If you’re mad for spice, then I bet I’ll always find some kind of chili peppers in your fridge or pantry. If you do always keep a healthy stash, or simply just ended up with too many chili peppers you may be wondering how you could put them to good use.
As a chicken owner, I bet one of the first thoughts would be, I wonder if my chickens would eat chili peppers!
Interestingly, chickens don’t quite experience the spice that we humans or other mammals do. So, here’s whether chickens can eat chili peppers, what the benefits are, and why people feed chili peppers to their chickens!
Can Chickens Eat Chili Peppers
You may think that because we can experience the spicy taste of chili and that it can sometimes be overpowering for us, that it may be the same for our beloved chooks.
Well actually, chickens don’t quite feel the effects of the chili pepper, because they aren’t affected by the main ‘spicy’ compound known as capsaicin.
Chickens have no such receptor to capsaicin, so they simply don’t feel the effects of this ‘spice’. Plus, there is nothing else in chili peppers that is considered harmful or unhealthy for them in normal amounts. So, chickens can indeed eat chili peppers, and it’s considered healthy and has a host of benefits for your flock.
This means chickens can enjoy all the benefits of chili peppers like jalapenos, cayenne peppers, or bell peppers, without having to experience the feeling of spice.
Chicken owners will feed their flock chili and other hot peppers to support their immune system, boost their egg production, stop other birds or animals from eating their feed, or even for deworming!
Can Chickens Taste Spice From Chili?
Capsaicin is the compound found in most chili peppers responsible for that burning sensation. In mammals, when capsaicin meets our receptor called TRPV1, it causes a pain-like response that we can quickly become addicted to and even consider delicious.
Although this receptor is present in mammals it’s only found in some avian species — not all! Chickens are one of the birds that actually lack this receptor, which means they simply don’t feel any burning sensation while eating chili.
This means you can feed your chickens any type of chili pepper, without them feeling any burning side effects. It will be completely harmless to your chickens and will supply them with several nutrients and benefits.
Can Chickens Eat Chili Pepper Greens & Leaves?
You can let your chickens eat any type or color of ripe peppers along with the core and the seeds. But, what you should avoid giving to your chickens is the green parts and leaves of the pepper plant due to the presence of the toxic substance solanine. Although this may be safe in small amounts, there’s no harm in avoiding it all together to protect your flock!
This selective feeding of which parts you should feed your chickens is a reasonably common practice. You’ll need to be aware of what greens, stems, and leaves of each vegetable you can feed your chickens safely, like when feeding your chickens eggplant or even apple cores.
Nutritional Benefits of Chili for Chickens
Not only is eating chili harmless for chickens, but it can also be good for them. Chili and other spicy peppers contain several beneficial nutrients such as:
- Vitamin A — powerful antioxidant, good for reproduction and immunity
- Vitamin C — potent antioxidant, boosts immunity
- Vitamin B6 — supports metabolism
- Vitamin K1 — helps healthy bone and kidney function
Why Do People Give Chickens Chili?
Besides feeding your chickens chili peppers for their nutritional benefits, chicken owners feed chili, jalapenos, or other hot peppers to their flock in order to:
- To serve as a dewormer — chili, and peppers in general, can act as a natural dewormer for your chicken thanks to the capsaicin compound present in these spicy chilis!
- To improve egg production — letting your chickens eat chili can support the production and laying of eggs in birds that are seemingly having more trouble than usual in laying eggs.
- To drive away other animals from chicken feed — by sprinkling some chili or cayenne pepper onto your chicken feed, you’re protecting it from being raided by critters and rodents. The hot fruit can effectively discourage those annoying animals from eating what’s not theirs, meanwhile, the chickens are unaffected.
- The other compounds found in chili peppers are also known to fight off bacteria throughout the whole digestion process, increasing your flock’s overall immunity!
How To Feed Your Chickens Chili
Chickens aren’t fussy, so pretty much no matter how you serve chili peppers to them they’re going to thank you by eating every last bit!
The ways I find work best are chopping chilis up finely and adding it to a mix of vegetables, fruits, and seeds, for a healthy table scrap meal. This is a great way to incorporate chilis, as well as their bacteria-fighting abilities into your chicken’s diet.
I know some backyard farms that simply chop chili peppers up into small bite-sized pieces and scatter them in the yard when their chickens are foraging too!
There’s even a viral video of a farmer simply throwing chili flakes and seeds straight into their fields, not even the actual fruit — just the flakes and seeds!
The Last Bite
In summary, chickens can indeed eat chili peppers, as they simply don’t have the receptors to feel the heat in the first place!
You’ll sit there watching your chickens go through a whole handful of hot chilis without even blinking — it’s kind of scary.
However, what isn’t scary is just how healthy these chili peppers can be, both in nutrition value, and also in protecting your chickens from bacteria, worms, and stopping other animals from hogging all their chicken feed!