Having an apple tree in your backyard is an absolute blessing, receiving ripe juicy apples for endless consumption and baking goods.
But, let’s be honest, sometimes the yield is just too great and we need to do everything we can to avoid letting them go to waste.
Luckily, apples, including the flesh and peels can be fed to your chickens as a healthy treat for them. I mean, we couldn’t stop them from eating the fallen apples in the backyard if we tried, but it’s good to know that they are safe for consumption in normal amounts.
But, although chickens can eat apples, there is one part that you should watch your chicken’s consumption of, and that’s the core and seeds. Here’s everything you need to know.
Can Chickens Eat Apples?
Chickens require a balanced diet to stay healthy, which means providing your flock with a high-quality feed, supplemented with vegetables, fruits, seeds, and greens. The bulk of your chickens’ diet (about 90 percent) should consist of a specialty formulated feed mix, while healthy table scraps and their foraging trips can make up the remaining 10 percent.
If you own an apple tree or always find yourself having an abundance of apples, then good news: the flesh and skin of an apple are completely healthy and safe for your chickens to eat in normal amounts.
You can let a chicken eat apples without worrying too much about harmful side effects as long as you only present the safe parts of the fruits. These include:
- Apple flesh — the flesh of an apple is the part under the skin or peel. It’s the softest, sweetest, and safest edible part of the fruit. most chickens will enjoy a nice helping of apple flesh. To help your chickens, you can cut it up into small pieces before you give it to your flock.
- Apple peels — although not all chickens like to munch on apple peels, this part of the fruit is completely safe for your birds to eat. Apple peels have a high content of fiber and antioxidants, which help keep the chickens satiated and support their immunity.
One thing to keep in mind is that not all chickens like to eat apples. As such, you should test the waters with your chickens using a few apple slices to see whether or not they like it or not first.
Are Apple Cores Bad For Chickens?
Although chickens can quite easily manage eating apple flesh and apple skin/peel, apple cores are surprisingly tough for chickens to eat and consume. If your chickens try to eat the whole core, it risks getting stuck in their crop, throat, or digestive tract before it’s able to be digested.
But, it’s not the actual core of the apple that poses the greatest risk, but the apple seeds it contains. Apple seeds actually contain cyanide, which is poisonous in large enough doses, even in humans.
Although it’s said to take hundreds of seeds for a human to feel the effects of the poisoning, chickens are much much smaller. Plus, the cyanide is released when the seeds are broken down or crushed. The chicken’s digestive system does just that, whereas if humans consume a whole seed it often won’t be crushed up in this fashion.
So, although your chickens might be OK after eating just one or two apple seeds, if they eat too many they risk falling ill or worse. For this reason, you should make extra efforts to core your apples before letting your birds frenzy over them.
Why Are Apple Seeds Bad For Chickens?
Apple seeds contain cyanide, which is a harmful compound that disturbs metabolic processes. When ingested, it prevents oxygen from reaching cells, also known as cyanide poisoning. If your chickens eat the fruit’s seeds, you’re risking severe health complications.
It doesn’t even take many seeds to cause your chickens to get sick. They can die within 30 to 60 minutes from cyanide poisoning, so seek veterinary care immediately once you notice your birds having trouble breathing or their comb color changes after eating apple seeds.
Luckily this will only happen if your chicken has eaten a handful of seeds, but even at lower amounts the cyanide can cause illness, so apple seeds should always be avoided.
How You Should Feed Your Chickens Apples
So, if you’re planning to feed apples to your chickens, you should always avoid giving them apple cores and apple seeds because they’re unsafe and toxic for chickens.
This can be done easily by simply coring your apple, or cutting around the core and just taking the flesh, discarding the core and seeds.
Luckily, if you do have an apple tree in the backyard, your chickens will hardly ever eat the apple down to its core and seeds. My chickens usually just peck at a few that they get their beaks on, and some of my chickens avoid the apples altogether.
If you want to incorporate apples in your chicken’s diet, I recommend slicing up the flesh of the apple into small pieces and adding it to a fruit and vegetable mix for a healthy weekly meal for your chickens. Since apples already have a good amount of sugar, avoid other sugary fruits and instead add foods like:
- Snap peas: high in fiber and antioxidants for your chickens.
- Root vegetables: parsnips are great for chickens
- Superfood seeds: Flax seed for enriched yolks and chia seeds as it’s a superfood for chickens.
- Cooked scrambled eggs: high in protein and vitamin B.
Apples are completely healthy for your chickens to eat in normal amounts. Normally if your chickens find an apple that’s fallen off the tree they won’t eat it down to smithereens. Luckily, they normally stop before the apple core and seeds, as these can be harmful to them to eat.
Although it’s rare that chickens will go ahead and eat the entire apple core including the seeds, it’s still best to avoid the risk entirely. Because apple cores and seeds can be harmful to your backyard chickens, it’s important to core any apples you decide to feed your chickens as part of their fruit and vegetable mixes and discard the seeds.