Why are citrus fruits bad for chickens?

PattJ

In the Brooder
Feb 13, 2016
26
5
44
I have read many posts on here about poisonous or otherwise prohibited foods, but other than one mention that citrus makes eggs taste funny, and another that it interferes with calcium absorption, I can't find any really definitive explanation of why citrus is bad. Is ANY citrus bad, or are certain fruits or quantities allowable or absolutely not allowed? Before reading this I would give my hens an occasional clementine that had gotten too mushy to eat. I'd halve it and just set in in their run. It never lasted more than an hour (I have about 15 birds, usually). Nothing would be left but a well-picked peel, which I'd remove. Is this practice acceptable or not?
 

KaylorFarms

Crowing
Apr 3, 2017
3,805
1,937
342
Oklahoma
I don't believe citrus is bad for chickens. I know someone who gives their chickens a grapefruit every week and eat it down to the peel. They just can't have it that often
 

Mace Gill

Songster
May 26, 2017
591
890
186
New Jersey
I don't think it's bad for them, but they don't need it. Most creatures produce their own vitamin C, humans and other primates do not, so we need C, which it easy to get from citrus. My chickens don't even like it ... maybe the citric acid is too much for them.
 

PattJ

In the Brooder
Feb 13, 2016
26
5
44
Thanks so much for your responses everyone! I figured they didn't NEED it, but they love it so much, I just wanted to know I was OK with it as an occaisional treat. I hadn't seen any adverse effects, but didn't want some hidden problem to affect them later.
 

sherahart

Chirping
Dec 16, 2015
33
25
92
Florida panhandle
Reviving an old thread because there is no wisdom in withholding citrus from chickens. In fact, it's good for them, even the peels. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260795890_Effect_of_feeding_citrus_peel_extracts_on_growth_performance_serum_components_and_intestinal_morphology_of_broilers_exposed_to_high_ambient_temperature_during_the_finisher_phase

See other studies in the references.

Since reading research about health benefits of essential oils, I have been making a health drink for my chickens with several EOs including oregano, thyme, rosemary, turmeric, lemongrass, tea tree, clove, and citrus. The recipe fluctuates according to need. When I ferment feed, I always add citrus. I put the peels in a blender first. Note that different citrus fruits have different essential oil content not only according to variety but also climate.
 

Weetamoo93

Chirping
May 11, 2020
102
167
73
South Mississippi
I've been throwing my chickens the overripe oranges from a neighbor's navel orange tree. Really, I throw them near everything I put in my compost and they eat what they want and turn the remainder into the litter. They've picked at the oranges here and there when it suits them, maybe to get at the bugs they attract as well.

I'd be more choosy about what I throw in, but considering they have access to my compost whenever they free range, I decided there wasn't a point in worrying.
 

Red-Stars-in-RI

Songster
Mar 24, 2014
884
1,800
236
Rhode Island
I have a similar approach as @Weetamoo93 - compost in the run, so whatever citrus waste exists is in there..the hens pick at it some but it’s not a favorite.

I’m amazed how much the “citrus is bad” thing gets repeated here. There’s a lot of simply untrue information that gets repeated here on a daily basis...the “backyard chickens dogma” if you will.

Maybe it’s the dearth of research data available, maybe it’s the lack of reliable info on the internet, maybe it just “sounds right”...but I think we could use some stickied threads with some myth-busting links, maybe?

Because apple seeds and potatoes aren’t toxic to your flock, no matter how often you say it. :D
 

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