Can Chickens Eat Oranges?

chicken, rooster, hen

Quick Answer:- Can Chickens Eat Oranges?

Yes, chickens can eat oranges, but they typically prefer not to due to the fruit’s strong acidity and citrus flavour. It’s also important to note that too much vitamin C, which oranges are rich in, might lead to unusual behaviours or outcomes in chickens. Therefore, if you choose to feed your chickens oranges, do so in moderation and monitor their reaction.

Are Oranges Harmful To Chickens?

While oranges aren’t inherently harmful to chickens, their strong citrus flavour and acidity can often deter chickens from eating them. Some chicken keepers also believe that the high vitamin C content in oranges can cause unusual behaviours or adverse outcomes in their flock, such as self-plucking or the production of thin-shelled eggs, though these effects are generally seen only with excessive consumption.

The acid in oranges and other citrus fruits is also believed to potentially disrupt the balance of bacteria within a chicken’s digestive system, particularly in the crop. This concern stems from the idea that the acidity could kill off beneficial bacteria along with any harmful strains. However, this theory remains the subject of debate among poultry enthusiasts.

In conclusion, while oranges aren’t toxic to chickens, they should be offered sparingly and under careful observation due to potential for upsetting their digestive balance and causing unexpected behaviours. Always remember that any form of table scraps or treats should make up no more than 10% of your chickens’ overall diet. The rest should be a balanced poultry feed that provides all the nutrients your birds need for optimal health.

brown hen sat on eggs

Is There Any Risks Of Feeding Oranges To Chickens?

Chickens, much like any living creatures, require a balanced and nutritious diet to thrive. While a diverse diet can provide a variety of essential nutrients, it’s important to consider potential risks before introducing new foods to your flock. Even seemingly harmless foods like oranges can present certain risks if not fed in moderation. Here are some potential hazards:

  1. Acidic Content: The high acid content in oranges might disrupt the delicate balance of a chicken’s gut flora, potentially leading to digestive issues.
  2. Excessive Vitamin C: Some poultry owners have reported unusual behaviours, such as feather plucking, in chickens after consuming foods rich in vitamin C, like oranges. However, there is limited scientific evidence to support this observation.
  3. Thin-shelled eggs: There are anecdotal reports of chickens producing thin-shelled eggs after consuming high amounts of vitamin C.
  4. Potential for Choking: Large pieces of orange peel or pulp could pose a choking hazard if not properly chopped before feeding.
  5. Preference: Chickens are known to dislike the taste of oranges. Continuously offering them foods they do not prefer may reduce their overall food intake.
  6. Potential Allergies: Though rare, some chickens might have an allergic reaction to citrus fruits like oranges.
  7. Pesticide Exposure: If the oranges are not organically grown, there’s a risk of pesticide residue, which could be harmful to your flock.
  8. Fermentation: Oranges left in the coop for too long could ferment, posing a potential health risk.
  9. Nutrient Imbalance: Feeding too much of any single food can lead to nutrient imbalances. It’s essential to maintain a varied diet.
  10. Attracting Pests: Leftover oranges in the chicken coop can attract pests like rats or insects, which could introduce disease to your flock.

While oranges are not toxic to chickens, the potential risks mentioned above warrant careful consideration. Remember, moderation is key when introducing new foods into your chickens’ diet. As with any changes to their diet, observe your flock for any changes in behaviour or health after feeding them oranges. If any adverse reactions are observed, it would be wise to consult with a vet or a poultry expert.

Are Oranges A Good Source Of Nutrition For Chickens?

Introducing a variety of foods to your chickens’ diet can contribute to their overall health by providing a range of nutrients. Among such foods, oranges have an interesting nutritional profile that may be beneficial to chickens in moderation. Let’s dive into the key nutrients found in oranges and discuss how they might benefit our feathered friends.

NutrientBenefit for Chickens
Vitamin CWhile not a necessary supplement in a chicken’s diet (as chickens can produce their own Vitamin C), it can support their immune system, particularly during periods of stress.
FiberFiber aids in digestion and helps maintain a healthy gut. It can keep the digestive tract of chickens functioning smoothly.
PotassiumThis vital mineral helps in nerve function and muscle control.
Folate (Vitamin B9)Folate plays a crucial role in the formation of genetic material and protein synthesis. It’s particularly important for laying hens as it supports the development of embryos in the eggs.
Thiamine (Vitamin B1)Thiamine is involved in carbohydrate metabolism and plays a vital role in nerve function.
Vitamin AVitamin A is important for the overall health and vitality of chickens. It is crucial for good vision, growth, reproduction, and the health of epithelial cells.
CalciumThough oranges are not a significant source, they do contain some calcium which is essential for eggshell formation in laying hens.

