What Fruits Can You Feed Chickens?

One thing we’ve found when working with other backyard chicken farmers—those who raise chicks into hens and even maintain flocks of backyard chickens—are that they are a talkative bunch when it comes to their flocks. Equipped with bounties of knowledge about everything from including grains and chicken feeds in their food selection to feeding protein-rich beans, kitchen scraps, meat, and even observing the joy of watching as their chicks molt and grow into full-fledged hens, they also have loads of questions.

Female Irish farmer on smartphone near hen house

So, what is the hottest topic?

Believe it or not, it’s what you can feed chickens. I’m not talking about what type of commercial bird seed to buy or if proteins, like beans, should be part of your food arsenal. However, we have discussed that a time or two in other posts. Beyond just seed, what other things can you feed them? Like fruits, leafy greens, squash, insects, or even skins of fruits and veggies.

I’ve taken the questions about what fruits to feed chickens right from the text list and pasted them below for you. But before we dive into that, have you ever wondered if backyard chickens would enjoy leafy greens or squash? Hens, those finicky girls, often are fans!

Let’s also look into why fruits can be good for your laying ladies and why you should offer a schedule of fresh delights like veggies and grains. Finally, we’ll discuss which fruits you should NEVER give chickens and why.

Why You Should Feed Your Chickens Fruits

fruit basket on farm picnic table


Incorporating fresh fruits into your chickens’ diet can significantly enhance their nutritional intake. Fruits, skins, grains, nutritious protein-filled beans—just about all kinds of food, really—can impact your girls’ health in a positive way. Fruits are rich sources of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can complement the nutrients found in standard chicken feeds. This variety can lead to increased consumption of essential nutrients, better egg production, and overall improved health.

Your Birds Are Smart

Chickens are intelligent creatures that thrive when mentally stimulated. Feeding them fresh fruits, herbs, and kitchen scraps can serve as a form of enrichment. Pecking at different textures and exploring new flavors not only keeps them engaged but also prevents boredom, which can lead to behavioral issues. This mental stimulation can contribute to healthier and happier chickens, reducing stress and promoting natural behaviors like foraging. 


Just like humans, chickens appreciate a varied diet. Imagine eating the same meal every day – it can get monotonous. Chickens are no different. Adding fresh fruits to their diet introduces variety, making mealtime more exciting. This variety can lead to increased consumption of essential nutrients, better egg production, and improved health. Additionally, the diverse flavors and textures of fruits can encourage picky eaters to explore and enjoy different foods, ensuring they receive a broader range of nutrients. In the end, a varied diet contributes to happier, healthier, and more content chickens.

How Often Should You Feed Fruit to Chickens?

While fruits are nutritious, they should not replace the primary chicken feeds. Chickens should receive fresh fruits as an occasional treat, not as a daily meal. Imagine what it would do to your system to have fruit and only fruit 24/7.

It’s recommended that you offer chickens fruit 1-2 times a week or once every 3-4 days. Grains, squash, leafy greens, and bugs can supplement their diet and keep those hens and chicks healthy as well.

Fruits You Should NEVER Feed to a Chicken

While there’s a wide array of fruits that chickens can safely enjoy, it’s essential to be aware of the fruits that should be kept far away from your feathered friends. These fruits may contain substances that are toxic or harmful to chickens.


avocado tree with avocados
  • Toxic Component: Avocado contains a substance known as persin, which is harmful to chickens. Persin can disrupt their digestive system, leading to symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and even death in severe cases.
  • Avoid All Parts: Chickens should not be given any part of the avocado, including the flesh, skin, and pit.

Green Tomatoes:

green tomatoes in basket
  • Solanine Content: Unripe or green tomatoes contain solanine, a toxic alkaloid. Solanine can cause gastrointestinal distress and other health issues in chickens.
  • Proper Ripening: While ripe tomatoes are generally safe for chickens in moderation. Ensure that any tomatoes you offer to your flock are fully ripe, and consider removing the seeds as an extra precaution.

