If you have some over-ripe bananas lying around, you’re probably wondering “Can chickens eat bananas?” You’re not alone! I get asked this question all the time.
The short answer is YES, but they are pretty high in sugar… so, how much is too much? What about the peel? Is that edible?
To get to the bottom of it, I’ve researched this topic to get all the answers and we’ll tackle the following questions together:
- Are bananas safe for chickens?
- What about the peel?
- How much can they eat?
- What’s the best way to feed bananas to chickens?
- What’s the nutritional value of bananas?
- What foods are toxic to chickens?
- Plus, much more!
Let’s dive in!
Can Chickens Eat Bananas?
Yep – your chickens can definitely eat bananas! Bananas are a lovely treat for your flock and a great way to make use of the overripe ones. However, they are high in sugar, so moderation is key.
Now, there are a few things out there that are toxic to chickens (we’ll cover that further down), but bananas aren’t one of them. Whew!
How many bananas can chickens eat?
Since bananas have a high sugar content, the portions should be tightly controlled. A protein-deficient diet can result in reduced egg laying and hatchability of their eggs.
I recommend limiting to 1 Tbsp of banana per adult chicken (no more than 1-2 times per week) and focusing their intake on a balanced feed, foraged greens, and bugs. Too much sugar can lead to obesity and fatty liver, just like with humans!
If you accidentally got heavy-handed one day, don’t panic! It would likely take many bananas to cause harm to one chicken.
Can chickens eat banana peels?
Yes, they are technically edible, but they probably won’t touch them without some preparation. The peels are very fibrous in nature and chickens don’t have teeth. They can only tear at food and likely won’t be very successful with an entire peel.
If you want to give it a try, make sure you’re using organic bananas (the peels can contain high levels of pesticides). Then, boil the peels for 20-30 min until they soften up. Lastly, chop them up and spread them out in the yard for your flock! If this seems like too much work, the compost pile works well, too.
What is the best way to give chickens bananas?
Bananas are pretty sticky and mushy, so be prepared for a mess! Chickens tend to scratch in it and will smear it everywhere, followed by scraping their beaks on the ground to get the residue off.
With that in mind, I recommend keeping the banana treats out of the coop and in the yard instead. Simply, slice up the bananas, and spread out the pieces so everyone can have a bite. Then, sit back and watch them enjoy their tasty treat!
For the hot days of summer, try freezing some sliced bananas and then scatter them in the yard! This is a great way to keep your flock cool and healthy on those sweltering days.
If you plan to feed them the peels, be sure to wash them first (if not organic) and remove any stickers. Some say to boil them first, but it’s not absolutely necessary. Make sure to chop the peels up into bite-size pieces.
Can chickens eat over-ripe bananas?
Yes, your chickens will love any over-ripe bananas that you have laying around. However, never feed moldy or rotten bananas to your flock.
Can I give bananas to baby chicks?
Technically, yes. However, baby chicks have high protein needs to support their rapid growth, and bananas have minimal protein. I personally do not feed bananas to my baby chicks. If you want to do it, keep the portions very small and infrequent.
New to baby chicks? Read more about baby chick care in my article: Brooding in Poultry – Everything You Need to Know!
Do Chickens Like to Eat Bananas?
Of course! Chickens love to eat bananas and because of this, they can easily overeat them so portions should be controlled. Eating too many high-sugar fruits can lead to diarrhea, obesity, and ultimately nutrient and protein deficiencies.
The Health Benefits of Bananas for Chickens
Bananas (in moderation) are a delicious, nutritious snack to give to your chickens! They are loaded with fiber, potassium, magnesium, and manganese. Plus, their high water content is good for hydration as well. A great snack for those hot summer days!
A whole banana brings in 3g of fiber, which is an important component for chicken gut health. Chickens have a diverse microbiome that hosts over 900 unique strains of microorganisms that thrive off of consistent fiber intake.
Did you know that fiber has the added benefit of reducing ammonia emissions? That’s because fiber aids in the digestion process, reducing the amount of undigested protein fermenting into harmful ammonia. High ammonia levels can pose a serious health hazard for your chickens, and even for you.
Vitamins and minerals
What do most people think of when they consider the nutritional value of bananas? Potassium! That’s correct, but did you know that bananas are also a rich source of magnesium and manganese?
- Potassium: Important for egg laying and overall health. Potassium deficiency can lead to low egg production, small eggs, thin shells, weakness, and death.
- Magnesium: Important for cellular metabolism and bone development.
- Manganese: Important for egg production and bone development, enzyme function, and nutrient metabolism
Bananas contain a decent amount of water, so they can be a wonderful, hydrating treat during those hot summer days. On the other hand, too much can result in diarrhea, which can be dehydrating. Balance is key.
Nutritional breakdown of bananas
Want more detail? Here’s what 1 ripe banana provides according to USDA FoodData Central. Of course, don’t feed each of your chickens an entire banana, but I like to look at food in portions that we are familiar with.
What Foods Are Toxic to Chickens?
While chickens are not picky eaters and enjoy many different foods, there are a few things that should never be eaten by chickens:
- Raw potato peels
- Avocado pit and peel
- Dry/uncooked beans
- Anything moldy or rotten
- Fried foods
- Salty foods
- Caffeine or alcohol
- High-fat foods
- High-sugar foods
- Artificial sugars
Also, consider avoiding strong-flavored foods. These flavors can end up in your morning eggs, resulting in a pungent breakfast! I can sometimes pick out a “froggy” taste from my eggs in the spring; pee-yew!
Other Chicken Articles You’ll Love:
- Can Chickens Eat Blackberries? Are They Safe?
- Can Chickens Eat Grapes? Are They Safe?
- Do Chickens Eat Ticks? (…Do Ticks Eat Chickens?)
- 5 Protein Sources for Chickens (Especially While Molting!)
So, can chickens eat bananas? Now, we know that the answer is YES. Bananas provide vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates that can improve a chicken’s overall health and well-being.
However, it is important to remember that bananas should be given in moderation and as part of a balanced diet that includes other essential nutrients. Monitor your chooks for any potential digestive issues and make adjustments as needed.
Are you a first-time chicken keeper? Or maybe you don’t even have chickens yet? Definitely check out my ultimate resource How to Care for Chickens: A Beginners Guide.
*Information in this article was referenced from personal experience and/or from my favorite chicken book Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens unless otherwise noted.
The Homesteading RD's Product Picks:
This is THE chicken book to have! I've had my copy since the beginning and it's the one that I keep going back to time after time. It provides everything you need to know from coop design, hatching chicks, layer nutrition, and much more!
Achieve Your Best Harvest Yet!
Grab your own FREE copy of my Garden Growing Guide. It’s fully customizable to your growing zone and can be printed or used digitally. Happy Gardening!