Chickens are known for having wide-ranging and varied appetites. This makes perfect sense, as chickens are omnivores and that means they eat animal as well as plant matter.
What some people don’t know is that chickens are actually quite fond of various fruits, including some fairly exotic fruits that you wouldn’t expect.
How about pomegranates, for instance? Can chickens eat pomegranates?
Yes, chickens can eat pomegranates, and all parts are safe though they prefer the seeds, or arils. Pomegranates can supply a variety of vitamins and minerals to a chicken’s diet.
In a way, it makes sense. Pomegranates are commonly regarded as tropical fruits, and all of our domestic chicken breeds are descended from wild red junglefowl.
Maybe these ancient chickens even had the occasion to eat pomegranates in the wild from time to time.
It is interesting to think about, but in any case we will tell you all about the benefits of pomegranates for your chickens and the rest of this article.
Nutritional Profile of Pomegranate
Pomegranates have a well-deserved reputation as a superfood, and whether or not you buy into the hype there is no denying that they have a robust profile of vitamins and minerals including many that can benefit chickens.
Note that the following describes the nutritional profile of the arils or seeds.
Pomegranates are mostly sugar and will give chickens a big boost of energy, particularly when it is hot or very cold outside.
But more than this they contain an impressive array of vitamins, including most of the B complex vitamins such as b1, b2, a little bit of b3, plenty of b5, b6, and lots of folate. Vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin K are also present.
The mineral profile is similarly impressive for a fruit of this kind, though not quite as good as the vitamin complement.
Pomegranates contain a little bit of calcium in iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc, and they are notably a sodium-free option.
As you might expect, pomegranates are also quite juicy and are around 78% water by weight.
Health Benefits of Pomegranate for Chickens
Pomegranates have a wide array of health benefits for chickens, in addition to helping them stay hydrated and keeping their energy levels up.
The B vitamins have many important roles in a chicken’s body, and a deficiency in any of them can lead to problems.
For instance, B1 is important for metabolism, and a lack of it can lead to poor growth and cellular health.
B2 is crucial for maintaining good vision, B3 is necessary for healthy skin and feathers, while B5 is involved in stress management.
Folate is important for egg production and cell health, while vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant.
Pomegranates can help ensure your chickens are getting enough of all of these important vitamins.
The mineral content of pomegranates is also important for chickens. For instance, iron is necessary for proper oxygenation of the blood, while magnesium is involved in many biochemical reactions in the body.
Manganese is crucial for bone health, while phosphorus and potassium are both electrolytes that help maintain fluid balance in the body.
Pomegranates are also a good source of antioxidant compounds like polyphenols and flavonoids.
These have been shown to have many health benefits in humans, including reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer.
It is not known if these same benefits extend to chickens, but it stands to reason that they might.
What Parts of the Pomegranate Can Chickens Eat?
Chickens can safely eat all parts of a pomegranate, including the skin, flesh, and “seeds” (really arils).
They will probably prefer the seeds, as they are the sweetest and softest part, but all of it is safe for them to eat.
Note that the hard skin and tough, chewy white membrane inside will likely be passed over by some chickens unless they are very hungry.
That’s okay, as most of the nutrition is found in the seeds, anyway.
Can Chickens Eat Pomegranates Raw?
Yes, chickens can eat pomegranates raw and this is the preferred way to serve it to them. Raw pomegranates will maintain the maximum amount of nutrition.
Can Chickens Eat Pomegranate Cooked?
Yes. Cooked pomegranates are also fine for chickens. However, cooked pomegranates have reduced mineral and vitamin content compared to raw ones.
Can You Give Chickens Pomegranate Juice?
You really shouldn’t. Chickens will surely lap it up, but juice is a highly concentrated source of sugar, and will cause serious problems for your birds. Don’t do it!
Never Feed Pomegranate to Chickens that Has Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
Since we are talking about cooking, now is a good time to mention that you should never serve pomegranates to chickens that have been prepared with any harmful ingredients that they should not eat. This includes things like butter, salt, sugar, spices, oils, and so on.
Though pomegranates are good for chickens, the dishes that are usually made with pomegranates are not.
The above ingredients can cause many health problems for chickens, ranging from digestive issues to obesity.
On the worse end of the spectrum, your poor birds could be facing really bad conditions like fatty liver syndrome, sodium poisoning, sour crop, and more. Any of these conditions can be fatal for your chickens, so lay off the added ingredients.
If you are going to cook pomegranates for your chickens they should only be lightly cooked and plain, no added stuff!
Beware of Pesticide on Grocery-bought Pomegranate
Another thing you’ll have to keep in mind when serving chickens pomegranate is the almost certain presence of pesticides on store-bought fruit. Sadly, pretty much all commercial fruit is heavily sprayed with all sorts of harmful chemicals.
Pesticides that accumulate in chickens can be very dangerous to chickens, causing everything from digestive issues to neurological problems. In some cases, they can even be fatal.
The best way to avoid feeding your chickens pesticide-laden fruit is to buy organic pomegranates or grow your own if possible.
If you can’t, simply wash the fruit as well as you can in warm water or even discard the hard, outer skin, saving the tender and tasty arils inside for your flock.
How Often Can Chickens Have Pomegranate?
Pomegranates are healthy, but should only be fed to chickens sparingly. This is because, as we mentioned, pomegranates are mostly sugar and too much sugar is not good for chickens.
A good rule of thumb is to only offer pomegranates to your chickens as an occasional treat, a small serving no more than once or twice a week.
If you do choose to feed them more often than this, just be sure to cut back on their other sources of sugar.
Preparing Pomegranate for Your Flock
Preparing pomegranate for chickens is simple. You have two worthwhile options: give them the fruit cut into sections and allow them to nibble the seeds out of it, or take the time to seed it yourself and then serve them, or else mix them into other food to make a sort of salad.
If you give them a whole pomegranate, most chickens will eventually break into it, and they will likely make quite a mess. If you don’t mind this, then go ahead and let them at it.
Can Baby Chicks Have Pomegranate, Too?
Yes. Chicks can also have pomegranate, but you should wait until they are a little older before allowing them to have it. A good rule of thumb is to wait until they are at least four weeks old.
You can give them pomegranate in the same way as you would full-grown chickens: cut up into chunks or seeded.
Keep in mind that baby chicks have pretty strict nutritional requirements, and pomegranates won’t meet them.
You should only let your chicks eat a few tidbits of pomegranate every once in a while, as a treat, but their main source of nutrition should be their starter feed.
Make Sure You Clean Up After Feeding Your Flock Pomegranate
Lastly, always make it a point to clean up after serving your flock pomegranate. This means removing any uneaten fruit and seeds, as well as wiping off any traces of juice from their run or other surfaces.
The sweet aroma of pomegranates will rapidly attract pests, insects in particular, so you want to be sure to get rid of anything that might linger.
Tom has built and remodeled homes, generated his own electricity, grown his own food and more, all in quest of remaining as independent of society as possible. Now he shares his experiences and hard-earned lessons with readers around the country.