Feeding kitchen scraps is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to treat your chickens, but you need to make sure they’re chicken-safe before feeding. If you’re asking yourself “can chickens eat pineapples?” you may be happy to know the answer is YES!
While they should only be offered as an occasional treat, pineapples are a tasty and nutritional favorite of many chickens. Some may ignore them completely, but rest assured that pineapple is perfectly safe for your flock.
There are plenty of ways you can offer the fruit to your chickens, and understanding the risks and benefits will help you plan their diet. Keep reading to learn more about why and how you should feed pineapple to your flock.
Can Chickens Eat Pineapple?
What Parts of a Pineapple Can Chickens Eat?
While chickens could technically eat any part of the pineapple, it’s safest to stick to the soft yellow flesh. This is the only part of the pineapple that is soft enough for your chickens to digest easily.
Pineapples have a tough rind and core that don’t taste very good and can cause an upset stomach if your chickens eat them. The leaves atop the fruit are also covered in tiny spikes that may injure your chicken, so it’s best to keep them far away.
When cutting a pineapple you plan to serve your chickens make sure you remove the skin, crown, core, and eyes.
Chickens aren’t likely to go after the shell if you leave the flesh attached, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Some of your stronger beaked birds may peck hard enough to get a few bites.
Risks of Eating Pineapple for Chickens
Although it has no cholesterol or saturated fats, this fruit yields a high sugar content. Your chickens may love it to bits, but it can also put too much weight on their bones. This can negatively impact egg production as well as increase the risk of issues such as prolapse or egg binding.
Pineapples contain high levels of citric and malic acid, and eating too much will irritate the digestive tract. Choosing ripe pineapple limits the acidity, but not by much.
They contain a proteolytic enzyme called bromelain that helps digest the fruit, but this may not be enough. Eating too much pineapple can lead to a bezoar, or a blockage in your chicken’s digestive tract, and a number of associated complications.
Furthermore, too much bromelain can cause skin rashes or stomach issues in your chickens. Feeding fresh pineapple in small amounts is the safest way to unlock nothing more than the benefits for your chickens.
Benefits of Eating Pineapples for Chickens
As long as you take proper precautions when feeding pineapple to your chickens, you can take advantage of a number of beneficial nutrients.
Pineapple is great for:
- Supporting bone health
- Boosting the immune system
- Keeping skin strong and healthy
- Boosting egg production
When fed in the right quantities, pineapple can help your chickens lead healthier lives.
1. Bone Health
A 100 gram serving of pineapples contains about 0.927 mg of manganese, a mineral essential for proper bone development and maintenance. Manganese significantly reduces the risk of bone-related illnesses like arthritis.
The 47.8 mg of vitamin C in that serving will protect your chicken’s joints. This vitamin is essential for the creation of collagen in the body, and proper vitamin C levels are needed for proper bone density.
2. Boost Immune System
Like other citrus fruits, pineapple is great for the immune system. The same vitamin C that facilitates optimal bone health serves as an antioxidant that boosts the immune system.
Pineapple can prevent cellular damage caused by a variety of free radicals, and it will help your chickens manage stress better. Like other birds, chickens have a sensitive respiratory system, and the immunity boost will help them handle colds and other issues.
3. Skin Health
Along with the manganese, pineapples contain vitamin K and trace amounts of zinc that are especially important in keeping chicken skin strong and healthy.
Skin issues may not be on the top of your list of concerns, but it’s important for your chickens to have a great foundation. At the very least, these vitamins and minerals make it much easier to go through a molting period.
In the worst case scenarios, they can aid the wound repair and recovery of a victimized chicken if (probably when) disputes occur.
4. Egg Production
All of these benefits contribute to a more numerous production of healthier eggs. Pineapple is rich in vitamins K and C as well as iron, potassium and folate.
Folate, in particular, is known for positively affecting a number of fertility processes in poultry. When your chicken taps into the array of nutritional benefits offered by pineapple, they can better regulate their metabolism and more easily lay healthy eggs.
How to Feed Pineapple to Chickens
Chickens can eat pineapple both raw and cooked, and there are plenty of fun ways to offer the fruit to further enrich their lives.
Before you can get to that point, you need to make sure the pineapple you choose is sufficiently ripe. This limits the acidity of the pineapple while making it more palatable and easier to digest.
Pineapples should be more yellow than green with vibrant leaves. The more yellow the skin is, the riper and therefore sweeter it should taste.
The perfect pineapple should be mostly firm and only give a little when you squeeze. It will smell very swell and feel heavy in your hand.
Pineapples that are green and lightweight with a hard shell and no sweet smell. These are too difficult to digest, and they won’t taste great at all.
