Contrary to popular belief, chickens do enjoy a varied diet that goes beyond just grains and insects! Chickens are known to take a liking to many foods, however one of the best sources of nourishment that should be included in your feathered friend’s diet includes tomatoes. In this short but comprehensive guide, we’ll be explaining why these birds love tomatoes, and how to ensure that they are being fed safely.
Are tomatoes a good food source for chickens?
As a proud owner of chickens, you’ll no doubt want the best diet for them. Rich in antioxidants, fibre and potassium, as well as vitamins C, K and B9, it turns out that tomatoes can be one of the most nutritious sources of food for your flock to peck at. When it comes to their food, chickens aren’t picky animals, so they’ll equally enjoy cooked tomatoes as much as they do raw tomatoes. Incorporating nutrient-dense foods like tomatoes into their diet can also allow your chickens to grow faster and become healthier.
Can feeding hens tomatoes affect their egg quality?
Feeding your hens too many tomatoes can have an adverse effect on their egg quality. Due to the high volume of nutrients found in tomatoes, too much of this moist fruit can affect the concentrations of lipid pexorodidation and yolk carontieinds, which can alter the taste of eggs. A hen’s diet that heavily includes tomatoes may also directly affect the frequency of eggs that they lay.
How often should I feed my chickens tomatoes?
Tomatoes may be a healthy choice for chickens, but they shouldn’t be the only food source that you choose to feed them. Just like how we enjoy a treat from time to time, tomatoes should be fed to chickens in moderation. This is because your flock may grow accustomed to the taste and start to neglect their natural food sources that you offer them. Depending on the number of chickens you have, you can avoid this issue by feeding them tomatoes in small bite-sized quantities at specific intervals, for example two to three times a week. As chickens tend to eat more food in colder weather conditions to keep warm, you’ll need to adjust their feeding in the winter by increasing the number of tomatoes they eat alongside their usual feed.
Can I feed my chickens unripe tomatoes?
While tomatoes are safe for your chicken’s consumption while red and juicy, their unripe state contains the compound solanine which is harmful. It’s also important to be mindful that both the leaves and stems of tomatoes are part of the nightshade family and contain the same poisonous substance. You should also avoid giving your chickens tomatoes that are mouldy, rotten, or have been in contact with pesticide.
Provided that you are feeding your chickens this fruit in moderation and while it is ripe, tomatoes are a safe and healthy choice for your flock. Delicious and easy to eat, tomatoes contain a number of vital vitamins and minerals that can help to keep your chicken’s health in good condition, while allowing them to enjoy a balanced staple diet.
See our “What can Chicken’s Eat” guide for more information on the full range of foods!