Whenever you think of treating your chickens with healthy fruits, which fruits come to your mind first? We’re sure 9 out of 10 pet-owners would think of fruits like apples, bananas, and grapes; fruits that are easily available and can be fed to them with ease.
However, don’t you think your feathered pets deserve to eat something different and exotic every once in a while? Chickens are, after all, fond of a diverse diet. What about the exotic, pink, dragon fruits?
Can chickens eat dragon fruits? Yes, chickens can safely feed on these dragon fruits and can also gain a lot from their nutritional richness. Not only are these fruits rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, but are also naturally fat-free, which is an added bonus for your chickens. The seeds of the dragon fruit are also completely harmless to the chickens. However, as with every other fruit, these should also be fed in moderation.
In this article, we will learn about the nutritional richness of the dragon fruits and their seeds, explore their health benefits for your chickens, and talk about how to feed these fruits to them.
Are Dragon Fruits Healthy For Chickens?
Most of us have read about dragon fruits in our storybooks and have little knowledge about them in the real world. In fact, this exotic fruit has been popular in most parts of the world in recent years. Therefore, here’s a little info on these fruits to help you choose them for your pets.
Endemic to Mexico and Central America, dragon fruits are a tropical fruit that tastes somewhat like a mixture of a kiwi and a pear. These are also referred to as “fair honey fruit” and “pitahaya”.
To help you understand the nutritiousness of these fruits better, we have curated a table of their nutritional composition below. Take a look:
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||0.04 mg|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.05 mg|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||0.17 mg|
|Vitamin C||20.4 mg|
|Phosphorus, P||22.4 mg|
|Calcium, Ca||8.6 mg|
|Iron, Fe||1.8 mg|
|Dietary fibers||3 g|
Serving size: 100 grams
Now, let’s discuss how the nutrients present in dragon fruits can benefit your feathered pets:
1. Thiamin in dragon fruit is essential for the chickens as it boosts their appetite. The lack of thiamine in their diet leads to loss of appetite, which can at times be chronic as well.
2. Riboflavin plays a key role in the maintenance of their egg quality and is also known to protect them against Curly-toe Paralysis.
3. Niacin has anti-inflammatory properties, which is particularly important to poultry birds like chickens that are vulnerable to inflammatory diseases such as Mouth Cavity Inflammation.
4. Dragon fruits also contain Vitamin C in abundance. And all birds and animals, including your chickens, need this vitamin in their diet if they want to build up their immunity.
5. Both Calcium and Phosphorus are vital minerals for chickens. They are responsible for the quality of their eggshells and their hatchability. Without enough of these minerals in their diet, your chickens will lay eggs that have poor hatchability. The deficiency of these minerals could also lead to Rickets in your pets.
6. Carbs are the main source of energy for chickens; their deficiency can make your pets feel weak and dizzy.
Protein upholds all the biological functions in your chicken’s body, and is also essential in their egg production. Chickens need an even larger amount of it during winters when they molt.
7. Apart from all these nutrients, dragon fruits are also rich in antioxidants, which are essential for the healthy living of all birds and animals, including chickens.
8. Lastly, these fruits are naturally fat-free and would, therefore, not pose a threat of making your pets obese.
In light of all the aforementioned pointers, it would be safe to state that dragon fruits are one of the healthiest treats your chickens can enjoy.
Can Overeating Dragon Fruits Impact Chicken’s Health Negatively?
You might have heard the saying “too much of anything is bad”. Well, the same is true for the dragon fruits. Even these nutritious exotic fruits could be detrimental to your pet’s health when overconsumed.
The first trouble about dragon fruits for your chickens is their improper Ca:P ratio. The chickens ideally need the Ca:P ratio in their food to be 1:1 or 2:1 so that they have more Calcium in their body than Phosphorus.
However, if they’re eating foods that have more Phosphorus than Calcium (just like the dragon fruits), Phosphorus will bind with Calcium, preventing it from being used by the chickens.
This leads to a deficiency of Calcium in their diet, which can in turn cause Avian Osteoporosis in them. Also known by other names like “Cage Layer Fatigue” and “Metabolic Bone Disease”, Avian Osteoporosis is a condition commonly seen in the commercial laying hens. In this condition, the calcium in their bones gets depleted every time they lay an egg, due to the deficiency of the mineral in their body.
Another issue with these fruits can be attributed to their seeds. The dragon fruit seeds contain an oil that is rich in fatty acids, linolenic, and linoleic acids. Although these acids are healthy for your feathered pets, when they consume dragon fruits too often, they can also irritate the inner lining of their stomach, leading to heartburn.
Lastly, dragon fruits contain moderate amounts of sugar, which can cause digestive issues like loose stool and diarrhea in your chickens if they eat them frequently.
Practicing Moderation With Feeding Dragon Fruits To Chickens
Do you have no clue about practicing moderation with feeding dragon fruits to your feathered pets? Don’t worry, we’ve got you. An adult chicken can eat these fruits twice a week (given that they’re eating no other fruit during the said period) safely.
Each serving should be 5-6 grams only. Moreover, you must keep switching the fruits you’re feeding them. For instance, if you’re feeding them dragon fruits this week, feed them grapes in the next.
Red Or White Dragon Fruit: Which One Is Better For Chickens?
There are two varieties of dragon fruits; one has red inner flesh, while the other has white (both look similar on the outside). Most people believe that the red dragon fruit is simply a more ripened version of the white one, but we lack enough scientific data to confirm it.
The two major differences between the red and white dragon fruits are their sugar and antioxidant contents. The red dragon fruit has more antioxidants and higher sugar content than the white one (even if the white one might taste sweeter).
The good news is, your chickens can eat both of these fruits safely. If you’re feeding them red dragon fruits, once a week is enough; in the case of the white ones, twice a week will do them no harm.
Can Chickens Eat Dragon Fruits’ Seeds Safely?
While dragon fruits are safe and healthy for your chickens, what about their seeds? Can they safely be consumed along with the fruits or do you need to remove them for your pets?
The seeds of dragon fruits contain no toxic elements and are also rich in fibers and fatty acids, which makes them both harmless as well as healthy for the chickens.
Moreover, they are also too small for your feathered pets (even the chicks) to choke on them, so you needn’t worry about that either.
What About The Skin Of Dragon Fruits? Can Chickens Eat Them?
Did you know that the skin of dragon fruits contains anthocyanin in abundance? Anthocyanin is a color pigment that is found in most red and purple-colored fruits, including dragon fruits. These pigments are also quite potent antioxidants and have a number of health benefits for both you and your pets.
So, does that mean your chickens can eat the skin of dragon fruits? While they can, the fibrous skin will be difficult for these toothless creatures to break down and digest.
Moreover, if you’re feeding them commercially-grown dragon fruits, their skin could also contain toxic chemicals like pesticides that can degrade your chicken’s health. That is why it is best not to feed them the skin of these fruits.
Conclusion: Can Chickens Eat Dragon Fruits?
Dragon fruits can be used as a refreshing treat for your chickens that can benefit their health in a number of ways. The seeds of these fruits are safe for your chickens as well. To feed them this fruit, all you need to do is cut it in half and scoop out the flesh that can be served to them.