It’s worth noting that while oranges offer some nutritional benefits, they should not replace a balanced, specially formulated chicken feed. Oranges can serve as a supplement, adding variety and extra nutrients to your chickens’ diet. Always remember to introduce new foods in moderation and observe your chickens for any changes in their behaviour or health.

Free range chicken

Types of Oranges For Chickens

In the UK, several types of oranges are available and each offers its own unique nutritional benefits. Here are some of the most common types that could be offered to chickens, always in moderation.

  1. Navel Oranges: One of the most popular orange varieties worldwide, navel oranges are sweet and excellent for fresh consumption. They’re seedless, which can be advantageous when feeding chickens.
  2. Valencia Oranges: Known as the classic orange, Valencias are sweet, juicy and full of seeds. These oranges could be a good choice for your chickens due to their rich taste and high juice content.
  3. Seville Oranges: This variety is famously used in the UK for making marmalade. Seville oranges are more bitter than other varieties. They might not be the first choice for chickens due to their sour taste, but some chickens might still show interest.
  4. Blood Oranges: Distinguished by their vibrant red interior, blood oranges have a unique flavour profile – sweet yet a little bit tart. This variety could add a novel taste experience for your chickens.

Remember, while chickens can technically eat all these types of oranges, their individual tastes may vary. Some chickens may enjoy one type over another. Always introduce new foods slowly and monitor your chickens for any adverse reactions. Do keep in mind that despite their nutritional content, oranges should only make up a small portion of a chicken’s diet and should never replace a balanced, high-quality poultry feed.

Do Chickens Like Oranges?

Chickens, just like people, have individual tastes and preferences when it comes to food. While some chickens may show interest in oranges and even enjoy pecking at them, others may show little to no interest at all.

As a general rule, chickens seem less enthusiastic about citrus fruits compared to other fruits like apples, berries, or melons. The strong, tangy flavour of oranges might not appeal to them, and chickens may also find the texture of the peel and membranes unappetizing.

However, it’s worth noting that there can always be exceptions. You might come across a chicken or two in your flock who show a surprising fondness for oranges! The key is to offer oranges in moderation, as an occasional treat, and always observe your chickens’ reactions when introducing any new food into their diet.

Remember, each chicken is unique. If they enjoy oranges and consume them without adverse effects, it’s perfectly fine to continue offering this fruit as part of their varied diet.

Little chicken

Can Chickens Eat The Peels Of Oranges?

While orange peels are not toxic to chickens, they may not be the best treat for them due to several factors.

Firstly, chickens generally do not like the strong, bitter taste of orange peels and they are also quite tough, making them difficult to peck and digest. Secondly, the peels of oranges often contain higher concentrations of oils and compounds that can upset a chicken’s digestive system if consumed in large amounts.

Additionally, if the oranges were not organically grown, the peels could have pesticide residues that can be harmful to chickens. Therefore, if you do choose to offer your chickens orange peels, it is essential to thoroughly wash them first.

If you decide to give your chickens orange peels, monitor their behaviour closely. If the peels remain untouched or your chickens show signs of distress, remove the peels and opt for a different treat instead. It’s important to remember that oranges, including their peels, should only be an occasional treat, not a main part of a chicken’s diet. As always, balance and moderation are key when it comes to feeding your flock.

How Should You Serve Them Oranges?

Feeding chickens oranges should be done in moderation and with careful consideration. Here are a few steps you can follow:

  1. Choose Organic Oranges: When possible, opt for organic oranges. This will help ensure that your chickens are not consuming harmful pesticides or chemicals that can sometimes be present on the skin of non-organic fruits.
  2. Wash the Oranges: Before feeding oranges to your chickens, make sure to wash the fruit thoroughly to remove any dirt or potential chemical residue.
  3. Cut the Oranges Into Small Pieces: Chickens will have a hard time pecking at a whole orange. Cut the fruit into small, manageable pieces that the chickens can easily consume. Remove any seeds as they can be a choking hazard.
  4. Mix with Their Regular Feed: If your chickens are hesitant to try the oranges, you can mix the pieces into their regular feed. This can help them get used to the taste and texture of the fruit.
  5. Monitor Your Chickens: Keep an eye on your chickens as they eat the oranges. If you notice any negative reactions, such as diarrhoea or decreased egg production, it might be best to stop feeding them oranges and consult with a veterinarian.

