It’s Pumpkin Season for Chickens

Yesterday I put the one and only pumpkin that I was able to grow this year into the Gem’s pen. They know all about pumpkins and went right for it. Today, all that’s left is a shell.



Pumpkins are the perfect treat for your hens. Pumpkin is filling but not fattening and is consumed over the course of the day, not in a fit of gluttony. Pumpkins contain good nutrients, including carotene, which will go right through to the yolk, and which will be good for me, too. My scrambled eggs at breakfast will be bright orange this week. Also, there’s some evidence that pumpkin seeds help to control a chicken’s internal parasites. Even if all of those good things weren’t in the pumpkins, I’d provide one to my flock because it keeps them busy and out out of trouble.

It wasn’t right that the Gems should enjoy pumpkin season and not the hens in the Little Barn. It was time to treat the Literary Ladies. So, as much as I like to rely on my own garden for treats for the hens (and there are plenty of weeds around to feed them) I went out and bought a pumpkin for the Ladies.

You could simply put a whole pumpkin in with your flock, but it’s best to get a hole started. I used an apple corer to poke three holes into the shell. (Or, you can fancy it up, see this post.)

When you first set a pumpkin down, the hens might be wary.



Not to worry, because soon they’ll have it figured out and will start pecking.



Within the first five minutes, all approached to jab at the holes.



Of course, there’s always one in a bunch who would rather look at a camera lens.



Phoebe hopped by with nary a glance. She then glared from her favorite corner at all of the hubbub going on around the pumpkin. She feigned disinterest, but she’ll be gnawing at it tonight while the hens are settling onto their roosts.



It is thanks to the generosity of a few HenCam readers that I purchased five big fat pumpkins today for the flock. I put up the Treat the Hens button and they responded! I would have the animals that I do without my viewers, and the critters would be treated as well as they are now. However, I wouldn’t be able to put the time and the resources into HenCam that I do without your contributions. Your support allows me buy a pumpkin, sit with the hens, and tell you about it. There are posts that take me all morning to write. I am very grateful to be able to do that and to share my world with you. At the rate the Gems are going through pumpkins, I’ll need another eight just for them. Please considering sponsoring a pumpkin. Thanks!


  1. My big hens won’t touch pumpkins – I tried last year. My little bantam pullets love any kind of treat. I am worried though that the pumpkin seeds might be too big for them. Should I scoop them out before I put the pumpkin in the run? A week or so ago I gave them all a handful of cracked corn to snack on. One of the bantams started choking, and then successfully dislodged the offending piece of cracked corn, which came flying out of her beak like a bullet (thank goodness!). Thus my worry. Was this an isolated incident or would you recommend scooping out the seeds (which are rather large).

    • In my experience (limited to smart little Bantam White Leghorns) they know better than to try and down something that will choke them. BUT they have access to a wide variety of foods and so they’re not hungry or bored. No hen can resist corn, even pieces too big. Your hens should be a lot smarter about pumpkin seeds. Personally, I’d put the whole thing out for them. That said, you know your birds best, and you might have one with no commonsense at all.

  2. Every year after Halloween, I gather as many uncut/unpainted pumpkins as I can from whoever will give them to me in addition to saving any I bought or grew. I also stop by on trash day and rescue any I can. I have a high shelf in my coop and I keep them in there and cut off a big hunk every day for the girls. Its warm enough not to freeze, and they last for months, most of the winter, really, if im able to get enough. It is so nutritious for them and super easy to add to their diet. Squashes work the same. I also put all my compostables in their enclosure for them. Grass clippings, leaves, everything from the kitchen (the usual compost rules apply ie no meat, dairy, citrus…) all goes to them and they love digging through it. When it rains, it’s all buggy up underneath and keeps them busy all day scratching around in it and eating all that free protein. AND the best is they turn it into compost soooooo quickly cause they turn it over so much. I figure I’ve got all those little chicken legs needing their daily exercise and they’ve got alllllll day to get it done, so I might as well put them to work! When they’ve got it broken down nicely,I scoop it out and into the garden boxes and start over. I grow them (and me) veggies and they give me a never ending supply of awesome rich compost. It’s the circle of life around here, everybody’s gotta earn their keep :)

  3. Terry, I’ve been wanting to support everything you do for us all because I benefit so much from your posts and fancy live streaming, but I don’t want to use a credit card. Would you email me info so I can contribute in another way?
    Thank you,
    Laura from Cape Cod

  4. My hens also love pumpkins. I usually smash it some to open it up for them, didn’t know they would pick it apart with just a few holes available, might give that a try.

