July 24, 2020

Can Chickens Eat Apple?

Risks & Benefits

Published by Sheila WIlson

Vet Approved

Chickens are very interesting creatures. They tend to eat many different things, from their own feed to insects on the ground. While they may be eating a lot of different things, you are probably wondering what is good for them.

After all, what they eat will also affect how their eggs turn out once they begin laying them. Knowing what type of food to feed to your pets is ideal for ensuring you have healthy chickens that produce good eggs.

Today, we will be looking at apples to see if they are good for your chickens to eat.

Can Chickens Eat Apple?

Yes, chickens can eat apple. The skin and flesh of apples make a healthy and nutritious treat with calcium and vitamins like A and B₆. However, the seeds contain cyanide and should be removed before feeding. Also, follow our vet-checked guidelines as overfeeding apples may lead to various health issues.

Apples can be considered an excellent treat to give to your chickens. However, giving your chickens the core or too much of an apple isn't really a healthy option for them. You will also find that it is better to give them dried apple pieces. We will go over why that is in a little bit.

Healthy treats like apples can make a great addition to your pet's daily diet.
- Dr. Leonie McKinlay, DVM

Apples are also one of the easiest types of produce to get your hands on, which also happens to be good for chickens. This is because you can get a large number of apples for a reasonable price. This ensures that you can always have some available to give to your pets.

Some chickens can be picky and will only stick to their feed, while others will happily enjoy a new flavor. However, most of the time, chickens tend to enjoy the delicious taste that apples have.

Health Benefits: Is Apple Good for Chickens?

Apples are a good source of nutrients that you can give to your chickens. However, it is recommended to give apples only as a treat and not as a general source of their food. Still, apples have some benefits that could help promote a healthier chicken.

Calcium Source

For chickens, calcium is important for their diet. In the summertime, chickens can develop a deficiency in calcium due to increased egg production and heat. This could lead to signs like rough, weak eggs or losing feathers.

This is why it is crucial to provide some sort of calcium source to your chickens. This will help keep their bones healthy and strong. Not only that, but it will help your chickens produce healthier eggs. Apples are a great choice as there is a decent amount of calcium found in this fruit.

Contains Vitamin B₆ 

Vitamin B₆ plays an important role in the health of your chickens. If your chickens tend to have a lot of protein in their systems, vitamin B₆  can help break down the excess amino acids. They will need to ingest increased amounts of vitamin B₆ if they have high levels of protein in their diet.

apples on wooden table

Vitamin B₆ is also needed to help the brain work properly, and it also helps carry signals from one cell to another. It is important to make sure that your chickens are staying healthy and are taken care of. If you notice your chickens are not walking properly, they may require some vitamin B₆.

Since apples contain this vitamin, it is easy to simply give them a few bites of an apple a few times a week. It will help you know that they are getting enough vitamin B₆ .

A Good Source of Vitamin A

Another key factor in owning healthy chickens is making sure they get vitamin A. This vitamin helps in growth and the reproductive system. It also aids in keeping the epithelial cells healthy. These cells are important in the skin and the linings of the digestive, respiratory, and reproductive tracts.

Giving your chickens some apple a few times a week can help maintain their vitamin A intake. It will help promote better growth and ensure that they will lay healthy looking eggs.

Health Risk: Is Apple Bad for Chickens?

Apples can help your chickens in a lot of ways. However, too much isn't really a great idea. Let's go over a few things to avoid when giving your chickens apples.

Avoid Giving the Seeds

While the fruit and skin of an apple can be good for your chickens, the seeds are the exact opposite. They can be very toxic to your birds. This is because they contain a component called cyanide.

Be sure to avoid feeding the seeds.
- Dr. Leonie McKinlay, DVM

If too much cyanide is ingested by chickens, it could be fatal for them. This is because it prevents the blood cells from carrying oxygen, which is obviously needed in order to survive.

On the bright side, one seed does not have enough cyanide to hurt them.

Before giving apples to them, make sure all the seeds are removed. This ensures that your chickens will have a safe, happy snack time.

Beware of Pesticides

We mentioned that the skin of an apple is most definitely safe for your chickens to eat. In fact, it has phytonutrients in it that help fight off cancer. However, there is one thing you need to consider before you start giving them apple peelings, which is avoiding pesticides.

Pesticides can be very dangerous for your birds. A good way to ensure that your chickens don't get apples with pesticides on them is by growing your own tree! You are in control of how the apples are grown, and therefore you don't have to use chemicals.

