Feeding Your Chickens Pumpkins for a Fall Treat
Have you seen the latest craze? People everywhere are feeding their chickens pumpkins!
It’s a challenge to see if your flock can carve a pumpkin just off the design you scratch into the surface of the pumpkin. It’s fascinating to me! The chickens actually start pecking only at the areas that have been lightly scratched off.
Pretty soon, they carve the pumpkins for you! I tried this with my flock, and they’ve done an incredible job. While this is fun for them and a great boredom buster, it’s also very healthy for them!
Pumpkins are nutritious and delicious for your feathered friends. They are high in fiber and the seeds are high in good fats. Pumpkins are high in calcium, niacin, iron, magnesium, potassium and beta-carotene. The beta-carotene also gives your yolks a nice rich orange color. Pumpkins also have vitamins A, B, C and E. With all this nutrition, we all should be eating more pumpkin! My favorite thing time of year are pumpkin spice lattes, but I don’t think that counts as healthy! Haha!
Your chickens can eat the pumpkins raw or cooked. They won’t mind either way. I usually cut (or break) my pumpkin in half. When I first started, I just set a pumpkin out in the run and waited for them to dive in. They didn’t understand the concept until I started poking some holes for them to peck at. Chickens love to peck, scratch and explore new things. Pumpkins provide some great entertainment for them.
Pumpkin seeds are great for your chickens! There is some debate out there on whether pumpkin seeds are a good dewormer for your chickens. While it would take quite a bit of pumpkin seeds for your chickens to accomplish this, the coating on the seeds is what paralyzes the parasites/worms.
No matter what school of thought you have on this, feeding pumpkins and their seeds to your chickens will not hurt them. And, because they’re high in fiber, pumpkins are a great treat for their gut health.
Some people go to great lengths to puree their pumpkin insides for their chickens. I haven’t needed to do that. I cook up a lot of butternut squash in the fall. After it’s baked, I scoop out the insides and give them to my chickens. They go crazy for it. It’s a nice warm treat for them on these colder days.
Pumpkins can be cut up and frozen for an all-year treat. This can be done cooked or uncooked. The only thing to avoid is feeding them rotten pumpkins.
My rule of thumb is that if we won’t eat it, our chickens won’t either. Feeding rotten foods to your flock can make them sick. Our chickens are our pets. They’re part of the family. Giving them treats is a lot of fun for us. However, a good reminder when giving treats is to make sure you’re still providing them with a good quality chicken feed. Treats should be a small portion of their diet and not the main event. Keeping our chickens healthy will ensure they live a long time and provide healthy eggs for us as well.
Now, about that pumpkin spice coffee…
Until next time,
–The Wing Lady