Can Chickens Eat Citrus Fruits?

By Chicken Pets on
Can Chickens Eat Citrus Fruits?

No, chickens should not eat citrus fruits. Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits contain high amounts of citric acid and strong essential oils that can be off-putting to chickens and potentially disrupt their digestive system. The acidity may reduce the pH of the chicken’s crop, leading to digestive upset. Additionally, the strong smell and taste of citrus are typically unappealing to chickens, and consumption may lead to a decrease in egg production.

Quick Summary

  • Chickens should not eat citrus fruits.
  • Citrus fruits contain citric acid and strong essential oils that can disrupt a chicken’s digestion.
  • Risks include digestive upset and potentially decreased egg production.
  • It’s recommended to avoid feeding citrus fruits to chickens altogether.

Overview of Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits are juicy, tangy fruits known for their vibrant colors and refreshing taste. They are a rich source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, and beneficial plant compounds. Common varieties include oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit. While nutritious for humans, the high citric acid content and essential oils in these fruits make them unsuitable for chickens.

Benefits and Risks of Citrus Fruits for Chickens

While citrus fruits are packed with nutrients beneficial to humans, such as vitamin C, these benefits do not translate well to chickens. For chickens, the risks outweigh any potential benefits. The citric acid can upset their digestion, and the strong smell can deter them from eating. Additionally, some chicken owners report a decrease in egg-laying when chickens consume citrus fruits.

Feeding Guidelines

Given the potential risks, it is recommended to avoid feeding citrus fruits to chickens entirely. If chickens accidentally consume a small amount of citrus, monitor them for any changes in behavior or egg production and provide them with plenty of fresh water and their regular diet to help mitigate any adverse effects.


For chicken owners looking to provide a fruit treat, there are many safer and healthier alternatives to citrus fruits. Apples (without seeds), berries, melon, and bananas make suitable options, loaded with vitamins and more likely to be enjoyed by your flock.

Expert Opinions

Poultry nutritionists and veterinarians typically recommend against feeding citrus to chickens. Research on the effects is limited, but anecdotal evidence suggests that citrus fruits can disrupt a chicken’s digestive health and egg production. Experts advise sticking with more traditional treats that align with a chicken’s natural dietary preferences.

Frequently Asked Questions

After learning about the relationship between chickens and citrus fruits, some common questions might arise regarding their diet and health.

Can chickens eat oranges or other citrus peels?

No, chickens should also avoid citrus peels along with the flesh of the fruit itself, as the peels contain concentrated essential oils and citric acid which can be even more potent and harmful to chickens.

What should I do if my chicken eats citrus fruit?

If a chicken eats citrus fruit, monitor for any digestive issues or a drop in egg production. Provide fresh water and return to their normal diet to help clear their system. Consult a veterinarian if you observe any health concerns.

Are there any circumstances where chickens can have citrus?

There are generally no circumstances under which citrus is recommended for chickens. The potential risks to their health, and the chance of a negative impact on egg-laying, make it advisable to avoid offering citrus entirely.

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