Just like humans, chickens love being rewarded with different treats. Although they are significantly smaller than humans, flocks enjoy trying out different types of food other than their regular feed which consists of corn, concentrate, and other types of feeds that provide chickens with protein and other necessary nutrients. However, the treats are extremely important for their gut health, immunity, and overall mood, and tomatoes could be just a perfect treat for them.
Many farmers avoid feeding tomatoes to their chickens because they’re worried that they may be bad for their flocks. However, eating tomatoes is much different from chicken to chicken, and could come with both benefits and drawbacks.
Tomato is a powerful fruit that is rich in different nutrients, many of which could be beneficial to chickens and their health. Still, farmers don’t know what’s the best approach when it comes to feeding tomatoes to their chickens.
That’s why it’s sometimes better to get all the information you need firsthand, which is exactly why we wrote this guide. There are many treats that chickens love and tomato is no exception. However, it’s important to note that chickens are allowed to eat some treats more, while for other treats, they should eat less.
Which category does tomato fall into? Is it safe to feed tomatoes to the chickens from a scientific standpoint? This and many answers can be found if you continue reading our detailed guide on whether can chickens eat tomatoes.
We detailed all the benefits and potential risks of feeding tomatoes to the chickens. We also wrote about what’s the best way to feed tomatoes to the chickens, so you’re definitely going to get a lot of valuable information from this guide. Continue reading to learn more.
Can Chickens Eat Tomatoes?
Chickens can eat tomatoes. On top of that, they love how flavorful and tasty they are. Needless to say, chickens love tomatoes because of their taste but they love nipping just anything that they can find around their coop. They love the taste of their feeds because it makes them feel energized.
However, it’s worth mentioning that even though feed allows them to get more protein intake, which is important both for egg production and later, meat production, adding treats to their diet can help them get the necessary vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants that will keep them healthy and energized.
The healthy food intake ratio is 90:10 – which ultimately means that 90% of their nutrition comes from their chicken feed that consists of a protein concentrate along with corn, barley, and other types of fibers. However, 10% of their nutrition comes from treats that consist of different fruits and vegetables.
Remember, chickens should eat tomatoes as well as other treats in moderation. While tomato is safer than some other treats like grapes, strawberries, or mushrooms, it’s important to note that tomato is rich in solanine which can be toxic in high amounts, according to a study. Excessive solanine exposure is enough to result in extreme sickness and even death in humans, and it can be extremely toxic to chickens too.
Solanine is mostly located in unripe fruits and vegetables, and tomato is one of them, which is why it’s important to only feed them ripe fruits.
Editor’s Notes: Just like they love nipping the regular tomatoes, they also like eating cherry tomatoes, sometimes even more compared to other types of tomatoes. As long as it’s not green unripe it’s healthy to eat. Remember to remove the leaves too when feeding them tomatoes.
Benefits of Feeding Tomato to Your Chickens
As mentioned earlier, tomatoes are good for chickens in moderation, and in general, chickens enjoy eating them. What are the benefits of tomatoes? Continue reading to learn why you must make tomatoes an unavoidable treat for your chicken flock.
Improved Egg Production
When fed in moderation, tomatoes can have great improvements in meat and egg quality. Eating tomatoes will also boost egg production so you will see that your hens will produce more eggs, according to a study.
Just like many other fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamins, tomatoes also have antioxidant properties that help improve the overall health and immunity response in chickens. When eating tomatoes along with other healthy treats and feed they are more likely to live happy and fulfilled lives.
They’re Rich in Vitamins and Minerals
Chickens enjoy eating tomatoes, and just like other fruits, tomatoes are very rich in minerals and vitamins such as potassium and folate. In addition to that, key vitamins such as vitamins A, C, and K are prominent in tomatoes. In combination with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals play a key in maintaining healthy immune response in chickens.
Improved Feed Conversion
One study showed that feed that was equipped with tomato pomace and waste in addition to cobb feed increased the feed conversion ratio and contributed to the necessary weight gain and egg production, which cut the overall costs of feed. Chickens feed is not too expensive, but cost-saving things like these can help a lot big farms.
