Chickens are omnivores, meaning they will eat just about anything. Chickens can get fat quickly and their feathers start to become brittle if you feed them too many leaves. Stick with grubs, insects, worms, seeds, fruits, veggies, and other grains for your chicken’s diet.
Tomato leaves should not be fed to chickens. The high acidity can be harmful to their health if ingested and the leaves contain many toxic compounds that can be dangerous to the chicken if ingested. Tomato leaves are not strong enough to provide the nutrition they need or to be worth the extra time in processing.
Below are some reasons why you should not use tomato leaves for your chicken:
1. The leaves are mostly made up of cellulose. Cellulose is used to make paper. The high fiber content in tomato leaves can be harmful to a chicken if they consume too much.
2. There are many toxic compounds in the leaves such as tomatine, oxalic acid, boron, and carbohydrates that can cause diarrhea and spoilage due to the overgrowth of bacteria in the gut if they are ingested by the bird.
3. There is no nutritional value in a tomato leaf that your chicken could not get from other vegetables or grains.
4. It takes much longer to use tomato leaves as feed because they have to be dried, ground, mixed, and then fed to the chickens in some form.
5. There are better options available for chicken feed than using tomato leaves.
6. The leaves are not dense enough to absorb any moisture, which makes them hard to process. The leaves will just add bulk, and your chickens will have a harder time eating them.
7. Tomato leaves have little nutritional value and they can be dangerous to the health of the chicken if they are overfed. Always avoid feeding the tomato leaves to your flock.
What could happen if I feed my chickens tomato leaves?
Chickens sometimes will eat the leaves of tomatoes that are left on the vines. The small amount of the leaves will probably not be enough to cause any problems in your flock if they do, in fact, eat them.
However, if you notice a decrease in egg production or slower growth rates, then you could have a problem with their diet. Also, if your chickens are very heavy, or don’t seem to want to eat then making a change in their diet could be the reason.
I recommend that you consult a veterinarian well before starting a chicken’s diet with tomatoes. If they ingested too many tomato leaves while under a doctor’s care they may have an upset stomach.
If they ingest lots of tomatoes’ leaves on purpose, they might become ill and won’t be likely to make it through the winter. It is a better idea to use your time and energy making sure that your chickens have enough food and water, rather than trying to change their diet.
Another effect of feeding tomatoes to your chickens is that they get the tomatoes’ yeast fungus, Botrytis Cinerea (also called gray mold) which causes them to have diarrhea.
What are some better options for feeding?
There are many different grains and seeds that will do just fine as a complete protein source for your chickens.
1. Peanuts (Peanut shells) – Peanuts are fine for your chickens if they’re crushed up and mixed with their regular formula.
2. Wheat (Flour) – The wheat will not go bad in the shell so you can just grind it up and feed it to your chickens. This is great because they love it!
3. Corn – You can feed the corn to your chicken in the form of whole corn, or even do a parboiled variety. It’s much easier on them and also won’t add to their bulkiness which makes them have a hard time eating it.
Are there any benefits to feeding tomato leaves?
While it sounds ridiculous, tomato leaves aren’t all bad for chickens. As we have already stated, there isn’t much nutritional value in them. However, a small amount of the leaves may provide some relief from certain medical conditions.
For example, chickens may eat the leaves of tomatoes to help treat a worm or parasite infestation or to help with diarrhea. It takes much longer for them to eat the leaves than it does for them to get rid of the problem without causing further damage.
Note: Always consult with a veterinarian before using tomato leaf as a treatment for your chicken.
There are many other options available to use as chicken feed. Feeding your flock the leaves of tomatoes will not benefit them at all and could pose a danger to their health if they happen to ingest too much.