Zucchinis or courgettes as they are more commonly called in other parts of the world are a popular vegetable for keen gardeners to grow in their garden.
If you also have backyard chickens it raises the obvious question:
Can chickens eat zucchini? Yes, chickens can eat zucchini. Zucchinis or courgettes have high water content and are rich in fiber and a range of healthy vitamins and minerals.
What’s in Zucchini? (How Healthy Are They?)
Most vegetables are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and other healthy nutrition - and zucchinis are no exception.
Zucchinis are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, loads of water, and some other compounds that are beneficial to the health of us and our chickens.
Being high in fiber and water content, they are known to help improve digestion. The range of vitamins they possess also helps to support a healthy immune system and circulation.
It’s a great choice in the summer when the water content comes in handy to help keep chickens hydrated.
Can Chickens Eat Zucchini?
Most importantly, there are no compounds in zucchinis that are harmful to chickens.
So, yes, chickens can eat zucchini. Due to being a nutrient-dense vegetable, they make for a great choice if you want to add some healthy variety into your flock’s diet.
If you are growing your own zucchinis, there is a small risk that it will contain some cucurbitacins, which could potentially be harmful.
You can tell if it does as it will be very bitter tasting. If you bite into a bitter zucchini it’s best to throw it away to mitigate any risk.
It’s unlikely you’ll encounter a bitter commercially bought zucchini. As long as you know how to recognize this, you can feed it to your chickens raw or cooked.
Are the Leaves and Seeds of a Zucchini Plant Ok for Chickens?
There are a few plants where the fruit is fine to eat but the leaves are toxic, such as the tomato plant. So, it’s a valid concern.
The leaves and seeds of the zucchini plant are safe for chickens to eat if they so wish, however.
If you're wondering how to feed this vegetable to your flock, here's a video of some happy chickens pecking into some zucchinis sliced in half:
What Can Chickens Not Eat List:
It’s important to be aware of what foods chickens can’t eat. There are some foods that you may have assumed were fine that actually contain harmful toxins.
Here are some of the common foods that are known to be toxic, and in some cases potentially fatal to chickens:
Coffee and Tea - Caffeine and theobromine are two compounds that are toxic to chickens, and both of these are found in teas and coffee. If you’re recycling your coffee grounds and tea bags in your garden, keep the area out of bounds for your flock.
Avocado (Skin and Stone Only) - The flesh part of an avocado is fine, what you can’t give chicks is the skin or the pit.
These parts of the fruit contain a toxin called persin which is toxic to most animals and will cause them some serious health issues if ingested.
Chocolate - Chocolate and products with cocoa in are off the menu for chickens for the same reasons as tea and coffee, it contains two compounds that are toxic to chooks; caffeine and theobromine.
Raw Beans - Raw beans are very toxic to chickens, so if you’re growing them in your yard you need to keep them well out of pecking range.
Raw beans contain a toxin called phytohaemagglutinin. This toxin breaks down when beans are cooked above a certain temperature, so cooked beans aren’t an issue.
Spoiled/Moldy Foods - Some molds are cultivated in foods as they’re “good” molds. Any mold spores that are growing as a result of food going bad, however, are “bad” molds.
Keep an eye out for foods and feed that your chicks have access to that may be damp or prone to spoiling before they eat it.
Foods Chickens Can Eat List:
Want to know what else you can feed your chickens?
Here’s a list of some foods that are fine for your flock. As long as around 90% of their diet is coming from their formulated feed, you can experiment with any of the following:
Herbs - Herbs are great because they’re easy to grow, chickens love them, and they offer some pretty powerful health benefits. It’s worth investigating which herbs you want to give to your flock.
Vegetables - As long as you know they’re safe, you can’t go wrong by adding some veggies to your chicken’s diets. Broccoli, cabbage, carrots, etc are all rich in vitamins, minerals and more.
Cooked Foods - There are loads of cooked foods chickens will be more than happy to help you eat - after it’s cooled down of course. Try giving them some cooked meat, pasta, rice, etc.
Fruits - Another awesome source of nutrition, most fruits are fine for chickens too. Mine absolutely love grapes, bananas, apples, and all kinds of berries.
Grains - Some of the ingredients in commercial feeds are grains. Some extra wheat, corn, oats, soybeans, etc will be much appreciated by your flock. It gives them something to scratch around for too when scattered.
Add zucchinis to the “safe to eat” list for your chickens. Whether you’re growing them yourself or buying them, as long as they’re not bitter or going bad, you can feed some to your chickens.
There are no guarantees they’ll like it, of course. But in my experience, there aren’t many vegetables and other table scrap foods chickens turn their beaks up at!
9 Impressive health reasons to eat more zucchini - FoodRevolution.org