Feeding your flock extra table scraps or goodies that haven’t gone bad is entertaining, and usually pretty good for your chickens. I mean, who doesn’t love a bit of a variety in their diet?
Chickens are no different. If your flock has been stuck with boring commercial crumble for a long period of time, prepare for some chaos should you choose to provide them with something a little different from time to time?
Hens will fight over anything new, as long as they think it will taste good (unfortunately this also includes styrofoam).
But what about oranges?
Well, you may find that chickens and citrus really don’t mix…that doesn’t mean they can’t eat oranges, it just means they prefer not to.
If you throw a bunch of scraps in your coop, your chickens may run up to an orange peel, poke at it once, and walk away with their beaks’ up.
Are Oranges Safe for Chickens?
I often think that if my chickens don’t want to eat it, it must not be very good for them. Well, I might be a little off about that when it comes to oranges.
While oranges are safe for chickens to eat, whether they choose to eat them or not is a different story.
Most chickens will steer clear of the citrus fruit and its peel, but there’s always an exception to the rule.
With that being said, there are whispering throughout the chicken fancier’s world that indicate that too much vitamin C (a well-known benefit of oranges) can cause some strange or undesirable behaviors and outcomes amongst flocks.
Some swear that after eating anything with excessive Vitamin C will cause chickens to pull out their own feathers or even produce thin-shelled eggs.
What About the Peels?
We know that chickens cannot eat avocado peels, but what about orange peels?
First off, it’s probably something you don’t need to worry about…because chickens typically want nothing to do with an orange peel. If you thought their hate for the pulp was strong, try to give a chicken an orange peel.
In fact, I gave my chickens and orange and they kicked it around for days until I removed it and threw it away as a hardened little orange ball.
But the thing is, there are many who believe that the acidity of oranges causes upset within the natural (good) bacteria of a chicken’s digestive system—particularly the crop.
So, if you’ve heard that oranges are bad for chickens, this is probably where that school of thought comes from.
On the other end of the spectrum, are those who believe that the acidity is good for chickens in that is can kill bad bacteria. Now, I’m not sure that orange acid knows the difference between good and bad bacteria, but it’s worth mentioning the two schools of thought on the matter.
How to Feed Chickens Oranges
If you decide to attempt to feed your chickens oranges, you can usually sneak some into their feed in small doses. Throwing a whole orange at a flock that has never seen the citrusy orb will only confuse them.
If you feed your chickens oranges, in small bits, you can combine it with their regular meals. But keep an eye on them in case the orange turns them off their feed altogether.
And as a rule of thumb, try not to overdo it with the oranges…feed your chickens scraps of any kind in moderation.