Can Chicken Eat Pumpkin? Is It Safe for Them?


As autumn rolls in and pumpkins start adorning our doorsteps and kitchens, many chicken owners might wonder if their feathered friends can share in the seasonal delight. The question is, can chickens eat pumpkin? And more importantly, is it safe for them? Let’s dive into the facts and dispel the myths surrounding chickens and pumpkins.

The Nutritional Value of Pumpkin for Chickens

Pumpkins, like many fruits and vegetables, offer a wealth of nutrients. For chickens, these nutrients can complement their regular diet, especially when they’re free-ranging and consuming a variety of foods. Pumpkins are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that can be beneficial for poultry.

Vitamin A, which is prevalent in pumpkins, is particularly good for chickens. It helps in improving vision, boosting immunity, and promoting growth. Additionally, the high water content in pumpkins can be refreshing for chickens, especially during hot days. The fiber content aids in digestion and can help ensure that the chickens have a healthy gut.

Pumpkin seeds, which we’ll delve deeper into in the next section, have their own set of nutritional benefits. They’re known to have anti-parasitic properties, which can be a boon for chickens that are prone to internal worms.

Now, let’s break down the nutritional content of pumpkins. Here’s a table that encapsulates the basic nutritional components found in 100 grams of raw pumpkin:

NutrientAmount in 100g of Raw Pumpkin
Calories26 kcal
Protein1 g
Total Fat0.1 g
Carbohydrates6.5 g
Dietary Fiber0.5 g
Sugars2.8 g
Vitamin A8513 IU (170% DV)
Vitamin C9 mg (15% DV)
Calcium21 mg
Iron0.8 mg
Potassium340 mg
Magnesium12 mg

Note: DV refers to Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. The values might vary slightly depending on the pumpkin variety and its maturity.

While pumpkins can provide these nutrients, it’s essential to remember that they should be a supplementary treat for chickens, not a primary food source. Their main diet should still be quality poultry feed to ensure they receive all the necessary nutrients in the right proportions.

Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds: More Than Just a Treat

Pumpkin seeds, often considered a delectable treat not only for humans but also for chickens, come packed with an array of health benefits. When chickens get to peck at these seeds, they aren’t just enjoying a crunchy snack; they’re also ingesting a powerhouse of nutrients and natural remedies. Here’s a closer look at why pumpkin seeds are more than just a treat for our feathered friends:

Natural Wormer: One of the most touted benefits of pumpkin seeds for chickens is their natural deworming property. These seeds contain a compound called cucurbitacin, which has been suggested to paralyze and eliminate certain intestinal worms in various animals. While it’s not a replacement for commercial wormers, feeding pumpkin seeds can be a supplementary measure to combat internal parasites.

Rich in Essential Fatty Acids: Pumpkin seeds are a good source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These essential fats play a role in boosting immunity, reducing inflammation, and promoting overall health.

High in Protein: Protein is vital for chickens, especially for those laying eggs. Pumpkin seeds offer a decent amount of protein, aiding in muscle development, feather growth, and egg production.

Magnesium Boost: Magnesium plays a crucial role in bone development and eggshell formation. Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of this mineral, ensuring that your chickens maintain strong bones and lay eggs with robust shells.

Zinc for Immunity: Pumpkin seeds contain zinc, an essential mineral that plays a significant role in immunity, DNA synthesis, and cell division. A healthy dose of zinc can ensure that your flock remains more resistant to diseases.

Natural Antioxidants: These seeds are rich in antioxidants, including Vitamin E and carotenoids. Antioxidants help combat oxidative stress in chickens, promoting longevity and better health.

Entertainment Value: Beyond the nutritional and health aspects, scattering pumpkin seeds in the coop or run can provide entertainment for chickens. They love to scratch, peck, and forage, and searching for these tasty morsels can keep them engaged and reduce boredom.

While pumpkin seeds are indeed a treat, their nutritional profile and health benefits make them a valuable addition to the diet of backyard chickens.

Possible Concerns: Are There Any Risks?

Pumpkins and their seeds, as with any supplemental food source for chickens, must be approached with a measure of caution. While they are generally safe and nutritious, there are potential concerns to be aware of to ensure the well-being of your flock:

Overconsumption: While pumpkins are nutrient-rich, they shouldn’t replace primary poultry feed. Chickens that consume too much pumpkin might miss out on essential nutrients they get from their primary diet. This can particularly affect egg-laying hens, whose dietary balance is crucial for consistent and healthy egg production.

Mold Growth: Pumpkins, especially when cut open, can quickly become a breeding ground for mold if left out for extended periods. Moldy pumpkin can be toxic to chickens, leading to respiratory issues and other health problems. Always ensure that the pumpkins are fresh and remove any uneaten portions after a day or two.

Potential for Choking: Large chunks of pumpkin or seeds can be a choking hazard for smaller chickens. It’s advisable to break the pumpkin into manageable pieces or mash it to minimize this risk.


