Summer squashes like yellow squash and zucchini are fine for chickens to eat, yes. In my experience, hens love all squashes and will happily peck away at the flesh, seeds, leaves, and skin. They’re nutrient-rich too, so it’s a healthy treat food.
Is Yellow Squash Healthy for Chickens?
All the squashes – both summer and winter ones – are packed with good nutrition. So, it’s no surprise that yellow squash is a good source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for chickens.
It’s also high in water content, so makes for a refreshing treat in the summer months.
It’s worth noting that chickens do have very different dietary needs from us. But they will certainly benefit from the wide range of good nutrition in yellow squashes.
It’s also important to remember that vegetables and other foods we eat are treats for chickens. They should get at least 90% of their diet met with a quality commercial feed, with treats like squashes adding some healthy variety to their diet.
How to Feed Yellow Squash to Your Chickens
Yellow squash is very similar to zucchini. I mention this because most of us are far more familiar with zucchinis as they’re much more popular.
The main differences are that yellow squashes are a different shape – more fat-bottomed and curved – and they have more seeds inside. Oh, and the color of course!
Preparation and cooking are similar though. In fact, it’s more common to keep the skin on a yellow squash when cooking it.
You can roast or boil them, but being a summer squash with high water content, I find it’s best simply served up either sliced down the middle into two halves and cut into smaller pieces.
If you want to give you chickens something to play with (or work for), try slicing a squash and hanging it up for them to peck at. Chickens love pecking food that’s head-height.
Can Chickens Eat Raw Yellow Squash?
Yes, it’s safe to feed your chickens raw yellow squash. In fact, being a vegetable with such a high water content, feeding them raw to your chooks is probably the best way.
Some Foods Known to Be Bad for Chickens
Yellow squash is fine and will provide a great snack. There are a lot of foods that aren’t fine for chickens though, and some may come as a surprise.
This isn’t a complete list, but below are some of the most well-known foods that are bad for chickens:
Green Tomatoes and Potatoes – Unripe potatoes and tomatoes that have turned green due to being exposed to sunlight contain a toxin called solanine.
This toxin is harmful to chickens, and us for that matter. The reason some vegetables and plants do this is to stop pests from eating them, interesting!
Raw Beans – Raw or undercooked beans contain lectins that are toxic to chickens. Boiling them destroys the toxin, but it’s something to be aware of if you grow beans in your yard.
Chocolate – One of my favorite treats, so I’m OK with keeping it to myself! Jokes aside, there are compounds in chocolate, namely; theobromine and caffeine, that chickens and other pets can’t metabolize properly.
Coffee and Tea – These also contain caffeine and some other compounds that are bad for chickens. No morning brews, leftovers, or access to your compost heap for your chicks!
Salty Foods – Not toxic as such, but not great for chickens either. They don’t need salt in their diet and too much salt can cause health issues.
Avocado Skin – If you’re feeding your chickens avocado, don’t give them the skin or the stone. While unlikely they’d eat some as it’s so hard, if they do there is a fungicidal toxin called persin that can cause respiratory distress, weakness, and some other health issues.
Moldy Foods – Mold spores are very toxic to chickens. This isn’t a huge surprise, you would feel well after eating moldy food. Be careful when leaving foods out or giving them food past its best date.
Some Foods Chickens Can Eat (In Moderation)
That’s most of the bad stuff out of the way. On to the foods that chickens can eat, you’re spoiled for choice!
Here are some of the food groups that are recommended for chickens. Just remember to feed these in moderation:
Vegetables – Vegetables are a great source of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and other good nutrition. You can give your flock leftovers, or the tops and parts you don’t want. Try broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, etc.
Fruits – Most fruits are fine and are packed with loads of good nutrition chickens can benefit from. See if your flock like berries, apples, figs, and kiwis. You’ll need to remove the stone for a lot of fruits, keep that in mind.
Grains – I love feeding my girls oats as it gives them something to scratch and forage for. Most grains are fine – which is why they’re a staple in commercial feeds – such as quinoa, oat, cornmeal, corn, etc.
Related – Can chickens eat butternut squash?
Next time you’re in the supermarket and you see all those yellow squashes being passed by, as I do, why not pick one up for your flock to give them something different to eat.
Yellow squash is an ideal treat food for chickens. It’s nutrient-rich, easy to prepare and feed to them, and most importantly, in my experience they love it!
Image credits – Photo by Alexander Schimmeck on Unsplash
Yellow squash – Slenderkitchen.com