It’s that time of year again—the time when home gardeners everywhere are harvesting their mouth-watering summer crops. Some of these crops, like zucchini, hide behind big leaves and other fruits. By the time you find them, they’ve grown too large and tough to enjoy.
But rest assured, you can still feed the overgrown fruit to your chickens. Even if you don’t garden, zucchini is a wonderful treat to offer your chickens in the summer heat. Zucchini offers several health benefits, and we want to share those benefits with you today.
Benefits of Feeding Zucchini to Your Chickens
Your chicken’s nutrition depends on why you’re raising your flock. Most people have backyard chickens for eggs, but some harvest their birds for meat or use them for breeding. In any case, zucchini is 100% safe and an acceptable treat.
Not only is zucchini safe for your birds, but they also reap certain nutritional benefits from regularly munching on this tasty summer squash.
Zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, and several other summer-harvest fruits and vegetables have one thing in common- water.
All these fruits and vegetables are high in water content, which makes sense because it’s unbearably hot outside in the summertime. It’s difficult for chickens to stay cool and hydrated during summer. This can cause your egg production to stop, slow, or lose quality.
Zucchini has a water content of about 95%. Offering this delicious treat will keep your chickens well hydrated, increasing the quality of their eggs and making them happy overall.
Vitamins and Minerals
Everyone knows that fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals. So, let’s look at what zucchini has to offer our chickens.
Zucchini is a low-calorie summer squash with a high-fiber count. Certain types of fiber offer a carbohydrate that the body can’t digest. Instead, it passes through the body and adds bulk to stool. Zucchini is also rich in vitamin B6, antioxidants, vitamin A, and potassium. It even contains lutein and zeaxanthin, compounds that help protect the eyes.
A Possible Natural Dewormer
There are anecdotal suggestions that zucchini may be a natural dewormer. Specifically, the zucchini seeds may help lessen worms in the GI tract, though direct evidence to support this is not definitive.
Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo) belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family, a plant family containing squash, pumpkins, melons, and other gourds. The seeds of these gourds are coated in a substance called cucurbitacin. It’s this substance that’s believed to be a natural dewormer.
It makes sense since zucchini is so good for the digestive tract. In fact, ancient people used cucurbits medicinally to reduce pain, prevent malaria, and induce vomiting.
However, we still need more research that proves the effectiveness of zucchini seeds on worms. Studies done on pumpkin seeds show promising research on livestock and nematodes. But there aren’t many—if any—on zucchini seeds. They’re in the same family as pumpkins, so all we can do is hope.
Regardless, it’s still a good idea to feed your chickens zucchini because of the other nutritional benefits. Chickens love zucchini, whether the seeds help with deworming or not.
How Much Zucchini Can Chickens Eat?
Too much cucurbitacin can be highly toxic, but this shouldn’t be a problem since zucchini seeds have low doses of the compound. Toxicity is rare and often caused by a mutation within the plan. Still, if this bothers you, just avoid feeding zucchini to your chickens every day. Feed them zucchini every week or every other week instead.
When you do offer zucchini, try to feed a small amount of it in its peak season so the fruit is at peak nutrition. Above all, focus on feeding a balanced diet and your chickens will be fine.
How to Offer Zucchini to Your Chickens
Offering zucchini is easy and can be done in several ways, depending on the size of your flock and fruit.
If you have a large flock of chickens, it’s best to cut the zucchini into pieces so the entire flock has a chance to get a treat. You can sever your zucchini in half if you’re dealing with overgrown fruit.
As long as you provide a way for your chickens to eat the flesh and ensure each bird gets a chance to eat, either option is fine.
Other Foods to Feed Your Chickens
It’s always best to feed your chickens fresh food in addition to high-quality feed. Some fruits and vegetables you can offer include:
You can also mix it up and offer foods other than fruits and vegetables, like:
With anything related to bread and cheese, limit these foods and only offer them as treats.
Foods to Avoid
We can’t end this post without mentioning some foods you should avoid feeding your chickens. Steer clear of these foods for your chicken’s safety:
Zucchini is a wonderful treat to offer your chickens. It’s helpful to have chickens if you find an overgrown zucchini fruit in the garden.
You shouldn’t have to worry about the zucchini seeds, but be mindful of how much zucchini you feed your chickens in general. Too much of a good thing is always a bad thing. Paired with a well-balanced diet, zucchini will keep your chickens happy and healthy.
Featured Image Credit: congerdesign, Pixabay