Can Chickens Eat Apple Cores and Seeds?

Can Chickens Eat Apple Cores and Seeds?



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Well folks, I learned the hard way that those apple cores from my daily snacks are not always a tasty treat for my feathered friends.

It started when my favorite hen Betty started pecking at an apple core I threw on the ground.

I figured she loved it since she gobbled it up so fast! But soon after, she started acting strange and uncomfortable.

I later found out that while chickens can eat small amounts of apple flesh, the seeds and cores can cause digestive issues or even poisoning.

So while Betty’s snack seemed harmless at first, it definitely did not agree with her system!

My Funny Chicken Poisoning Story

Like I said, I used to toss apple cores, seeds and all, to my flock thinking it was a delicious snack! Hey, they’re from a fruit, fruits are healthy, right?

Can Chickens Eat Apple Cores and Seeds?

Well, one day Betty started scratching at the ground, shaking her feathers, and making distressed clucking sounds.

I could tell she was not herself. When I picked her up to see what was wrong, she made the loudest CLUCK I’ve ever heard right in my ear! Nearly busted my eardrum!

Turns out, the apple seeds and cores can contain trace amounts of cyanide compounds. Now, don’t worry, just a few probably won’t harm most chickens too much. But if they eat a lot, it can accumulate and cause some nasty side effects.

My poor Betty had a tummy ache from one too many tossed apple cores! After a few hours of rest and some oats and corn to eat instead, she was back to her happy, clucking self. So from now on, no more apples for my flock!

I remember it clear as day – it was a sunny autumn afternoon and I was snacking on a yummy honeycrisp apple. The chickens were pecking around the coop when they noticed I had a tasty snack in hand. Betty came strutting over doing her little wiggle-walk.

She peered up at me with those saucer eyes without even clucking once, as if begging “Toss me a bite too, Tanner!” I thought ah what the heck, chickens gotta have a sweet treat now and then too!

So I finished my apple down to the core and tossed it to the feathered ladies. They flocked to it instantly! Betty grabbed it and started snapping it up fast as she could.

Angel, Rosemary, and Sweet Sue gathered round trying to sneak in some nibbles around Betty’s head pecks. Within seconds though, that apple core disappeared down Betty’s gullet!

At first, I chuckled thinking I’ve never seen chickens devour something so quick. But over the next few hours, I noticed something amiss with Betty.

She scratched at the ground and shook her feathers over and over instead of pecking and foraging per usual. She kept making these little distressed clucks too. When I went in the run to check on her, she let out the loudest CLUCK right in my ear! I tell you what, nearly ruptured my eardrum and scared the dickens outta me!

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That’s when I knew Betty had something going on, and suspected that apple core as the culprit.

A quick online search taught me all about the trace amounts of toxic hydrogen cyanide compounds that lurk in those harmless looking seeds and cores. I blew it big time! My poor girl had a tummy ache from my accidental apple poisoning…

Are Apple Cores and Seeds Poisonous to Chickens?

The seeds and cores of apples contain amygdalin, which is a naturally occurring cyanide compound found in several fruits and vegetables.

Can Chickens Eat Apple Cores and Seeds?

The amygdalin breaks down into hydrogen cyanide during digestion. Chickens’ digestive systems can typically handle small amounts of this chemical, but larger quantities can become toxic.

Some signs that your chicken may have eaten too many apple cores or seeds include:

  • Loss of appetite – when I offered food, Betty ignored it!
  • Drooping, lack of energy – all she did was stand and hang her head
  • Diarrhea – let’s just say cleaning the coop was extra unpleasant!
  • Head shaking or trembling – all those distressed feathers sent seeds scattering
  • Difficulty breathing – she was taking rapid shallow chicken breaths

I saw many of these warning signs in my precious Betty. As soon I read up on apple seeds/core poisoning, I raced back to the coop! Thank goodness I caught it relatively quickly.

