There is no denying that chickens have some of the most varied appetites of any livestock species. There’s seemingly nothing that these birds won’t eat…
Chickens are omnivores in the truest sense, and whether it is meat, vegetables, or fruits, if they can reach it, they’ll want it. Chickens can even eat some things that would give you and me pause, like spicy foods.
Let’s look at the most iconic of the spicy peppers, the jalapeno, for instance: can chickens eat jalapenos safely?
Yes, jalapeno peppers and seeds are totally safe for chickens and very nutritious. But, every other part of the plant including the stem of the pepper has toxic solanine.
Never let chickens eat any other part of the jalapeno plant.
What’s really funny about chickens eating jalapenos is that the spice of these popular peppers won’t bother them in the slightest. It turns out that capsaicin only affects mammals, not birds.
In any case, your chickens will still love jalapenos as a supplement to their usual diet, and you will love the health benefits that they can offer them. I’ll tell you more about feeding jalapenos to your flock below…
What Benefits Do Jalapenos Have for Chickens?
Jalapenos have surprising health benefits for chickens, and the variety of vitamins and minerals that they contain can do everything from improving circulation by enhancing oxygenation of the blood to promoting the growth of strong bones, proper feathering, skin health, and more.
Jalapenos also have proven germ-fighting capabilities, and can do a lot to enhance a chicken’s immune system.
Capsaicin, the active ingredient that makes hot peppers taste hot, has known antibacterial properties, and other nutrients in the pepper can help neutralize free radicals in the chicken’s body, further fighting off disease.
But your chickens won’t know any of this. All your chickens know is that they like snacking on these crisp, perfect little peppers, but you will definitely like the boost of energy and health that they can provide.
Just don’t touch your eyes after you serve them to your flock!
Jalapenos Nutritional Info
Jalapenos are known and widely loved for their bright and spicy taste, but they’re surprisingly nutritious also with a good array of vitamins and minerals.
Looking at the vitamin content of jalapenos, we see they contain a fair amount of vitamin A and a good amount of vitamins E and K.
Most of the B complex vitamins are here also, and fairly abundant, with thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, B6, and folate all accounted for.
Vitamin B6 is especially prevalent, but the most standout vitamin jalapenos have to offer, vitamin C, is unfortunately kind of wasted on chickens because they make their own vitamin C inside their body.
The mineral content is not quite as impressive as the vitamins to be sure, but still worthwhile, with calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, and zinc all present.
Each and every one of these nutrients are needed by chickens for one purpose or another, and by feeding jalapenos to your flock you can be sure they are getting them while they enjoy a nice break from the usual hard pellets.
Are Jalapenos Safe for Chickens Raw?
Yes, they are. Raw, or fresh, jalapenos are just fine for chickens and they are the preferred option for serving- assuming your chickens will eat them.
Raw jalapenos contain the maximum amount of nutrients; cooked jalapenos will lose nutrients, and in the case of the minerals which are already low, it’s not worth the loss.
Are Jalapeno Seeds Safe for Chickens?
Yes, jalapeno seeds are totally safe for chickens. Jalapeno seeds are small enough that most chickens can eat them without any issues whatsoever.
Can You Cook Jalapenos to Give Them to Chickens?
Yes, you can, and cooked jalapenos might be more appealing to chickens that happen to be picky eaters or, for whatever reason, just don’t like them raw!
As mentioned, cooked jalapenos lose out on some vitamins and minerals compared to fresh ones, but they are still wholesome and healthy for chickens.
Just make sure that you never serve them with added ingredients, as both of these can be bad for chickens. More on that in a bit.
Be Careful: The Rest of the Jalapeno Plant is Toxic!
Chickens can eat jalapeno peppers with total safety, but they must never eat any other part of the plant, including the jalapeno stem.
This is because jalapeno plants belong to the nightshade family, and nightshades are dangerous for chickens.
Nightshades contain solanine, a poison that can be harmful and even fatal to chickens, even in small amounts. This toxin is present in all other parts of the plant save the pepper itself and the seeds.
If you grow your own peppers, never let your chickens nibble on any part of the plant, including the leaves.
Finally, if you buy your peppers from the store, make sure that you only give the chickens the pepper itself and discard any remaining bits attached to it.
Will the Spice in Jalapenos Hurt Chickens?
Not at all! Surprisingly, the compound that gives jalapenos and other spicy peppers their bite does not affect chickens.
This means that you can serve them raw or cooked peppers without worrying about whether or not the spice is lighting up your poor birds! Your chickens will munch away and won’t be phased at all.
Are Jalapenos Safe for Baby Chicks?
Yes, but you should let your chicks get a bit older before serving them jalapeno peppers. Once they’re about 6 weeks old they can try their first tiny bites.
This has nothing to do with the spice of jalapenos, but instead with the fact that they are moist and can possibly upset the tender and underdeveloped digestive system of a young chick.
Once they grow up a tad, you can cut up the jalapeno into tiny pieces so they can try them.
Consider discarding the seeds as baby chicks are more likely to choke on them, and as always never let your chicks eat any other part of the plant.
How Frequently Can Jalapenos Be Fed to Chickens?
Jalapenos are a healthy snack for chickens, but not a mainstay of their diet. Chickens should mostly eat a balanced, protein-rich feed that suits their age and breed.
Jalapenos can be served two or three times a week as a supplementary whole food, but they should never replace the staple diet of pellets.
Make sure that around 90% of your flock’s calories are coming from feed with the remainder from whole foods, treats, and supplements, of which jalapenos should just be a part.
What’s the Best Way to Serve Jalapenos to Your Flock?
Jalapenos are easily fed to chickens raw or cooked. In either case, I recommend you wear gloves during prep if you are sensitive, and take care to avoid touching your face and especially your eyes!
If feeding raw peppers, cut them into halves, quarters, or chunks (or smaller if you have bantams or other small breeds) and discard the stem. If cooking, use mild heat to retain as many vitamins and minerals as possible.
For example, steaming is a great way to go with jalapenos. Let them cool before serving and cut as described above.
Try to Only Feed Jalapenos to Chickens if They’re Pesticide-Free
There is a risk associated with jalapenos that is shared by pretty much all the other produce on the market today.
Commercially cultivated jalapenos are constantly subjected to chemicals during growth, which can range from fertilizers to pesticides. These chemicals aren’t totally removed during washing or even peeling…
Not only bad for the chickens’ health but they have a worrying tendency to build up in the body over time, insidiously causing damage.
To this end, try to avoid serving your chickens store-bought peppers unless you know that they were grown organically or certified pesticide-free. Of course, you can always grow your own to remove all doubt!
Jalapenos are Safe, But Only By Themselves: No People Food!
Jalapenos have become a true fixture in all kinds of cuisine the world over, and naturally we have tons of delicious dishes and snack foods that feature them…
From fresh, spicy salsa to cheese-stuffed, bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers, there is no end to the variety of spicy snacks you might try.
Unfortunately, your chickens should not be allowed to indulge: these snacks are packed with unhealthy additives and seasonings that are not good for the birds.
So, while fresh, plain jalapenos (and other peppers) can be added to your flock’s diet in moderation, do not give them any human food containing them!
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.