can chickens eat butternut squash skin

Cluck ‘n’ Chew: Can Chickens Safely Devour Butternut Squash Skins?



—> Last Updated:

Well folks, last weekend I learned the hard way that my chickens really love butternut squash – skin and all!

It started when my wife made her famous butternut squash soup from our little vegetable garden out back.

After she sliced that big ol’ squash in half and scraped out all the good stuff for the soup with one of my grandma’s antique wooden spoons, I took one look at that leftover skin and thought “I bet the chickens would go crazy over this.”

So I tossed the giant peel, seeds and all, right into their run and boy was I right.

Turns out that yes, chickens absolutely can and do eat butternut squash skin.

In fact, they love it so much they’ll flap their wings, chase each other in circles and scratch up the dirt to get every last string!

Benefits of Feeding Squash Skin to Chickens

After watching my flock of 20 chickens descend into a frenzy over that peel, feathers flying everywhere as they battled each other for position, I just had to do some googling to understand why they loved it so dang much.

can chickens eat butternut squash skin

Here’s the scoop on all the benefits of giving your chickens butternut squash skin:

  • It’s loaded with vitamins A and C to support their little immune systems. In fact, one small peel packs over 150% of their daily vitamin A needs! No wonder they go so crazy.
  • The thick, tough skin actually contains way more nutrients than the flesh inside. It’s just packed with healthy stuff like potassium, fiber and vitamin K.
  • That natural fiber in the skin aids their digestion and keeps those chicken guts running smoothly. No constipation in this flock!
  • All that vigorous pecking, pulling and nibbling they have to do on that tough peel helps keep their beaks nicely trimmed and conditioned.

I also learned that the peel provides loads of carotenoids like lutein and beta-carotene. Who knew? No wonder egg yolks from squash skin-fed chickens are so dang orange and delicious! The skin even contains omega fatty acids for better absorption of all those vitamins and minerals.

Mother Nature sure knew what she was doing when she created the butternut squash – that nutrient-dense skin is like a superfood for chickens!

See also  Can Chicken Really Eat Duck Shells? A Nitty Gritty Truth About Chicken Diets!

Bottom line, feeding my girls butternut squash skin checks all the boxes: it’s healthful, eco-friendly since I’m recycling food waste from our kitchen, saves me money on high-priced feed supplements, and keeps the chickens entertained for hours!

Though I could do without the feather-pulling and drama every time I toss it into their run. It riles those ladies up into a straight chicken frenzy!

Potential Concerns

can chickens eat butternut squash skin

Even though squash skin is totally safe for chickens have have at it, there are a couple things to keep in mind before you let your flock rip into one:

  1. That wet, slimy peel can get real slippery on the ground of the coop. Last weekend after the chickens were done, their run was a hot mess of muck and feathers stuck all over from them skating around on that peel!
  2. Too much of even a healthy treat can cause trouble. Gorging on huge piles of skin could give your chickens loose and smelly droppings, which is no fun to clean up.
  3. In their frenzy to snarf it down, chickens may try to swallow big ole pieces whole or not even bother removing strings or seeds first. This aggressive all-you-can-eat style of pecking could lead to choaking hazards.

So as healthy as squash skin is for chickens, just take precautions and don’t let them overdo it! I made that mistake at first.

Now before I toss any in, I make sure to cut the skin into smaller, bite-sized pieces for easier gobbling.

I also give it to them inside their feeder rather than just throwing that slippery hot mess onto the ground to avoid a disaster of feather-covered slime in the coop afterward!

Tips for Feeding Butternut Squash Skin to Chickens

Alright folks here’s the skinny on the best way to feed your flock butternut squash skin so they get max nutrition without chaos:

can chickens eat butternut squash skin

  • Cut that big ole peel into smaller strips or cubes before tossing it out there – choking hazard avoided!
  • Use a paring knife or vegetable peeler first to remove those slimy strings and seeds on the skin – less mess that way.
  • Place the prepared skin pieces right inside your chicken feeder rather than just chucking it onto the ground – contain the madness!
  • Only provide as much skin as your chickens will polish off completely in a day. Anything left wilts and gets mushy by the next mornin’. Yuck!
  • Consider keeping a few pieces back in your fridge to mix into their feed. The chickens go bonkers when they discover the “surprise snacks”!
See also  How to Make Alfalfa Meal for Chickens

How Much Butternut Squash Skin Can Chickens Eat?

Alright folks, say your chickens polished off an entire giant squash peel in one day. Now little Betsy is strutting around looking for more and you’re wondering – can they really eat that much squash skin without getting sick? Well let me tell you…

It’s fine for chickens to eat as much butternut squash skin as they want. Seriously! Turns out this veggie peel is so naturally low in fat and calories that chickens could fill up on a pile of the stuff daily and be just fine. Their built-in appetite control will kick in once their nutrient needs are met.

I asked our local poultry expert Farmer Frank about it to make sure. He said that unlike us humans who easily overeat, chickens instinctively self-regulate food intake based on their nutritional requirements at the time. I guess that old tale of Betsy eating till she pops is just a myth!

Butternut squash skin is so high in nutrients and low in calories that chickens could eat mounds of the stuff without adverse effects. Frank said the only real risk is if pieces are too large or they eat so much it impacts digestion. But their full crops signal when it’s time to stop. Amazing creatures, chickens!

Do Chickens Like All Winter Squash Skins?

So my chickens go crazy over those butternut skins every time. But what about other winter squash peels – will chickens eat those too?

Well turns out chickens enjoy the skins of pretty much all winter squash varieties! I decided to test this out. Last week we had pumpkin pie, acorn squash soup and spaghetti squash entrees. I saved all the skins and peels to see if my flock liked them as much as butternut.

The next morning I tossed the mix of peelings right into the coop and those ladies swarmed so fast you’d think they were on fire! They ripped into those skins with gusto, vigorously scratching and pecking away. Within an hour that pile was demolished and my chickens were still scrounging around hoping for more.

Based on this informal experiment, I can definitively say chickens enjoy pumpkin, acorn and spaghetti squash skins just as much as butternut. So feel free to share any and all winter squash leftovers – the chickens will be quite pleased! Just watch your fingers when you toss them in or you might get pecked in the frenzy.

See also  Can Chickens Safely Snack on Guinea Pig Poop?

Can Chickens Eat Raw Squash Skins from the Garden?

Every year we’ve got a bumper crop of winter squash thriving out in the garden. Often a few get overlooked and end up growing massive. By fall I find myself staring down some mutant squash bigger than our Labrador!

So this year I decided why let those forgotten giants go to waste? I figured I’d lop one open and share the huge peel and seeds straight from the source with my chickens. But then I wondered – is it safe for chickens to eat a raw squash skin fresh from the vine?

Turns out the answer is a resounding yes! Chickens can safely feast on the skin of uncooked squash freshly harvested from the garden. Their hardy digestion can handle strong plant compounds like cucurbitacins that might disturb human tummies.

I asked our local agriculture inspector Betty about it since she raises chickens too. She confirmed that chickens have no issue consuming fresh, raw squash skins straight off the vine. The skins might even retain more nutrients undisrupted by cooking heat and processing!

Can Chickens Eat Squash Skin from Decorative Varieties?

Well folks, Halloween’s over but we’ve still got those big, shiny orange pumpkin decorations lining our front porch. Once Thanksgiving passes, I’ll be tossing the faux gourds into the chicken run as enrichment toys!

Just kidding – even I know not to feed fake plastic decor to the chickens! But it did make me wonder…what about ornamental squash grown specifically for decoration that aren’t actually edible for people?

I did some digging and found out that most types of ornamental squash have tough, bitter flesh. But the skins tend to be just as healthy and palatable for chickens as edible varieties!

Many decorative squash plants like Turk’s Turban and Knox Pumpkins are close cousins to nutritional powerhouses like butternut. So while humans can’t eat the stringy insides, the outer peel is perfectly chicken-safe according to experts.

Who knew my spooky front porch makings still had use once Halloween passes! Maybe Boo and the gang will enjoy pecking apart those swirly, bumpy rinds after all. Into the pen they’ll go once Aunt Linda’s visit is over!

how to raise chickens for eggs book pdf

Get Crackin’ on Your Own Egg Empire

Do you crave the rich golden yolks and thick whites that only come from the freshest eggs?

After nearly a decade running my own egg empire and mastering the art of keeping chickens, I’ve stuffed all my insider secrets into the aptly named “How to Raise Chickens for Eggs”.

how to raise chickens for eggs book pdf

Get Crackin’ on Your Own Egg Empire

Do you crave the rich golden yolks and thick whites that only come from the freshest eggs?

Dream of a waddling flock of feathered friends in your own backyard?

Then stop dreaming and start hatching a plan, people!

This ain’t no chicken game. After nearly a decade running my own egg empire and mastering the art of keeping chickens, I’ve stuffed all my insider secrets into the aptly named “How to Raise Chickens for Eggs”.

I’m talking building a palace of a coop guaranteed to impress the neighbors, concocting feed for peak egg production, collecting eggs so perfect you’ll weep tears of joy – plus hilarious stories and accidental mishaps along the way.

So get cluckin’ and grab the key to creating your own morning egg paradise before I sell out!