Other Potential Fruit Hazards:

While avocado and green tomatoes are the primary fruits to avoid, it’s also wise to be cautious with other unconventional fruits, vegetables and non-commercial feeds. Some plants may contain compounds that could be harmful to chickens when wandering about in your backyard. For example, even though they relish a variety of flavors, you should avoid feeding them with large amounts of spinach or lettuce. Consuming these in moderation would be fine, but an excess could lead to soft-shelled eggs.

By being vigilant about the fruits and vegetables you offer to your chickens — remember the skins of most fruits and veggies, such as plums and pumpkins, are safe and often beneficial — you aid their nutritional intake while ensuring their safety. Tossing them a corn cob or some peas can keep your flock safe, healthy, and happy while providing them with the benefits of a diverse diet.

For more information on what not to feed chickens, check out our article on “38 Foods You Should Not Feed Your Chickens“, which includes foods like carrots in excess, due to their high sugar content.

Can Chickens Eat…? Q&A

Here’s that list of text questions I promised. I hope your question is answered here! If not, check out of of our other articles on what you should and should not feed your chickens.

Can chickens eat grapes?

grapes on vine with female English farmer

Yes, chickens can eat grapes. But remember to mix in some greens, squash, insects, peas, and those protein-rich beans along with corn cobs to keep their diet balanced. Your backyard chickens, hens, and chicks will be healthier and happier for it. Grapes are a great source of vitamins and can be given as an occasional treat. They’re also a fun way to cool down on hot summer days. Freeze them in ice cubes, perhaps tossing in a few slices of hydrating cucumbers along with juicy plums, and watch your chickens enjoy a cold treat in their coop, straight from your garden.

Can chickens eat bananas?

banana tree with female Panamanian farmer

Yes, chickens can eat bananas. They are a good source of potassium, fiber, and other nutrients that help balance fluids in the body, regulate metabolism, and so much more. The water-rich content of bananas can also contribute to their hydration just as lettuce or spinach would in moderation.

Can chickens eat apples?

apple tree with female American farmer

Yes, chickens can eat apples. Apples are safe for chickens, but you should remove the seeds and cut the apples into small pieces to prevent choking.

Can chickens eat pineapple?

female Antiguan pineapple farmer with pinapples

Yes, chickens can eat pineapple in moderation. It’s a tasty and nutritious treat for them, much like berries, pumpkins, and spinach leaves that one might find around a garden.

Can chickens eat oranges?

female Italian-American orange farmer

Yes, chickens can eat oranges. They are a good source of vitamin C. Vitamin C helps support the immune system and overall health of chickens, playing a role in disease resistance and stress management.

Can chickens eat strawberries?

female French strawberry farmer

Yes, chickens can eat strawberries.

Can chickens eat blueberries?

female Polish blueberry farmer

Yes, chickens can eat blueberries. 

Can chickens eat mango?

female Puerto Rican mango farmer

Yes, chickens can eat mango. Mangos are a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as various B vitamins, which can benefit chickens when included as part of their diet along with other beneficial foods like lettuce and peas.

Can chickens eat peaches?

female Scottish-American peach farmer

Yes, chickens can eat peaches. Be sure to remove the pit, as you would with apple seeds, before offering this sweet treat to your flock. 

Can chickens eat cherries?

female Norwegian cherry farmer

Yes, chickens can eat cherries, but you should remove the pits before feeding them to chickens.

Can chickens eat watermelon?

female Chinese watermelon farmer

Yes, chickens can eat watermelon. This fruit, like cucumbers, holds a lot of water, so it’s a hydrating and refreshing treat, especially on hot days. Coupling it with vegetables like carrots or lettuce can further enhance their diet.

Can chickens eat raspberries?

female Asian Indian raspberry farmer

Yes, chickens can eat raspberries. 

Can chickens eat blackberries?

female Dutch blackberry farmer

Yes, chickens can eat blackberries. This fiber-rich berry type adds a burst of flavor to their menu.

Can chickens eat cantaloupe?

chunks of canteloupe in bowls

Yes, chickens can eat cantaloupe. It’s a sweet and hydrating fruit that chickens can enjoy.

