to where you’ve placed their treat. You’ll find this will keep them busy for quite some time while they devour the entire contents of the rind bowls.
If you find that your hens haven’t eaten the rind, you can fill the watermelon bowls with ice water for your chickens to drink.
Other Watermelon Treat Ideas To Give Your Chickens
If you have plenty of time on your hands and want to give your chickens some other delicious and nutritious watermelon treats, why not try some of these?
For this refreshing salad, you want to mix together some chopped-up carrots and cucumbers, add some chopped watermelon flesh, and some chopped-up watermelon plant leaves and stems. Put all of this into a feeding plate and watch your chickens peck away with gusto.
Watermelon Ice Blocks
Cut some watermelon flesh into small cubes. Place these in a bowl that is filled with water and put it into the freezer. When the weather is hot, take out the bowl of frozen watermelon and place it in a shady spot that your chickens can reach. This will keep your hens happy for hours.
As an alternative to this, you could just freeze some cubes of watermelon and then throw a few into their drinking water bowls on a hot day. Not only will these keep the water cooler for longer, but they will also provide some entertainment for your hens as they try to get at the watermelon cubes in the water.
Important Tips To Remember When Feeding Watermelon To Your Flock
We’ve now learned that you can safely feed watermelon to your flock. Plus, they really love this tasty treat. Especially on a hot day. It not only provides them with essential nutrients but also helps to hydrate them.
However, when feeding watermelon to your flock, here are some important tips that you should remember.
- Only feed watermelon in moderation and as a treat when added to their normal balanced diet of pellets.
- As watermelon has a very high water content, (more than 90%), you might find that your chicken’s poop becomes a little watery too. This is nothing to worry about as long as you only feed watermelon in moderation and as a treat.
- Never give your hens moldy watermelon, as the mold could be harmful to your chickens.
- Reserve any treats for the afternoon after your hens have eaten their pellets. Otherwise, you might find that they’ll fill up on treats and not eat their regular feed, which provides all their nutritional requirements.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can chickens eat other parts of the plant that watermelons grow on?
Chickens can eat both the leaves and the stems of the plant that watermelons grow on. So, if your chickens are allowed to roam free around your veggie patch, don’t worry if they peck at your watermelon plant.
Can watermelon cause digestive problems for chickens?
Like with any type of treat you feed your chickens, excessive amounts of watermelon can cause digestive problems and even diarrhea in your hens. As long as you stick to the general rule of only giving your hens treats as 10 percent of their daily feed, your chickens shouldn’t have any problems.
Is there a limit to how much watermelon a chicken can eat?
As long as you only give watermelon as a treat and it makes up no more than 10 percent of the hen’s diet, you can’t go wrong. As an estimate, a healthy adult chicken should only be given around 1 tablespoon of watermelon per day.
Can watermelon affect the taste of eggs laid by chickens?
No, feeding watermelon to your hens will not affect the taste of the eggs.
How often should I feed watermelon to my chickens?
It’s recommended that you only give watermelon to your hens once or twice a week at most.