If you google “Can chickens eat eggplant,” your search will yield different and contradicting results. Why? Certain websites claim that raw eggplant is poisonous to chickens and can cause severe health issues.
So let’s get to the bottom of this internet mystery, shall we? The truth is that chickens can eat eggplant, although it is not recommended that they eat the whole plant. Generally, chickens have a very versatile diet because they are omnivores and are not quite picky!
Before we dive into the chicken diet and feed, what parts of eggplant can chickens eat, let’s check some general information about eggplant and its nutrition profile!
General Information About Eggplant
Eggplant or aubergine is a vegetable in the nightshade family Solanaceae. This plant species is cultivated annually around the world, although it is a perennial plant.
However, if you want the eggplant to produce fruit and regrow every year, it must be cultivated under certain conditions, preparation, and care.
It is believed that Eggplant is native to Asia, precisely India, although certain historical sources claim that eggplant was cultivated in ancient China and even in Africa. It was brought to the US by Spaniards and early explorers around the 1500s, but the plant was not particularly popular.
Therefore, some of the first records of eggplant in the US resurfaced in the early 1800s, when two varieties were described, white and purple, cultivated as an ornament. The fruit of these plant varieties resembled goose’s eggs and hence was named eggplant.
Interestingly, eggplant was cultivated in the US as an ornament rather than an edible vegetable due to its unusual appearance, among other reasons.
Americans believed that eggplant, a nightshade family member, was poisonous because certain plant species from the same family were known as toxic herbaceous plants, such as Atropa belladonna. Tomatoes and potatoes are also in the nightshade family.
However, that changed in the late 19th century when immigrants from Italy and the Middle East began importing various recipes with eggplant, and the plant became popular as a vegetable. It was not an immediate success, and its use was still confined to certain areas.
Today, eggplant can be found in numerous cuisines worldwide, such as Italian, Turkish, and Greek, and that is not without reason.
This delicious and low-calorie fruit has a unique taste and is perfect for stir-fry, Baba Ganoush, pasta, stew, and many other dishes and delicacies.
Which Part Of Eggplant Can Chicken Eat?
Due to various contradicting information circling online regarding this plant’s toxicity, we ought to discuss which part of eggplant is edible for chickens and which is not, so keep reading!
1. Eggplant Fruit
Eggplant fruit is completely edible for chickens and can be consumed raw or cooked. The easiest way to serve eggplant is to wash it, cut it into cubes, and spread it in the coop or their free-range space.
Eggplant fruit contains solanine, but in very low amounts, approximately 11 micrograms per gram, and one would need to consume around 12 eggplants in a day to develop symptoms of solanine poisoning.
Eating raw eggplant will not kill your chickens, but you must serve it moderately. Too much food can be detrimental to their health, not only eggplants.
If you are giving your chickens cooked eggplant, that is not problematic. However, if it is heavily seasoned with salt, we suggest you skip it. Why? Their diet affects egg production, and too much salt or sodium chloride can result in eggshell defects.
2. Eggplant Stem and Leaves
Eggplant stem and leaves are part of the plan you should not give your flock. Why? The stems and leaves of eggplants contain a toxic alkaloid called solanine in potatoes and tomato leaves.
Have you ever heard of someone eating a raw potato? If so, you know that consuming a raw potato will definitely result in high fever and gastric distress. Similar symptoms will develop after eating eggplant stems and leaves.
This glycoalkaloid, solanine, naturally occurs in plants and has pesticide properties, meaning it defends the plant against various insects. Solanine is a very tricky toxin and can cause death, especially if you consume it in large quantities.
As mentioned, the fruit of the eggplant also contains solanine; however, its levels are much lower compared to leaves and stems.
The eggplant’s stems and leaves are a health hazard for other birds and poultry, not only chicken.
Therefore, before serving the eggplant, remove the leaves and stems.
3. Eggplant Peels
Given that giving raw potato peels with green areas is not recommended to chickens because of the presence of solanine, some people ask if the same rule applies to eggshell peels.