If treated fast, chicken apple poisoning can often be remedied by withholding food for 12-24 hours and providing electrolytes or nutritious treats like oats instead.

This gives their GI tract a rest to recover.

But severe cases can result in death if not addressed ASAP. Cyanide prevents red blood cells from transporting oxygen properly.

Over time, this oxygen deprivation can cause serious organ damage and neurological problems. Eventually respiration can fail completely leading to coma or death.

How’s that for a Debbie Downer fact? But it’s true – my feather baby Betty was in real danger thanks to my naive apple core tossing!

Thankfully by resting her stomach and keeping her hydrated, I was able to get Betty back on the road to recovery.

Within 12 hours she was already perking back up. The next day, she was happily pecking her feed and clucking for more treats! Needless to say, this mama learned her lesson.

No more apple cores OR seeds for my flock ever again! From now on, only seedless apple slices for these chickens.

What Parts of An Apple Can Chickens Eat?

Now that we know cores and seeds are a big no-no, what apple parts can chickens safely enjoy? Let’s discuss…

Can Chickens Eat Apple Cores and Seeds?

Chickens can safely snack on apple flesh and small thin skin pieces.

The juicy interior provides beneficial nutrients like vitamin C and potassium. Just be sure to slice any large chunks into tiny bite-sized bits for easier eating.

We country folk love letting our poultry pals snack on kitchen scraps. But apples require some special prep for chicken treat time:

  • Always completely remove ALL seeds, stems, leaves, and flower remnants
  • Peel waxy skins or rinds – stick to the flesh only for best nutrition and safety
  • Chop even small apples into teeny half inch sized cubes
  • Feed diced apples in extreme moderation – no more than 3-4 tiny cubes per chicken maximum
  • Mix apple bits into their whole grain feed to balance the natural sugars
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These tips will allow your flock to enjoy the sweet tang of apples without tummy troubles or dangerous health effects.

Personally, I like to dice Granny Smiths into bits and stir ’em up into scratch mix. The tart green apples pair perfectly with corn and oats!

I always keep dried apple bits in my treat pouch too for on-the-go snacks. Dehydrating mellows the flavors and concentrates nutrients into tiny chewy morsels perfect for chicken beaks! I use my trusty dehydrator, but a low temp oven or sunny day works too.

Just slice thinly, dry till crispy, and store in an airtight container. My girls go CRAZY over these fruity chips!

So in summary: apples can be a nutritious occasional feed supplement for chickens in moderation. Just mind the seeds and cores.

And for baby chicks under 2 months, avoid apples altogether. Their itty bitty digestive systems need time to strengthen up first!

Exploring Safe Fruit Options for Chickens

While apples can be a delightful treat for chickens when prepared correctly, it’s essential to diversify their fruit options.

Introducing a variety of fruits can not only contribute to a well-rounded diet but also add excitement to their daily routine. Here are some other fruits that your chickens might enjoy:

  • Peaches: Remove the pit and offer small, ripe slices for a juicy and sweet treat.
  • Plums: Pit and slice plums into manageable pieces, ensuring your chickens can enjoy them without any choking hazards.
  • Bananas: As discussed earlier, bananas are a crowd-pleaser and packed with essential nutrients.
  • Cherries: Remove the pit and provide cherries in moderation, as they contain natural sugars.
  • Mango: Peel and dice mango for a tropical and vitamin-rich snack.

Experimenting with different fruits allows you to observe your chickens’ preferences and provides a well-rounded nutritional profile.

Creating Homemade Fruit Treats for Chickens

If you’re feeling adventurous, consider making your own chicken treats using a mix of fruits. Here’s a simple recipe to get you started:

Fruit Medley Delight


  • 1 cup diced apples (seedless)
  • 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup diced peaches
  • 1/4 cup diced mango
  • 1 tablespoon honey (optional)


  1. Mix all the diced and sliced fruits in a bowl.
  2. Drizzle honey over the mixture if desired, providing a touch of sweetness.
  3. Gently toss the fruits until well combined.
  4. Offer small portions of this colorful medley to your chickens as a special treat.

Adjust the recipe based on the size of your flock, and feel free to get creative with different fruit combinations!

Ensuring a Balanced Diet for Chickens

While treats like fruits add enjoyment to your chickens’ lives, it’s crucial to maintain a balanced and nutritionally complete diet.

Chicken feed formulated for their specific needs should make up the majority of their daily intake. Treats, including fruits, should be given in moderation to avoid potential health issues.

Consider consulting with a poultry nutritionist or your veterinarian to ensure your chickens are receiving the right balance of nutrients for optimal health.

This way, you can provide a diet that supports their overall well-being and egg production.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Offering Fruit Treats

Feeding chickens fruits can be rewarding, but it’s essential to avoid common mistakes that could harm your flock. Here are some pitfalls to steer clear of:

  • Excessive Treats: Limit fruit treats to a small portion of their diet to prevent nutritional imbalances.
  • Unripe or Spoiled Fruits: Ensure that fruits are fresh, ripe, and free from any signs of spoilage before offering them to your chickens.
  • Ignoring Individual Preferences: Pay attention to each chicken’s likes and dislikes, as preferences can vary among individuals.
  • Overlooking Allergies: Some chickens may have allergies or sensitivities to certain fruits, so observe their reactions when introducing new treats.
  • Disregarding Overall Health: If a chicken is unwell, avoid giving treats until they have recovered to prevent further stress on their system.
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By being mindful of these potential mistakes, you can ensure that your chickens enjoy their fruity treats safely and responsibly.


Can baby chicks eat any apples at all?

Apple bits should be avoided until chicks are at least 8-10 weeks old. Their developing digestive tracts cannot yet handle complex plant sugars and acids.

Wait until at least 2 months before offering tiny apple nibbles. And never feed chicks seeds, chunks, or peel due to choking hazards!

Instead, focus on the medicated starter feed specially formulated to protect baby birds. I also offer chick crumbles blended with dried mealworms for extra protein kick.

At 8 weeks, you can supplement feed with diced oats, legumes, or scrambled egg bits. But tiny apple slivers should wait!

What about rotting fallen apples around the coop?

Remove any rotting apples ASAP from your chickens’ enclosure or runs. The natural decomposition process causes alcohol buildup inside which can make chickens very ill if eaten.

Plus, annoying insects like flies or wasps may swarm to the smell. And critters like possums or foxes can catch the scent too, putting your flock at risk!

I check under all my trees twice daily for newly fallen apples in autumn. I’ll rake up anything fresh and chop into chicken or pig treats.

But if an apple is showing signs of brown spots, wrinkles, or smelling sour at all I bag it up and hit the dumpster. No questions asked! Having critters invade or tipsy chickens from fermented fruit is no joke.

Can chickens enjoy apple peels?

This depends on the source and thickness. The edible thin green peels of organically grown apples are perfectly safe for chicken consumption.

But the thicker waxy rinds of commercially grown conventional fruits may cause digestion issues. To play it safe, always peel store-bought apples before treating your flock!

If you’re unsure how an apple was grown, peel it. The wax applied to keep supermarket fruits looking fresh can ball up inside chickens.

In the compost pile, thick peels break down fine but a chicken stomach struggles with the same task. Thin skins from homegrown apples make the tastiest, safest treat though!

I hope all this info gives y’all some helpful insight around feeding chickens delicious apple treats! It definitely takes some care and precaution, but done right apples make a nutritious feed supplement.

Just steer clear of those seeds and cores!

And never let a chicken eat a whole rotten fermented fallen apple, no good can come from boozed up birds. Trust me, I learned many lessons the hard way with poor Betty’s apple experience.

But now we’re pros at safe, scrumptious fruit snacking thanks to my mistake!

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