We are all familiar with the phrase “you are what you eat.” However, how does this apply to chickens?
Can Chickens Eat Tomatoes? Yes.
First off, chickens can in fact eat tomatoes.
But wait! There are caveats.
Chickens need to be given cooked tomatoes
The reason for this is that there are certain substances in raw tomatoes that can cause an upset stomach and diarrhea.
Since chicken’s digestive systems are much more sensitive than ours, it would only take a little bit of these harmful substances to make them sick or worse. And secondly, if you plan on feeding your hens tomato plants (which have the same effect as the fruit), then they cannot eat any part of the plant above ground level.
Any leaves or stems will not hurt their digestion but any fruits will still give them diarrhea. It may seem counter-intuitive to withhold food from animals who oftentimes use all parts of what they eat anyway…but trust us!
Ripe tomatoes are usually OK, yoo
In addition to cooked tomatoes, juicy red tomatoes are usually fine for chickens to eat.
However, they must be left out in the sun and allowed to ripen on their own before your hens can enjoy them. If you just give a chicken unripe tomatoes (or even green tomatoes), it will most likely get very sick or possibly die from eating such an acidic substance.
Canned tomatoes are (typically) both ripe and cooked, which is why you can feed your chickens canned tomatoes.
However, this must be done carefully because many brands of canned tomatoes are packed with salt and other preservatives that may not agree with them at all.
So, read the label on cans before giving it to your hens so as to ensure they won’t get sick. If you can find a can of diced or crushed, with no additives, it could be a great treat for your birds!
Don’t Feed Chickens Too Many Tomatoes, either!
Since they can eat tomatoes, it would be a good idea to add some in so that your birds have a more varied diet.
It’s not vital, but if you’re like us and grow way too many tomato plants. So many, it’s like they’re an invasive species! If that’s you, you’ll have plenty to share with your hens and roosters
But just remember: Too many of them will cause an upset stomach and diarrhea! Chickens also cannot eat green tomatoes either.
The reason behind this is the same as why cooked tomatoes are fine but raw ones aren’t—no matter if they’re on plants or not. Green fruits produce tomatine which has similar effects to plain tomato seeds/flesh when eaten by chickens; it’s toxic for hens!