5 Things You Need to Know: Can Chickens Eat Apples?

CAN CHICKENS EAT APPLES

Can chickens eat apples? If you want to keep healthy chickens, you can feed them apples, but there are a few restrictions. Chickens should not be allowed to eat the apple seeds, stems or leaves and the amount of apple should be limited to no more than 10% of their daily diet.

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but is this really true with chickens?

5 Things You Need to Know: Can Chickens Eat Apples?

1. Are Apples Poisonous to Chickens?

Only parts of an apple (in large quantities) are considered poisonous to chickens. People often ask, “Is apple skin toxic to chickens?” Both apple skin and flesh are very nutritious and beneficial for chickens, but the seeds, stems and leaves can be toxic.

Can Chickens Eat Apples?

APPLE FLESH AND SKIN is very nutritious for chickens! It contains many vitamins and minerals that are beneficial for your chickens:

NUTRIENTBENEFIT
MINERAL
CALCIUM(Ca)
ESSENTIAL FOR HEALTHY
BONE DEVELOPMENT
VITAMIN KHELPS PREVENT AGAINST
COCCIDIOSIS
MINERAL
POTASSIUM
AIDS IN EGG PRODUCTION,
THICKER EGG SHELLS
VITAMIN CIMPROVES CHICKEN
IMMUNE SYSTEM
VITAMIN B6
(THIAMINE)
HELPS IN PROTEIN
METABLOLISM
MINERAL
COPPER
HELPS REDUCE STRESS,
(LESS FEATHER PICKING)
FIBERAIDS IN HEALTHY
POULTRY DIGESTION
VITAMIN E
(FAT SOLUBLE
ANTIOXIDANT)
CONTRIBUTES TO EGG
PRODUCTION, FERTILITY
DEFICIENCY IN VITAMIN E
CAN LEAD TO “WRY NECK”
VITAMIN B1FOR GROWTH AND
DEVELOPMENT
POLYPHENOLS
(ANTIOXIDANT)
HELPS PROTECT THE
HEART
PECTIN
(PREBIOTIC)
HELPS PROTECT THE
GUT
NUTRIENTS IN APPLE FLESH AND SKIN AND HOW IT WILL BENEFIT YOUR CHICKENS.

Are Apple Seeds Poisonous to Chickens?

Apple seeds, stems and leaves all contain amygdalin. Apple seeds become toxic when ground up or crushed, such as in a chickens digestive system. When crushed apple seeds come into contact with digestive juices it releases a toxic chemical called hydrogen cyanide(HCN).

DISCARD THE APPLE CORES. THESE CONTAIN TOXIC APPLE SEEDS AND STEM.

APPLE SEEDS are poisonous to chickens and should not be fed to them. If you toss a whole apple out to a flock of chickens they will devour the whole thing, seeds and all.

  1. When a chicken eats apple seeds, they are stored in its gizzard.
  2. Apple seeds are ground up with grit inside a chickens gizzard.
  3. Crushed apple seeds are moved out of the gizzard and into the stomach.
  4. It isn’t until the digestive juices in a chickens stomach come into contact with the ground up seeds that it releases a toxic chemical called cyanide.

This doesn’t mean that an average size chicken that consumes the seeds from an apple is going to die. There are several variables:

  • How much other food is already in the chickens stomach?
  • How long of a time did it take for the chicken to consume all of the apple seeds?
  • How much cyanide was in the apple seeds?
  • Were all of the apple seeds ground up in the gizzard?

To be on the safe side, it is always best to remove the seeds before serving them to your chickens.

APPLE STEMS AND LEAVES: According to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), along with apple seeds, both apple stems and the leaves also contain trace amounts of cyanide. It is not recommended to feed these to chickens.

2. How Many Apple Seeds Does it Take to Poison a Chicken?

It takes about 4 mg/lb of hydrogen cyanide, HCN, to poison a chicken. So a 8 lb. chicken would need 32mg of HCN to kill them. If each apple seed contains an average of 1-4mg of cyanide, it would need to consume between 8-32 apple seeds to be lethal.

CHICKEN
WEIGHT
LETHAL
AMOUNT
HCN
LETHAL
NUMBER
APPLE SEEDS
1 LB 4mg 0.25-1
3 LB 12mg 3-12
5 LB 20mg 5-20
8 LB 32mg 8-32
10 LB 40mg 10-40
15 LB 60mg 15-60

Not all seeds will become crushed and release cyanide.

The average apple contains between 5-8 seeds. So if an 8 lb chicken consumed all of the seeds in 4 apples and all of the seeds released cyanide, it can be lethal to them.

The smaller the chicken, the less apple seeds it would take to have harmful effects.

