If you own chickens, you probably already know that they eat all kinds of things, including a huge variety of produce, fruits and vegetables alike. And though fruits and veggies are definitely natural, that doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily good or even safe for chickens.
Accidentally letting chickens eat something that they shouldn’t have could make them sick, or maybe even kill them and we definitely don’t want that. How about pineapple? Can we safely give our chickens a little pineapple?
Yes, pineapple is totally safe for chickens so long as they eat it in moderation. It has lots of vitamins and minerals, but it is pretty sugary, and chickens don’t need much sugar in their diet.
Pineapples are probably the most delicious tropical fruit out there, and once you get past the spiny skin, chickens won’t have any problems eating that tender, golden flesh within.
But there’s quite a bit more you’ll want to know before you start giving your chickens pineapple, so read on and find out.
What Benefits Does Pineapple Have for Chickens?
Pineapple is more than just a delicious tropical Treat for chickens. Don’t get me wrong, most birds that seem to love the stuff, but it can do a lot of good for them besides.
The vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants present in pineapple will do everything from improving skeletal health and skin condition to cellular function, feather growth, and even disease prevention.
One of the best things about pineapple is it provides chickens with a quick boost of energy, and the high water content in conjunction with the potassium makes it a wonderful supplement to help your flock deal with a really hot day, particularly if any chickens in your flock are already stressed or have heavy plumage that makes it hard for them to cool down.
Pineapple is a wonderful addition to their diet when used sparingly or as an occasional treat, but you’ll definitely need to watch out for the sugar content because chickens don’t need much at all.
We’ll talk more about that factor in just a minute…
Pineapple Nutritional Info
Your chickens, probably like yourself, don’t need to know anything about how healthy pineapple is because it tastes so good.
But it tastes even better because it is also healthy! Your chickens won’t know the difference, but alas.
Pineapple has a surprisingly well-rounded profile of a vitamins and minerals alike, including tons of vitamin C, plenty of B complex vitamins including B1, B5, folate and B6, and a little bit of choline in the bargain.
Sadly, the vitamin C in pineapples, well not quite wasted, is it not essential for chickens since chickens make their own vitamin C inside their bodies.
The minerals you’ll find in pineapple include phosphorus, iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium, and manganese, all of which play various critical roles in a chicken’s biology.
Most notably, pineapple is extremely juicy as you know, but it averages around 87% water by weight, meaning your chickens can stay hydrated just by eating it, and together with the potassium better deal with heat.
But, pineapple also has a ton of sugar in the form of fructose, and chickens don’t need much of it… so be aware of that.
Is Pineapple Safe for Chickens when Fresh?
Yes, it sure is. Pineapple is totally safe for chickens and no part of the plant is toxic or harmful. You’ll want to remove the leaves and skin, though.
Careful: Pineapple is Very Sugary
Now, just because pineapple is safe for chickens doesn’t mean it is something that should be given to them freely, or that they should eat as much as they can stand.
Pineapple, despite being full of vitamins and minerals, also has a ton of sugar in the form of fructose.
The amount can vary from one pineapple to another depending on how ripe it is and how sweet the variety is, but in all cases it is very sugary. Chickens don’t need much sugar in their diet, and excess sugar consumption can cause all kinds of issues for them, notably obesity and all the problems that come with it.
Another really bad outcome is sour crop which, while treatable, is painful, and can keep the chicken from eating.
Play it safe when feeding chickens pineapple, and don’t overdo it.
Can Chickens Eat Pineapple Skin and Leaves?
Technically yes, but they almost certainly won’t. Pineapple leaves or “crowns” and that tough, spiny skin are not the most inviting things for a chicken, so it is highly unlikely they will eat them.
Some hardcore birds might be capable of busting through the skin to get at the flesh, but, in my experience, it is fairly rare.
How About the Core of a Pineapple?
No. Chickens cannot cope with the tough core of a pineapple, though they might peck away at it to get any tiny traces of the sweet flesh off of it.
Can You Cook Pineapple to Give it To Chickens?
You can, but this is totally unnecessary, and might prove to do more harm than good…
First things first, cooking pineapple will harm it as far as nutritional profile goes. Vitamins and minerals will be lost during cooking!
And second, by cooking the pineapple you will make more of the fructose sugars available to your chickens by concentrating them in the flesh as moisture is lost. This is in no way ideal…
Considering how tender fresh pineapple is, there’s no real reason to cook it especially for your chickens, though if you just so happen to have some cooked pineapple (without other ingredients!) you can give it to them without worry.
Is Pineapple Still Safe for Chicks?
Yes, but cautiously. Chicks are delicate little creatures, with strict nutritional requirements and sensitive stomachs. You probably already know that chicks should be eating pretty much starter feed alone when young.
As they grow, they can be exposed to other, novel food, including pineapple, but I think it is best to wait until they hit about 6 weeks before trying it for the first time.
The sugar load in pineapple can knock chicks for a loop, and sour crop can kill them, so it’s best to let them get a little bigger before they try that first, sweet slice!
How Frequently Can Pineapple be Fed to Chickens?
Only periodically, no more than once a week, and preferably once every 10-14 days. Pineapple should be regarded as a treat or a supplemental component of a varied whole-food diet, and not something that should make up any significant part of the flock’ daily diet.
For this reason, you may want to save pineapple for special occasions.
What’s the Best Way to Serve Pineapple to Your Flock?
Pineapple is best served cored, crowned and peeled, though you can leave the skin on if it is cored and sliced into discs or wedges; chickens will peck around it.
Consider cutting pineapple into small, bite-sized pieces serving it or mixing it into other food to make it a bit more appealing to your birds. This way you can ensure each chicken gets a piece or two without them overeating.
And once again, don’t overdo it! Each chicken should only be getting a few segments’ worth in total, so distribute it accordingly and try to prevent a lone chicken from gorging on it.
Try to Only Feed Pineapple to Chickens if it is Pesticide-Free
Something to be aware of with all produce, not just pineapple, is the presence of pesticides.
Nearly all commercially sold pineapple is sprayed with various chemicals to protect against insect pests.
So, make sure that whatever you give your flock is certified organic, or at least labeled as pesticide-free if buying from a regular grocery store.
Peeling pineapple won’t eliminate all residues, nor will washing it, and over time these harmful chems can build up in your birds and make them sick.
It might cost more, but it’s worth it to keep your chickens safe and healthy…
Pineapple Is Safe, But Only Safe By Itself: No People Food!
Also, if you are going to give your chickens pineapple, know that it is nice enough on its own. Never give them pineapple with any sauces or syrups, ice cream, added sugars, or any other human food.
Food that we eat contains tons and tons of stuff that is just plain bad for chickens, so don’t do it no matter how funny you think it would be or how much they seem to want it. Think of their health!
Don’t Leave Pineapple Scraps Around the Run or Coop
If there is one major drawback to pineapple, it is that every creature on earth seems to like it. The sweet sugars and the alluring fragrance will draw in insects and other animals from all corners of the county, to say nothing of the sticky mess it will turn into.
Make it a point to clean up any and all pineapple scraps from the coop or run as soon as possible once your chickens are done.
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.