Can Chickens Eat Pumpkin Seeds?

Chickens eating pumpkin seeds on the ground

Feeding pumpkin seeds to chickens is a great way to diversify the diet of backyard poultry. It’s also a sustainable way to reduce waste and offer more nutrients that can contribute positively to the health of your flock. 

But of course, just like other treats, feeding pumpkin seeds can have certain risks. In this guide, we’ll weigh its pros and cons to help you decide whether it’s a worthy addition to your chickens’ diet!

Can Chickens Eat Pumpkin Seeds?

Pumpkin seeds up close

Chickens can safely eat raw pumpkin seeds. These seeds are not only safe but also provide a wealth of nutrients beneficial to poultry. They are particularly rich in zinc and magnesium, which are crucial for a chicken’s immune system and bone health. 

Moreover, the seeds are a good source of protein, which is vital for feather growth and overall health.

However, moderation is key when feeding chickens pumpkin seeds. Despite their health benefits, these seeds should not replace a chicken’s primary diet. 

They are best used as a supplement to ensure the birds receive a balanced diet. Overfeeding pumpkin seeds can lead to nutritional imbalances, affecting the chickens’ health.

Fun Fact: Did you know that feeding chickens a diet with 9% pumpkin seeds makes their eggs healthier and extends their shelf life? 

A fascinating study showed that eggs from hens fed this special diet had higher levels of beneficial fatty acids and lower cholesterol. 

Plus, these eggs stayed fresher longer, both in the fridge and at room temperature, thanks to the antioxidant powers of pumpkin seeds.

Pumpkin Seeds and Natural Deworming in Chickens

Pumpkin seeds can be used as a natural dewormer in chickens, but they aren’t as effective as conventional medications.

A recent study suggests that adding ground pumpkin seeds to the chickens’ diet reduces the counts of Ascaridia spp. and Raillietina spp. worms, while having a marginal effect on Heterakis spp. 

This integration into their feed highlights the potential of pumpkin seeds as a component in natural deworming strategies. 

Additionally, this treatment showed moderate success in reducing the egg output of these worms, which indicates the potential of pumpkin seeds as an alternative anthelmintic.

Despite these promising results, it’s essential to view pumpkin seeds as part of a broader parasite control strategy rather than a standalone solution. 

The study confirms that while pumpkin seeds can contribute to reducing worm infestations, they are not as effective as conventional medications like mebendazole

From my own experience, integrating finely ground pumpkin seeds into my chickens’ daily feed has contributed positively to their health. 

But to complement this, I expanded my approach to include other natural remedies, such as adding garlic cloves to their water and sprinkling diatomaceous earth around their coop and dusting areas. 

This combination seemed to further enhance the flock’s overall health, with the chickens appearing more active and maintaining better weight.

Check out this video further explaining the deworming capabilities of pumpkin seeds:

Pumpkin seeds for chickens. Are they actually a natural dewormer?

Pros and Cons of Feeding Chickens Pumpkin Seeds

As mentioned, introducing pumpkin seeds into a chicken’s diet offers a fun and nutritional way to supplement their regular feed. However, like with any food, there are benefits and drawbacks. 

Here are the pros of adding pumpkin seeds to your chickens’ diet:

  • Rich in Essential Nutrients: Pumpkin seeds provide a significant source of vitamins, minerals, and protein, all of which contribute to the overall health and vitality of chickens.
  • Supports Internal Health: Although not a standalone solution, the cucurbitacin in pumpkin seeds is believed to aid in naturally controlling internal parasites.
  • Encourages Natural Behaviors: The act of pecking and foraging for pumpkin seeds can help reduce boredom and promote physical activity among chickens.

On the flip side, here are the cons of feeding chickens with pumpkin seeds:

  • Incomplete Nutrition: Pumpkin seeds should not replace a chicken’s balanced diet but rather serve as a supplement to ensure they receive all necessary nutrients.
  • Risk of Overindulgence: Feeding too many pumpkin seeds can lead to weight gain and nutritional imbalances, so they should be offered in moderation.
  • Preparation and Safety: Ensuring the pumpkin seeds are clean, untreated, and free from mold or pesticides is crucial to prevent health issues.