Remember, while oranges can provide some nutritional benefits to chickens, they should not replace a balanced diet. Commercial chicken feed should remain the primary source of nutrition for your flock. The oranges, like any treat, should complement their diet and not be the main component.

How Much Oranges Can Chickens Eat?

Feeding chickens oranges should be viewed as a treat rather than a primary food source. Chickens have a varied diet and rely on a balance of grains, proteins, fruits, and vegetables to stay healthy. Oranges can be a part of this diet, but should not dominate it.

When it comes to how much oranges a chicken can eat, it’s best to err on the side of caution. If you’re introducing oranges to your chickens for the first time, start with a small amount. Monitor their reactions and adjust the serving size accordingly. A few small pieces of oranges per chicken, a few times a week should be enough.

Remember, oranges are high in sugars and can be acidic. Too much can potentially cause digestive issues, such as diarrhoea. Moreover, too much citrus can alter the pH balance in their crop, leading to potential digestive issues.

As a rule of thumb, treats and scraps, including fruits like oranges, should make up no more than 10% of your chickens’ diet. The majority of their diet should come from a high-quality poultry feed, which is specially formulated to provide them with the nutrients they need.

It’s also essential to provide plenty of fresh, clean water for your chickens, especially when offering them juicy treats like oranges, to help them digest properly.

Always keep an eye on your flock when introducing new foods to their diet. If you notice any changes in their behaviour or health, it’s best to remove that food and consult with a veterinarian.

bunch of chickens

So, Can Chickens Eat Oranges?

In summary, yes, chickens can eat oranges. They are a safe treat that can be a part of a balanced and varied diet for chickens. Oranges provide a host of nutrients including vitamin C, antioxidants, and flavonoids, all of which contribute to the overall health of your chickens.

However, it’s important to remember that chickens generally aren’t as attracted to oranges or other citrus fruits as they are to other types of fruits and treats. They might peck at it out of curiosity, but don’t be surprised if they leave most of it uneaten.

The peels of oranges are also safe for chickens, although most chickens will ignore them due to their bitter taste and tough texture. If you decide to feed your chickens orange peels, make sure they are clean and free from any pesticides or other chemicals.

When feeding oranges, moderation is key. Too much can potentially lead to issues such as an upset digestive system due to their high acid content or a disturbance in their nutritional balance due to high sugar levels. Treats, including oranges, should make up no more than 10% of your chickens’ diet.

Feeding chickens is not just about ensuring they eat, but it’s also about offering a variety of foods that are beneficial to their health. Oranges can be part of this varied diet, but always observe your flock when introducing new foods. If you see any signs of distress or illness, remove the food and consult a veterinarian.

So, while oranges aren’t the first choice for most chickens, they can still be a healthy occasional treat as part of a varied and balanced diet.

What Should Their Main Diet Consist Of?

The diet of chickens should primarily focus on a balanced nutritional intake to ensure their overall health and wellbeing. Here is a list of key elements that should be incorporated into their diet:

  1. Commercial Poultry Feed: This should form the bulk, approximately 90%, of your chickens’ diet. It’s specifically formulated to provide the correct balance of nutrients, including proteins, carbohydrates, and essential vitamins and minerals.
  2. Fruits and Vegetables: Chickens can enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables as part of their diet. These provide additional nutrients and can be a source of enrichment for them. For example, as highlighted in this Can Chickens Eat Asparagus article, asparagus can be a beneficial addition to their diet when offered in moderation.
  3. Grains: Scratch grains, such as corn, oats, and barley, are a favourite treat of chickens. They love to scratch and peck at these grains. However, grains should be provided in limited quantities as they can disrupt the balance of nutrients if overfed.
  4. Fresh, Clean Water: It is crucial to provide chickens with a constant supply of fresh, clean water. They can drink up to a pint of water a day or even more in hot weather or during their laying period.
  5. Grit: If your chickens have access to the outdoors, they’ll usually find enough grit (small rocks and pebbles) for digestion on their own. If not, or if you’re not sure, you should provide grit as a supplement.
  6. Calcium Supplements: Laying hens need additional calcium to produce eggshells. This can be provided by offering oyster shells or crushed eggshells in a separate dish.