It Can Help Control Parasite Reproduction
According to a study, tomato peel powder can help control parasite reproduction and that way reduces the chances of chickens getting infested with parasites, which is especially good for people who are growing chickens for meat.
Potential Risks of Feeding Tomato to Your Chickens
When chickens eat tomatoes in moderation, it can help improve their health and add up to a healthy lifestyle in a flock. But, what happens when you feed them too many tomatoes? Unfortunately, when chickens eat too many tomatoes, that also comes with certain risks. Here is what those risks entail.
- Solanine Toxicity: As mentioned earlier in the article, unripe tomato is equipped with solanine, a compound that can prove to be very toxic for chickens, especially in excessive amounts. While the same compound is considered to be good for pest control, it can cause intoxication in chickens.
- Diarrhea: Tomato is a great source of hydration for chickens, which is important in the summer days. However, excess amounts of tomato can cause digestion issues, one of them being diarrhea. They are highly acidic, especially because of the tomato pulp which can lead to poorer nutrient absorption. Additionally, eating too many tomatoes can lead to gastrointestinal inflammation in chickens.
- Egg Yolk Discoloration: Even though chickens benefit from eating tomatoes when it comes to egg production, it also has its own side effects. If they eat tomatoes in excessive amounts, it can lead to the discoloration of egg yolks. While this is not a serious concern, egg producers want to ensure the colors are healthy and of consistent color for manufacturing.
- Risk of Contracting Salmonella: According to a study in the Journal of Food Protection, chickens may get infected from salmonella from contaminated tomatoes, which can lead to potential Salmonella contamination in eggs. That’s why it’s important to wash tomatoes beforehand, and only feed them with tomatoes in moderation.
How to Properly Feed Tomatoes to Chickens
We saw above that tomatoes, make a very healthy treat for chickens when consumed in moderation, they also come with numerous health risks that can jeopardize the lives of chickens. That’s why many farmers practice healthy ways to feed tomatoes to chickens.
The video below represents one of the possible ways to feed tomatoes to your chickens. Make sure to check it out and below we’ll talk about how to appropriately feed tomatoes to your chickens.
Use Ripe Tomatoes Only
We can’t stress enough how important it is for your chickens to eat only ripe tomatoes. Whether you’re feeding your chickens with traditional tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, or some other sort, it’s super-important to consider only red, ripe, plump tomatoes to avoid solanine intoxication, as well as the intoxication of some other kinds.
Dice the Tomatoes
Even though we saw that chickens can eat tomatoes from your hand simply by nipping small slices of it, it’d be best to cut the tomatoes along with some other treats like blueberries, or even lettuce salad and let them eat it all as a whole. This way, you’ll ensure that all the chickens can eat an adequate amount of tomatoes and won’t choke on them. More importantly, you won’t have to stand by their side the whole time and can let them eat independently.
Wash the Tomatoes Thoroughly
Given that studies have found that there are salmonella-contaminated tomatoes that can contaminate chicken eggs also, it’d be best to wash tomatoes thoroughly to prevent any kind of contamination. Wash the tomatoes around all the sides to make sure any dirt, parasites, or bacteria has been removed.
Don’t Feed them With Leaves or Crops
Explicitly use only tomato fruits and void using leaves, roots, or crops, as that can result in solanine intoxication. The leaves and the tomato plant in general are not meant for eating, and if the crops are close to your chicken coops, make sure to protect them with a fence or plastic coverage that will prevent the chickens from entering.
Editor’s notes: If you’re feeding your chickens with whole tomatoes, make sure to remove the leaves that are located on top of its root. You can additionally prevent any negative side effects from tomato consumption.
Tomatoes can be a part of chicken feed through tomato waste, or delicious treats that they can consume 2-3 times per week. Chickens love tomatoes and if you see that they thoroughly enjoy them, you shouldn’t take that away from them. As long as they’re eating in moderation, you can ensure to feed them tomatoes along with other fruits and vegetables on a few occasions per week.
Tomato is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals such as Vitamin A, C, E, and K, as well as supplements like Zinc, Iron, Calcium, and Folate. They are also quite flavorful and juicy, so chickens will enjoy them.