Chickens aren’t picky eaters and will typically eat anything you put in front of their beaks. However, chickens have complex needs, and like humans, they need proper nutrition to fuel their systems and keep them healthy. Spicy foods aren’t a typical meal for these animals, but believe it or not, these foods sometimes help hens with egg production, deworming, and keeping pests at bay.
Spicy foods don’t hurt chickens. Capsaicin provides the heat to peppers and other spicy foods, but a palette requires a TRPV1 receptor to detect the heat. Chickens don’t have TRPV1 receptors, so spicy foods have no negative impacts on hens.
This article discusses the benefits of feeding spicy foods to chickens and suggests which peppers and spices to offer your birds for maximum health results.
Can Chickens Taste Spicy Food?
Chicken cannot taste the spiciness of spicy foods and may lack the taste acuity for many of the flavors. Chickens lack the taste receptors required to detect heat in spicy foods like hot peppers or hot sauces, so foods that would typically burn humans’ mouths won’t have an affect on chickens.
Chickens lack the TRPV1 taste receptor necessary for detecting capsaicin. Capsaicin is the component that gives spicy foods their heat, and when we consume it, the substance registers as a hot, tingling sensation on our tongues.
Chickens experience nothing of the sort; the absence of the TRPV1 receptor protects the birds’ mouths from the taste and physical response of the heat.
Are Hot Peppers Good for Chickens?
Hot peppers can be good for chickens. The birds enjoy the meat and the seeds of the peppers as a delicious snack, in addition to their regular meals. The birds are drawn to them because the fruit is full of chicken-nourishing nutrients.
With that in mind, peppers can be a nutritious snack for chickens. Peppers are rich with:
- Vitamin A: potent antioxidant, suitable for reproduction and immunity
- Vitamin C: antioxidant, boosts immunity
- Vitamin B6: boosts metabolism
- Vitamin K1: supports healthy bone and kidney function
Benefits of Feeding Spicy Foods to Chickens
Farmers have been adding hot elements to chicken feed for generations. Spicy foods benefit the birds in several natural ways, so much so that a measure of capsaicin is often added to chicken feed. There are three primary reasons to add spicy food to your hen’s diet: deworming properties, more voluminous egg production, and pest control.
Spicy Foods as a Dewormer
Chickens are not the most discriminating eaters. The birds feast on each other’s feces and develop worms in their digestive tracts. These parasites make chickens sick; the birds drop weight, and the worms can infect their eggs.
Capsaicin is a natural dewormer for your hens. Adding a cup of cayenne per twenty-five pounds of chicken feed deworms your chickens naturally.
Spicy Foods to Boost Egg Production
Feeding hens spicy food during the laying season cultivates egg production. Some hens have greater difficulty passing eggs than others, and chili peppers aid the process. Jalapeno peppers are particularly beneficial for hens struggling to lay eggs.
Spicy Foods for Pest Control
Rodents have active TRPV1 receptors, so hot foods burn their mouths. Including capsaicin in chicken feed helps to repel unwanted rodent visitors. Not only do peppers keep pests from chickens’ dinner, but once the birds digest and pass the capsaicin, it remains in the soil and further repels invaders.
Best Spicy Peppers for Your Chickens
Your chickens like every kind of pepper, ranging from milder varieties like bell to the spicier types like habanero. Each pepper has unique health benefits; just make sure your peppers don’t have any green spots on their skin. Green spots indicate a surplus of solanine, a substance that causes illness and death in chickens.
Jalapenos are too hot for many human palates, but your chickens love them. While the heat of the peppers won’t impact your birds, the vitamins keep them healthy and improve egg production. Jalapenos also improve a chicken’s immune system and help prevent worms.
Always make sure the jalapenos you feed your chicken are ripe. The skin of the fruit should be bright red.
In one ounce of chopped jalapenos peppers, you’ll find:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Folate antioxidants
- Dietary Fiber
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
Chili peppers have all the benefits of capsaicin-deworming, increased egg production, and pest repulsion while combating digestive bacteria. Chili peppers boost immunity in your birds and provide them with the following vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin K1
Bell peppers are especially good for baby chickens. You don’t want to take any chances with the health of still-growing chickens. There is no capsaicin in bell peppers, making them the safest bet for chicks. Red bell peppers are the ripest and best choice for little chickens.
Habaneros come in the following colors: yellow, brown, red, purple, and white. Dice them and mix them into the hen’s food. As with other peppers, you should wait until the habaneros are ripe, and never feed your chickens green or unripe habaneros.
Cayenne pepper works as an anti-inflammatory agent in chickens. Mix one teaspoon of cayenne pepper to every one kilogram of chicken feed during the laying season. The pepper increases egg production. Cayenne also helps keep your chickens warm in the winter; the spice improves circulation and combats frostbite.
How to Feed Your Chicken Hot Peppers
Chickens have no teeth, so you need to cut the peppers into small, digestible pieces. Large chunks are difficult for chickens to swallow and may cause them to choke. There are three ways to satisfy your chickens’ pepper cravings, including:
- Diced: Chickens enjoy chunks of raw pepper. Cut the fruit into small, digestible pieces and feed your birds a handful.
- Mixed with other food: Mixing pieces of pepper with feed allows your chickens to get the healthy benefits of the fruit and the nutrients from a proper meal.
- Cut in half: You can cut a pepper in half and give the pieces to the chicken to peck at. The birds eat the seeds and spend hours picking at the fruit.
Chickens particularly love the cores and seeds of peppers and will happily peck away at them all day. You don’t need to core the fruit when you serve it to your birds.
Other Spicy Foods You Can Feed Chickens
Chickens love peppers, and while they’re beneficial to hens, the birds benefit from eating other spicy foods as well. Mixing the following spices into your chicken feed has huge health perks:
- Cinnamon: Cinnamon is anti-inflammatory, anti-infectious, and antibacterial. The spice supports neurological health in hens and improves their respiration.
- Garlic: Garlic improves respiration and naturally deworms chickens. Garlic also reduces the stink of chicken feces.
- Ginger: Ginger motivates egg production and increases the egg size and antioxidant content.
- Turmeric: Turmeric treats baby chicks with wry neck and creates a defense against avian necrotic enteritis. The spice is also anti-inflammatory and antibacterial.
What Not To Feed Your Chickens
Chickens are neither intelligent nor discriminating; they will eat whatever you put in front of them. Make sure you remove the leaves and stems from the peppers. These plant parts are hazardous to chickens; they are rich in solanine. Solanine is dangerous to the birds and can be lethal in large quantities.
Additionally, green spots on peppers indicate an abundance of solanine. A green pepper is not ripened yet; make sure you only feed your birds ripe fruit.
Chickens, like humans, have their own tastes. They may like peppers, but they may not. If they do, offering them some peppers as a treat is perfectly fine and even healthy for them. However, peppers are not meal replacements and should serve as either a snack or a supplement.
Spicy foods won’t impact chickens negatively and, in fact, benefit the birds greatly. Spicy foods and peppers deworm your birds naturally, repel pests, and boost egg production in hens. Make sure you feed the chickens only the safe parts of the pepper, and your hens will thrive.
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- Backyard Farm Life: Can Chickens Eat Chili Peppers? (Plus All The Amazing Benefits)
- NewScientist: Chilli-eating chickens repel bacteria
- Chili Peppers 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Effects