Can chickens eat watermelon safely? Watermelon is safe for chickens to eat. It can be a great treat in hot summer months, and adult chickens can safely consume all parts of the watermelon and watermelon plant. As long as it has been properly washed and prepared. Younger chicks should only have watermelon flesh, with the tough rind and seeds removed until they are older and fully developed.
Watermelon shouldn’t be a staple in your chickens’ diet. But, it can be a great treat, and will be one they’ll usually love to pick at. Ready to find out more about the specific benefits watermelon can offer your chickens? Read on for more!
Can Chickens Eat Watermelon?
Watermelon is a safe and tasty treat for chickens. Fresh watermelon is safe for chickens to eat, but shouldn’t be a staple part of their diet. Instead, owners can offer this fruit up as an occasional treat.
All parts of the watermelon are fine for chickens to consume. That includes the flesh, rind, seeds, and even the plant itself. Most chickens will love the taste of this fruit too. Of course, the sweet fleshy part will usually be their favorite, but most chickens will happily peck away at the rind if you have any left over from your own watermelon snacks.
Is Watermelon Good for Chickens?
Okay, so we know that watermelon is safe for chickens to eat. But does this fruit have any specific health benefits for our hens? Or do they just like the taste?
Watermelon can offer some important health benefits. Perhaps one of the best is that it can help to keep our chickens hydrated, particularly in hot weather. In fact, this fruit is made up of almost 91% water. So, if you live somewhere hot, treats like this can be great for your chickens.
Watermelon is also a good source of vitamin C, as well as the antioxidant lycopene and the amino acid citrulline. Citrulline has featured in studies with chickens as a way to reduce body temperature. But, results vary. Whilst some suggest that this amino acid can help to reduce and regulate temperature, others suggest it makes no difference. If you’re struggling to keep your chickens cool in the summer, watermelon might help, but make sure your hens also have access to fresh water and plenty of shade.
Is Watermelon Bad for Chickens?
Watermelon is primarily made up of water and carbs, which are mostly in the form of sugars. So, although it isn’t bad for our chickens, it shouldn’t be a staple part of their diet. Watermelon offers a very small amount of nutrients. So, if your chickens fill up on this tasty snack, they may miss out on important nutrients from their regular food. Make sure to offer watermelon only as a snack or treat after your chickens have eaten some of their regular feed.
There are times when watermelon can be bad for chickens. If watermelon is rotten or mouldy, you should never give it to your chickens. The mycotoxins in mould on food can be very harmful to chickens, so only ever offer them fresh watermelon. On top of this, the pesticides used when growing commercial watermelons can harm our chickens. If you grow them at home, you’ll have control over whether pesticides are used. But, if you buy watermelons from the shop, make sure you wash them thoroughly before giving them to your chickens.
Can Chickens Eat Watermelon Rind?
Just like the flesh of this fruit, chickens will happily eat watermelon rind. They might not enjoy this part quite as much as the sweet, juicier flesh of the fruit. But, if you have been using watermelon in the kitchen and don’t want to throw out the rinds, your chickens will likely happily accept them.
Make sure that you wash the outside skin as thoroughly as possible to remove any trace of pesticides which could harm your chickens.
Can Chickens Eat Watermelon Seeds?
Watermelon seeds are also safe for chickens to eat. So, you won’t need to worry about trying to remove them before you serve up this treat. You can simply chop a watermelon into large pieces and put them down for your hens to snack on!
Can Chickens Eat Watermelon Plants?
Yes, all parts of the watermelon plant are safe for chickens to eat. But, only as long as there are no pesticides used. If you grow watermelons at home and want to give your chickens some of the plant, make sure you wash them thoroughly. And, if you use pesticides make sure your chickens don’t have access to that part of your yard in any way.
If you grow watermelons at home, you might want to restrict your chickens’ access to that part of the yard anyway. Unless you don’t mind sharing your watermelons before you get a chance to eat them yourself!
Can Baby Chickens Eat Watermelon?
Young chicks are still growing and developing. So, just because a food is okay for an adult chicken doesn’t mean it’s okay for a younger one. The flesh of watermelon is safe for baby chickens to eat, but they should have much smaller amounts than a full grown chicken would. It’s best to remove the seeds and rind when serving watermelon to younger chicks. You can introduce watermelon in its full state when they are older and their digestive systems have finished developing.
Like with adult chickens, make sure to only offer this treat after your chicks have eaten their regular food. This way, they won’t be lacking any nutrients by filling up on watermelon.
How to Serve Watermelon to Backyard Chickens
Watermelon can be served on its own, or alongside other backyard chicken treats! Here are some fun ways that you might want to serve up watermelon to your chickens:
- In slices with the seeds and rind attached
- Alongside other fruits and veggies in a salad
- Frozen and chopped into wide slices in the summer
- Simply chopped in half and left to peck at!
Remember to always wash any parts of the watermelon that could have traces of pesticides before giving them to your chickens. And, only ever offer this as a treat, not as a major part of your chickens’ diets.
Can Chickens Eat Watermelon? A Summary
Watermelon is safe for chickens to eat. And most chickens will love the taste of this fruit. All parts of the watermelon and watermelon plant can be consumed by chickens. But, make sure to wash it thoroughly to remove any traces of pesticides.
Do your chickens love the taste of watermelon in hot summer months? What’s your favorite way to serve up this fruit to your hens?
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References and Resources
- Nobakht, A. ‘The Possibility of Using Watermelon Waste in Laying Hens’ Diets’, Iranian Journal of Applied Animal Science (2015)
- Nguyen, L. (et al), ‘Oral Administration of Watermelon Rind Extract to Induce Hypothermia in Chicks’, The Journal of Poultry Science (2020)
- Erwan, E. (et al), ‘The Potency of Oral Administration of L-Citrulline as Anti Heat Stress Agent in KUB Chickens’, Institutional Repository (2020)
- Greenacre, C. (et al), ‘Backyard Poultry Nutrition’, Wiley Online Library (2021)
- Greenacre, C. ‘Backyard Poultry are Coming in for an Appointment! Overview of General Care and Husbandry’, University of Tennessee
- Bjarnadottir, A. ‘Watermelon 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits’, Healthline (2019)