Have you ever been to a zoo in the fall? If so, you will see almost every animal cage with a pumpkin or two. From foxes to badgers, bears, and bobcats, everyone gets a pumpkin. Farmers markets, stores, and households look to unload their pumpkins at the end of the season, and a great way to recycle them is to donate them to a zoo.
If you are a backyard chicken owner, you need to look no further than your coop to recycle those giant orange globes of goodness. What is so great about pumpkin? They are best known as a source of beta-carotene that turns into vitamin A. They also contain significant amounts of the following:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B2
- Vitamin E
In addition to being packed with vitamins and minerals, pumpkin seeds have numerous health benefits all of their own. Pumpkin is low in sugar and calories and made up of 94% water. It contains strong antioxidants that help protect cells from damage by free radicals.
The nutrients in pumpkin have immune-boosting properties. They can help a body fight infection. The high levels of vitamins increase white blood cells and make wounds heal faster. Pumpkin is heart-healthy and has great benefits for the skin.
Why Feed Your Chickens Pumpkin?
While there have been no conclusive studies done on the effectiveness of pumpkin in keeping parasites away from chickens, many chicken raisers feel strongly that pumpkin seeds do have antiparasitic properties for chickens.
A Parasite Fighter
Pumpkin is a member of the Cucurbita plant family. Research has been conducted and concluded that an amino acid found in the seeds of this plant family kills certain worms in test tubes. It has also successfully been tested on humans and used to paralyze worms in the intestine which allows the body to flush out the parasites. It has been especially effective against roundworms and tapeworms. Only in a high enough concentration, however, is the amino acid effective against worms in people.
Additional research has been conducted on horses in treating parasite infections with the amino acid cucurbitacin. This herb is considered to be a natural remedy for worms in horses but there have not been any controlled studies to substantiate the effect.
What can be taken away from this information is that pumpkin seeds may have antiparasitic properties which can be beneficial to your flock. They should not be used as a deworming protocol but they have other great benefits which make them an excellent choice of whole foods to supplement your flock’s diet.
More Reasons To Feed Pumpkin To Your Chickens
Pumpkins will last for days and have many options for how to incorporate this healthy snack.
- Since pumpkin is so rich in vitamin A, if you have blood spots in your eggs, respiratory illnesses, or skin scales, pumpkin can help alleviate these issues for your chickens.
- The high levels of vitamin B and C can help with growth, relieve stress, and help hatch healthy chicks.
- As soon as the chickens get over their fear of the alien creature in their coop, the pumpkin will be a source of entertainment for your chickens in addition to a healthy snack.
- Because it takes chickens a while to eat pumpkin, it is great boredom relieving food.
Ways You Can Feed Pumpkins to Your Chickens
Boil or roast the pumpkin then use a blender to make a puree. You can serve the puree in a feed dish or mix it in with the regular food. You can freeze the puree for the months where pumpkin is not readily available. Try freezing the puree in ice cube trays. You can pop some frozen cubes into the coop during the hot summer months.
Seeds have amino acids that may be beneficial in keeping away parasites. They are also packed with nutrition. Seeds can be tossed in fresh or roasted to keep them dry and crunchy. They will last longer if roasted so you can toss a handful into the coops for moths after the flesh is gone.
There are many options for feeding the whole pumpkin to your flock. You can halve or quarter it and let the girls take their own initiative. Once they realize how delicious the guts are, they will systematically remove the flesh and seeds and leave the rind.
If your pumpkin is still in good shape after Halloween, feel free to feed it to your flock. What a brilliant way to recycle your holiday decoration.
slice the pumpkin in half and fill it with other treats, scraps, or fruit and veggies you want to feed your flock. What’s better than an edible bowl?
A Special Pumpkin Recipe For Your Chickens
If you are really in the mood to spoil your chickens, try this chicken pumpkin recipe from Backyard Poultry.
1 pumpkin (gutted–reserve the innards)
2 cups combined grains, seeds, chicken feed
1/8 cup molasses or honey
1/4 cup peanut butter, suet, or other nut butter
Pumpkin innards including the seeds
1/2 tsp each: dried or fresh oregano, thyme, marjoram, sage, ginger, and garlic powder or other herbs that you know your chickens enjoy. Not all chickens enjoy the same herbs or spices.
Flower Petals: 1/2 tsp of each or single type flower (dried or fresh); Chrysanthemum, Marigold, Rose, Pansy, Dandelion, or Clover.
Suitable Grains: wheat, oats, barley (together or individual grains).
Suitable Seeds: 2 tablespoons quinoa, chia, clover, flax, and sunflower.
5 Considerations When Feeding Pumpkin to Chickens
1. First and foremost, never feed a moldy pumpkin to your chickens. Mold on anything is bad, and a rotting pumpkin will be susceptible to growing mold because of the high moisture content.
2. Make sure you provide regular chicken feed in addition to the pumpkin. Because pumpkin takes a while for chickens to pull apart and eat, they need the grit in their diet to help them properly digest the pumpkin and keep their crops healthy.
3. You may want to remove the pumpkins from your coop at night. Some nocturnal animals and critters would also like to feed on that pumpkin. Store it safely in the evening and then return it to the coop for another day of fun and feasting.
4. Check the pumpkin each day for signs of spoiling. If the pumpkin is lasting for multiple days, you want to be sure it is not getting moldy or too soggy. Discard the pumpkin if it shows these signs.
5. Always feed supplemental food in moderation. Make sure your chickens are still eating their daily feed rations. If the chickens are ignoring their food and eating too much pumpkin, regulate the amount they are getting each day.