Chickens can eat butternut squash, and any squash for that matter. Butternut squash is a great source of nutrition either raw or cooked, hens will eat the flesh, seeds, and skin and leave very little behind!
Is Butternut Squash Healthy for Chickens?
Butternut squash – and all the various squashes – are packed with a wide range of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants.
All the good stuff to help keep your chicken’s immune systems strong and provide some good nutrition and variety to their diets.
This winter squash also contains calcium, which is an essential nutrient for laying hens, along with some other important nutrients.
It’s important to remember, however, that chickens rely on nutrition found in good commercial feeds. At least 90% of their diet should be met with a feed, and vegetables like butternut squash, despite being healthy, are to be given in moderation as a treat.
How to Feed Butternut Squash to Your Chickens
You can feed it to your chickens either raw or cooked. Obviously, butternut squash is tough when raw, and while that’s not a huge issue to chickens, I think it’s more ideal to give it to them cooked.
Roasted, baked, or boiled, it doesn’t really matter. If you’re going to spoil your hens with a whole or half squash, I’d slow roast it then just slice it and place it for them to peck at.
If you’re feeding them raw squash, I’d chop it up into smaller pieces they can peck up and swallow and scatter some around for them to forage for.
Either way, if you’ve fed your chickens treat foods before, you’ll know all too well how quickly it gets gobbled up if they like it.
Can Chickens Eat Butternut Squash Skins?
A lot of backyard chicken owners use their flock as a way to recycle foods and parts of foods they don’t eat.
There’s nothing wrong with this. In fact, it’s a great way to reduce wastage.
Personally, I don’t eat the skin of squashes so it’s one of the table scraps I give to my chickens.
According to WellandGood.com, the skin of squashes is also rich in nutrients and provides a “myriad of health benefits”, so it’s a bonus for your girls.
Related – Can chickens eat pumpkins, pumpkin seeds, or even pumpkin pie?
Some Foods You Should Avoid Giving to Chickens
Butternut squash and most fruits and vegetables are fine for chickens. There are a few that aren’t, however, as well as some other innocent-looking foods that can cause some health issues.
Here are some of the foods you should absolutely avoid giving to your chickens to err on the side of caution:
Green Tomatoes and Potatoes – It’s often said that potatoes are toxic to chickens. The facts are, however, that it’s only when potatoes (and tomatoes) are green that they’re harmful.
When they’re green, it’s a sign that they’re producing a toxin called solanine. Some vegetables in the nightshade family do this to stop bugs from eating them. It’s also toxic to chickens (and us!).
Raw Beans – Undercooked or raw beans contain a compound called lectin. Lectins are found in many foods, and unless properly cooked, this compound is toxic, even fatal to chickens.
Chocolate – There are compounds in chocolate – most notably theobromine and caffeine – that are toxic to chickens. This also applies to most pets and small animals, keep the chocolate treats to yourself.
Tea and Coffee – Both tea and coffee contain caffeine, so it’ll come as no surprise they’re toxic to chooks. Coffee also contains theobromine, so if you recycle used coffee grounds in your yard.
Salty Foods – Foods high in salt aren’t toxic as such, but excessive salt in a chicken’s diet can cause some serious health issues in the long-term.
Avocado Skin – If you’re feeding your chickens avocado, don’t give them the skin or the stone. It’s unlikely they’d eat them, but if they do there is a fungicidal toxin called persin present that can cause them health issues.
Moldy Foods – Leftovers and foods slightly past their best are fine, but never give your chickens food with mold spores on. Mold is toxic and can cause chooks some serious health issues.
Some Foods That Are Great for Chickens
Chickens love eating, and most foods are fine, so you won’t have too many problems finding treats to share with your flock.
Here are some of the best foods to give your flock:
Vegetables – Most vegetables are fine, and chickens love ‘em. As long as they’re fresh, table scraps and the tops or bits you don’t use should be fine. Try cabbage, squashes, broccoli, and carrots to get started.
Fruits – I love feeding my flock fruits, and they love receiving them! Fruits contain a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Most are fine, our favs are strawberries, figs, apples, bananas, and even the occasional jackfruit.
Grains – Grains provide a good range of nutrition, are a great source of energy, and promote natural foraging when scattered. Grains like corn, quinoa, oats, and some cereals will be most welcome by your flock.
Related – Can chickens eat yellow squash?
Butternut squash checks all the boxes for the ideal treat food for backyard chickens. It’s nutrient-rich, easy to prepare, and feed to them, and they’ll gobble up the seeds and skin if you don’t.
Image credits – Photos by Brett Jordan and Nick Collins on Unsplash
Eating all parts of squash – WellAndGood.com