Previously, we talked about kiwis, but you may wonder, can chickens eat tomatoes?
They’re a staple in many dishes because of their umami flavor and we can eat them raw or cooked. But since it belongs to the nightshade family, it’s a different story for chickens.
So, in this article, we’ll discuss the following:
- If chickens can eat tomatoes and their leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds
- How tomatoes can affect chickens and how to feed them
- Other alternatives to tomatoes that will make excellent treats for your birds
So, before you feed your chickens with tomatoes or food scraps with this fruit, hold on for a second and see whether it’s suitable for your birds below.
Can Chickens Eat Tomatoes?
Tomatoes are the most nutritious fruits with good antioxidants, potassium, and fiber. It is also rich in vitamins C, K, and B9. So, it is healthy for your chickens.
However, since this kind of plant belongs to the Solanaceae or Nightshades family, it contains toxins called lectins that can harm humans and animals.
Luckily, these toxins can easily break down when it was cooked. Though in most cases, tomatoes are eaten raw, a small amount is not that toxic for you and your chickens, as long as it is ripened.
But at what age can chicken eat tomatoes?
Chickens of all ages can eat tomatoes except few weeks-old chicks who haven’t tried eating solid foods yet.
Can Chickens Eat Tomato Plants’ Leaves?
Your chickens can freely eat tomato fruits. However, they can’t have the leaves and the plant itself.
Why? Because it contains solanine that toxifies any living things that feed from it.
Excreting this toxic solanine is a natural defense for most plants, protecting them from animals that eat its growth.
But, you might not notice them taking a bite of the leaves of the tomato. So, chickens might try it.
The poison of the leaves could cause gastrointestinal upset, lethargy, diarrhea, and neurological issues in your chickens.
Fortunately, chickens will surely not try it again because it tastes bitter. Hence, it will not cause big harm to them.
If they accidentally take a lot of tomato leaves, it would be best to contact your vet for immediate treatment.
Can Chickens Eat Tomato Flowers?
Like the leaves of the tomato, its flowers also contain the toxin solanine, which can harm your chickens.
Thus, you should avoid planting tomato plants in areas where your chickens roam around.
As humans, eating leaves or any part of the tomato plants are also dangerous for us. But if we have no other choice, we can eat green tomato fruits only in small amounts.
On the other hand, only ripe tomatoes are good for chicken. And if tomato plants are not good for chickens, then the same as for their chicks.
But, if baby chicks are a few weeks old and haven’t tried eating solid foods, they could also not have tomatoes.
Can Chickens Eat Tomato Stems?
The leaves, flowers, stems, and other parts of the tomato plants are all the same. They both have a poisonous substance which is solanine.
And yet, all these parts are important to produce a great tomato fruit for you and your chickens.
If you love to plant tomatoes in your backyard, it would be best to place them in a fenced area away from your chickens.
It would help to prevent them from consuming any parts of the plants.
However, if you don’t have time for planting, purchasing ripe tomatoes from the market can be a good idea.
And, before giving the fruit to your little critters, make sure to check if there are no stalk of stem remains.
Still, you don’t have to worry more because chickens are pretty smart. They could easily identify what’s bad or good for them, even with just one look.
Can Chickens Eat Tomato Seeds?
All breeds of chickens can freely eat ripe tomatoes, even if it is raw. So, they can safely eat a whole tomato without taking out those seeds inside—even if you throw them at your little critters.
Besides the tomato fruit, no other parts of the tomato plants are safe for all your chickens.
Can Chickens Eat Moldy Tomatoes?
Overripe tomato fruits usually start to build up molds. However, some homeowners would love to give it to their chickens rather than dump it into a garbage pit.
Is it safe for them to eat a moldy tomato? Yes, they can have it, but only if the mold is still small and the tomato hasn’t decayed yet.
However, it’s still best for your chickens to avoid moldy foods because it’s hard to determine the good and safe molds for your chickens.
As cliche as it sounds, prevention is better than cure, so protect your little critters by providing them with healthy and nontoxic foods.
Will Chickens Eat Raw Tomatoes?
Chickens are not picky eaters, unlike humans. They won’t care if they eat cooked or uncooked food as long as it does not harm them.
It only means that uncooked or raw tomatoes are also safe for them.
And as stated above, you can give them a whole tomato without hesitation. They’ll enjoy it no matter what you give to them.
Can Chicks Eat Tomatoes?
Like adult chickens, baby chicks can freely share the tomato fruit with their parents.
Your fledgling can start eating tomatoes for healthy growth when they eat solid foods.
However, a baby chick a few weeks old cannot eat tomatoes. Why? Because it might cause them to choke.
Some poultry owners would prefer to give chick starters or growers, but it’s also great to give them other kinds of food.
Do Chickens Like Tomatoes?
This will vary depending on your chicken’s taste preferences. Others might like the food you gave, and some may not.
But most of the time, chickens like it—especially those chickens that grow in the backyard or farm that are not used for poultry production.
Why? Because poultry owners would prefer to use processed food for fast growth than giving their chickens raw foods.
How Do Chickens Eat Tomatoes?
