Can Chickens Eat Pineapple or Will it Make Them Sick?

I just witnessed one of my chickens pecking at a dead frog, proving once again that they’ll eat almost anything.

Unfortunately, not all the foods chickens enjoy eating are particularly beneficial. Bananas, for instance, contain so much sugar that too many can cause unhealthy weight gain in your hens.

The same goes for other fruits, which got me wondering, “Can chickens eat pineapple?”

Packed with vitamin C, pineapple has some health benefits for chickens, but in some instances, it could also cause problems.

Stick with me if you want to find out what precautions you should take when feeding chickens pineapple and what issues could arise if they eat too much. 

5 Ways Chickens Benefit from Eating Pineapples

Pineapples are packed with fiber and nutrients, making them a healthy snack for both humans and chickens. When fed in moderation, this sweet, colorful fruit will benefit your flock by

#1 Boosting the Immune System

No chicken owner wants their hens battling with bird flu or trying to fight off respiratory diseases like Avian bronchitis. The best way to protect your chickens against such complications is by boosting their immune systems, which is exactly what a tablespoon or two of pineapple will do.

Pineapples contain more vitamin C than oranges, and even a small amount will strengthen the immune system and increase your chicken’s resistance to disease. Vitamin C also helps to prevent heat exhaustion, so is excellent for chickens who, like mine, live in hot climates.

Vitamin C also helps reduce stress, a fairly common condition that may damage both the chicken’s digestive system and the rate of egg production.

You might be wondering exactly what your backyard hens have to stress about, after all, they don’t have to worry about work or how to cover the bills at the end of the month. Nevertheless, numerous things cause stress in chickens.

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Laying, extreme weather conditions, and overcrowding can all cause stress, which is why it’s worth being proactive and giving them a bit of pineapple to take those blues away and boost the flock’s health and productivity.

#2 It Aids Digestion

As long as they’re ripe, and not too ripe, pineapples can help the chicken’s digestive system, making it easier for them to digest their food and extract nutrition from it.

Not only are pineapples high in fiber, which helps to move food efficiently through the chicken’s digestive tract, but they contain a substance known as bromelain, which is a type of proteolytic enzyme.

Proteolytic enzymes help to break down proteins and, in small doses, bromelain improves the chicken’s digestion and metabolism, helping them digest food more efficiently and regulating their bowel movements.

It also helps reduce the amount of bacteria and parasites in the chicken’s digestive system.

#3 It Improves Food Conversion Efficiency

Pineapples are rich in sodium chloride which is particularly beneficial for chickens living on a primarily grain-based diet.

Most grains contain very little salt, and although chickens don’t need a lot, a little boost will improve their food conversion efficiency, meaning they get more nutritional benefits from their feed.

This is great for those who want to save on feed while still meeting the needs of their hungry broilers and young chickens. 

#4 It’s Good for Egg Production

A small piece of pineapple once or twice a week could be all it takes to get your chickens laying regularly and producing healthy offspring.

While chickens get a fair amount of their daily manganese requirement from grain, the extra that a piece of pineapple will contribute may be all it takes to boost egg production and strengthen the shells.

Manganese also plays a vital role in a chicken’s bone development and growth, so is particularly important for backyard breeders.

#5 It Boosts Energy Levels

Any self-respecting chicken owner wants to see their flock scratching around the yard, stretching their wings, and generally exhibiting some enthusiasm for life.

To achieve this, your chickens need energy, which they tend to lack if their metabolic system isn’t working effectively.

The manganese content of a pineapple is enough to support a chicken’s metabolism, helping it work more effectively so your chickens have more energy.

This is particularly important in winter when your flock needs more dietary energy to maintain their body temperatures.

Can Pineapples Make a Chicken Sick? 5 Potential Dangers

A pineapple with a section sliced into wedges.

Even though pineapples have all those health benefits, they can also be potentially harmful.

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As with humans, some chickens may be allergic to pineapples, and eating even a small amount could cause diarrhea and breathing difficulties.

If you’re feeding your flock pineapple for the first time, keep an eye on them to make sure none of them show signs of an allergic reaction. In most instances, the symptoms will disappear on their own, but in severe cases, you may need the help of a qualified veterinarian.

Food allergies in chickens aren’t particularly common, and if your flock eats too much pineapple, they’re more likely to experience one of the following issues:

#1 Too Much Pineapple Irritates the Digestive System

While a small amount of bromelain is beneficial for a chicken’s digestive system, too much can irritate, leading to diarrhea and a lack of appetite.

