Most chicken may be worried over the numerous things that chicken eat whether given to them or not. For instance, can they eat tomatoes? Read on to find out.
As a chicken owner, you want your chickens to be happy and healthy. Natural and whole foods may be healthy for them, but you may have noticed that they eat just about anything you give them. As part of the infamous nightshade family, many people often wonder whether tomatoes are a healthy chicken diet.
So, can you feed your chicken with tomatoes? As a healthy treat to many animals, chickens can also eat tomatoes. However, they should only consume them in moderation alongside a healthy and balanced diet. While tomatoes may be rich in minerals and vitamins, be very careful that they only eat ripe tomatoes and never the green tomatoes, the plant leaves, or the flowers. They tend to be poisonous to the chicken’s health.
As part of the nightshade family, tomatoes may both be beneficial or dangerous for them. Read on to find out if chickens love tomatoes, reasons why they should eat them, the dangers of eating tomatoes and healthy alternatives of tomatoes as chicken feeds.
Do Chickens Even Like Tomatoes?
Yes, chickens adore tomatoes and go crazy over them as a snack or a tasty treat. The internet is replete with videos of chickens happily devouring tomatoes if you need visual proof of tomatoes’ appeal to chickens.
As much as they enjoy eating tomatoes, it is not advisable to include them as part of their daily diet. You should however provide them with some ripe and fresh tomatoes. Alternatively, you can feed them with the leftovers or table scraps instead of letting the tomatoes go to waste
They should only be consumed as a treat. Overindulgence is likely to result in reduced frequency of the eggs they lay. If you have tomato plants easily accessible to your chickens, you may have a problem limiting the amount that the chicken will take.
While feeding your chicken tomatoes as a treat, consider chopping up the ripe tomatoes into small, bite-sized chunks. The small bits do not resemble the tomato fruits, discouraging overindulgence, and they make it easier for portion control.
Why Should Chicken Eat Tomatoes?
Chicken can eat meat, fruits, and vegetable sources but tomatoes are some of the most common vitamin treats that you can feed your chicken. They are also a great source of carbohydrates and minerals, and chickens also like to peck, tear, and swallow them.
Tomatoes in isolation are rich in the following nutrients:
A tomato comprises 4% of carbs, which is equivalent to 5 grams of carbohydrates in a medium specimen made up of 123 grams. Tomatoes also contain other nutrients such as fructose, and sugar, which makes up to 70% of the carb content. These nutrients help the chicken stay active and energized throughout the day.
Tomatoes also pack a great deal of fiber. A single tomato can provide up to 1.5 grams of fiber to a chicken’s body. Most of the fiber is soluble and is available in the form of hemicelluloses, cellulose, and lignin. Together these forms of fiber assist in digestion when the bird eats ripe tomatoes.
- Minerals and Vitamins
Tomatoes are a great source of vitamins and minerals including:
- Potassium – Although found in small amounts, potassium is an important nutrient to your chicken.
- Vitamin K1 – Also referred to as phylloquinone, vitamin k1 plays an important role in the bone development of your chickens.
- Vitamin C – As a source of antioxidants, this is an essential nutrient to the chicken’s health. One medium-sized tomato can provide up to 28% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI).
- Vitamin B9 – Also known as Foliate, vitamin B9 plays an important role in a chicken’s body by promoting tissue growth and cell function.
Always offer your chickens ripe tomatoes as they make their feeding effortless. Moreover, ripe tomatoes do not pose a danger to their health, unlike the green and unripe ones.
The Dangers that Tomatoes Pose to a Chickens Health
Although chicken can be fed with tomatoes, it shouldn’t be done all the time. They contain toxic compounds, which could prove fatal if consumed regularly. In that regard, how do chickens react to tomato treats?
Much of the confusion about tomatoes being a source of vitamins for chicken stems from the fact, as part of the nightshade family, tomatoes contain solanine. This substance is poisonous to many animals, including chickens, though this information can be misleading.
For starters, only the flowers and leaves of a tomato plant are high in the solanine compound.
Therefore, the plant can be hazardous to chicken but not necessarily the tomato fruit, because when it is ripe and solanine free.
Also, just like us human beings, these birds have an innate ability to pick the kinds of food they can eat for the most part. As curious as they get at pecking and testing new food sources, chickens also poses instincts that help them decide whether some specific type of food is harmful to them.
When they peck at a tomato plant to test whether it is a good food source, the chickens will only take a bite or two before they realize that the bitterness of the tomato plant is an unsuitable food source, and likely ignore the plant in the future.
What Other Foods Are Dangerous For Chickens?
Just like tomato plants, onions are another common vegetable scrap that should not be offered to chicken. Onions also contain a dangerous chemical compound that can cause anemia in chickens. As such, it should be avoided in a chicken’s diet.
If at all your chicken accidentally consumes some small craps of onions, don’t panic. Only high concentrations of onions in a chicken’s digestive system cause health implications to the birds.
Eggplants also pose health issues to a chicken. No matter how ripe they may be, they have a toxic chemical substance that can prove fatal if the eggplant is consumed in large quantities.
Some people may advise that poisonous vegetables are safe to chickens once they are cooked; however, there is always the risk of the poison surviving the cooking process. Hence, always avoid feeding your chickens fresh onions, eggplants, and green tomatoes.
- Salty and Sugary Food
Always avoid feeding your chickens with food with excess sugar or salt. As human beings, we know that excess sugar and salt can be dangerous to our health, so why should we offer our birds an overdose of the same?
Since chickens are omnivorous and not exactly meticulous eaters, they do not get too much of any one thing, usually at the expense of a balanced diet. Thus, they are likely to consume too much sugar and salt, which is likely to upset their digestive system. Excess sugar and salt can make them lethargic and reduce their general appetite. They could even entirely stop eating and lose their appetite. Once they have used up their fat reserves, things are likely to go downhill fast.
Excess salt or sugar in a chicken’s body (or any animal) can result in dehydration and whenever our bodies lose water, we tend to become much stressed and too sick to either eat or drink. With the delicate balance of a chicken’s metabolism, it does not take a lot of excess salt and salt to upset it. Ensure that you provide your birds with a balanced diet to prevent any health issues.
What are Healthy Alternative Food Sources for Chickens?
If you want to feed your chickens a balanced diet, consider the recommended chicken grain, or layer mash based feed. You can easily get these types of feed from your local produce supplier, or order some from the Amazon online superstore.
Your chickens will also enjoy some typical kitchen and garden waste products to supplement their feed. They help maintain a healthy balance of the nutrients and vitamins, which they need throughout the day. If you want to offer them some special treats, consider giving them some mealworms. Your birds will love the treat.
Tomatoes may be a nutritious and delicious treat for your chicken but they should be offered in moderation. As a treat, you should only offer them only a few times a week and should be ripe enough to prevent potential poisoning, which could occur from eating green tomatoes or the leaves and flowers from the tomato plant.