All birds, whether flying or not, have beaks that they use to eat. So, as for chickens, they don’t have teeth to chew food.
However, their saliva helps them to swallow food more easily. So, it’s the same as they eat tomatoes—it doesn’t matter if it is cooked or not.
Can Chickens Eat Tomatoes Safely?
Feeding chickens tomatoes are always safe as long as they are ripe and don’t have any molds on them.
However, you have to limit the amount you give them because too many tomatoes can be dangerous.
Then, How Many Tomatoes Can Chickens Eat?
Feeding tomatoes to chickens should not be frequent because they might stop consuming their usual food when overfed with fruits.
Please give it to them moderately so that you can avoid health complications.
It’s better to cut the tomatoes into pieces to control the amount to feed your chickens. To be more exact, feeding them three times a week is enough to support their health.
And it’s great to feed them tomatoes in the cold season because more food will help them generate more body heat to endure the cold.
How to Feed Tomatoes to Chickens?
Take note that tomatoes should be given occasionally as a chicken treat. Do not try to spoil them with tomatoes.
When feeding tomatoes, it’s best to place the feeder and waterer where your chickens usually spend their day. Alternatively, you can put them in their coop.
But, if you’re tired, you can put it on the floor, ground, or grass. Just ensure that the place is not contaminated or filled with poop.
The best time for feeding is in the morning, but sometimes it can be in the afternoon. Why? Because it is the time that your chickens gather around.
They may love feasting on a couple of juicy tomatoes and enjoy the taste when they eat together.
What Happens If a Chicken Eats a Tomato?
As an owner, you don’t have to worry if your flock eats some ripe tomatoes. Small amounts can’t kill them. In fact, tomatoes provide vitamins and minerals that can boost their growth.
Tomatoes’ nutritional composition includes:
- Vitamin C – it serves as an antioxidant and helps boost the immunity of your flock.
- Vitamin K and B9 (Folic acid) – keep their heart healthy, aid genetic damage, strengthen their bones, and help blood clot.
- Potassium – maintains the normal cell’s fluid level.
- Fiber – helps digest and absorb food.
In addition, tomatoes contain Lycopene, Naringenin, and Beta-carotene, which boost your chicken’s growth.
Ripe vs. Unripe Tomatoes
This section will discuss whether ipe or unripe tomatoes are good for your poultry birds.
As humans, we always prefer to eat ripe fruits like tomatoes. And it’s the same with your flocks. Not only do they like the ripe one, but also it is the safest stage for a tomato.
It’s easy to identify the ripe tomatoes because they will turn orange or red and soft.
But can chickens eat green tomatoes?
As stated above, green tomatoes are dangerous to eat because of the poisonous solanine toxin still present in them.
So, if you buy green tomatoes in the market, it’s better to wait for them to ripen before consuming or giving them to your chicken flock.
Cooked vs. Uncooked Tomatoes
Other people would prefer eating raw tomatoes and give to their flocks.
If you want to be more careful and keep your chickens safe, you can cook them for just two minutes to make them a juicy treat.
However, seasoning like sodium is bad for your little critters, so do not add it to the cooked tomato.
A debate about tomatoes said that vitamin C would be lessened once cooked. Even so, it’s okay because it still has the nutrients your flock needs.
Should You Give Tomatoes to Your Chickens?
Since ripe tomatoes are safe for all chickens, even the chicks, you can try them for your flocks.
We have already tackled the benefits of tomatoes to your little critters above.
It’s easy to feed and hassle-free. But it still depends on what’s your purpose in keeping chickens.
If you’re doing it for an industrial purpose, then it’s not that necessary. But, if you use it for personal consumption, it’s not bad to let your birds give it a try.
Food Alternatives to Tomatoes
Letting your flocks eat tomatoes is a breeze for non-picky birds. However, if you’re hesitating to feed tomatoes to your chicken, do not worry because there are alternatives.
Here are other foods you can give to your birds when that provide essential nutrients to chickens:
- Bananas – This fruit is healthy for your chickens and the safest treat because they can eat most of its parts, even its trunk.
- Rice – This is one of the most effortless food you can give to your little critters because it’s always present in your home. It doesn’t matter if it is cooked because, as said earlier, chickens are not picky eaters as long as it’s safe for them.
- Grapes – This fruit could give nutritional value to your little critters. And, same with bananas, your chickens could enjoy eating all the parts of grapes.
- Mealworms might make you throw up, but chickens love this living creature. They are very good at finding this food, especially in fertile soil.
But, it doesn’t mean you’re going give them more kinds of food in a time. It would be best if you let them enjoy it and try some new things.
Can Chickens Eat Tomatoes: Final Recap
As discussed earlier, you can feed tomatoes to your chickens. But can chickens eat tomatoes and their leaves, stem, and seeds?
The answer is yes and no. Chickens can eat ripened tomato fruit but not the leaves, stems, flowers, and green or unripe ones because of their solanine content.
It would be best to avoid moldy tomatoes as well and wait for them to ripen before throwing them into your chicken’s feeder.
It’s not worth risking your beloved chicken’s health for a couple of rotten and moldy tomatoes.