Chickens can eat a surprising range of things because they are omnivores just like human beings. This means they will happily eat both plants and animals.

You may be used to seeing your chickens chowing down on some seeds, leaves, and fruits. It may therefore come as a surprise that they will also happily go after small mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.

can chickens eat oranges

Chickens are not the pickiest eaters but they still have likes and dislikes, and there are also foods that are good for them and others that are toxic. If you’re thinking about feeding oranges to your chickens, read on to find out if this is a good idea or not.

Are Oranges Safe for Chickens?

can chickens have oranges

Oranges are safe for your chickens to eat, and there is no evidence to the contrary. The nutritional components of a medium-sized orange, according to experts, are shown in the table below.

Calories 66
Water 86% of weight
Protein 1.3 grams
Carbohydrates 14.8 grams
Sugar 12 grams
Fiber 2.8 grams
Fat 0.2 grams
Vitamin C 92% of daily allowance
Folate 9% of daily allowance
Calcium 5% of daily allowance
Potassium 5% of daily allowance

There is no evidence that any of the nutrients above are unsafe for chickens to eat in the quantities found in an orange. In fact, all the listed substances are essential for healthy chickens and are found in other things they eat.

Do Your Chickens Enjoy Eating Oranges?

From personal experience, you probably already know that just because something is safe, or even healthy for you to eat, doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy eating it and this is also true for chickens. Many owners have observed that chickens don’t seem especially fond of oranges.

You can test this by taking a peeled orange and throwing it into your chicken coop. The curious chicken will probably run towards it and start pecking at the orange before quickly losing interest.

As much as we enjoy biting into ripe, juicy oranges, citrus fruits don’t seem to do it for most chickens.

Even most chickens don’t particularly enjoy oranges. However, there are always exceptions, some curious chickens might actually like it.

Check out this video:

How to Serve Oranges to Chicken?

A chicken may see an orange as a plaything rather than food, so you’ll want to do some preparation if you want to encourage them to eat this fruit. First, you should peel the fruit to make it easier for them to get to the softer, sweeter parts inside.

After peeling the orange, cut it into small bits as smaller pieces will be less daunting for the chicken to eat. Lastly, just to make it more convincing, mix the orange with their regular feed, or something you know they’ll enjoy.

When you feed oranges to chicken, there are some that will dislike the citrus taste which is why it’s a good idea to clean the feeders afterward to remove any traces of the fruit. If traces of the orange remain in the feeders, some chickens may refuse to eat their regular food later.

Be sure to also remove any uneaten orange pieces that may still be in the coop as these may attract critters such as rats and other rodents. Your chickens may also continue to pick at the orange pieces even after they’re covered in dirt.

Should Oranges Be a Regular Indulgence for Chicken?

The long-held wisdom about moderation and good health extends to chickens as well, and free-range chickens have thrived for years because of their varied diet. If you feed your chickens too many oranges, they may not get other nutrients they need to have a balanced diet.

For example, crude protein should make up 14% to 23% of a fully-grown chicken’s diet depending on the purpose. If your chickens are eating a lot of oranges, they will not be getting enough of this nutrient.

Oranges also contain a lot of sugar and too much sugar will lead to your chickens having health issues. Unless you have access to a lot of free scraps, oranges also cost more than regular feed so giving too much of it to chicken is both expensive and unhealthy.

Best Moments to Give Chickens Oranges

Oranges are more than 80% water and they can be a great treat for summer days when it is hot outside. The chickens will find oranges a more refreshing treat compared to drier foods.

It’s also a good idea to wait until you have other food scraps that you can mix the oranges with before feeding them to your chicken. In case you have some picky eaters in your flock, this may make them more likely to enjoy the goodness of oranges.

Giving Other Citrus Fruits to Chicken

In addition to oranges, there is no evidence that the other citrus fruits humans eat are unsafe for chickens to eat. This means that lemons, grapefruits, limes, clementines, tangerines, and kumquats are all potentially on your chickens’ menu if they already eat oranges.

However, the same guidelines that apply to oranges should also be applied to other citrus fruits. Although a lemon may contain significantly less sugar than an orange, you should still remember that it lacks certain nutrients the chicken need.

Can Chickens Eat Orange Peels?

can chickens eat orange peels

At this point, you might be thinking that if an orange is perfectly okay for your birds, there can’t be anything wrong with the orange peels. Unfortunately, this is where matters can become a little complicated.

Peels from naturally grown oranges are not likely to cause any harm to your chickens. According to the USDA, orange peels contain a wide range of nutrients and micronutrients including vitamins A, B, and C, and calcium which are all good for your flock.

The problem with orange peels is that many oranges are grown with the assistance of a lot of chemicals. Studies have shown that oranges bought from supermarkets in certain countries contain a disturbing number of pesticides.

The pesticides are likely to be more concentrated on the peels of the oranges and this makes it risky for your chicken to eat the fruit peels. If your birds aren’t too fond of oranges, giving them the peels may be needlessly exposing them to dangerous chemicals.

Can Chicks Also Eat Oranges?

There is little information on what effect eating oranges would have on chicks but what we do know is that chicks have digestive tracts that are not yet mature. Chickens can live perfectly healthy lives on a diet that does not include oranges.

There is no data that says oranges are nutritionally better or worse for chicks compared to their tried and tested feeds. Therefore, it’s probably a good idea to wait before trying to feed them oranges.

What Other Scraps Can Your Chicken Eat?

Now that you know your chickens can safely eat oranges, you might be wondering what else you can toss out to them. Feeding your chicken scraps from your kitchen is great for the environment and will also have some nutritional benefits for your birds.

Leftover scraps that you can feed your chicken include:

  • Grains: corn, oats, wheat, and even rice are all good things to feed your chickens. There was a myth that uncooked rice is not safe for chicken but it’s not true.
  • Vegetables: These are rich in many essential nutrients and chickens will have no problem eating vegetable scraps. If you have a vegetable garden, you may even need a way of keeping your chicken away from the greens.
  • Other fruits: Oranges aren’t the only fruits chickens will eat. In fact, they may prefer strawberries, bananas, watermelon, and even peaches to oranges.
  • Herbs: Chickens will also go for mint, cilantro, lavender, and other herbs from your kitchen.

While it’s great that chicken can make a meal out of our table scraps, you should still be keen on what you feed them. There are table scraps that are not as good for your chicken and some will even kill them, unfortunately.

As someone who loves their chickens, you’ll want to try and keep them away from:

  • Avocado skins and pits
  • Chocolate and cocoa
  • Uncooked beans
  • Moldy or rotting foods
  • Rhubarb leaves

Some chicken owners may have fed them food that had gotten moldy thinking it won’t do them any harm. However, mold produces toxins that can make your chickens sick just as they do humans.

Foods that contain high amounts of salt or sugar are also not good for chicken. High amounts of salt or sugar on a regular basis can cause health complications for your birds.


Final Thoughts

Chickens thrive on a diet that is rich in variety and oranges can be a good addition to their diet if you can get them to eat citrus fruits. However, it’s unlikely that oranges will form a significant portion of your chickens’ daily intake of food.

The high sugar content of oranges means it’s unhealthy for them to eat too much of it, and orange peels are only safe if the fruits were grown without chemicals. Even so, there are plenty of other kitchen scraps your chicken will like even if they don’t love oranges.

Meta title: Can Chickens Eat Oranges Without Health Side-Effects?

Meta Description: Oranges are not part of chickens’ regular diet. Find out if chickens can eat oranges and how eating these fruits can affect their health.

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