Zucchini is considered a vegetable by many, although it’s classified as a fruit in botanical terms. Whether you want to call it a fruit or vegetable, it packs a healthy amount of nutrients. Zucchini is a summer squash that features in many a human diet. Poultry owners may wonder, can chickens eat zucchini?
Chickens can eat zucchini as it contains a host of vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and vitamin K. Minerals found in zucchini include potassium, phosphorus, manganese, and copper. The number of antioxidants in zucchini makes it a healthy food source for chickens.
Zucchini is part of the plant family that includes spaghetti squash, cucumbers, and melons. The fruit, or “vegetable,” is made from 95% water, which helps with hydration when consumed. Adding it as an occasional chicken treat, especially in the hot summer months, will be seen as an act of love by many of your birds.
Can Chickens Eat Zucchini?
Chickens can eat zucchini. It’s a healthy source of beneficial minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants that increase the flock’s overall health when fed as an occasional treat in partnership with a primary diet of commercial chicken feed.
The best way to feed zucchini is to cut it up into small pieces to limit any choking hazard, and ideally, you want to feed raw zucchini as it contains the most nutrients. If the zucchini is large, cut it into two halves and place the fruit on the ground, skin side down, for the flock to peck at.
Is Zucchini Good for Chickens?
Zucchini is considered a healthy treat and will enhance the flock’s overall health when fed as an occasional treat, especially during the warm summer months. Zucchini has a high water content and does wonderful things regarding rehydration in warm weather.
Nutritionally, here’s what you and your chickens can expect from the summer squash called zucchini:
- Carotenoids – Zucchini contains beta-carotene and lutein, which are beneficial to the heart, eyes, and skin and are known to combat cancer.
- Vitamin A – The multi-nutritional vitamin helps lower cancer risk, keeps eyes healthy, and acts as an antioxidant while playing a vital role in bone growth and the overall health of the immune system.
- Vitamin B6 – Assists in the production of red blood cells and converts tryptophan to serotonin, which is good for appetite, mood regulation, and sleep. Vitamin B6 also helps lower homocysteine levels.
- Vitamin C – Performs the job of an antioxidant, which helps to destroy free radicals, protects the eyes from cataracts, helps to produce collagen necessary for wound healing, and lowers the risk of mouth, esophagus, and breast cancers.
- Vitamin K – Helps to activate calcium and protein needed for blood clotting processes.
- Copper – Helps to make red blood cells and is crucial to a healthy immune system and the process of iron metabolism.
- Folate – Helps to create new cells and helps to lower the risk of birth deformities when absorbed during pregnancy.
- Potassium – Required for muscle contractions and to help balance bodily fluids. A potassium-rich diet helps lower blood pressure, maintain a steady heartbeat, and send nerve impulses.
- Phosphorus – Aids in converting food into usable energy and carries lipids in the blood while aiding the transportation of nutrients to enter and exit cells. Phosphorus helps to build strong chicken bones.
- Manganese Contributes to healthy bone formation and metabolizing carbohydrates, amino acids, and cholesterol.
- Thiamine – Helps keep skin and muscles healthy and plays an important part in nerve functioning.
Antioxidants are derived from the plant material and benefit the body by protecting against the damage caused by free radicals. The low-calorie zucchini skin contains the most antioxidants; it’s a pity that most chickens aren’t too fond of this part of the zucchini plant.
Besides the nutritional elements listed above, your chickens will benefit from the high water content (95%) in zucchini. In the heat of summertime, it may be difficult to keep your chickens hydrated and, more importantly, keep the hen’s egg quality high.
Feeding your feathery flock of zucchini, tomatoes, and cucumbers during the summer will help to keep them hydrated and happy and increase the quality of the eggs being laid.
Do Chickens Like Zucchini?
Chickens love a wide range of treats, and zucchini is one of them. The undercover vegetable is especially well received on dry and hot days, as the water content of the fruit helps with hydration.
When growing your own zucchini, it’s important to take note of the following. Cucurbitacin is a naturally occurring toxin in zucchini and other cucurbits, and its levels can increase in zucchinis that have been subjected to stressful conditions such as inadequate watering or adverse weather. Cross-pollination with wild cucurbits can also lead to higher cucurbitacin levels.
A strong bitter taste will indicate too much cucurbitacin in the zucchini. Don’t feed bitter-tasting zucchini to your flock, as it may be toxic and affect their health negatively.
Can Chickens Eat Raw Zucchini?
Chickens love raw zucchini, and it’s one of the best ways to present it to the flock. Big zucchinis straight from the garden can be cut into two halves and placed skin down on the ground for the chickens to pick at and satisfy their hunger.
Cooked zucchini loses some of its nutritional value, and feeding it raw ensures your chickens get the maximum health benefits the fruit provides.
Can Chickens Eat Cooked Zucchini?
If you have some picky eaters in your chicken flock, try to give them cooked zucchini; by cooking it, you enhance the taste profile. Do remember that by cooking zucchini, it loses some of the healthy vitamins and mineral content.
Refrain from adding any sugar, butter, oil, or salt to the cooked zucchini, as none of these elements is good for chickens’ overall health. Continuously adding harmful ingredients such as salt, butter, and sugar to their diets can lead to overweight birds struggling with obesity, fatty livers, and other digestive problems.
Can Chickens Eat Zucchini Seeds?
Chickens can eat all the parts of zucchini, including the seeds, skin, and flesh. Chickens don’t seem overly excited about the skin as it’s usually tougher in texture than the flesh, but they typically love the flesh and seeds.
Chickens can eat zucchini, and the nutritional benefits of the summer fruit make it an ideal treat for the flock. Apart from the many nutritional elements found in the zucchini plant, it helps to keep the flock hydrated during warm summer days due to the overall water content of the plant.
When feeding zucchini to your chicken flock, always take a bite of the fruit first. If it tastes extremely bitter, refrain from feeding it to your beloved chickens, as it may contain high levels of the toxin called cucurbitacin.