The answer is no! The eggplant fruit, including the peels, is safe for chickens to consume! As a matter of fact, eggplant peels are packed with various nutrients and are very healthy.
They contain an antioxidant called nasunin, which according to scientists, may boost our immune system and protect cell membranes.
4. Eggplant Seeds
Certain fruit seeds are proven to be highly detrimental to chicken’s health, such as apple seeds, which contain cyanide and amygdalin. These seeds are not harmful to humans, but if chickens consume them in great quantities, that can lead to death.
On the other hand, eggplant seeds, which are found in eggplant flesh, are completely safe for your chickens. However, the seeds can have a bitter taste, especially if your eggplant is overripe and has plenty of seeds.
So, there is a high possibility that your chickens will not enjoy munching on the seeds.
Eggplant Health Benefits
Like many other veggies, eggplant offers numerous health benefits despite the presence of solanine. Besides the nasunin, eggplant also contains chlorogenic acid, another antioxidant believed to prevent cancer and has antibacterial properties.
If you are familiar with common health issues in chickens, you know they can suffer from sudden death syndrome and often die due to a heart attack or heart failure.
Therefore, eggplant may be the perfect plant for them because chlorogenic acid can lower cholesterol levels, and cholesterol is known to be a risk factor for heart illness.
Eggplant is also packed with fiber, minerals, and vitamins, such as Thiamine, niacin, manganese, magnesium, potassium, folate, vitamin K, and many others.
Thiamine is believed to boost a chicken’s metabolism while lacking the same vitamin can hinder a chicken’s digestion and body temperature. Eggplant also contains phosphorus, vital for egg development, and metabolizes calcium.
On the other hand, eggplant has high potassium levels, which is crucial for muscle development and hydration because it increases water uptake. In addition, they are packed with folic acid, which plays a key role in egg production.
Besides Vitamin B and K, eggplant also has decent amounts of vitamin C, often used for prevention and dealing with the common cold.
Eggplant Nutritional Profile
Eggplant is a low-calorie vegetable but high in fiber; therefore, it promotes weight loss. One portion or 100 grams of raw eggplant has around 25 to 35 calories. There is 229 mg of potassium and 2 mg of Sodium.
The eggplant has 3 grams of dietary fiber and 6 grams of carbohydrates, of which is sugar 3.5 grams. As mentioned, eggplant has 3% of vitamin C, Iron at 1%, and vitamin B6 at 5%. This nutritious plant also has a bit of protein 1 gram and 3% magnesium.
What Do Chickens Like to Eat?
The optimal chicken diet should consist of 90% chicken fee and 10% various snacks or treats. Although certain chickens can have preferences, most of them will eat just about anything or at least try to peck it.
As omnivores, they enjoy a well-balanced diet of grains, chicken feed, and vegetables. Also, your chickens must have their run space where they can also eat various insects, which are surprisingly high in protein.
Generally, chickens like to eat oatmeal, lettuce, carrots, berries, cherries, beets, cucumbers, kale pumpkins, peaches, strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, cabbage, broccoli, peppers, cauliflower, oats, and many other vegetables and fruits.
They can also eat dairy products, such as cheese or yogurt!
However, the most important rule is to serve them food in moderation. Too much of anything, including dairy products or even strawberries, can cause health issues.
Foods to Avoid
Despite their versatile diet, certain foods can render your chickens ill, so it is best to learn about them so you and your chickens can stay away!
The list goes on and includes coffee grounds, caffeine, chocolate, avocado, tomato leaves, pepper leaves, and onions, among others. Most of these foods contain a toxin, such as onion, which can induce anemia in chickens and affect the egg taste.
Chicken can also eat citrus fruits, but most are not fans and will gladly munch on something else!
Ultimately, chickens can eat eggplant, but it is important that you do not feed them eggplant leaves and stems due to the toxic alkaloid called solanine!
In this article, we have covered some general information about eggplant, which part of the plant chickens can eat, eggplant health benefits and nutritional profile, and what foods to avoid!
If you have chicken, what does their diet consist of? Please share your experience with us! If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask!