Food

Can Chickens Eat Zucchini? The 5 Health Benefits of Courgettes

By Chicken Fans Editorial Team

Nutritional Value | Health Benefits | Amount | Leaves | Flowers | FAQ

Zucchinis or courgettes are popular table scraps that frequently end up in the chicken run. It's a healthy Italian vegetable that's part of many traditional cuisines. Chickens can eat every part of zucchini, and it's a very healthy food source for them.

Key Takeaways:

  • Chickens can eat zucchini, peels, and seeds
  • The best is to cut them in half to feed your flock
  • Zucchinis are rich in vitamins A, C, and B6
  • Chickens can eat the zucchini flowers and leaves
  • Zucchinis are ideal for hydration and body temperature control

Let's start with the most important question:

Can Chickens Eat Zucchini?

Yes, chickens can eat zucchini, zucchini peels, and zucchini seeds. You can safely feed them table scraps, as zucchini are a healthy food source rich in minerals and vitamins A, C, and B6. Zucchini can keep your chickens hydrated, boost their immune system, and helps your flock see in dim lights.

The best way is to cut the zucchini in half, so the chickens can easily eat the seeds and flesh. Here are some chickens eating a sliced zucchini:

Nutritional Value of Zucchini for Chickens

About 95% of zucchini is water. They are very low in calories but come with several healthy micronutrients. Zucchinis can't replace regular food because they don't contain enough proteins and carbs. However, zucchinis are a healthy treat for chickens.

100g Raw Zucchini with SkinAmount% DV Laying Hen
Calories17 kcal ~6 %
Water94,8 g
Protein1,21 g~6,7 %
Carbs3,11 g
Fiber1 g
Sugar2,5 g~8 %
Vitamin A200 IU~6,7 %
Vitamin C17,9 mg~18%
Vitamin B6 163 µg~5,4%
Vitamin E0,12 g~1%
Potassium261 mg
Calcium16 mg~ 0,4%
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture

If you cut a medium-sized zucchini in half (about 100g), it contains up to 18% of the daily optimal intake of vitamin C for laying hens. Zucchinis are also rich in vitamins A and B6 and contain traces of vitamins E and K.

  • Vitamin C is an antioxidant, vital for tissue growth and blood vessels, and involved in many body functions and the proper functioning of the immune system.
  • Vitamin A is essential for several metabolic processes and helps chickens see in dim light and shady conditions. It's essential for fertility, the immune system, and growth in chickens.
  • Vitamin B6 is vital for the metabolism of the nervous system and the immune system

On top of that, zucchini also contains minerals that chickens need for their bones, muscles, heart, and brain to work properly.

Black Araucana eating zucchini from a plate

Health Benefits of Zucchini for Chickens

Zucchini comes with many health benefits for backyard chickens:

  • It keeps the flock hydrated: water is also essential for digestion and for the organs to do their job. Chickens also require water to regulate their body temperature
  • It helps them to cool down: the water, minerals, and electrolytes in zucchini allow chickens to cool down from heat stress
  • Boosts the immune system: several antioxidants, and vitamin C, reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, both linked to several diseases and chronic illness
  • Improves Digestion: the high fiber content in zucchini helps bowel movement and 'good' bacterial growth in the chicken's guts
  • May reduce blood sugars: research on animals suggests that the antioxidants in the flesh, fibers in the peels, and tocopherols in the seeds of zucchini reduce blood sugar levels

Most people classify zucchinis as vegetables, but botanically it's actually a fruit. So it does comes with some sugars, albeit a very small amount. Most of the sugars in zucchini also have a very low glycemic index and do not raise the blood sugar levels of chickens much.

A zucchini plant with the fruit growing close to the ground and a yellow edible flower
A zucchini plant with the fruit growing close to the ground

How many Zucchinis can Chickens Eat?

As a rule of thumb, chickens can eat zucchini in abundance. Especially in summer, it's a wonderful treat to control the water balance in their body. However, healthy courgettes can't replace regular food, so make sure they are still consuming enough of their regular feed.

Treats should generally be limited to about 5% of the feed intake. However, zucchinis are such a healthy food source it can be a little more. Your hens will be happy to help you out with the table scraps.

Can Chickens Eat Zucchini Squash Leaves?

Chickens can eat the big dark zucchini leaves of the squash plant. The leaves also contain vitamins A, B6, and C as well as many minerals such as zinc, iron, and potassium that will boost the chicken's immune system. However, the leaves can be bitter, so not all chickens like them.

Zucchini plant, on the left is the edible yellow flower, on the right are the leaves of the zucchini plant
Left: the yellow, edible flower of the zucchini plant; Right: the zucchini-plant leaves

Can Chickens Eat Zucchini Squash Flowers?

Chickens can eat the edible yellow flowers of the zucchini plant. All parts of the blossom are edible and have a soft zucchini-like taste. The flowers are healthy and rich in vitamins A and C. However, never give chickens fried zucchini flowers (frying the flowers is popular in some cuisines).

When Not to Feed Zucchini to Chickens?

Avoid feeding your chickens when:

  • the zucchini is rotten and damaged - only give your chickens courgettes that you would eat yourself. Avoid vegetables with yellow areas or over-ripe sunk-in spots.
  • the zucchini has mold on it - molds are harmful to chickens, affect their digestive system, and can cause fungal infections.
  • the zucchini is not properly washed - if you have store-bought courgettes, avoid feeding your chickens with any toxic pesticides harmful to the little birds
  • you have long and thin zucchini blades - peeling sometimes results in long blades, and just like grass, these can get stuck in the chicken's crop
  • you have table scraps with harmful ingredients - if the zucchinis are part of a salad that contains less ideal ingredients, like mayonnaise, dressing, oils or ingredients like onions, don't feed them to your 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 Zucchini Questions

Can Chickens Eat Zucchini Peels?

Yes, chickens can eat zucchini peels. The dark soft peels are rich in healthy carotenoids, powerful antioxidants that prevent diseases and boost the immune system. It's also a precursor of vitamin A, which helps chickens see in dim light. The skin also comes with all the other healthy micronutrients of zucchinis.

Can Chickens Eat Zucchini Seeds?

Yes, chickens can eat zucchini seeds. They are the most nutrient-dense part and contain a lot of beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant. The chicken's body converts beta-carotene to vitamin A, which is vital for your chicken's eye health and makes them see in shady environments.

Can Chickens Eat Yellow Zucchini?

Yes, chickens can eat yellow zucchini flesh and yellow zucchini seeds. Just like green zucchinis, they are a healthy food source rich in minerals and vitamins A, C, and B6. Zucchini can keep your chickens hydrated, boost their immune system, and helps your flock see in dim lights.

Can Chickens Eat Summer Squash?

As a rule of thumb, every summer squash that's edible for humans is safe for consumption by chickens. Chickens can eat marrow, straightneck squash, crookneck squash, zucchini, courgettes, scalop squash, pattypan squash, winter squash, aehobak, luffa, butternut squash, and pumpkins.

Related Zucchini Food Sources for Chickens

Zucchinis are typically part of salads:

There are some alternatives to zucchini squash to keep your chickens hydrated when it's hot:

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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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