As humans, we enjoy eating watermelon as it is an undeniably refreshing and yummy treat, plus they make the summer heat a bit bearable. There’s also a host of health benefits to eating this delicious fruit, a fact that may make you want to share it with your coop of chickens. As a result, you might wonder: can chickens eat watermelon?
Chickens can eat watermelon in moderation. You can add watermelon to your chickens’ diet as a healthy snack as it contains several nutrients that they need. Additionally, this fruit is mostly made up of water, which makes it a treat of choice for rehydration. Chickens can eat various parts of a watermelon, including the flesh, seeds, and rinds.
Is Watermelon Healthy for Chickens?
In addition to being delicious, watermelon is as nutritious as far as treats go. Here are some health benefits of this yummy fruit:
It Helps Chickens Cool off on Hot Days
Watermelon is made up of about 92% water, which makes it a great source of hydration for your chickens. Although your chickens can withstand some temperature changes, they cannot sweat. On hot days, they will lose lots of water in the form of vapor. To cool themselves off, you may find them flapping their wings to trap some air, or burrowing themselves in the soil to lower their body temperatures.
These cooling strategies may work, but they may not be good enough to keep them comfortable. It’s important to ensure that your chickens have aconstant supply of clean, fresh water to keep them hydrated. In addition to providing water, you can help them cool down even further by providing them with a couple of ripe watermelon slices as a treat.
It is Packed with Nutrients That are Beneficial for Your Chickens’ Health
Water isn’t the only impressive quality of watermelon – it’s also packed with nutritious elements such as vitamins A, B6, and C. Watermelons also contain more lycopene (an antioxidant) than any other fruit. Other nutrients include riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, zinc, potassium, choline, folate, betaine, manganese, magnesium, selenium, phosphorus, and copper.
Watermelons also contain a decent amount of fiber, which can help enhance your chickens’ digestive system by adding bulk to their stools.
It is Low in Sodium and Sugars
On the flip side, watermelons don’ contain much of the potentially harmful stuff, like sugars and sodium.
It Can Boost Their Egg Production
The fresh and clean water found in melons can add extra hydration that is needed for egg production. Egg laying saps a lot of energy from chickens, and they need all the water they can get to feel replenished and reduce the risk of stress.
It Can Help Uplift the Mood of Your Chickens
Just like humans, chickens display different moods in different settings. Depending on a variety of factors, they may feel happy or sad. Their emotional state may affect their productivity, so it’s essential to keep them happy. Feeding your chickens slices of watermelon will help to boost their mood and emotional state as it is a treat that they thoroughly enjoy.
Can Chickens Eat Watermelon Rind?
Watermelon rinds may not be as tasty as the flesh, but they are safe for chickens to eat. This part of the watermelon is high in fiber as well as potassium. You can slice it up the rinds if you want, but chickens enjoy having something to peck at. It encourages their natural foraging behavior to give them food that they can peck at, plus it helps to prevent boredom.
It’s worth noting that they won’t typically eat the whole rind, and are more likely to peck at the pink or white flesh and leave the green skin alone. The outer wall is pretty thick, which makes it hard for chickens to tear off pieces to consume.
Can Chickens Eat Watermelon Seeds?
The digestive system of an adult chicken includes a well-developed crop that is designed to process a wide variety of seeds, including watermelon seeds. While you should steer clear of giving too many watermelon seeds to other animals like goats and dogs, chickens are uniquely suited for digesting them.
Furthermore, watermelon seeds are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, proteins, zinc, magnesium, potassium, omega-6 fatty acids, copper, and more. So, instead of picking them up and throwing them away, scoop out the center flesh, the part that has the most seeds, and feed it to your chickens as a treat.
Can Chickens Eat Watermelon Leaves?
If you have watermelons growing in your garden at home, you may want to find out if the leaves and vines of the watermelon plant are also safe for consumption by chickens.
The main concern with the leaves and vines is that they should be free of pesticides. Just as you would not eat pesticide-laden substances, you should also be careful not to feed them to your chickens. Therefore, you may want to consider only feeding watermelon leaves if they are sourced from your home garden, or from one that you’re completely sure is pesticide-free.
Even with organically grown watermelons, which are sometimes sold on the vine, a neighboring farm may have done aerial pesticide spraying, which leaves room for contamination. To be on the safe side, make sure you rinse watermelon leaves thoroughly before giving them to your chickens, or simply avoid feeding them leaves altogether.
It’s worth noting that if you plan to feed the watermelon leaves at the same time you feed the fruit, your chickens will likely ignore the greens in favor of the latter.
How Often Can Chickens Eat Watermelon?
Although watermelons are healthy, they should only be given as an occasional treat to chickens rather than becoming a staple of their diet.
How Much Watermelon Can Chickens Eat?
If you have an overabundance of watermelon crop this year, you may want to make several frozen treats to give to your chickens.
Is Too Much Watermelon Bad for Chickens?
Watermelon, like any other treat, should be fed to chickens in moderation. This is because the fruit is far too low in protein to become part of their diet.
When giving watermelons to your chickens, make sure you don’t overfeed them. Giving them too much watermelon, especially several days in a row, can cause them to eat less of their normal chicken feed. This in turn will decrease their overall protein intake which can lead to a notable decrease in egg production for your layers and a drop in the body mass of your meat chickens.
Can Baby Chickens Eat Watermelon?
Baby chickens can eat watermelon, but it should be given in moderation. Baby chicks do not have fully developed crops, so they should be limited to the flesh part of watermelons only and not fed rinds or seeds.
Just like with adult chickens, treats like watermelon should not be a staple in their diet. Chicks need a steady supply of protein to allow them to develop properly, and overloading them with treats will hinder this.
How to Feed Your Chickens Watermelon?
Here are some ideas on how you can feed watermelons as a treat to your chickens:
Frozen Watermelon Block
Slice up one medium or small-sized watermelon into cubes. Place the cubes in a bowl, fill it with water, and then freeze. You can serve the resulting frozen block as a treat to your chickens on a sweltering day – they will enjoy pecking at it as the pieces of watermelon start to defrost. You can add other chicken-safe treats to the ice block for a truly delicious summer snack.
Watermelon Vine Salad
Chop up watermelon leaves and vines and combine with small amounts of watermelon flesh as well as any other chicken-safe vegetables you may have in your kitchen like cucumbers, carrots, and even other fruits like strawberry. Mix them thoroughly and serve them up to your flock.
Cool Watermelon Soup with Mint
Mix watermelon flesh, rind, seed, mint, and ice, and then blend them until they have the consistency of soup. Pour the cool watermelon soup into a bowl and watch your chickens gobble it up
Can Watermelon Kill Chickens?
Feeding your chickens watermelon won’t kill them. That said, always give watermelon (and any other treat) in moderation and take precautions to ensure it is pesticide-free. Never give your chickens moldy or rotten watermelon as this can cause health issues for them. While it’s okay to give watermelon scraps, only feed them when fresh.