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Pesticide Residue: If you’re sourcing pumpkins from commercial farms or stores, they might have been treated with pesticides. Consuming high amounts of pesticide residue can be harmful to chickens. Always opt for organic pumpkins or ensure they are thoroughly washed and cleaned before feeding.

Reliance as a Sole Wormer: While pumpkin seeds have been touted for their natural deworming properties, they shouldn’t be solely relied upon for parasite control. Regular check-ups and professional deworming treatments are essential for maintaining a healthy flock.

Nutritional Imbalance: Feeding too many pumpkin seeds might lead to an imbalance of fats in the diet. This can impact liver health and overall body condition if not monitored.

Digestive Issues: While rare, some chickens might not digest pumpkin well, leading to diarrhea or other gastrointestinal concerns. Always introduce any new food, including pumpkin, gradually and observe for any adverse reactions.

While pumpkins and their seeds can be a healthy and enjoyable treat for chickens, moderation and vigilance are crucial. Observing your flock after introducing them to pumpkin and ensuring they continue to have a balanced diet can mitigate potential risks.

Serving Suggestions: How to Offer Pumpkins to Your Flock

Introducing pumpkins to your flock can be an enjoyable experience for both the chickens and the caretaker. The vibrant orange vegetable not only adds a pop of color to the coop but also promises a nutritional treat for the birds. Here’s how to serve pumpkins to your chickens to ensure they reap the benefits while staying safe and entertained:

  1. Whole Pumpkins: One of the simplest ways is to give a whole small pumpkin to your flock and let them peck their way in. It’s not only a treat but also a form of entertainment as they work their way through the outer layer to reach the inner goodies.
  2. Halved or Quartered: For larger pumpkins or to make it easier for your flock to access the inner flesh and seeds, you can cut the pumpkin in half or quarters. This method exposes the seeds and inner pulp immediately.
  3. Mashed or Pureed: For younger chicks or if you want to ensure easier digestion, consider mashing the pumpkin or creating a puree. This can be mixed with their regular feed for a pumpkin-infused treat.
  4. Dried Pumpkin Seeds: Save and dry the pumpkin seeds. Once dried, they can be scattered in the coop, allowing the chickens to forage. This method is not only a tasty treat but also provides entertainment and stimulates their natural foraging instincts.
  5. Frozen Pumpkin Treat: During hot summer months, consider freezing pumpkin chunks or puree. These can act as a refreshing and hydrating treat for the flock, helping them cool down.
  6. Mix with Other Treats: Combine pumpkin pieces or puree with other chicken-approved treats like grains, fruits, or vegetables. This not only diversifies their treat intake but also ensures they get a mix of nutrients.
  7. Baked or Roasted Pumpkin: While raw pumpkin is excellent, baking or roasting it can bring out a different flavor profile. Ensure no seasonings or additives are used if you choose this method.
  8. Avoid Seasoned or Pie Pumpkins: If you have leftover pumpkins from baking or cooking, ensure they aren’t seasoned, sugared, or contain other additives before offering them to your chickens.
  9. Gut and Gobble: After carving pumpkins for decorations, the scooped-out insides can be given directly to your chickens. They’ll enjoy both the seeds and the stringy pulp.

Always ensure that your chickens continue to eat their regular poultry feed, as it’s specifically formulated to meet all their dietary needs.

Pumpkins and Parasite Prevention: Myth or Reality?

Pumpkins, especially their seeds, have long been associated with natural deworming properties in various animals, including chickens. The seeds contain a compound called cucurbitacin, which is believed to have the ability to paralyze and eliminate certain intestinal worms. But how much of this is myth, and how much is reality?

Scientifically speaking, while cucurbitacin has shown some anthelmintic (anti-parasitic) properties, it’s not as potent as commercial dewormers. That means, while feeding pumpkin seeds might provide some level of protection against parasites, they shouldn’t be relied upon as the primary method of worm control in chickens. Depending solely on pumpkin seeds for deworming can leave your flock vulnerable to a heavier parasite load.

Moreover, the amount of cucurbitacin in pumpkin seeds can vary depending on the pumpkin variety and maturity. This makes it challenging to determine an effective dosage for parasite control.

In traditional and folk medicine, various cultures have used pumpkin seeds as a remedy for worms in both humans and animals. While there’s anecdotal evidence supporting its effectiveness, more rigorous scientific studies are needed to quantify its true impact on parasite prevention in chickens.

While pumpkins and their seeds might offer some assistance in the battle against internal parasites, they are not a replacement for regular veterinary check-ups and proven deworming treatments. It’s always best to consider pumpkin seeds as a supplementary measure rather than a primary solution.

Other Seasonal Foods Safe for Chickens

Chickens, being the opportunistic omnivores they are, can enjoy a variety of seasonal foods that not only offer them a diverse diet but also provide numerous health benefits. Here’s a look at some seasonal foods, apart from pumpkins, that are safe for chickens:


  1. Leafy Greens: Spinach, lettuce, kale, and Swiss chard are packed with vitamins and can be a great addition to a chicken’s diet. These can be hung in the coop or scattered around to encourage natural foraging.
  2. Herbs: Fresh sprigs of parsley, cilantro, and dill can be beneficial for chickens. They contain antioxidants, have anti-parasitic properties, and can improve the yolk color of eggs.
  3. Peas: Freshly shelled peas are a protein-rich treat that chickens love.