  5. It was your in your blog last year that I learned about giving chickens a pumpkin, Terry. The pumpkin in my chicken yard probably saved my hens’ lives after the big hurricane last year, as all access to our farm was blocked by downed live power lines. It provided food, and the open part caught rainwater, of which there was a-plenty!

  6. Good morning Terry.This is quit a bit off topic.You have such a special way of caring for all your animals that I thought this morning you or your readers may be able to offer me some helpful advice.My dog got skunked! This has never happened before! is there a better alternative than tomato juice.than you so much

    • That’s an emergency! You aren’t going to believe this, but I’ve saved a recipe given out by Mass Vet Referral Hospital. It’s been on my bulletin board – just in case- for years.
      1 Qt 3% hydrogen peroxide
      1/4 cup baking soda
      2 teaspoon dawn liquid dish soap (it has to be dawn.)
      Soak dog’s fur (not yet bathed. dry.) in the mixture. Keep on for 20 minutes. Use a sponge on head and keep out of eyes. Rinse thoroughly with water.
      Good luck!

      • Thank you so much Terry! Appeared Buddy was sprayed once on his left side and right below his left eye.I just compleded his treatment.there’s still a strong but not as strong scent below his eye but I expected that.I can only smell a little now on his side.I also gave him a nice shampoo. I figure i’ll go back and spot treat him a little later.He’s 13 and napping now!!

      • Thank you so much for this recipe, Terry. My dog hasn’t had an incident with a skunk yet, and hopefully never will, but skunks are in the general area here. Now I am prepared.

        • You’re welcome. An emergency vet clinic gives it out. I think that’s probably their #1 call! I’ve been saving it just in case. Luckily, haven’t used it yet.

  7. Buffy does look like she got her toe stuck in an electric socket. Poor old dear. Is molting harder on the chickens as they get older?

    • Yes, it is. I’ve been hand-feeding her sunflower seeds for the protein and the oils. She’s also feeling too skinny, so I’m feeding her a bit of corn, too. Hopefully it will fatten her up a bit.

  8. Is Phoebe a loner? Or does she hop over to you when called? Does she enjoy being petted or snuggled? Or maybe she likes to sit on your lap? She’s such an inquisitive and happy bunnykins.

    • Phoebe enjoys the company of all of the other animals -including us humans. She likes petting, when she’s not too busy for it :)

  9. What is that at the base of the roost in the little barn It is 8:11 AM on Sat AM 05OCT2013. Is it a pumpkin?

    • I cut a pumpkin in half and gave each coop a piece. We’re expecting thunderstorms on and off and so it will help to keep the girls out of trouble when holed up inside.

  10. On my screen it looks like a giant peach. Ha Ha I was wondering where you found a peach that big! Glad to know it is a pumpkin.

  11. My 6 month old Americana hen has not quite cawing or breathing with loud noise but not clucking. Not sure if she is trying to lay an egg? her First? She is strong and alert, shows no signs of respiratory disease. But I can’t figure out what is going on. It is like a very loud snore and has been going on all day. We have her separated and she doesn’t like not being with her flock, kind of panicking. Gave her food and water. Do eggs get stuck? She opens her mouth with this noise some times; otherwise just makes it. She was sleeping making the noise also.

    • note: I’ve contacted Judy privately in order to help her figure out what is going on with her hen. I need more info and there will be a back and forth. I’m happy to help off-topic questions via email.