When it comes to feeding chickens, you’ve probably noticed that they tend to be highly enthusiastic when it comes to fruit.
After all, what could be better than a perfectly ripe, sweet and succulent piece of fruit? Not much, I say, and apparently most chickens agree with me judging by how quickly they devour the stuff.
But as it turns out, not all things that we think are wholesome and healthy are good for chickens. Let’s look at figs, for instance. Can chickens eat figs and are they safe?
Yes, figs are safe for chickens, and are generally a good source of nutrition and energy. Chickens shouldn’t be allowed to eat any other part of the tree, however, since the leaves contain an irritating, toxic sap.
Figs are a fruit that is delicate, chewy and subtly sweet at the same time – and with a totally unique texture.
But rest assured it is one that your chickens will enjoy, though it isn’t something they should get all the time.
I’ll tell you a whole lot more about serving figs to your chickens below…
What Benefits Do Figs Have for Chickens?
Figs are surprisingly healthy for chickens, and have several good benefits. Figs contain a good assortment of vitamins and minerals alike that can improve the health of your birds.
They are particularly known to help with overall metabolism and electrolyte balance along with cellular health, the production and repair of nervous system tissue and good circulation.
Figs are great for the cardiovascular system as a whole because they can promote the formation of red blood cells, the oxygenation of the bloodstream, and help with heart function.
Other nutrients found in figs can improve feathering in response to an injury causing loss of feathers, or just help chickens cope with the resource demands of the molt.
Figs are mostly sugar, and that can help give your chickens’ energy levels a boost, and also help them cope with heat on a hot day.
Combined with the ample potassium present, this could make figs a particularly good snack if you are dealing with a heat wave or for any bird that is already injured or stressed and more susceptible to heat.
Fig Nutritional Info
Compared to other fruits, figs have a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, and the mineral content is particularly impressive.
Manganese, magnesium and calcium are abundant, with slightly less but still very respectable amounts of iron and potassium backed up by phosphorus and zinc and a little bit of sodium.
The vitamin levels, while very diverse, are not quite as spectacular, though nothing that you or your chickens should turn your nose (or rather beak) up at.
You’ll find most of the B-complex vitamins, including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, B6 and folate with just a little bit of vitamin E and a great amount of vitamin K.
Overall, not bad, and considering how sweet and delectable figs are, I would definitely say this is one luxurious treat that you can still feel good about feeding to your flock.
Are Figs Safe for Chickens Fresh?
Yes, fresh figs are totally safe for your chickens. If your chickens will eat them, fresh figs offer the most benefits because they will have the greatest amount of nutrients.
Are Dried Figs Safe for Chickens?
Yes, dried figs are safe for chickens just like fresh ones are, but since they are dried they have all of their sugars concentrated.
This means that a given portion of figs is going to have more sugar by weight than it would when fresh.
Accordingly, you should sharply limit your chickens’ intake of dried figs to keep their sugar levels under control.
Can You Cook Figs to Give Them to Chickens?
Yes. Cooked figs, so long as they are plain, are also totally safe for chickens.
However, cooking figs will deplete both vitamins and minerals somewhat, meaning they won’t offer as many health benefits as they would when fresh.
Be Careful: Fig Tree Sap Can Hurt Chickens
One thing to be aware of if you have a fig tree on your property is that only the figs themselves are safe for chickens.
The leaves and branches of the fig tree will leak a sticky, irritating sap when broken open.
This is problem enough if it gets in their feathers and on their skin, but if they happen to nibble or swallow any, it is going to cause major problems…
Injuries to the throat, crop and gizzard are common, and major digestive upset and diarrhea are all but certain.
Chickens are usually pretty good about avoiding plants that are harmful to them, but not always, so make sure you keep your flock well away from any fig trees on your property.
Are Figs Still Safe for Chicks?
Figs are okay for chicks when they grow up a little bit, and even then only when given to them in tiny quantities as a treat.
Figs are chewy, sticky and very sugary, a combination that can result in choking, crop impaction or sour crop in chicks, and any can potentially be fatal.
I recommend waiting until your chicks are at least 6 weeks old before letting them try a few tiny little morsels of fig that you pick out for them.
Definitely don’t let them all pick away at whole figs to their heart’s content, or you’re probably going to have issues.
How Frequently Can Figs be Fed to Chickens?
Figs are wholesome and nutritious for chickens. What’s not to like? There’s a lot to like, but your chickens still shouldn’t have figs all the time.
Figs are very sugary, and chickens don’t need that much sugar in their diet, as you probably know…
Your chickens should be getting the vast majority of their calories from a nutritionally complete chicken feed, and this diet should be supplemented with various whole foods, including produce.
Of the produce, figs should only be a small part. Accordingly, give your chickens a small portion of figs once a week, perhaps twice, but no more.
Giving your chickens too much fruit, even something like figs, can result in sour crop or digestive issues.
What’s the Best Way to Serve Figs to Your Flock?
If your chickens will eat them, the best way to serve them is fresh, though not necessarily whole.
Fresh figs are soft enough that enthusiastic eaters in your flock will probably make short work of them, but they can still be challenging for smaller or weaker birds to get into.
If you want to make their life easy, split the figs in half or even into quarters before handing them over, and consider leaving them in bowls or trays to keep them out of the dirt or ground cover.
You can do the same thing with dried figs, but they are even chewier and stickier than whole, fresh figs, so keep it on your birds just in case one of them starts to struggle or choke.
Rehydrating dried figs in warm water for about 5 minutes before chopping them up into tiny bits can help eliminate this risk.
Try to Only Feed Figs to Chickens if They are Pesticide-Free
Sadly figs, like pretty much all of our modern produce, are heavily treated with pesticides before harvest.
These pesticide residues are not entirely eliminated by washing or even peeling, and with repeated feedings they can start to build up in the bodies of your chickens, leading to some devastating health issues down the road.
If at all possible, try to buy organic, certified pesticide-free figs if you aren’t growing them yourself.
If you can’t find them in stores or don’t want to spring for them, ask around and see if there is a farmer or other grower in your area that you can trust. The health of your flock is worth it!
Figs are Safe, But Only By Themselves: No People Food!
Figs are sweet, with an indescribable and almost mesmerizing quality to their flavor that has made them a coveted fruit since ancient times.
Naturally, like most other fruits, they’re also used in a truly amazing variety of desserts and other treats.
As incredible as these dishes are, they aren’t something your chickens should have. Figs are sweet enough on their own, but the addition of even more sugar, oils, butter and various other ingredients can spell bad news for your chickens.
Never give your chickens desserts or other people food, or else you can expect them to get extremely sick.
Don’t Leave Fig Scraps Around the Run or Coop
There’s another special concern with feeding figs to your chickens, and one you might not necessarily expect.
Figs are sweet and fairly aromatic, and this means they will attract pests like there is no tomorrow if you don’t clean up after your chickens.
Insects in particular but also rodents, raccoons and possums will show up looking for a little nibble of that sweet stuff, and if they are hanging around they can torment your chickens, or even kill them in the case of the latter predators.
Don’t hesitate to make figs a part of your flock’s diet; just make sure you pick up any scraps and never leave a surplus of fruits lying around.
Tim is a farm boy with vast experience on homesteads, and with survival and prepping. He lives a self-reliant lifestyle along with his aging mother in a quiet and very conservative little town in Ohio. He teaches folks about security, prepping and self-sufficiency not just through his witty writing, but also in person.