Can your backyard chickens eat zucchini and other summer squash? It just so happens that zucchini and other summer squash are a favorite treat for most hens in the summer months. In fact chickens can benefit greatly from consuming zucchini and other summer squash. Find out how to feed your chickens zucchini and the many health benefits of feeding your chickens summer squash.
Is your garden overflowing with zucchini this summer? Or maybe you just bought a little too much at the grocery store. Leftover raw zucchini and other summer squash is seasonal and healthy. It can be a great treat for your flock of backyard chickens.
What are Zucchini?
Zucchini also known as courgette or baby marrow is a summer squash, a vining plant whose fruit are harvested when their immature seeds and rind are still soft and edible(source).
Zucchini has a very mild taste that is slightly sweet, grassy, or green. Because of zucchini's mild flavor it's highly versatile for cooking. I think animals enjoy it because it is relatively soft and easy for them to eat making for a filling easy meal.
Can and Should Chickens Eat Zucchini
In short, absolutely yes! All parts of the Zucchini plant are edible to chickens and humans alike, including the flowers, leaves.
Zucchini and other summer squash varieties are a healthy treat for your chicken flock.
Other summer squash varieties such as patty pan and crookneck squash are also excellent for your chickens and have similar benefits to zucchini.
For tips on growing your own squash
How to grow zucchini and other summer squash
How to grow patty pan squash plants
How to grow delicata squash plants
Health Benefits of Feeding your Chickens Zucchini and Other Squash
Feeding your chickens zucchini and other summer squash is an excellent way to supplement your typical pelleted feed.
Zucchini, like most vegetables, is a good source of nutrients for chickens. It contains numerous healthy compounds like vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants. Most summer squash is made up of up to 95% water which can help chickens digestion. The water content is also beneficial during the hot summer months when chickens can become dehydrated easily.
Summer squash and zucchini seeds can also be used to deworm chickens and Highly recommend adding it to their diet when possible.
When should you not feed your Chickens Zucchini
Like most things everything is fine in moderation. I do caution against feeding your chickens zucchini and other summer squash every day, all day because they can fill up on it and miss out on nutrients that they need from their pelleted or free range feed sources. That said if you have extra don't hesitate to mix it in to their diet on occasion, once or twice a week depending on availability.
I also tend to stay away from feeding my chickens produce when it's out of season. During the cold winter months my chickens don't get a ton of summer squash, but I may throw in some hard winter squash like pumpkin.
How To Feed Your Chickens Zucchini
Summer squash and zucchini can be fed to your chickens raw or cooked. I recommend just feeding them whole raw zucchini and other summer squash varieties. No need to cut or prepare. Summer squash skin is relatively soft, chickens will peck into it easily and with delight!
If you are a gardener, or if you plan on growing your own squash this year; Use the squash plant leaves and vines to feed your chickens when cleaning your garden beds in the fall. It's a great way to get rid of garden debris while also giving your chickens a tasty treat!