Chickens are probably the most flexible and profitable animals you can keep. They give you eggs every day, you can slaughter them for meat, they’re great company, they fertilize your plants, and their diet is extremely low fuss. But can chickens eat peaches? Yes! Chickens can pretty much eat anything … except maybe chocolate. Let’s take a closer look at their menus.
Can Chickens Eat Peaches?
The Classes of Commercial Chickens
Let’s start with the basics. A young female chicken is called a pullet, and once she starts laying eggs at 16 to 20 weeks, she’s a hen. Meanwhile, a young male is called a cockerel until he starts mating at around the same age, then he’s a rooster or cockerel. Some hens have a Y chromosome, so their genetic phenotype is XXY. These chickens are known as pollards.
As for commercial chickens in farm factories, they can be kept for meat or eggs. Hens that are kept for eggs are called layers, and they’re always female. But meat chickens can be male or female. Some are slaughtered at 3lb to 5lb when their meat is still young and tender. They are known as broilers or fryers and are 4 to 6 weeks old when they’re sold to meat markets.
Other chickens, known as roasters, are sold at 8 to 12 weeks when they weigh 6lb to 8lb and their meat is a little tougher. As their name suggests, they’re better suited for roasting or barbecuing. Another category is the capon, which is a male chicken that’s neutered. Because it has no reproductive organs, it grows faster and larger so it can get to 10lb at 4 to 6 weeks.
If you’re keeping chickens as pets, you probably free-range them and collect eggs every day. In this scenario, your hens can live 8 to 12 years, laying an egg every day for the first 3 to 4 years of their lives. If you just want eggs to eat and sell, you can keep hens without a rooster. That way, the eggs will never hatch. But if you want chicks, you need one rooster for 10 hens.
The Dietary Needs of Chickens
In the wild, chickens can eat fruits, grass, herbs, lizards, frogs, fish, worms, bugs, mice, nuts, and seeds. When you keep your chickens free-range, they have access to their natural diet since they typically roam free during the day and only come indoors to sleep. You may also choose to give them commercial chicken feed, grit, or pellets to supplement their foraging.
These feeds often have soy protein, corn for carbs, mineral supplements, and oyster shells for grit. They might have antibiotics and other meds mixed into the pellets. Chickens also need fresh water regardless of their diet, and they prefer it cold so keep it in a sheltered spot out of direct sunlight. Change it daily to stop pests or parasites that are attracted to stagnant water.
On the other hand, chickens that are kept industrially on factory farms will eat cereals and pellets infused with proteins, vitamins, and minerals. You might also plant protein-rich grass inside their coops so they can peck at the greens and bugs for extra nutrients. For backyard chickens, kitchen scraps are a viable option as long as they’re not too sweet, salty, or greasy.
Chickens generally need 16% to 24% protein plus whole grains for fiber. Don’t feed them too much carbohydrates or they may get obese. This not only affects the flavor of their meat and eggs, but it can also strain their limbs and muscles leading to injuries and ailments. For this same reason, chickens should have running space and stimulating toys so they can exercise.
Fruits and Vegetables in Your Chicken’s Menu
Can chickens eat peaches? Yes! They enjoy pecking at fleshy fruits like peaches, pineapples, plums, apples, apricots, bananas, watermelons, strawberries, and many more. The advantage of fruits for chickens is that they have a rich mix of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They’re also a safer form of sugar because they contain fructose rather than glucose, so it digests slower.
In essence, fructose has a two-step absorption process. It has to break down from fructose to glucose, and that extra step means it doesn’t spike the blood sugar as quickly as glucose does so it’s not converted as easily to fat. Plus the fibres and vitamins are an extra benefit. That said, don’t offer too many fruits to your chickens because excess sugar is still excess sugar.
Vegetables are a good option too, and these include pumpkin, zucchini, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, cooked beans, and leafy greens. Fruits and vegetables make great edible toys because you can string them across the coop like a kabob or hang them from the roof like a tetherball. That way, the birds can stimulate their minds and burn some extra calories as they’re eating.
The only caveat is to avoid vegetables that have solanine. It can be toxic to chickens, causing tummy trouble, breathing problems, tremors, and even death. Green tomatoes and green potatoes have solanine, so don’t offer them to chickens. Red tomatoes and cooked potatoes are safe though. Avoid the pits and peels of avocadoes as well, since they contain toxic persin.
Check Your Chicken’s Taste
While chickens will generally eat anything, they have personalities and preferences, just like we do. So if you have a backyard flock, you can mix their diet and give them bits and bobs to see what they like best. It should be a combination of leafy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and bugs. For grains, try oats, millet, barley, sorghum, or wheat in addition to the usual corn.
Chickens also enjoy sunflower seeds, cottonseeds, and other oilseed snacks such as safflower, sesame, and peanut. The fats in these seeds give your birds soft skin and shiny feathers. Try animal proteins too, such as fish meal and bone meal. These have to be ground and mixed into their food. Whey powder is a convenient protein source you can sprinkle on anything.
For fruits and vegetables, hang a different one on a string every day so you can see what they love. This also gives them a varied mixture of nutrients. Once you identify their favorites, you can alternate whatever is in season or even offer dried options. Peach cobbler, fruit pies, applesauce, or peach-flavored baby food can work when the fruit itself isn’t easily available.
As for worms and insects, you can buy live, dried, or frozen ones at pet stores if the weather is too harsh for your chickens to go foraging. These can be especially helpful when it’s raining and/or during winter blizzards. Remember that when your birds are molting, they need rest and protein to recover and regrow their feathers. Offer fruity treats and protein-packed bugs.
Stay Away from Raw Beans
While nuts and peaches are fine for chickens, dry beans are not. They have high levels of phytohaemagglutinin, which is toxic to poultry. So if you want your chickens to eat beans, you should cook them first. Or at least soak them overnight, drain the water, rinse them, and boil them. Incidentally, it’s a good way to reduce flatulence when you cook beans for people.
What about rice? Cooked rice is safer for chickens, because raw rice can absorb fluid inside your chicken’s stomach and cause digestive upsets. Rice flour absorbs water too, so stick to cooked rice, preferably unsalted and unflavoured. Before feeding anything to your chickens – including peaches – check for mold. Fungi can be toxic so if you see any fuzz, toss it out.
Chicken feed often has additives to prevent mold, but if you’re feeding your birds fresh fruit, seeds, hanging vegetables, or kitchen scraps, be extra careful to prevent rot and mold. Also, never ever offer chocolate. They’ll eat the cocoa candy gladly, but the theobromine and caffeine can cause seizures, trigger breathing problems, or even stop your chicken’s heart.
Do Chickens Need Veterinary Care?
Larger livestock like cows and horses routinely need a vet for deworming, pest control, illness, injuries, insemination, and childbirth. And household pets like cats, dogs, and caged birds get regular visits too. But do chickens need the vet? Yes! If you have them as backyard pets, they need check-ups just to see that everything is okay and keep up with vaccinations.
But even chickens kept for meat or eggs should be inspected for parasites and ailments. They could contaminate your produce and spread infections to the wider population. The vet may look at the coop to check for worms or bacteria in the bird droppings. On some farms, chicks are vaccinated even before they hatch. But preventative follow-up vet visits are always useful.
The vet can advise you on triggers for your chosen chicken breed, and weigh them to ensure their body mass is healthy for their age. They may suggest dietary changes that can keep the bird at optimal productivity. These vet checks will catch any pests or diseases before they spread to the rest of the flock, other pets in the household, or the people who tend to them.