Symptoms of Cyanide Poisoning in Chickens

  • panting with mouth open
  • comb turning blue or purple(lack of oxygen)
  • sudden death of chicken

It can take as little as 20-30 minutes for a chicken to die of cyanide poisoning.

3. Can Baby Chickens Eat Apples?

It is recommended for the first week of a chicks life to stick to only their regular or medicated chick starter feed. Let them get used to their regular feed before offering any additional treats.

Beginning with a chicks 2nd week of life it is ok to offer them some apple. Avoid offering any seeds, stems or leaves from the apple.

I have found that dicing the apple flesh into little pieces works best when first introducing it to baby chicks. Place it in a little bowl inside the brooder.

Don’t be alarmed if they don’t touch it for awhile. It is something new to them and it can look pretty scary. Leave it in there and check back periodically. It is usually the bravest one that nibbles on it first and then the rest will follow!

4. How Often Can I Feed My Chickens Apples?

Like any other treat that you offer to your chickens, it should be offered after they have consumed their regular feed first and it shouldn’t be more than 10% of their regular diet.

So an adult chicken should eat 1/2 cup of layers feed per day. 10% of this is 0.8 TBS, just shy of 1 TBS.

To offer a variety of nutrition, try to vary the type of treats that you offer your chickens each day. Serving apple treats 2-3 times a week is good.

5. Chicken Apple Treat Recipes

Peanut Butter and Yogurt Scratch Apple Skewered Treats for Chickens

PEANUT BUTTER SCRATCH
APPLE TREATS
FOR CHICKENS
INGREDIENTS
APPLES (1 APPLE/5 CHICKENS)
PEANUT BUTTER
CHICKEN SCRATCH
APPLE CORER
SKEWER
GREEK YOGURT SCRATCH
APPLE TREATS
FOR CHICKENS
INGREDIENTS
APPLES- 1 APPLE/5 CHICKENS
LACTOSE FREE
GREEK YOGURT
APPLE CORER
SKEWER

How to Make Apple Treats for Chickens

STEP 1: Core apples. Discard cores.

STEP 2: Alternate filling apple centers with peanut butter and lactose free Greek yogurt.

STEP 3: Coat mixture by dipping it into a bowl of chicken scratch.

STEP 4: Skewer apples so when you hang them chickens can get at the center.

STEP 5: Hang skewers and watch your chickens go into a feeding frenzy! They will absolutely love this special treat!

Apple Yogurt Scratch Treat for Chickens
GREEK YOGURT APPLE TREATS FOR CHICKENS

How to Feed Baby Chicks Apples

  1. Dice the apple flesh into smaller bite size pieces to make it easier for chicks to eat.
  2. Whenever serving young chicks that are still in a brooder, it is always important to also serve grit.
  3. Grit is finely ground rocks and is needed to aid in the digestion of anything other than a chicks regular feed.
  4. Just like with adult chickens, treats should consist of no more than 10% of their daily diet.

CONCLUSION: 5 Things You Need to Know-Can Chickens Eat Apples?

  1. You can feed apples to chickens, as long as you remove the seeds and stems from them first.
  2. Apple seeds and stems are toxic to chickens in larger quantities. It takes about 4 mg/lb of hydrogen cyanide, HCN, to poison a chicken.
  3. If you are going to serve young chicks apples, it is best to wait until they are at least 1 week old. Dice the apple flesh into little pieces to make it easier to consume.
  4. Always offer regular chicken feed first and then treats after. Make sure treats are not more than 10% of a chickens daily diet. I like to offer apple treats 1-2 x a week.
  5. There are many different types of apple treats that you can offer your chickens. Try to change it up to keep your chickens happy! My two favorite are Peanut Butter and Yogurt Apple Treats dipped in chicken scratch!

How do you like to serve apple treats to your chickens?


Backyard Chickens Mama - About Me - Get your chickens laying more eggs. Basket full of eggs with 3 hens.

About the Author

Jenny is a chicken enthusiast and has raised a variety of different breeds of chickens in her Northern California backyard for the past 23 years. She enjoys using incubators to incubate and hatch fertile chicken eggs so she can raise baby chicks from day 1. Some of her favorites include Crested Cream Legbars, Marans, Silkies, Orpingtons and Olive Eggers. These breeds make a beautiful basket of farm fresh eggs! Both she and her husband built their own chicken coop and she and her Dad built her current chick brooder. Jenny likes to share tips and tricks that she has learned over the years to make it easier for others to raise happy, healthy and productive chickens. Just last year, Jenny released a Special 9 Herb Chicken Nesting Box Blend that helps to increase hen egg production as well as keep chickens happy and healthy.

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