Can Chickens Eat Peppers?


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When caring for chickens to get fresh eggs for you and your family to enjoy, there are a variety of foods you can feed your chickens. Keep in mind that chickens can not eat a bunch of things because it is toxic to them. But can chicken eat peppers?

Yes, chickens can eat peppers. However, the pepper is a part of the “nightshade family” of plants. This essentially means that the pepper plants themselves contain solanine, which is toxic to chickens. So please do not feed your chickens the plant, leaves, or the flowers of pepper plants as it will cause significant harm to your hens. However, the fruit itself, the pepper, is safe to eat, but the chickens might not like it all that much.

As you continue to read, you will find a wider variety of food to feed your chickens. Along with that, this article will also discuss a large portion of foods you should avoid feeding your chickens above all else.

© Photo by Alexandr Podvalny from Pexels

Can Chickens Eat Peppers?

As previously stated above, yes, but only the pepper itself. Please do not feed your chickens the plant itself, the leaves, or the flowers that grow into the peppers. As all pepper plants are part of the nightshade family of plants, it contains solanine which can be toxic to your chickens. So only feed your chickens the fruit itself, which is the pepper and the seeds inside it.

When it comes to jalapenos and other spicy peppers like chilies, these are also okay to feed your chickens. In fact, spicy peppers are usually included in bird food. The peppers’ primary use is to deter mammalian pests from eating your bird food. What is neat about this is chickens, and all other birds are actually immune to the fiery Caprese, which gives peppers their heat.

What To Feed Your Chickens

When keeping chickens, it is essential to know that chickens need a balanced diet just like you. Layer feed should be the preferred food source for pet chickens. Chicken feed, which is available in pellets or the form of a crumble, is designed to meet the nutritional needs of laying chickens to keep them healthy and reliably produce well-formed eggs. Protein and calcium are essential, but commercial feeds often contain various vitamins and minerals necessary for a chicken’s health.

Supplementing their diet is also necessary, especially in cold weather when chickens must increase their food consumption and foraging is not an option. Choose fruits, berries, and grains to keep chickens satisfied and have a nutritionally healthy diet. Leafy greens, cooked beans, corn, non-sugary cereals and grains, bananas, apples, and most other fruits and vegetables are all excellent options.

Here are some other foods you can feed your chickens to supplement their regular diet of feed:

  • Strawberries: Strawberries are an excellent choice for your chickens and tend to be a favorite. They are sweet and filled with numerous vitamins, vitamins A, C, and B9, to be exact. They also contain their fair share of anti-inflammatories and are rich in antioxidants.
  • Rice: While white rice has little nutrition, brown and wild rice have tons and are a much better alternative. However, do not ever feed your chicken uncooked rice. It will absorb the fluids in their stomachs and expand, causing blockages or perforations in the intestines.
  • Cabbage: Cabbage is very healthy and is packed with its own list of vitamins and minerals. You can string the whole cabbage up and leave it there for your chickens to eat when they please.
  • Popcorn: Popcorn actually makes a pretty good feed for chickens. It is full of vitamin A, E, and K, all in high amounts, including a ton of fiber. Just be sure not to add salt or sugar to the popcorn.
  • Blueberries: Like strawberries, chicken absolutely loves blueberries. While they are packed full of vitamins and minerals, they also have plenty of antioxidants. However, feeding your chickens blueberries in excess can turn their poop blue. This is not harmful to the chickens, so do not worry.
  • Cherries: Cherries are full of vitamins A, C, E, and K, while also containing trace amounts of choline, which is essential for your chickens’ health. So whether you cook or give them cherries fresh, your chickens will gobble them up.
  • Meat: Chickens are omnivores, meaning they eat both meat and vegetables as we do. Just trim off the excess fats from the meat, and the chickens will go to town. You can even throw a turkey or chicken carcass into their pen, and they will pick it clean. However, be wary of overly salty meat, especially ham. Chickens can eat ham and salty meat but only in small amounts.
  • Pumpkin: Pumpkins are great for chickens. In fact, their seeds aid in the prevention of worms. That being said, give your chickens a whole pumpkin, and they will be busy with it for hours.
  • Carrots: Carrots are an excellent food supplement for chickens. Whether they are raw or cooked, your chickens will enjoy them. However, please do not feed your chickens canned carrots or any canned goods for that matter. This is because anything canned is going to be packed with salt and preservatives, which are bad for your hens.
  • Crickets: these are a very healthy snack for your chickens. They are packed with protein, fat, and carbohydrates that are all essential for your chickens. But while it is an excellent snack for them, do not feed them a ton of crickets because crickets are very high in protein, and too much protein can be bad for your chickens.
  • Eggs: Chickens really love eggs. They come with all the proteins they need to, well, keep laying eggs. All you have to do is scramble the eggs when you feed them. On the other hand, if you try to give them hard-boiled eggs, they will not touch them because it looks like an egg, which they think is an unhatched baby chick.

