Chickens usually subsist on a diet that is mostly chicken feed, but these omnivorous birds can eat all sorts of whole foods, including many types of fruits and vegetables.
But nonetheless, there are certain kinds of products that chickens should not eat. How about yellow squash? Can chickens have yellow squash?
Yes, chickens may safely eat yellow squash, also known as crookneck squash. However, it is very lacking in nutrition and serves only as a snack or treat for them.
This is one of those vegetables that you would think should just be healthier. There isn’t anything wrong with crookneck squash, per se, and it definitely isn’t junk food, but it doesn’t have much of anything that chickens need in abundance.
Still, you don’t have to worry about feeding it to your birds. Keep reading to learn more.
Nutritional Profile of Yellow Squash
There’s not much to report concerning the nutritional value of yellow squash. It has a little bit of vitamin B2, a good amount of vitamin C and a little potassium to offer. They are also extremely juicy, generally being about 94% water by weight.
Health Benefits of Yellow Squash for Chickens
Yellow squash is nowhere near nutritionally complete for chickens. Chickens need vitamin B2 for energy metabolism and vitamin C for a strong immune system.
Chickens make their own vitamin C internally, though, and so this vitamin is somewhat wasted.
Potassium is always needed to maintain fluid balance in the body, but yellow squash has very little to offer chickens.
What yellow squash does have going for it is that it’s fairly low in calories and fat. If you have chickens that are trying to lose weight or stay lean, this might be a good treat for them.
However, it can help all chickens to keep hydrated on hot days. Heat stress is always a challenge for flocks no matter their overall health.
It’s not going to do much for their overall health, but it certainly won’t hurt them either.
Can Chickens Eat Yellow Squash Raw?
Yes, yellow squash is totally safe for chickens to eat raw, though many chickens will struggle to get past the tough, hard outer skin of mature examples.
Can Chickens Eat Yellow Squash Seeds?
They sure can. Yellow squash seeds are 100% safe for your chickens, and many birds seem to prefer them, as you’d expect.
Can Chickens Eat Yellow Squash Guts?
Yes. This is the first thing that people tend to throw away, but you don’t need to do that if you have chickens. Your birds will gobble up the guts happily.
Can Chickens Eat Smooth Yellow Squash?
Yes. Younger, smooth cultivars of yellow squash are safe for chickens.
Can Chickens Eat Bumpy Yellow Squash?
They sure can. Bumpy, pebbly, or “warty” yellow squashes are no different than smooth ones as far as chickens are concerned.
Can Chickens Eat Yellow Squash Cooked?
Yes, they can. Cooking yellow squash is a great way to make it softer and more palatable for some chickens, and also a convenient method for incorporating it with other fruits and veggies that chickens will love. In this way, it works handily to “bulk up” other produce.
Never Feed Yellow Squash to Chickens that Has Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
On the subject of cooking, make sure you never feed your chickens yellow squash that has been prepared with harmful ingredients, such as oil, butter, salt, sugar, and so forth.
These ingredients are typically included in all sorts of squash dishes and preparations for us humans, but they are bad, bad news for chickens.
Chickens simply cannot handle much of any of them and will be facing some health issues if they eat squash prepared with them.
On the less serious side of the spectrum, your birds could end up with diarrhea or other digestive troubles.
On the more serious end, they could develop fatty liver syndrome, sodium poisoning, or blood pressure issues. All of these latter conditions are very painful and often fatal for chickens.
So, if you’re going to cook squash for your chickens, just steam it or bake it. Keep it simple.
Beware of Pesticides on Grocery-bought Yellow Squash
Another issue you should be aware of with yellow squash, though not specific to it, is the likely presence of pesticides.
If you buy your squash at the grocery store, chances are it was grown with the help of all sorts of noxious chemicals.
These toxic substances can stay on the fruit, sometimes even after washing, and they can cause problems for chickens if they ingest too much over time.
Chickens are very sensitive to these pesticides, despite the promises of safety from manufacturers and the government, and they can make your birds very sick.
The best way to avoid this problem is to grow your own squash, buy organic varieties or get them from a farmer’s market or local farm stand that uses organic methods.
This way, you’ll know for sure that there are no harmful chemicals in the produce. In any case, always wash it thoroughly and consider tossing the skins.
How Often Can Chickens Have Yellow Squash?
Chickens can have yellow squash every day, but it should only be a tiny fraction of their total food intake.
Just like with anything else, moderation is key when it comes to feeding chickens yellow squash or any other whole food.
As a reminder, yellow squash has very little in the way of nutrition, and it is possible for chickens to fill up on stuff and still experience malnutrition.
Preparing Yellow Squash for Your Flock
Preparing yellow squash is pretty simple. Just wash it off, cut it into small pieces and serve.
You can feed it to your chickens raw, cooked, or steamed. If you’re not sure whether or not your birds will like it, start with a small piece and see what happens.
For more mature veggies discard the skin or split them open so chickens can get at the soft parts; they are quite tough!
For the most part, though, you shouldn’t have any trouble getting your chickens to eat yellow squash. They usually go for it quickly, especially if they can get to the flesh easily.
Can Baby Chicks Have Yellow Squash, Too?
Yes, though you should wait until they grow up a bit first.
Four weeks is usually a good age to start giving them solid, simple supplemental foods, and yellow squash can certainly be on the menu at that point. Just make sure it’s cut up small enough for them to handle easily.
Do keep in mind, yellow squash is nowhere close to providing all the nutrition a growing chick needs, so you should only give them a tiny bit as a novel treat occasionally, if at all.
It isn’t overtly harmful for the little guys, but if they eat squash they are filling up on something that is right next to water in terms of nutrition!
Clean Up After Giving Your Chickens Yellow Squash
One last thing: if you serve your chickens yellow squash, make sure to clean up any leftovers afterward. It’ll only attract pests if you leave it lying around, and you certainly don’t want that.
Additionally, chickens that come back around later and nibble on rotting squash could get sick, so it’s just not worth the risk.
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.