Overripe pineapples are just as bad. They’ll be dark yellow to brown, soft, and have a sour, fermented smell. These are highly acidic and unlikely to taste as sweet as they smell.
Offer pineapple on its own the first time you feed it to your flock. This lets you see which chickens prefer the fruit and which ones avoid it.
You can also monitor the effects the citrus fruit has on each chicken. While pineapple is safe to feed, it can cause issues like diarrhea or impaction.
Cutting a Pineapple for Chickens
When serving pineapple to your chickens, preparation is key. You can purchase pre-cut pineapple from the store, both fresh and canned, but preparing it on your own gives you more flexibility with your food and control over what you feed your chickens. It also limits waste and can save you money in the long run.
If you’ve never cut up a pineapple before, check out this video to learn how.
It’s important you remove all of the parts that may be a danger to your flock. Take off the top and bottom of the pineapple, then shave the skin while leaving as much of the fruit as possible.
Remove the core (as this is almost solid) and cut out any leftover eyes that may be a choking hazard for your chickens. Once all the difficult parts are gone, cut the pineapple into rings.
You can do all of this with a kitchen knife, but those eating pineapple on a regular basis may prefer the ease of a pineapple cutter and corer.
Your chickens should be able to tear apart the leftover rings as long as the fruit is ripe, but you may want to cut it into smaller chunks the first time you serve it. Drop the chunks in a food processor for even smaller pieces.
Frozen pineapple is a fantastic treat to serve on a hot summer day, and you can mix the pineapple with other fruits and vegetables while diluting the effects with water.
An ice cube tray allows you to serve smaller pieces, but you can reuse plastic containers if you need larger portions. Fill each cube or container about ¾ of the way with the chopped fruit, then add a bit of water to piece it all together.
You can add electrolytes or apple cider vinegar to the water for an even greater boost. Serve these on a hot day to help your flock cool off, keep them hydrated, and encourage movement.
Raw pineapple is fine, but cooked pineapple is easier to eat and may be more enjoyable for the picky members of your flock.
When cooking, make sure you don’t mix the pineapple with any unsafe ingredients. It’s also easy to overcook the fruit, nullifying the nutritional benefits.
If you have a smaller backyard flock, you might want to dehydrate your pineapple so it lasts longer. This is also a great idea if you have some pineapple you want to feed that’s about to go bad.
A dehydrator helps a lot and may be safer, but you can dehydrate your pineapple slices in an oven with some closer attention. Lay them in a single layer and then bake at 175°F for about 8 hours, flipping often to ensure they dry evenly.
Dehydrating pineapple can make it easier for chickens to digest, but it can also be more chewy. Make sure to cut your pineapple to the most manageable size for your flock.
Stringing up a pineapple garland can make it more interesting for chickens, and it keeps the fruit off the ground. There are a few different ways to do this.
The first is to put pieces of pineapple on a fruit skewer. This is the most straightforward approach, but it’s better for smaller servings of pineapple and situations where you don’t have several birds who will fight over the pieces.
You can pass a rope through several rings, either raw or dehydrated, and tie it up somewhere in the run. You can use this method to string them up across the entire space, spreading the rings out as far as you want.
For an even bigger treat, add other fruits and vegetables to your garland.
Chicken-Safe Foods that Pair Well With Pineapple
Your chickens may not be as picky about what you serve alongside their pineapple, but there are a few foods you’re more likely to have on hand with pineapple in the house.
Some chicken-safe foods that pair well with pineapple include:
- Apples: should be served without the core and seeds due to cyanide content; sweet and easily digested
- Berries: blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries; provide different vitamins and rich in antioxidants (but watch for odd-colored droppings with blueberries)
- Bananas: should be served ripe for optimal flavor; can also feed ripe banana peels cut up into smaller pieces
- Grapes: known to improve egg quality (but may reduce egg size); a favorite of many, but high in sugar
- Peaches: contain trace cyanide in the pit, but can feed everything else
- Watermelon: great for hot days, but provides little nutritional value; serve without the seeds
Chickens will also appreciate pineapple served alongside nutrient-rich vegetables such as: beets, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, kale, pumpkin, or squash. A less appetizing option for you (but one your chickens will go crazy for) is mealworms, although crickets and other live insects are just as nice.
In most cases, your chickens will either love or hate pineapple, and they’ll let you know how they feel as soon as you offer it. Pineapple will either become a flock favorite or something solely for your plate.
When feeding pineapple, remember to:
- Cut away the crown, skin, and core
- Feed in moderation, and keep an eye on your flock after the first feeding
- Be mindful of the juiciness when you serve it
As long as you take the right precautions, you can add pineapple to your list of chicken-safe foods. Let us know if you have any questions about serving it or want to know about the safety of other foods.