Can Chickens Eat Tomatoes? Here’s What You Should Know

can chickens eat tomatoes
Can chickens eat tomatoes? This is question that a lot of chicken owners ask.

Can Chickens Eat Tomatoes?

We have done some research on the question ‘Can chickens eat tomatoes’ and Yes, chickens can safely eat ripe tomatoes.

Whether they are cooked or raw your chickens will enjoy pecking at and eating tomatoes.  Although the answer to the question is yes, there are also some things you should know before going ahead and giving them tomatoes as part of their diet. 

If you have chickens you will already know that they love to eat just about anything and everything in sight. Nothing they have access to is safe from their curious beaks. 

Read on to find out more about feeding your chickens tomatoes. 

What this article covers

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Are tomatoes a good food for chickens to eat?

Whether cooked or raw, tomatoes are full of vitamins and nutrients. They are full of antioxidants, fiber and potassium, as well as vitamins C, K and B9. So yes, as far as nutrition goes they are a good food to form part of your chickens diet. 

Incorporating nutrient-dense foods like tomatoes into their diet can also allow your chickens to maintain a healthy weight and well functioning immune system. 

Nutrition Profile of Tomatoes 

Serving Size: 1 tomato

  • Calories—18
  • Water—95%
  • Protein—0.9 g
  • Sugar – 2.6 g
  • Fiber – 1.2 g
  • Fat – 0.2 g

Vitamins & Minerals

  • Vitamin A—20%
  • Vitamin C—28%
  • Calcium—1%
  • Iron—1%
  • Vitamin B6—5%
  • Magnesium—3%
can chickens eat tomatoes
When given in moderation, ripe tomatoes can form a healthy part of your chickens diet.

Are there any negative effects from chickens eating tomatoes?

Egg quality 

Feeding your hens too many tomatoes can arguably have a positive impact on their egg quality. Due to the high volume of nutrients found in tomatoes and according to this study and this study, increased tomato consumption can affect the concentrations of vitamin A, lipid peroxidation and yolk carotenoids. The study also concluded that heavy supplementation with tomatoes increases their egg production and egg weight.

Unripe tomatoes

While tomatoes are safe for your chicken’s consumption when ripe, their unripe state contains the compound solanine which can be harmful. 

Solanine is a glycoalkaloid poison that protects the plant from animals and insects eating the plant matter. Because its very bitter most animals and insects instinctively know to avoid it entirely.

It’s also important to be aware that both the leaves and stems of the tomato are part of the nightshade family and contain the same toxic substance. 

Tomato plants

Tomato plants are also a no-no for your chickens to be pecking at and eating. Like the stems and leaves of the fruit, the plants themselves also contain solanine.

Symptoms of solanine toxicity may include:

  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Diarrhoea
  • Neurological issues
Tomato plants contain solanine in their stems and leaves which can be toxic to chickens.

How often should chickens eat tomatoes?

You can feed tomatoes to your chickens once or twice per week. About a quarter to half a tomato per chicken is fine. 

Remember to give any food to your chickens in moderation. Too much of any one type of food is not good for your chickens.

How should tomatoes be prepared for chickens to eat?

If you have some tomatoes in your kitchen scraps you would like to give to your chickens, the best way to prepare the tomato is to cut it into very small pieces. You can buy great vegetable choppers such as this one that chop up the tomatoes into tiny pieces and with ease. This allows you to easily quantify the amounts being given and also makes it easier for the chickens to eat the tomato. This is the vegetable chopper we use at our place, it’s super simple to use and saves lots of time cutting the vegetable and fruit scraps into tiny pieces. 

In Summary…

So by now you have learnt that chickens can indeed eat tomatoes. However, they should only be eating the ripe tomatoes and none of the plant material as it may result in toxicity. You will also want to ensure that they eat tomatoes in moderation. Tomatoes should always only form one part of a healthy, balanced diet. Ensure they are also getting a high quality chicken feed included in their daily diet such as this one we give to our own girls. 

Chicken Care Shopping List

Are you looking for a shopping list of everything you need when caring for your precious flock? We have put together an easy reference of items for your convenience. 

Wanting to know if chickens can eat whole corn? Read on here!

References

Tomato and egg study – https://www.researchgate.net/publication/234041582_Tomato_powder_in_laying_hen_diets_Effects_on_concentrations_of_yolk_carotenoids_and_lipid_peroxidation 

Tomatoes and antioxidants in eggs – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32909460/ 

Solanine – https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/solanine

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AUTHOR

The team at My Chicken Guide are chicken enthusiasts! We grew up tending to our family chickens and still maintain our passion for chicken care to this day! Our head writer is a qualified Environmental Scientist and our team has over 20 years experience in raising and caring for chickens.