  1. Berries: Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are all safe for chickens. They are rich in antioxidants and vitamins.
  2. Cucumbers: A great hydrating treat, cucumbers can be sliced or given whole for the chickens to peck at, helping them cool down during hot days.
  3. Zucchini and Squash: These can be sliced, diced, or given whole, and they provide hydration along with essential nutrients.


  1. Apples: Chickens love pecking at apple slices. However, ensure the seeds are removed, as they contain small amounts of cyanide.
  2. Pears: Another fruit favorite, pears can be given in moderation and should be offered without seeds.
  3. Sweet Potatoes: Raw or cooked, these are packed with vitamins and can be a nutritious treat.


  1. Brassicas: Cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower are great for chickens. Hanging a head of cabbage in the coop can also serve as entertainment on cold days.
  2. Root Vegetables: Carrots, turnips, and beets can be offered raw, cooked, or mashed. They’re a source of essential vitamins and minerals.
  3. Oats: Warm oatmeal can be a comforting treat during chilly mornings, providing both warmth and nutrition.

Chickens’ Natural Dietary Preferences: What Else Can They Eat?

Chickens are naturally omnivorous, which means they’ll eat both plant-based and animal-based foods. Their wild ancestors foraged for a variety of food items, and domestic chickens still retain this versatile dietary preference. When allowed to free-range or given access to a diverse set of foods, chickens can be quite explorative in their eating habits.

Plant-Based Foods

  1. Grains: Chickens love grains like corn, wheat, barley, oats, and rice. Many commercial chicken feeds use these as primary ingredients.
  2. Vegetables: Almost all leafy greens and many common garden veggies are safe for chickens. These include lettuce, spinach, carrots, kale, and more. The greens can be given fresh, wilted, or even as scraps.
  3. Fruits: Chickens can eat most fruits like melons, bananas, berries, and grapes. However, it’s essential to be cautious about seeds in some fruits, like apples, as they can be harmful.
  4. Seeds and Nuts: Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and even flax seeds are enjoyed by chickens. However, nuts should be given in moderation, and it’s best if they are unsalted and not processed.

Animal-Based Foods

  1. Insects: Insects are a natural part of a chicken’s diet. They will actively hunt for worms, beetles, crickets, and even spiders when foraging.
  2. Small Animals: Chickens can sometimes catch and eat small animals like mice or small frogs. It’s a surprising sight for many but is part of their natural predatory instinct.
  3. Meat and Fish: Chickens can eat meat and fish, but it’s important to ensure it’s cooked (to kill pathogens) and free from seasonings or sauces. Meat scraps from your kitchen or canned fish like sardines can be an occasional treat.

Dairy and Others

  1. Eggs: While it may seem odd, chickens can eat eggs. Scrambled or boiled eggs can be a protein-rich treat. However, it’s essential to ensure that the eggs don’t look like they do when laid, to prevent hens from developing the habit of eating their own eggs.
  2. Dairy: Chickens can also consume dairy products like yogurt and milk in moderation. Yogurt, especially, can be beneficial due to the probiotics.

Things to Avoid: Despite their diverse diet, there are things chickens shouldn’t eat. These include avocado (especially the pit and peel), chocolate, caffeine, salty and sugary foods, raw potatoes, and any moldy or spoiled foods.

To Feed or Not to Feed Pumpkins to Chickens?

The debate surrounding feeding pumpkins to chickens stems from a blend of anecdotal experiences, traditional practices, and scientific insights. At its core, pumpkins are nutrient-rich, offering vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can benefit a chicken’s overall health. The flesh is packed with vitamins A and C, while the seeds are known for their potential anthelmintic properties, which means they may help combat certain intestinal parasites.

However, while pumpkins can be a healthy treat, they should not dominate a chicken’s diet. Like all treats, moderation is the key. Overreliance on pumpkins can lead to nutritional imbalances, as chickens might miss out on essential nutrients they typically receive from their primary poultry feed. This is especially crucial for egg-laying hens, where a balanced diet directly impacts their egg production and overall health.

There are also practical concerns. Pumpkins, when left out, can attract pests or become moldy, posing potential health risks. And while the natural deworming properties of pumpkin seeds sound promising, they shouldn’t replace regular and scientifically-proven parasite control measures.

In conclusion, pumpkins can indeed be a delightful and nutritious treat for chickens when introduced correctly. It’s all about balance and ensuring that while our feathery friends enjoy their pumpkin treat, their primary dietary needs are not compromised. So, to feed or not to feed? Feed, but with mindfulness and moderation.


  • Old Man Joe

    Old Man Joe is a hardworking farmer who has spent his entire life tilling the land and tending to his crops. He is deeply passionate about everything related to farming, from the latest tractors and technologies to the simple joy of watching his crops grow. His love for farming is not just a job but a way of life for him.