Unlocking the Mystery: Can Chickens Safely Consume Apple Seeds?

Article Summary

  • Apple seeds contain amygdalin, which breaks down into highly toxic hydrogen cyanide when ingested, leading to poisoning.
  • Each apple seed contains around 0.7mg of cyanide, and the lethal oral dose for chickens is 2-4mg per kg of body weight.
  • Chickens can detoxify small amounts of cyanide, so a few apple seeds are generally not harmful.

Apples are a tasty and healthy treat for chickens. But what about the seeds inside? Can chickens eat apple seeds safely? This article explores the potential risks and benefits of feeding apple seeds to chickens.

Why is Apple Seed Bad for Chickens?

Apple seeds contain a compound called amygdalin. When ingested, amygdalin breaks down into hydrogen cyanide, which is highly toxic. Cyanide prevents cells from using oxygen properly, leading to poisoning.

While a few apple seeds likely won’t harm a chicken, larger amounts could potentially be fatal. Apple seeds contain around 0.7mg of cyanide per seed. The lethal oral dose of cyanide for chickens is 2-4mg per kg of body weight. So a 2kg chicken could die from eating just 5-11 apple seeds.


Consuming crushed or chewed seeds releases more cyanide than swallowing whole seeds. So it’s best to remove seeds from apple treats for chickens.

What Happens if My Chicken Eats Apple Seeds?

If a chicken eats a small amount of apple seeds, it will likely show no ill effects. The chicken’s body can detoxify low doses of cyanide.

Consuming many seeds may cause signs of cyanide poisoning including:

  • Gasping, trouble breathing
  • Lethargy, weakness
  • Paleness in comb and wattle
  • Falling over, tremors, seizures

In severe cases, cyanide poisoning leads to death from respiratory failure. Immediate vet care is essential for survival. But even with treatment, the prognosis is poor once clinical signs appear.

The good news is occasional apple seeds pose little risk. But chickens should never have unlimited access to whole apples where they may eat many seeds.

How Many Apple Seeds Will Kill a Chicken?

The exact number of apple seeds it takes to kill a chicken depends on the bird’s size and other factors. As a general guideline:

  • 5-10 seeds could poison a small 1-2kg chicken
  • 10-20 seeds could poison an average 3-4kg chicken
  • Over 20 seeds could kill a large 5kg+ chicken

Again, the danger comes from the cyanide inside apple seeds. A fatal oral dose is 2-4mg cyanide per kg body weight.

To stay on the safe side, try to limit chickens to no more than 1-2 apple seeds per day. Never allow free access to buckets of discarded apple peels and cores, which could provide a toxic dose.

With reasonable precautions, it’s fine to share apple treats occasionally. Just be diligent about removing the seeds first.

In Conclusion

Apple seeds contain a small amount of cyanide, which can be poisonous to chickens if consumed in large quantities. But occasional apple seeds will not harm chickens. Still, it’s best to remove seeds before feeding apples. Monitor your flock to ensure they don’t have access to large amounts. With common sense precautions, you can safely share apple treats and other seeds with your chickens.

Frequently Asked Questions

What seeds can chickens not eat?

Chickens should avoid certain seeds, including those from apples, cherries, peaches, and apricots. These seeds contain cyanide compounds, which can be harmful to chickens if consumed in large quantities. It’s best to provide seeds in moderation and without the pits.

Can chickens eat apple skins and cores?

Yes, chickens can eat apple skins and cores. These parts of the apple are safe for chickens and contain additional nutrients. However, as with any treat, moderation is key. Remove any seeds as they can be toxic, and make sure the apples are fresh and free from pesticides.

Can chickens have apples every day?

While apples are a healthy treat for chickens, they should not be given every day. Like any treat, apples should be part of a varied and balanced diet. Excessive consumption may lead to an imbalance in their nutritional intake. Limit treats and prioritize their regular feed for optimal health.

Is applesauce good for chickens?

Yes, applesauce can be a treat for chickens in moderation. Ensure that the applesauce is unsweetened and does not contain any additives harmful to chickens. It can be a convenient way to provide the flavor of apples, but like whole apples, it should not replace their regular feed. Use it as an occasional treat to maintain a well-balanced diet for your chickens.