Pumpkins are a great treat for chickens. They are safe to eat and have many benefits for your animals. Find cheap and even free pumpkins to feed your animals this fall. Learn more about why chickens and your livestock love pumpkins just as much as we do in this post.
Are Pumpkins safe for Chickens?
There are a number of reasons why you should feed your livestock and farm animals pumpkins. First things first, we all love pumpkins. Fall is the time to reap the benefits of these tasty treats for our farm animals.
Some chickens farmers and homesteaders fear that their chickens might chock on pumpkin seeds and prefer to out them in the blender. There isn’t really any need to do this. Chickens are able to safely eat a pumpkin that’s been nicely broken in half.
To be perfectly clear, I’m sharing the benefits of fresh pumpkins. Not canned pumpkin for pies and baking. Please don’t feed the canned pumpkin pie filling from the store to your animals.
What are the benefits?
Yes, pumpkin leaves, seeds, guts and all parts of the pumpkin are edible and healthy feed for you animals. Pumpkins provide great benefits to your livestock and farm animals. These are just a few.
They are high in fibre.
All pumpkins are high in Vitamin A, crucial for boosting their immune system for the upcoming winter months.
Dry eyes, coughing and blood spots in eggs are all signs of Vitamin A deficiency.
Chickens that are fed pumpkins will have a richer yolk and is more orange that those that don’t!
Lastly, the most important benefit is they are a natural dewormer.
Feed your livestock and farm animals pumpkins along with squash, melons, and gourds etc. These plants are all part of the cucurbita family. The seeds of these vegetables are covered in curbitacin- a natural dewormer. It simply paralyzes the worms.
Deworming your farm animals is an important part of the livestocks’ health routine. Deworming products remove worms from animals.
Pumpkins are a great natural organic alternative to chemicals.
Cattle farmers deworm their animals so that they can reap the full nutritional value of food, gain weight and reach their full weight potential. Learn more about raising cattle and other farm animals for meat in this post.
Some sources recommend feeding these seeds to chickens free choice for a week at least twice yearly as a natural dewormer.
Plus my favourite added benefit to feeding livestock pumpkins is it’s great entertainment to watch them all enjoy their pumpkin feast!
How to feed farm animals pumpkins
Simply make the pumpkins available in the field or yard for the animals to eat. Break open ripe pumpkins so that they can get a good handle on them. Chickens will peck the shell clean. Cows will push the pumpkins around if not pre cut or soft.
Feeding pumpkins straight from the patch is a great idea because the weather often goes from freezing to wet this time of year making the pumpkins soft and edible. The cows have no problem breaking them open. They also have no aversion to eating them spoiled or rotten.
A lot of pumpkin patches are located next to a cornfield. There’s a good reason for this. After corn is harvested, farmers will let the cows graze left over stalks and residue. If the cows also have access to the left over pumpkins, it’s a win-win for both pumpkin farmer and bovine. So plant a little corn maze and pumpkin patch for both you and your livestock to enjoy next fall!
Where to Find Pumpkins for your Chickens
There are endless opportunities to get your hands on pumpkins in the fall. Invite friends and family to drop off their jackolanterns to your homestead. Most people are be happy to drop off their pumpkins or sign up for free pick up.
Do you have a pumpkin rescue program in your area? We have a pumpkin rescue program in our city where you can register to donate, volunteer to salvage pumpkins for human consumption and do preserving or sign up for free livestock feed.
Contact your local pumpkin patches and grocery stores to see if they might have leftovers they’d be willing to part with.