Can chickens eat figs?

photo of figs

Yes, chickens can eat figs. Figs are a nutritious treat with beneficial ingredients, but you should feed them in moderation, just like you would with leftovers or table scraps. Make sure you keep these in a separate bowl to control the amount given to your chickens.

Can chickens eat pears?

pears on picnic table

Yes, pears are a safe and nutritious fruit for chickens to enjoy. They’re as welcome on the menu as berries and leaves from the garden. Just like humans, chickens prefer their food at a comfortable temperature, so try to serve it fresh or at room temperature.

Can chickens eat nectarines?

female Swedish nectarine farmer

Yes, your chickens can eat nectarines. But remember to remove the pit, much like you would have to with apple cores, and seeds of peaches and cherries before feeding it to your beloved pets.

Can chickens eat kiwi?

kiwi fruit on picnic table

Yes, chickens can eat kiwi. Interestingly, your chickens can technically eat kiwi skin, just like how they can technically eat apple cores, but it’s not recommended. This is because the skin can be tough and may pose more of a challenge for chickens to digest. It’s better to peel them to ensure they can enjoy it more easily and safely.

Can chickens eat citrus?

Yes, chickens can eat citrus fruits like oranges. Keep in mind that citrus fruits should not be the primary ingredient in their diet-as they are acidic and can cause digestive issues if given in excess.

While chickens can have a certain amount of citrus, it’s generally not recommended to feed them citrus rinds, including those of lemon, lime, or oranges. Citrus peels contain essential oils and compounds that may be harsh on a chicken’s digestive system and may cause upset. Offer chickens a mix of fruits and vegetables like cucumbers, berries, leaves, figs, and apple slices (minus the cores) to give them a more suitable diet.

Lemons and Limes

Chickens can technically eat small amounts of lemon flesh, but it’s generally not recommended to feed them lemons. Lemons are highly acidic, which can upset a chicken’s digestive system and lead to discomfort. Plus, chickens might not take to the sour taste of these bright yellow fruits.

Can chickens eat pomegranate?

glass bowl of pomegranate seeds

Yes, chickens can eat pomegranate. Pomegranate represents another product with bursting fruity flavor and healthy seeds that can be a tasty treat for chickens, much like raspberries and blackberries.

Chickens can technically eat small amounts of pomegranate rinds, but they’re not recommended as good feed. Similar to the cautions around apple cores, pomegranate rinds are tough and might be challenging for chickens to digest.

Can chickens eat melons?

Yes, chickens, just like any other pet, can enjoy various types of melons, such as watermelon and cantaloupe. The water content of these fruits, quite similar to the hydration from a bowl of cucumbers, offers an added hydration bonus.

Yes, chickens can eat watermelon rinds. Watermelon rinds, akin to a cucumber’s skin or apple’s flesh (outside the cores), are safe for chickens and add to their overall nutrition and hydration. Chickens often enjoy pecking at the juicy parts of the rind.

Can chickens eat tomatoes?

Yes, chickens can eat tomatoes, but it’s best to feed them ripe tomatoes in moderation. Similar to interacting with temperature-sensitive ingredients, avoid giving them green or unripe tomatoes.

The Fruit Roll Up

Remember to introduce these fruits gradually into your chickens’ diet and provide them in moderation as treats. Fresh, ripe, and clean fruits should fill up their feeding bowl and form the best options for your feathered friends. This includes berries, cucumbers, and other vegetables available in your garden or leftover from your table scraps.

Also, prioritize their regular feed that will help them lay eggs, or fatten up depending upon their purpose. Malnourishment can lead to a weakened immune system. Enhancing their product with fibrous foods like raspberries, blackberries, bananas, and apples (minus the seeds and cores) can be a beneficial strategy.

I hope this comprehensive list, even covering little-known facts such as chickens’ ability to consume cucumbers, kiwis, and leftovers helps you out. Hopefully, you’ll share it the next time your neighbor asks about the amount of fruit they can feed their chickens.

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