Watermelon is a refreshing, sweet treat on a hot summer day. It’s also a nutritious fruit packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. But can chickens eat watermelon?
The short answer is yes, chickens can eat watermelon in moderation. Watermelon has some great benefits for chickens.
It can help them stay hydrated and provide nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, and lycopene. However, too much watermelon can cause loose droppings or diarrhea. There are also some risks to be aware of.
Watermelon Nutrition Facts
Watermelon is over 90% water, making it a great way to keep chickens hydrated. It also contains antioxidants like lycopene, citrulline, and cucurbitacin.
Watermelon is low in calories and high in vitamins A, B, and C. It also provides electrolytes like potassium and magnesium. Overall, it’s a nutritious treat for chickens.
Benefits of Watermelon for Chickens
There are several benefits to feeding chickens watermelon:
- Hydration – With its high water content, watermelon can help keep chickens hydrated. This is especially helpful in hot weather.
- Electrolytes – Watermelon contains electrolytes like potassium that support nerve and muscle function. This can boost overall health.
- Low calorie – Watermelon is low in calories, so it makes a great low-fat, low-calorie treat. This can help prevent obesity.
According to Backyard Chickens, watermelon provides important vitamins, minerals, and hydration without a lot of calories.
Potential Concerns with Feeding Watermelon
While watermelon does have benefits, there are some potential downsides to feeding it to chickens:
- High sugar content – The natural sugars in watermelon could cause loose droppings or diarrhea if chickens eat too much.
- Can cause loose droppings – The water content and sugars may lead to wet, loose droppings or diarrhea. Be sure to feed in moderation.
- Risk of choking on rind – Chickens could choke on large pieces of watermelon rind. The rind should be removed before feeding watermelon to chickens.
It’s important to be aware of these risks and take steps to mitigate them when feeding watermelon. One creative way chicken owners can serve watermelon is to make fruit popsicles.
The Happy Chicken Coop suggests pureeing watermelon, yogurt, and seeds then freezing into popsicle molds for a cooling chicken treat. The frozen format reduces choking risk while still providing hydration.
How Much Watermelon Can Chickens Eat?
Watermelon can be a healthy, low-calorie treat for chickens. But how much is safe to feed? It’s important to moderate portions when treating chickens to watermelon.
Watermelon as an Occasional Treat
The general guidance is to offer watermelon in moderation as an occasional treat. While chickens can enjoy small amounts of watermelon, it shouldn’t make up a large part of their diet.
Watermelon should be fed as a supplemental treat a couple of times per week at most. Too much could lead to digestive issues.
Think of watermelon like candy – it’s fine for chickens in small doses but too much can cause problems.
Recommended Serving Size
For a daily treat, chickens can have a couple of bites of watermelon – about 1-2 ounces per chicken. To put this into perspective, one small wedge of watermelon is typically around 6-8 ounces.
So, for a flock of 6 hens, one small wedge of watermelon could be split across a couple of days. It’s best to slice watermelon into small pieces to control portion size.
Risks of Overfeeding Watermelon
It’s important not to overdo it on the watermelon, as too much can cause several issues:
- Diarrhea – Excessive sugar and water content can lead to loose, wet droppings.
- Dehydration – Too much watermelon could cause electrolyte imbalances.
- Obesity – Watermelon is low calorie but provides a lot of sugar. Overfeeding could lead to weight gain.
Moderation is key when feeding watermelon to chickens. According to Backyard Chickens, no more than one or two slices twice a week are plenty.
Read More: Can Chickens Feed Orange Peels?
Monitoring Your Chickens When Feeding Watermelon
When offering watermelon, keep an eye on your flock. Make sure their droppings stay normal and no chickens seem lethargic or unwell after eating them.
Reduce portions or frequency if any chickens develop diarrhea. It’s also smart to provide ample fresh water when feeding watery fruits.
While competitive chicken owners likely don’t enter watermelons at county fairs, some do grow special melons just for their flocks. Small, personal-sized watermelon varieties are ideal for chickens.
Chicken keepers can amend garden soil, allow ample melon vine space, and harvest melons when undersized for human enjoyment but perfectly bite-sized for chickens.
Watermelon Rind Uses
While chickens shouldn’t eat large amounts of watermelon rind due to choking risk, the rind doesn’t have to go to waste. Some creative ways to use watermelon rinds include:
- Compost – Watermelon rinds can be composted whole or chopped. They provide hydration and nutrients.
- Worm bin – Rinds can be fed to worms to provide moisture and nutrition. Just chop or mash them first.
- Treats for other livestock – Animals like pigs, goats, and cows can safely consume watermelon rinds.
Watermelon rinds make up about 40% of the total fruit. Finding uses for the rind reduces waste.
Growing Watermelons for Chickens
For chicken owners with space, growing watermelons specifically for your flock is rewarding. Here are some tips:
- Choose small varieties – Mini, icebox, and personal-sized melons are perfect for chickens. Aim for 3-6 lb. melons.
- Amend soil – Watermelons prefer nutrient-rich, well-draining soil. Mix in compost before planting.
- Allow plenty of space – Watermelon vines sprawl. Allow at least 2′ between plants for vines to spread.
- Harvest cues – Look for tendrils near the stem to turn brown and rind to lose shine.
Chicken keepers can be creative with their harvest. Entire undersized or odd-shaped melons rejected for human use make great chicken treats.
According to the American Society for Nutrition, watermelon provides chickens with hydration and nutrients. Homegrown watermelons let flock owners control growing practices.
Watermelon carving is another fun way chicken owners can transform their fruit. Using simple tools, you can carve shapes like beaks, combs, and eyes right into watermelon rinds.
Frequently Asked Questions
Get answers to common questions about feeding watermelon to chickens:
Is watermelon safe for baby chicks?
Start with just a bite or two mashed up to avoid choking.
How much should I feed my chickens?
1-2 ounces per chicken, 2-3 times per week is a good treat portion.
Will it give my chickens diarrhea?
Too much can cause loose droppings. Stick to small, occasional portions.
Can Chickens Eat Watermelon?
Yes, chickens like watermelon seeds, and also they eat watermelon. Always remove before feeding.
Should I refrigerate for chickens?
Yes, refrigerate cut melons. The cold also makes it more refreshing.
In moderation, watermelon can be a fun, healthy treat for backyard chickens. Be sure to manage portions and watch for side effects. When in doubt, contact your local poultry veterinarian.