If you are unable to get your own tree, it might be good to purchase organic apples. The downside is that they can be a bit more expensive. However, you won't have to worry about pesticides if you buy organic produce.

Don't Overfeed

This one may be simple, but it is also very important, especially for your chickens' diet. Chickens can sometimes forget how to stop eating, as they may enjoy a certain food. They tend to do this a lot with apples.

If they end up eating too much of an apple, it can lead to different types of health problems. Apples have small amounts of iron in them, which in itself isn't bad for chickens. However, chickens are small creatures, and having too much of one mineral could make it toxic for them.

Also, keep in mind that while they can eat the core of an apple, it isn't always best to give it to them. It could be a little much for your pets. It can also be a little hard for them to eat, which could lead to digestive problems.

Eating a lot of apples can also affect how their eggs turn out. They may end up producing bad eggs or producing very few. That is why it is best to give apple in small amounts and only as a sweet little treat – and not every day.

Feeding Guidelines

As has been stated previously, it is best to know not to overfeed your chickens. The way to do this is by making sure that they have the appropriate amount that is just right for your chickens. 

How much and how often

After knowing you shouldn't overfeed your chickens, you may be worried about how often you should give them apples.

A slice of apple per each chicken is enough for a serving. And although feeding apples won't harm them, sugary treats should not be a daily treat. A few times a week is enough.

When feeding the flock, cut the apples into slices or small chunks to make sure each chicken gets a piece. 

Different Options for Feeding

There are a few different options you have for feeding apples to your chickens. The first and simplest way is to cut them into small chunks. You can do this with or without the apple's skin. Keep in mind that chickens tend not to eat the skins alone because it is hard for them to chew.

Another option would be to purchase dried apples. It is a good option because it takes a lot of the moisture out that the chickens do not need. It does, however, cost a little more to do it this way. If you have a dehydrator, you can do this at your home at a cheaper cost.

Nutrition Facts

As you can see, there are a bunch of different nutritional items in apples. These are things that can help improve your chickens' health, especially if they haven't been doing too well.

You already know that apples come with vitamin B₆, vitamin A, and calcium. There are a few more minerals that do good things for your birds. Vitamin C is also found in apples, but the good thing is chickens already make their own Vitamin C. However, it can help them if they are feeling stressed.

Apples also have potassium, magnesium, and some protein; these are all pieces of a balanced and nutritious diet.

Bottom line: Can Chickens Have Apples?

When it comes to owning chickens, you want the best for your feathered friends. Being able to give them healthy foods, such as apples, can really benefit them.

Apples should be given as a sweet treat to help promote a healthy diet for chickens. Cut the apple up into slices or chunks, and let your flock enjoy the snack. Remember to avoid the seeds, as they can be harmful.

Apple for Chickens - FAQ

Can chickens eat apple peels?

Yes, chickens can eat apple peels. The peel is totally safe for your chickens, although some chickens find it a bit hard and would rather just eat the fruit's flesh. Always remember to wash the apples thoroughly if they are not organic and may have been sprayed with pesticides. Also, only feed apples as a part of an otherwise healthy and balanced diet.

Vet's Comment

Apples are one of the safest foods to feed your chickens, and they will definitely enjoy this sweet treat. Just be sure to avoid feeding the seeds, and to give them apples no more than a few times a week.

The basis of your chicken's diet should be a high-quality commercial poultry pellet. They should get plenty of fresh feed daily and be allowed to eat as much of it as they would like. This will ensure they get all the minerals, vitamins, and protein that your chickens need to thrive and create high-quality eggs.

Chickens are curious eaters, though, and love to get a variety of fruit and vegetable scraps from your kitchen. Healthy treats like apples can make a great addition to your pet's daily diet.

- Dr. Leonie McKinlay, DVM

Dr. Leonie McKinlay, DVM

Vet-Approved by
Dr. Leonie McKinlay

DVM

Dr. Leonie McKinlay has always had a special fondness for animals and knew from a very young age that she wanted to be a veterinarian. She obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from the University of Calgary and then her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in 2011. Since graduation, Dr. McKinlay has been working at the same small animal practice, caring for dogs and cats.

NOTE: Advice provided within this article by FeedingMyPet.com is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Please discuss your chicken's specific dietary needs (based on his breed, weight, age, and health status) with a veterinarian.

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