There are plenty of other foods that you could add to this list of healthy foods for your chickens, but we would be here forever and a day talking about all of them. So, let us go to the next thing on our list, shall we?

© Image from Nature’s Best Organic Feeds

Food To Avoid When Feeding Your Chickens

Chickens are ferocious eaters, and they will eat just about anything you throw near them without hesitation. However, it is up to you to feed them what they need, and there are a plethora of foods to avoid when doing so. Citrus fruits, green potato skins, avocado, rhubarb, uncooked beans, and onions are also toxic to poultry. Strong tastes from vegetables, such as garlic, can influence the taste of eggs and should be avoided.

When it comes to foods chickens absolutely should not eat, there is not a whole lot. Some foods will not help or hurt the chicken in any way, while others can make the chicken sick if they overeat a lot of it. However, there are very few foods that are outright toxic and will kill your chickens.

Here is a brief list of food to avoid feeding your chickens:

  • Uncooked beans: Beans contain a toxic called phytohaemagglutinin, which is always fatal if ingested any poultry of any kind. If the beans are thoroughly cooked, this will neutralize the toxicity. The beans need to be cooked to a core temperature of 175 degrees Fahrenheit for the toxic to be completely neutralized. 
  • Dried beans: the same goes for dried beans as it does for uncooked beans. Dried beans can even cause severe illness and even death in humans if consumed, so avoid dried beans at all costs.
  • Moldy foods: You would not eat musty food, so why give it to your chickens? Even though there are some good molds, penicillin was developed from such mold. The common molds that grow on fruits and old foods are a different story. This mold produces toxins that can make you and your chickens sick, if not worse.
  • Avocados: The meat inside an avocado is okay to feed to your chickens but only in tiny portions. The skin and the pit, on the other hand, are poisonous to them. They contain a toxin called persin. So, all in all, do not feed avocados to your chickens.
  • Green potatoes: Potatoes contain solanine-like peppers and also include chaconine. However, this is only true in the green parts of potatoes. You can feed fully grown and fully cooked potatoes to your chickens, but they do not benefit the chicken other than a full stomach.
  • Green tomatoes: As previously stated in green potatoes, unripe green tomatoes contain solanine and chaconine. This is overall very toxic to your chickens. 
  • Chocolate: Widespread knowledge states that chocolate is bad for most animals, particularly cats and dogs. But, chocolate for chickens can be fatal. Theobromine and caffeine are toxic and are both contained in chocolate. The darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it has; therefore, it is more harmful to your chickens.
  • Coffee beans or grounds: Caffeine is very bad for chickens and can cause fatalities in your flock of hens. 

Final Thoughts

Chickens will eat almost anything you throw into their pen with no question. While most of the food you can give them will not harm them, some of them, however, will not benefit the chickens at all other than giving them a full stomach. When it comes to peppers, feed it to them all you want, but only the pepper itself. Do not feed any green, leafy, flower, or stems of the pepper plants as it contains solanine and can be fatal for your chickens.

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