Studies also show that, if fed “at a dose of 600 GDU/kg of feed or more,” can negatively impact a chicken’s growth rate, which is bad news for those of you with backyard broilers.

#2 Fermented Pineapple Contains Ethanol

Overripe pineapples ferment extremely quickly and soon start producing ethanol, which can make your chickens drunk and cause a range of health issues.

Alcohol and chickens simply don’t mix, and researchers have found that ethanol can harm a chicken’s internal organs, and damage both the immune system and the gastrointestinal tract.

These critical health risks make feeding chickens overripe pineapple extremely dangerous, and potentially fatal.

#3 Pineapples Are Too Acidic

Pineapples have a pH of between 3 and 4, which means they’re highly acidic. This can be problematic for chickens, who need a pH balance of between 5 and 6 to promote healthy bacteria in their crop.

Chickens on a very acidic diet can develop a pH imbalance in the crop, increasing the risk of sour crop. This is a fungal infection of the crop that leads to lethargy, loss of appetite, weight loss, diarrhea, and reduced egg production.

#4 Moldy Pineapples Can Cause Food Poisoning

I ate a piece of moldy pineapple by mistake once and spent the rest of the afternoon in the bathroom! The same thing can happen to your chickens if they eat moldy pineapples, although the effects could be even worse.

According to bird veterinarian, Dr. Rob Marshall, mold contamination in food can produce fungal toxins that cause a whole host of problems, reducing appetite and egg production, and even causing leg abnormalities and contributing to outbreaks of parasites and coccidiosis.

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#5 Pineapples Contain Too Much Sugar

Chickens are just as susceptible to weight gain as humans are. Although they’ll love the sugary sweetness of pineapple, if they eat too much of it, they can quickly gain weight, leading to obesity and other related complications such as heat exhaustion, and sour crop.

Too much sugar can also negatively impact a chicken’s egg production, and cause digestive issues, and lethargy. 

How Much Pineapple is Good for Chickens?

Now we’ve established that feeding your chickens too much pineapple is a bad thing, we need to ascertain how much is safe to include in your flock’s diet.

Chicken nutritionists at Purina Mills recommend using the 90/10 chicken feed rule which means that 90% of their diet is made up of a complete chicken feed and the other 10% of kitchen scraps and other treats.

In other words, if your chicken eats a quarter of a pound of complete feed a day, she should only receive a couple of tablespoons of treats.

Even this amount of pineapple fed daily could cause problems, so it’s a good idea to only offer your chickens a cube or two of fresh pineapple once or twice a week.

FAQs

Can Chickens Eat Pineapple Leaves?

Pineapple leaves contain less sugar than the flesh of the fruit, but their fibrous texture makes them difficult for a chicken to digest. Although not toxic, the tough crown and leaves can cause blockages, leading to an impacted crop.

Can Chickens Eat Pineapple Skin?

Like the leaves, the skin of the pineapple is tough and fibrous, which makes it difficult to digest. While it won’t kill your chicken, it could stay in their digestive system, causing blockages and other complications.

See also Can Chickens Eat Pineapple Scraps?

What Kinds of Pineapple Are Good For Chickens?

Chickens can eat any type of pineapple, from the sweet Queen pineapple to the juicy Gold pineapple. Having a lower acidity and sugar content, the Gold pineapple is probably better for chickens than the sweeter varieties, and safer to feed in slightly larger quantities.

Do Pineapples Give Chickens Diarrhea?

If you feed your chickens more than the recommended quantity of pineapple, it can cause digestive issues including diarrhea, constipation, and indigestion.

Parting Thoughts

Most chickens will enjoy a piece of pineapple from time to time, savoring its juicy sweetness just as much as you do. In those quantities, it’s a healthy snack for chickens, boosting their immune system, aiding digestion, and promoting growth and egg production.

Unfortunately, chickens don’t know when to stop and will happily peck away long after the benefits of the pineapple have turned into dangers. Eating too much could cause a host of problems, from digestive issues to obesity, and even food poisoning.

The safest way to feed a chicken pineapple is in moderation, not exceeding a couple of tablespoons twice a week.

Never feed your chickens underripe or moldy pineapple – only the firm, yellow flesh that is suitable for human consumption. It’s a great way to boost your chicken’s vitamin C intake while showing them how much you love them!

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