While I was studying abroad in El Salvador, I was assigned to work with a women’s entrepreneurship group. The idea was that by empowering women and teaching them about how to grow a business they would be more empowered to lift their families out of poverty.
The woman I advised had a fabulous idea. She would raise broiler chickens and sell the meat to her friend who owned a food cart in the city. She chose a hot-hardy breed, constructed a functional coop, and bought her first batch of chicks.
For the first few months, the chicks grew quickly and gained lots of weight. Mercedes felt hopeful that her new chicken venture would be a success!
Then mango season came, and she started feeding the plentiful harvest to her chickens. As they happily gobbled up the fruit, Mercedes felt even more excited, because now she had a free food source and this would only add to her profits. Well, three weeks into mango season we weighed her chickens. They had gained significantly less weight than expected.
This story begs the question “Can chickens eat mangos?” And the answer is a resounding “yes, but…”
Keep reading to learn more!
Why It’s Ok For Chickens To Eat Mangos
Chickens can absolutely eat mangos, and love to do so! If you’ve ever seen a chicken eat a mango, you know that they are having fun in the process! They seem to really enjoy tearing the fruit from the seed and picking it clean.
Mangos are delicious and nutritious, with a high vitamin A, vitamin C, and polyphenols content that rounds out chickens’ diets and promotes overall health. They do not contain anything that is poisonous to chickens, and you can absolutely feed them as a treat or supplement.
Are There Benefits For Chickens Eating Mango?
There are benefits to feeding your chickens mangos. Mangos have high sugar content, which makes them a high energy food (about 100 calories per cup according to www.mango.org.) High energy foods can serve as a chicken “espresso” and give your birds a little pep in their step when they are dragging their feet such as in times of extreme heat, extreme cold, or during their molt.
You can add to the mango’s positive effects on hot/ freezing days by making them into temperature-regulating energy treats. On super hot days, put the mango in the fridge a couple hours before feeding. This will help the birds’ bodies cool down and regulate temperature.
If it is very cold outside, warm the mango up a little bit by putting it is warm water for a few minutes before tossing it to your chickens. This will help the birds keep warm.
Another benefit of feeding mango is the added nutrition. Mangos are high in vitamin A, C, and polyphenols. These nutrients promote chicken health as well as promote healthy egg and shell development. Click here to read our article on how to improve chicken nutrition for strong eggshells.
So chickens can eat mango, BUT they need nutritional balance. Eating mangos alone is not sustainable for chickens.
Importance Of A Balanced Diet For Healthy Chickens
As we reflect on the story from the opening paragraph, we see that the problem was not Mercedes feeding her chickens mango. It was that they were only being fed mango, and this is not a balanced diet. By feeding her chickens a majority mango diet, her birds were missing out on vital protein they needed to keep gaining weight.
Main Food Sources Versus Treats
Any time that you start feeding your chickens a new food, do your research, and determine if it should be categorized as a main food or as a treat. A general rule of thumb is that treats provide micronutrients, while main foods provide macronutrients, one of which must be protein.
Chickens need protein in order to stay healthy, gain weight, and produce eggs. Mango has hardly any protein at all, which puts it into the treat category, not the main food category.
Keep in mind that treats of any kind should never make up more than 10% of your chickens’ diet. This general guideline helps you balance your chickens’ food intake.
To keep your birds productive and healthy, give them “complete feeds,” which are formulated to pack in all the essential nutrients your chickens need to live healthy lives. You can supplement this diet with rotating rounds of healthy treats.
Some of my favorite treats to give my birds are mealworms (you can keep a mealworm colony to keep down costs,) oatmeal, safe table scraps, short grass clippings, and feel free to throw mango in there for the vitamin A and C!
Mangos are totally safe for chickens to eat and are nutritious to boot. They make a great snack and your chickens will enjoy the change of pace to their regular feeding regimen. That said, mangos should be used as a supplement, not the main food source, as they are too low in protein to maintain birds on their own.
When eaten as a main food source their low protein level causes lower egg production for laying hens and slower weight gain for meat birds. Check out our other blog article about how protein can affect chickens during the molt as well by clicking here.