There are days when it seems like there isn’t anything our chickens won’t eat. They’ll eat anything we can give them, everything they can catch in the yard, and every plant they can reach, including those perennials we worked so hard on.
Oh well, at least it is nice to know they are getting a very good diet, but not everything is okay for chickens, including a few vegetables you wouldn’t expect. What about cucumbers? Are cucumbers safe for chickens?
Yes, cucumbers are totally safe for chickens. Cucumbers are nutritious with a good assortment of vitamins and minerals, and also highly hydrating.
It might not be a surprise to you, but chickens do indeed seem to really like cucumbers! This is good news because they’re a great supplement to a well-rounded diet for your flock.
However, proper preparation will make sure that all of your chickens can enjoy them without struggling or risk. I’ll tell you everything below…
What Benefits Do Cucumbers Have for Chickens?
Despite being derided as bland by some people, cucumbers are surprisingly nutritious, and the nutrients in them will definitely pay off for your flock.
Cucumbers can help with a chicken’s circulatory system, particularly when it comes to healing and blood clotting, and also promote bone growth and repair.
Various other vitamins and minerals are critical for cellular function of nerves and muscles alike, and one special compound present in cucumbers, cucurbitacin, has antioxidant and disease-fighting properties that will likely benefit chickens.
Also, you already know that cucumbers are an extremely juicy vegetable, but it turns out they are in fact nearly 100% water! This, combined with the vitamins they contain, makes them wonderful for keeping chickens hydrated and also for fighting off heat stress on hot days.
This can make all the difference for birds that are already sick or stressed, and birds that have thick, heavy plumage.
Cucumber Nutritional Info
Cucumbers sometimes get a bad rap like celery, and are accused of being a vegetable with virtually no nutrition.
This is a falsehood! Cucumbers contain a fairly impressive assortment of vitamins and minerals, including many B complex vitamins, folate, vitamin C, and a lot of vitamin K.
Chickens need all of these, all they don’t need vitamin C in their diet typically because they make their own.
The minerals are likewise fairly impressive, with calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and potassium all being present. Don’t let anyone tell you that cucumbers aren’t healthy, or that they aren’t healthy for chickens!
Are Cucumbers Safe for Chickens Raw?
Yes, and this is the very best way to give them to your chickens. Raw cucumbers are easy and safe to eat, and will keep all of their nutrients, some of which would otherwise be lost during cooking.
Note that it is okay to peel cucumbers and discard the skin if your birds struggle with it.
Can You Cook Cucumbers to Give Them to Chickens?
You can, but you don’t need to, and you probably shouldn’t. Most cooked cucumbers turn into a mushy, nasty mess when cooked. Remember: they are already mostly water!
Are Pickles Safe for Chickens?
No! Not at all!
Pickles are more properly called pickled cucumbers, since pickling is a process, and pickles could be any other kind of produce.
But never mind: you should never feed pickles to your chickens. The massive amount of salt and vinegar used in the pickling process is extremely bad for them!
Are Cucumbers Still Safe for Chicks?
Yes, but I would caution you against giving them to chicks until they are at least 6 weeks old. Cucumbers are so watery that they can easily upset the stomach of chicks, and lead to diarrhea which might kill them.
It’s true! Remember that chicks are quite delicate, so I would advise you to keep them safe and sound on an approved starter feed for the first several weeks of their life.
How Frequently Can Cucumbers be Fed to Chickens?
Cucumbers are wholesome and healthy for chickens, no doubt about it… but you still don’t want to feed them to your flock all the time.
A couple servings every week or every other week should be more than ample, and you shouldn’t hesitate to save those “treat” days for the hottest days since cucumbers are great for combating heat stress in chickens.
That said, if your chickens are particularly hot or stressed out during the summer, you can give them extra cucumbers a bit more often, and it won’t hurt them.
Just be sure to keep an eye out for loose stools: water foods can cause digestive trouble in chickens.
What’s the Best Way to Serve Cucumbers to Your Flock?
It is a cinch to serve cucumbers to your chickens, and the best way is really a matter of assessing your birds’ personalities.
If you have burly, capable chickens you might try to give them whole cucumbers if you know they like them already; they will easily be able to tear through the skin.
More timid eaters or smaller birds will enjoy having the cucumber split so they can get easy access to the soft inside, and you can always default to peeling and chopping the cucumber if you want to mix it in with other veggies or feed.
Whichever way you go, your chickens will love them.
Try to Only Feed Cucumbers to Chickens if They are Pesticide-Free
If you aren’t growing your cucumbers or getting them from a trusted source, be wary of the presence of pesticides on store-bought ones.
The short version of the story is that all produce sold is heavily sprayed with a variety of chemicals, and these will not be safe for chickens, especially if they are repeatedly exposed to them.
These chemicals, namely pesticides, are important because they ensure veggies will actually make it store bins unspoiled, but people are rightly afraid of the long-term consequences.
Chickens, like most birds, are naturally super-sensitive to harmful chemicals and that includes these pesticides.
Even if you wash a cucumber, even if you peel it, some residues will persist inside the flesh, and eventually get into your poor chickens. Trace amounts might not cause any harm, but what about when they build up over time? It is bad news.
So for that reason, try to get only known pesticide-free cucumbers for your flock.
Cucumbers are Safe, But Only Safe By Themselves: No People Food!
Back to the topic of preparing cucumbers, you should never serve cucumbers to your chickens that have been prepared with harmful ingredients commonly found in people food.
No matter what tasty dishes you might have or prepare, none of them are safe for chickens just because they have cucumbers in them!
Things like salt, oil butter and so forth is all bad news for chickens and can lead to health issues which can be fatal, some of them really nasty like heart trouble or fatty liver syndrome.
Keep those ingredients away from your chickens, and don’t let them share your food, no matter how good.
Don’t Leave Cucumber Scraps Rotting Around the Run or Coop
Lastly, cucumbers are healthy, but very juicy and messy. That means you’ll have a mess of cucumber skins to deal with after your chickens are done.
Try to pick up the scraps rather than leaving them around since they can easily ferment in the sun, and cause problems as far as attracting pests or molding.
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.