Do your chickens hover around your front or back door looking for a treat like mine? My chickens and turkeys especially love to solicit treats from my sliding glass door in the dining room. You see, they have a clear view of the kitchen. They know from experience, I’ll probably hand them a treat.
An easy treat to give them is always a banana. Especially if I have a bunch that is getting a little too ripe!
Bananas make excellent chicken treats. They are nutritious and sweet. In fact, they can also be used as a treat for baby chicks, in moderation of course.
While not really a “natural” food for chickens, bananas are loaded with vitamins. These vitamins that make them healthy for humans to eat, also make them a great treat for chickens. Let’s take a look at some of the nutritional benefits of feeding chickens bananas, as how best to feed them.
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Health Benefits of Feeding Chickens Bananas
Bananas have all kinds of other good stuff that can be beneficial to chickens. This includes:
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin C
These vitamins are great but you may have noticed I left an important one off the list above. Potassium, as it turns out, deserves its own category for chickens.
Potassium Benefits for Chickens
The average banana has about 450mg of Potassium. But, how does that benefit chickens, if at all?
Did you know that laying hens need potassium? In fact, German scientists found that supplementation with Potassium Chloride (KCL) is a great way to maintain egg production in hotter climates. (source)
Now, in this case, Potassium Chloride acts as an electrolyte. In fact, the “Lite Salt” that you may find in your grocery store aisle is a mixture of salt and KCL.
Another study published in Poultry Science showed that insufficient dietary potassium, the kind found in bananas, can cause greatly reduced food consumption and even weight loss in adult chickens. (source)
For chicks, researchers found that there is a relationship between a chick’s need for potassium and the protein they are being fed. They found that the need for potassium increases as the protein level increases. (source)
Do Chickens Need Bananas In Their Diet?
With all the scientific studies above, I feel it is important to note that chickens don’t need banana in their diet.
The potassium, fiber, and even tiniest bit of protein (1g) offered by the average banana simply makes a banana a nutritious treat.
For most chicken owners, including me, the main source of your chicken’s food is usually going to be some kind of commercially available food.
These rations are balanced and represent an adequate complete diet for most chickens without any supplementation. Bananas are just an awesome treat.
As with all treats, bananas should be offered in moderation. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. This is especially true when it comes to offering treats to baby chicks.
Can a Chicken Eat A Banana Peel?
You can safely offer your chicken the banana peel so long as it has been washed.
The last thing you want to do is give your chicken a treat that may have residual pesticides. If you buy organic bananas, this risk is greatly reduced.
Now, will your chicken eat the banana peel? Chickens will not typically eat whole banana peels but they do enjoy picking at any remnants of the banana left inside.
You know that little brown bit at the end, your chicken will be super happy to find that delicious treat in the peel!
In fact, if you know you are going to feed your banana peel to your chicken, be a good chicken owner and leave just a little bit more banana in the peel than you normally would. Trust me, your chickens will love it!
How To Feed Bananas To Your Chickens
There are a variety of different ways you can prepare a banana for your chickens. It all really depends on how much you want to get into it!
Feeding A Peeled Banana
The easiest way to feed a banana is to just peel it and give it to the birds. You can even leave the peel on. Just pull back a single side of the banana. Leaving the other side (or sides) on will give the fruit a natural barrier to getting covered in dirt.
Typically I will feed my chickens on my concrete porch or, if I take treats to their coop, I’ll put their treats in their feed pan to keep it off the floor. If you have shavings or very fine bedding (even loose sand) this is especially important. Otherwise, you may just wind up with a chicken pen full of sandy banana.
Want to get a little more creative with your banana? Try covering it in any number of chicken safe grains.
If you are preparing the banana treat in your kitchen, grab some oatmeal and roll the banana gently in the oats until it is covered. Your hens will go wild for it!
You can also use your chicken’s regular feed. Chick starter and layer pellets work too. Though, powdered or granular feeds like chick starter and layer mash work better than a pelleted feed for this application.
Natural Banana Chicken Wormer
Let’s clear the air here. I haven’t found any studies saying banana is good for treating internal parasites in chickens. And that’s not what I meant here.
But, if you are wanting to feed your chickens diatomaceous earth for worm control, bananas are a great moist, mushy food to help ensure they eat it.
Just as with the ideas above, you can dust your bananas in diatomaceous earth and offer it up as a yummy snack. In fact, if you slice the banans it will allow more surface area and increase DE consumption.
Banana Yogurt Medly
Unsweetened yogurt mixed with sliced up bananas can be a super yummy and nutritious treat for your chickens.
Note the unsweetened part though. Sugar loaded banana flavored yogurt should be avoided. Plain yogurt, on the other hand, can be a great way to mix things up when feeding a banana to your chickens.
Banana Treats You Shouldn’t Feed to Your Chickens
There are some products made for humans that you probably want to avoid giving to your chickens. In most cases, they aren’t harmful or toxic, just not as nutritious as a raw banana.
Foods like banana pudding, banana chips, and banana bread are all loaded with sugar. Bananas are already one of the fruits with more sugar, and these foods just add to that.
While not necessarily harmful, it is best to avoid processed foods when at all possible.
Things to Remember
- Feed bananas to chickens in moderation (especially with chicks)
- Never use bananas as a primary food source for your chickens, it is meant as a treat only.
- The peel is safe to offer to your chickens but they are unlikely to eat it.
- Brown bananas or even mostly black bananas are OK to feed as long as they are mold-free.
- Never feed moldy food to your chickens.