Food

Can Chickens Eat Bananas and Banana Peels?

By Chicken Fans Editorial Team

Chickens can eat bananas and banana peels and it's a reasonable food source. We discuss everything you need to know before you start tossing the leftovers in the run.

Key takeaways:

  • Chickens can eat unripe and normal bananas
  • Chickens should avoid over-ripe bananas
  • Bananas are a great carb source for chickens
  • Chickens can eat banana peels
  • Bananas can not replace regular poultry feed

Can Chickens Eat Bananas?

Chickens can eat unripe bananas and peels but should avoid over-ripe bananas as they are high in sugar. Bananas can't replace regular food but provide vitamins and minerals that boost a chicken's health and immune system. Sugars in unripe or normal bananas have a low GI and don't cause health issues.

As the next video shows, chickens generally love the sweet taste of bananas.

Nutritional Value of Bananas for Chickens

Bananas are a good source of fiber and carbs and contain small amounts of proteins. The carbs are starch in green bananas that turns into sugar when the banana ripens.

Besides being a food source, bananas also come with potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and various antioxidants and phytonutrients.

1 small banana (100g)Amount% DV Laying Hen
Calories89 kcal29,7 ~%
Water 74,9 g
Protein 1,09 g~6%
Carbs22,8 g
Sugar12,2 g~ 40 %
Vitamin C 8,7 mg~ 9 %
Vitamin B6367 µg~12,2 %
Potassium358 mg
Calcium5 mg~ 0,1 %
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture

The most prominent vitamins and minerals in bananas for chickens are:

  • Vitamin C – an antioxidant, vital for tissue growth and blood vessels and involved in many body functions and proper functioning of the immune system
  • Vitamin B6 - an essential vitamin for the immune system and proper functioning of the brain and nervous system
  • Potassium - a mineral essential for the chicken's metabolism that supports proper functioning of muscles, nerves, and heart and supports protein and carb digestion

Health Benefits of Bananas for Chickens

Although bananas are not a replacement for regular food, they come with some health benefits for chickens:

  • Boosts the immune system: vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that helps to protect cells from oxidative damage. It also helps the immune cells replace old cells with new, healthy ones.
  • Improves heart and blood: the high potassium levels in bananas help chickens regulate their blood pressure. Vitamin C and flavonoids significantly reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Digestive health: the starch fibers and pectins in green bananas are prebiotics that supports the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut of the chicken

Is Sugar in Bananas Bad for Chickens?

Bananas have a bad reputation in human dietary food plans as they are high in carbs and sugar.

However, the sugars in bananas have a low glycemic index (GI). So, unless your bananas are overripe, they won't spike the blood sugar levels of your birds. The hyperglycemia risks are much lower than other food sources, like strawberries, mango, watermelons, or oranges.

The key takeaway here is to avoid feeding overripe bananas: the greener, the better for your flock.

Two brown chickens eating a yellow banana with banana peels in front of their chicken coop

Can Chickens Eat Banana Peels?

Yes, banana peels are edible; chickens can eat them if they are not black or over-ripe and free from pesticides and mold. You can cut off the stems and feed them with banana leftovers instead of tossing the peels in the bin.

The peel is 70-80% dense fiber, which makes banana peels tough and bitter for us to eat. However, chickens have chemical and mechanical stomachs that can deal with fibers well.

The peel itself contains all of the micronutrients we discussed above. On top of that, scientists discovered several anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities in banana peels. That's why it's also used in Thai traditional medicines to treat inflammatory-related diseases.

Can Bananas replace regular chicken feed?

Bananas are a proper food source for carbs that provide energy for the flock. Although bananas don't contain enough proteins, this can be adjusted by feeding soybean meals and meat. There are also several alternative calcium sources.

In the early 20th century, people allegedly used the fleshy edible portions of bananas for growing and laying stock. Some research has studied whether bananas can replace regular food for poultry. One study published in Poultry Science used dried banana meals from green bananas (peel and pulp).

Leghorns fed with the banana meal had slower growth and higher feed consumption. It's unclear if that result relates to how the meals were prepped.

Other Tropical Fruit for Chickens

Not all tropical food is as great for chickens as bananas.

Some further reads:

  • Pineapple - the tropical fruit that burns the tongue
  • Mango - we discuss whether chickens can eat sweet mango
  • Oranges - the benefits and risks of feeding oranges to your flock
  • Strawberries - power food for humans, but what about chickens?
  • Grapes - the pros and cons of feeding grapes to chickens

If you want to learn more about chicken feed, please consult our 'Chicken Food Page' to go and see every specific food article we address, including all articles on what chickens can and can not eat. Or go to our listicle food summary on 'The Classroom'.

Other Banana-for-Chickens Questions

Can Chickens eat Over-Ripe Bananas?

Chickens can eat ripe bananas, but feeding them with unripe bananas is healthier as they contain much less sugar. About 20% of over-ripe bananas are sugar, which increases the risk of hyperglycemia and sour crop in chickens. Unripe bananas contain starch, a healthy prebiotic that helps gut health.

Can Chickens eat Banana Leaves and Stems?

Chickens can eat banana leaves and even stems of the plant. They are rich in polyphenols, which help regulate blood pressure and circulation. They are denser than peels, so you might need to cook them before your chickens start to chew on them. However, some chickens will even eat raw stems!

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Chicken Fans Editorial Team

The editorial team consists of 3rd generation chicken owners Kat, journalist, editor-in-chief, and Nick, working with illustrators and specialists in the field.

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