In feeding chickens pumpkin seeds, finding the right balance ensures these treats contribute positively to their lifestyle. 

By offering pumpkin seeds in moderation and as part of a varied diet, chicken keepers can enjoy watching their flock benefit from this tasty and nutritious snack.

How to Prepare Pumpkin Seeds for Chickens

Wooden scoop overflowing with pumpkin seeds

Here are a few simple steps you can follow to ensure your chickens enjoy pumpkin seeds in the safest and most beneficial way possible:

Step 1: Select Organic Pumpkins

Choose organic pumpkins to ensure the seeds are free from pesticides and chemicals. Organic seeds are the safest option for your chickens since they minimize the risk of exposure to harmful substances.

Step 2: Clean the Seeds

Remove the seeds from the pumpkin and thoroughly wash them to remove any pulp or residue. This step is important for preventing mold growth and ensuring the seeds are clean and safe for chickens to eat.

Step 3: Dry the Seeds

Spread the seeds on a clean towel or baking sheet and let them air dry completely. This is also needed to prevent mold and make the seeds easier to consume.

Step 4: Offer Seeds in Moderation

Once dried, you can offer the pumpkin seeds to your chickens directly or mix them into their regular feed. Remember that moderation is key to ensuring their diet is balanced and healthy.

How Often Can Chickens Eat Pumpkin Seeds?

Chicken foraging on the ground

Chickens can safely eat pumpkin seeds as a treat a few times a week. It’s important to balance their intake with their overall diet to ensure they get a variety of nutrients. 

Like any treat, pumpkin seeds should not make up more than 10% of a chicken’s total diet. It should be mixed with other nutritious treats like vegetables and grains. 

This variety keeps your chickens healthy and helps maintain their interest in food since it encourages natural foraging behavior.

Nevertheless, you still need to monitor your chicken’s health and adjust their intake of pumpkin seeds as needed. Every flock is different, and what works for one may not work for another.

Can Baby Chicks Eat Pumpkin Seeds?

Baby chicks can safely consume pumpkin seeds, provided the seeds are ground or mashed into fine pieces. This precaution helps prevent choking and ensures the seeds are suitable for their developing digestive systems. 

It’s also essential to start introducing pumpkin seeds in small amounts to monitor how they handle this new food.

Another important thing to note is that these seeds are not meant to overshadow the chick’s primary diet. 

A chick’s main nutrition should come from starter feed, which is specifically formulated to meet the nutritional requirements for optimal growth and health.

Thus, introducing pumpkin seeds should be viewed as an occasional treat rather than a dietary staple.

What Other Parts of the Pumpkin Can Chickens Eat?

Pumpkin seeds spilling onto a wooden surface

Chickens can eat more than just pumpkin seeds; they can safely consume almost every part of the pumpkin, including the flesh, skin, and even the stringy innards. 

This versatility makes pumpkins an excellent food source to introduce into their diet, especially during the harvest season.

Here’s a closer look at each part of a pumpkin that chickens can eat:

  • Pumpkin Flesh: Pumpkin flesh is rich in vitamins A and C, so it provides essential nutrients for vision and immune health. It is also soft and easy for chickens to peck at. 
  • Pumpkin Skin: Though tougher, the skin is edible when cut into smaller pieces. It’s a good source of fiber, which supports digestive health.
  • Stringy Innards: The innards, or “guts,” of the pumpkin are a hit with chickens. They enjoy pecking at these strings, and lucky enough, it aids in natural deworming.

Incorporating these parts of the pumpkin into your chickens’ diet offers them a range of health benefits and helps reduce food waste. 

But do note that when feeding these parts to chickens, you need to ensure they’re fresh and free from mold or decay. 

Scientific References

Achilonu, M. C. et al. Biochemical proximates of pumpkin (Cucurbitaeae spp.) and their beneficial effects on the general well-being of poultry species, Wiley Online Library (2017)

Acorda, J. A. et al. Evaluation of the in vivo efficacy of pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo) seeds against gastrointestinal helminths of chickens, ResearchGate (2019)

Vlaicu, P. A. et al. Effect of dietary pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata) seed meal on layer performance and egg quality characteristics, National Library of Medicine (2022)

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