One of the most enjoyable parts about owning chickens is seeing how they react to different foods that you give them. Sometimes they’ll turn their beak up, other times they will dig in with relish, and eagerly look forward to the next treat.
Chickens can eat most whole fruits and vegetables, but not all. What about bananas? Is it safe for chickens to eat bananas?
Yes. Bananas are safe for chickens so long as they are fed in moderation. They have lots of good vitamins and minerals, but they’re all so very high in sugar which can cause problems if you give them too much.
Not all chickens like bananas, but the ones that do, really seem to like them.
They are certainly soft and easy for chickens of all sizes and ages to eat, and the potassium content can make them a great supplement if your flock is dealing with a heat wave.
There is a lot more to learn, so let’s keep going.
What Benefits Do Bananas Have for Chickens?
Aside from being a great source of quick energy, bananas are pretty healthy for chickens thanks to a well-rounded profile of minerals and vitamins alike.
Bananas are especially good for helping to maintain electrolyte levels and cellular function thanks to the potassium they contain. They also provide important benefits to the circulatory system and heart function in general.
Some of the minerals present in bananas are essential for both skeletal and feather health, while others rest are vital for everything from egg laying and eggshell quality to nervous system health.
Truly, bananas are one tropical treat that are so delicious you don’t need any reasons to feed them to your chickens, but they’re so healthy you’ll definitely want to make them an occasional part of your chickens’ diet.
You’ll want to feed them in a sharply limited way though, because they are so sugary. I’ll tell you more about that in just one sec.
Banana Nutritional Info
Bananas have a remarkably good and well-rounded nutritional profile. Vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and even a little bit of protein, bananas have it all.
Concerning vitamins the most standout ones are the B complex vitamins, with B1, B2, B3, B5 and B6 all being present along with some folate. B6 in particular is abundant, so your chickens will be getting plenty of that.
Bananas also contain vitamin C, but this is somewhat wasted on chickens since they make their own vitamin C internally. Still, nice to have.
The mineral content also looks really good, with lots of manganese and magnesium, some iron and zinc and, of course, lots of potassium.
It’s the potassium content that makes bananas a great option for fighting heat stress in your flock when temperatures rise, and you’d be surprised to learn how many chickens in general suffer from low potassium levels overall.
Are Bananas Safe for Chickens when Fresh?
Yes, totally safe. Bananas can be fed directly to chickens whole and raw, or they can be mashed up and mixed in with other foods.
The most important part is that you not go overboard on them due to the high sugar content.
Can Chickens Eat Banana Peels?
Even though banana peels are edible, they are not as nutritious as the flesh. Also, most chickens don’t seem to care for them, though a few will eat them happily.
When it comes to feeding peels to your chickens, know your flock: if you have some adventurous birds that like engagement with novel foods, let them try to break into a whole banana. Otherwise, discard the peel entirely whatever else you do with it.
Careful: Bananas are Very Sugary
One thing to be cautious of when feeding bananas to your flock is the amount of sugar they contain. Yes, it is fructose, natural sugar, but that doesn’t mean they can have all they want!
Sugar can cause various problems for chickens, ranging from weight gain to digestive issues, and even some serious ones like sour crop.
That being said, if you only give them small amounts every now and then or mix it with other foods to bulk them up or make them tastier, they should be able to handle it without any problems.
You just don’t want them getting too used to sugary snacks, even wholesome ones like bananas! Think of them as a supplemental item or rare treat, and your flock will be fine.
Should You Cook Bananas to Give Them to Chickens?
Yes, you can, though there is no good reason to do so. Bananas are already super soft and easy to eat (when peeled), and cooking will only deplete the vitamin and mineral content.
Cooking will also make them more sugary by weight because the sugars will be concentrated as moisture evaporates from them.
If your chickens have trouble with the texture for whatever reason, you can mash them up a little, but no need to go overboard by cooking them.
But, if you have some cooked bananas for whatever reason, you can still safely feed them to your flock without worry – again, as long as they don’t get too much!
Are Bananas Still Safe for Chicks?
Yes, but with some reservations: small chicks can easily eat bananas, but only in a very limited capacity. Chicks have super strict nutritional needs and a delicate constitution.
Their developing organs and systems will not cope well with too much sugar, and so bananas are not as good for them as you might think. It’s best to avoid giving them anything sugary until they are about 6 weeks old or older.
After this age limit you can give them tiny amounts as a treat once in a while, but not more often!
As much as you might love the adorable little things and want to make them feel good, remember that they’re always best served by a steady diet of starter feed.
How Frequently Can Bananas be Fed to Chickens?
Bananas should be classified strictly as a treat, and given to chickens no more than once a week in small amounts, and probably at longer intervals to be honest.
As discussed above, they are full of minerals and vitamins but also full of sugar, so the key is striking a balance between nourishment and moderation.
Bananas work great as an “ace in the hole” when chickens need a burst of energy or help overcoming heat stress, and of course they love them as just a pleasant surprise, but they are just not something chickens should be eating on the regular.
What’s the Best Way to Serve Bananas to Your Flock?
You won’t need to do very much to prep bananas for serving. The simplest way to feed them is in their whole form, minus the peel.
But if you have chickens that don’t like the texture, or need a little encouragement to try something new, you can mash up the banana, slice it into small discs, or even puree it so they can eat it more easily.
You might also consider adding diced bananas to chicken feed for extra interest, or to bulk up their meal.
Whatever way you serve it, be mindful to keep the amounts small and give bananas only as an occasional treat.
Try to Only Feed Bananas to Chickens if it is Pesticide Free
You probably don’t grow your own bananas, and it is safe to say that you get them from the store like most people.
But if you are going to feed them to your chickens, it is definitely wise to get organic or pesticide-free bananas only.
This way you know that the fruit has been grown without any harmful chemicals.
Modern produce is constantly bombarded with all kinds of chemicals to protect it from bugs, and these chemicals can persist on the fruit even after washing and peeling.
The thick peel of a banana is one of the better barriers against these chemicals, but not perfect: some residue will remain on the flesh!
Over time, these chemicals can build up in the tissues of your chickens and lead to health problems, so it’s worth it to do your due diligence and buy organic…
Bananas are Safe, But Only Safe Themselves: No People Food!
It shouldn’t need to be said, but I have seen some people love their chickens in all the wrong ways before: Don’t give your chickens any other type of people food that has bananas in it!
I’m talking about ice cream, toppings and sauces, syrups, banana chips, and all that other stuff. That type of food is so far away from okay for a chicken that it’s not even worth discussing.
Just don’t give it to them! Wholesome, fresh bananas only!
Don’t Leave Bananas Scraps Around the Run or Coop
Know that your chickens are likely to make a mess when eating bananas, so don’t leave the scraps around their run or coop.
The sugar in the banana peels will attract insects like mad, and potentially cause disease if chickens eat the scraps after it has spoiled.
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.
Find out more about Tim and the rest of the crew here.