Can Chickens Eat Green Tomatoes? Is It Safe?

By Paul Smart •  Updated: 08/23/22 •  6 min read

When it comes to feeding chickens, you might think that there’s nothing green about the typical chicken diet. But the truth is that chickens can eat just about anything they want when it comes to food. From fresh greens to fruits and vegetables — and even certain herbs, spices, and seasonings. However, are all fruits and vegetables safe to eat can chickens eat something like green tomatoes?

Green tomatoes are generally not recommended for chickens to eat because they do contain a chemical called solanin which is toxic to chickens. This chemical is the same one that appears in green potatoes as well and makes the fruit unsuitable for chickens to eat.

However, if you have heaps of Green Tomatoes you can actually make them safe by cooking them which will remove the chemical. This is commonly done to create green tomato relish because this chemical is also toxic to humans as well as chickens. 

Will Chickens Eat Red Tomatoes?

Given that the chickens can’t eat green tomatoes safely you may be wondering whether red tomatoes are also ok for them to eat and the answer to this is yes. They can pretty much any type of tomato provided that is ripe which can include things like black cherry tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, and even tomatoes such as green zebra which is an unusual variety that remains green even when ripe.

The key thing is to ensure that the tomato is actually ripe before you feed it to the chickens. You can check this in the case of Green Zebra by simply tasting the tomato to see if it is tasting sweet. If it is it’s ok to feed them the tomatoes.

Can You Feed Chickens The Foliage Of Tomato Plants?

The foliage from tomato plants unfortunately also contains the same toxin as green tomatoes which means that it is generally not recommended that you feed the chickens the leaves of tomato plants as it may cause problems. Though you may be able to get away with giving them a leaf or two you really have to keep it to a minimum to avoid making them sick. So as a general rule I would avoid feeding them the foliage of tomato plants.

Can You Feed Chickens Too Many Red Tomatoes?

The short answer is yes, you can feed your chickens too many red tomatoes. But the long answer is that it’s not advisable to give your birds more than a few per day. One reason why you should avoid giving your hens too many red tomatoes is that they may experience buildups in their digestive tract. Once a buildup becomes large enough, it can cause some serious health problems for your poultry. 

Additionally, it is generally not a great idea to give too much of any one plant to the chickens as they do need to have other what wide variety of vegetables to keep them healthy and happy in your chicken pen at home. 

What Types Of Plants Should Chickens Be Eating?

As mentioned above chicken should ideally be eating a wide range of fruit and vegetables which can include things like leafy greens such as lettuce spinach and other herbs. Additionally, they can also eat a wide range of fruits such as pumpkins and zucchinis, however, the sweeter fruits that we enjoy such as citrus should be kept to a minimum as too much sugar is not great for chickens. 

They can also eat root vegetables such as carrots and potatoes, which are not green as they have the same problem as Green Tomatoes. However, these types of plants need to be shredded through a food processor to make it easy for the chickens to eat as they will have difficulty accessing food otherwise.

So as a general rule you should be giving the chickens food that you would be quite happy to eat yourself as this is the safest way to ensure that it has minimal amounts of toxins present in their food.

Generally, it is best to avoid giving the chickens ornamental plants as many of the common plants we grow actually quite toxic and therefore will kill your chickens if they eat them.  Examples of this includes things like foxgloves, hollyhocks, and Lily of the valley are all extremely toxic.

While it is possible to provide the chickens with the foliage of ornamental plants it is important that you actually no whether the plant is safe to eat. Additionally, as you have seen in this article you can also not assume that the foliage of edible plants is safe. Another example of that is rhubarb which has leaves that are toxic, so unless you are 100% sure the plants are safe don’t feed them to your chickens. 

Can You Feed Chickens Stale Or Moldy Food?

When feeding your chickens, you may be wondering if they can eat moldy food. Generally is not a great idea to provide the chickens with any food that has started to turn as that can potentially cause problems because the bacteria  or mold can be harmful. It is generally a best to feed the chickens food that is as fresh as possible to reduce the chances of problems.

Even providing the chickens with food that is still ok but is well past its best can be problematic because if the chickens do not eat the food relatively soon it can turn while laying around the pen. This can potentially be a source of disease and can also attract rodents which are not ideal for chickens. 


Chickens are not picky eaters and they will eat a range of fruit and vegetables, however, it is generally a good idea to ensure that the food is fresh, ripe, and in good condition before you give it to them. Avoid moldy or stale food as that can cause problems with the chickens. If their food is either overripe or underripe it should be placed in the compost rather than given to chickens.

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Paul Smart