Can Chickens Eat Bananas?
We all know variety is the spice of life. Every good backyard chicken raiser loves to spoil their girls with the occasional fun food treat. The hens get so excited when you throw something new into the coop. The bustle of activity, the stealing, and re-stealing of something new that hits the coop floor is worth the entertainment.
Why not only add a little flavor to their daily grit and add vitamins and minerals with some foods you may not think about feeding your chickens. You are probably already recycling fruits and veggies that may have started to spoil or have a chicken bowl for leftover table scraps.
Let’s take bananas for example. Bananas are high in potassium, minerals, and vitamins. Just like you wouldn’t want to consume tons of bananas, bananas added to your diet helps balance out your nutritional needs. The same is true for your chickens.
With 400 mg of potassium per banana, it is impossible to kill a chicken by feeding it too many bananas. She would have to eat 20 bananas in one day to overdose on potassium. There are other reasons you would not want to base your entire chicken’s diet on bananas like they are high in sugar, but feel free to “go bananas” on your birds and have a little fun with it in the process.
Feeding Bananas to Chickens
Since diet is a huge consideration when feeding our laying hens, adding too much of any ingredient other than their calcium-rich, properly formulated protein and vitamin-supplement laying mash could be bad. You can safely assume that a fifth of a banana a day per chicken is a safe amount to feed.
When it comes to ripeness, you may be tempted to toss in that black banana that none of your kids are going to touch, but a less-ripe banana is actually better. It will contain less natural sugar. It will also be a bit firmer which will make it easier for the hens to eat. You could even consider throwing a green banana in the freezer to keep it the right texture and be used in a pinch when you are in the mood to give your girls a tasty treat.
What is the best way to feed a banana to your flock?
Go for the “coop des gras” – hang one banana for every six chickens around the coop and let them have some fun with a challenge. This method will provide entertainment for the girls and keep the food off the coop floor.
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- In warm weather, you can freeze the banana then slice it up, peel and all. Spread the frozen disks around the coop and watch the girls go wild.
- Simply cut up the banana and distribute the chunks. Remember if you don’t spread them far and wide, the dominant few will hoard the treat and your meeker hens will not get to share in the prize.
Can Chickens Eat Banana Peels?
You may have noticed your chickens are ravaging the insides of the bananas but they are leaving the peels on the coop floor. These are tougher to eat and maybe the novelty and their fullness level peters out after they have eaten the juicy insides.
The peels can be a pain to pick up and you may not want them littering the coop floor. Peels are not only edible but, in fact, many people eat them in other countries. They contain magnesium, potassium and lots of vitamins B6 and B12. They are also loaded with protein, fiber, as well as polyphenols and carotenoids.
So how do you get the girls to get in on a little peel action? You have to do a little more work to prepare them, but, if done right, your hens can enjoy the fruit as well as the peel. The only word of caution when preparing peels is that you use organic bananas. You don’t want any dangerous pesticides leaching into the flock’s diet.
Take your peels and boil them until they are soft and tender. You can then cut them up into little pieces and sprinkle them with their food or place them in a bowl or separate feeder. Watch your girls go crazy for them as once they become smaller and easier to eat pieces, they suddenly become an appetizing sensation.
Cons of Feeding Bananas to Chickens
There are basic guidelines you should follow if you are looking to supplement your chickens’ diets with the occasional banana treat. While bananas are high in natural sugar, feeding them less ripe bananas can reduce the amount of sugar.
Peels can be messy or possibly filled with toxic chemicals. By only feeding organic, you can ensure you are not feeding harmful poisons. Boiling the peels and slicing them into small pieces will allow your chickens to enjoy the entire snack, not just the tasty insides.
Keep in mind the following guidelines to safely feed your chickens bananas:
- Only choose organic bananas
- Don’t give more than 1 banana per 5 or 6 chickens
- Feed greener and less ripe bananas
- Hang whole bananas or cut into slices for easier consumption
- Freeze bananas to keep on hand as treats in warm weather
- Boil the skins and cut into small pieces to make eating easier and reduce waste
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