Tomato is a vegetable belonging to the nightshade family and is widely considered to be natural medicine. This is due to its vast health benefits. Tomatoes are a rich source of nutrients such as vitamins, potassium and folate; they also contain lycopene which is popular for its extensive health effects. Tomatoes are known to prevent certain types of cancer, cardiovascular and degenerative diseases, improve gene regulation, gap-junction communications, immune functions and hormonal and metabolic pathways. In addition, tomatoes possess strong antioxidant effects.

Can Chickens Eat Tomato?

The ban of using chemical substances on poultry in most countries has led to much agricultural research being focused on finding natural means as substitute. Also, the cost of chicken feed is of great concern to small farmers. Consequently, the agricultural community has opted for the application of tomato extracts in chicken dietary plans in a bid to transfer the same health benefits to poultry. The lycopene, which is a red pigment found in tomatoes acts as an antioxidant thereby improving meat quality and enhancing growth of chickens. In addition, it helps to boost their immune system allowing them some form of resistance to diseases. Also, egg production of chickens with a tomato induced diet tends to be superior to that of other birds. For these reasons, chickens can eat tomatoes. However, they should be added in limited amounts. It is not advisable to rely on them solely as chicken feed. The recommended amount ranges from 5% up to 15%. Though a slight increase does not cause any negative effect to the health or productivity of chickens. Farmers ought to make sure that they strictly follow the recommended limits as excess use can limit productivity.

Tomato feed for layer production

Tomato feed is of the essence in layer production. Tomatoes are popular for improving egg quality, egg yolk as well as the weight of eggs. Chickens can eat tomatoes to improve their productivity. In fact, it has been proven that chickens with a tomato induced diet produce eggs of superior quality. Addition of tomato residue to chicken diets contributes significantly to egg production, composition of nutrients in the eggs and reduced yolk lipid peroxidation. Eggs from tomato fed chickens have an improved yolk colour and higher concentration of minerals such as vitamins compared to those produced by chickens with a tomato free diet, thus are a healthier option. Tomatoes also aid in increasing the weight of egg shells as well as its thickness. For these reasons, chickens can eat tomatoes in order to produce eggs that are larger and healthier compared to those from other birds. The benefits of tomatoes to layer production are partly due to the presence of lycopene that enhances protection against oxidative damage. The result are healthier hens that are much more productive hence increase in profits.

Tomato feed for broiler production

With global consumers and laws frowning upon chemical growth enhancers, farmers are increasingly opting for natural alternatives. Tomatoes possess nutrients that are necessary for effective broiler production, thus have become a significant part of the chicken diet in many areas. Chickens can eat tomatoes in order to boost their metabolism therefore improving appetite. The result are larger chickens that command a higher market price. Furthermore, tomatoes are very useful for burning excess fat in poultry. Fat accumulation is a common problem in poultry; it limits the movement of broiler chickens. Supplementation with dietary vitamin E found in tomatoes helps to reduce fat content. Therefore, as a control measure, chickens can eat tomatoes as they are known to supress the accumulation of excess fat. Moreover, it has been proven that potassium and lycopene found in chicken can reduce levels of cholesterol. Agricultural research has established that tomatoes play a critical role in improving the feed conversation ratio, growth performance as well as the controlling cholesterol content of the meat. It is none the less important to keep in mind that chickens can eat tomatoes, but only according to the specified amounts.

Tomatoes as an immune system boosting agent

Currently, drugs are being used to treat and protect chickens from various illnesses. A number of countries are placing bans on some of these drugs for example antibiotics as they can have negative impact on human health.  For this reason, farmers are seeking alternate ways to protect the flock whilst maintaining productivity. Chickens can eat tomatoes as a means to boost their immune system. Lycopene found in tomatoes is highly famed for preventing a number of fatal disease. In addition, it is also known to boost immune functions. Agricultural research has established that the antioxidant activity of lycopene leads to a rise in white blood cells which is one of the key immune indicators of poultry. As such, it is recommended to add tomato rations to chicken feed. Chickens with a tomato induced diet tend to be more resistant to and are able fight common poultry diseases.

Tomato as an antioxidant agent

Oxidative stress causes health deterioration in chickens. It affects quality of the meat and brings about a decline in productivity. Synthetic oxidants currently being used are known to leave residues that can potentially be harmful to both animal and human health. This issue has been of great concern among farmers and consumers alike. As a result, some farmers have replaced synthetic oxidants with tomatoes and the outcome has been fruitful. Tomatoes contain lycopene which is a strong antioxidant thus can afford protection against oxidative stress. In fact, it has been established by the agricultural community that tomatoes are of the essence in fighting free radicals generated as a consequence of oxidative stress, therefore help protect cells from damage. For this reason, chickens can eat tomatoes to boost their antioxidant agents, provided it is within the recommended limits.

Agricultural research has proven tomatoes to be of the essence in the health and productivity of chicken. Chickens can eat tomatoes to acquire nutrients necessary for improved productivity. Tomatoes are rich in minerals that help boost the immune system; they also aid in increased egg production and in improving the meat quality. Due to these benefits amongst numerous others, most farmers are seeking to replace chemical medicine with natural means, tomatoes being one of the fruits considered. Farmers should take note that tomatoes are added to the dietary plan in accordance with the suggested amounts. They should not be used as a major source of feed. Chickens can eat tomatoes but in limited amounts. Over application of tomatoes to the dietary plan can result in declined productivity and possibly harm the flock.