Remember, treats, including fruits, vegetables, and grains, should make up no more than 10% of their diet to ensure a balanced intake of nutrients. The remaining diet should come from high-quality poultry feed. If you are looking to keep chickens as pets then you should read this RSPCA article:-

Where Can You Buy Chickens Food?

Buying food for your chickens has become increasingly convenient thanks to a number of reliable online retailers. Here are a few you may consider:

  1. Omlet: A UK-based company that provides a wide range of poultry feed. They stock everything from layer pellets to treat selections for your chickens.
  2. Pets at Home: Known for a comprehensive range of pet supplies, Pets at Home also carries a selection of chicken feed and supplements.
  3. Amazon UK: With its vast selection of sellers, Amazon UK can be a good place to compare prices and read reviews of various chicken feeds.
  4. Farm and Pet Place: They offer a range of poultry feeds, supplements, and health products.
  5. Little Peckers: Specialising in bird supplies, Little Peckers offers a great selection of poultry feeds and health supplements.

Remember to check the nutritional information and reviews before making a purchase to ensure the quality and suitability of the feed for your chickens. It’s also important to buy feed that is fresh and from a reputable source to ensure your chickens stay healthy and well-fed.

brown hen on green grass during daytime

What Food Should You Avoid Giving Them?

While chickens have a diverse diet, there are certain foods and drinks that should be avoided as they can be harmful or detrimental to their health. Here is a table outlining some common items to steer clear of when feeding your chickens, along with reasons why they should be avoided:

Food or DrinkWhy They Shouldn’t Have It
ChocolateContains theobromine and caffeine, which are toxic to chickens and can lead to serious health issues.
AvocadoContains a substance called persin, which can be toxic to chickens and may cause respiratory distress and heart failure.
Onions and GarlicCan cause anemia in chickens and damage their red blood cells, leading to weakness and other health problems.
Raw PotatoContains solanine, a toxic compound that can cause digestive issues and damage to the nervous system.
Highly Processed FoodsFoods high in salt, sugar, and artificial additives can be detrimental to a chicken’s health and lead to obesity and other complications.
Moldy or Spoiled FoodsConsumption of moldy or spoiled foods can lead to digestive upset, illness, and potential toxic effects on the chickens.
Caffeinated DrinksBeverages like coffee, tea, or energy drinks contain caffeine, which is harmful to chickens and can affect their cardiovascular system.
AlcoholAlcohol is toxic to chickens and can lead to severe health issues, including organ damage and even death.
Green Potatoes or Tomato LeavesContains solanine, which can be toxic to chickens and may cause digestive problems and nervous system issues.
Citrus Fruits (in excess)While oranges can be given in moderation, excessive amounts of citrus fruits can disrupt the balance of a chicken’s digestive system.

It’s important to note that this list is not exhaustive, and there may be other foods that should be avoided. As a responsible chicken owner, always research and consult reliable sources to ensure the safety of the foods you provide to your chickens.

Remember, maintaining a balanced and appropriate diet for your chickens is essential for their health and wellbeing. Providing them with a high-quality poultry feed and a variety of suitable treats in moderation will help ensure they receive the necessary nutrients without any potential harm.

If you suspect that your chickens have ingested something harmful or are experiencing any health issues, it’s best to seek advice from a veterinarian with experience in poultry care.


In conclusion, while oranges are safe for chickens to eat, they may not be their preferred food choice. Chickens generally have varying tastes and preferences when it comes to different types of food, and oranges are no exception. Some chickens may show interest in oranges and enjoy pecking at them, while others may ignore them altogether.

It’s important to note that oranges should be given to chickens in moderation and as part of a balanced diet. They can be a source of certain nutrients like vitamin C, antioxidants, and flavonoids, but they should not replace the main components of a chicken’s diet, such as commercial poultry feed. Oranges should be considered as treats or occasional additions to their regular feed.


RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). 2023. “Chickens.” [online] Available at: [Accessed 28th May 2023].

Omlet. 2023. “Chicken Care Guide.” [online] Available at: [Accessed 28th May 2023].

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