It can be fun to feed your chickens anything and everything you think they’d like. Sometimes we want to give them plenty of treats that may not actually be good for them. It can be fun: chuck in the leftover over-sweet birthday cake from your kid’s birthday party and see what happens.
Even better, if you grow plants, it’s fun to throw in produce and see how they respond. Besides, it’s enjoyable to see them chasing after the one lucky chicken who grabbed the grape. As you watch them run around, you may ask yourself: can chickens eat grapes, strawberries, blueberries, or some other sweet food? You surely don’t want to be feeding them something they shouldn’t be eating. Let’s take a look at what they can and cannot eat and why!
Fruits your chickens can eat
Chickens make great garbage disposals. They’ll eat almost anything you give them, especially fruit. Berries are perfect for these animals because they’re soft enough to eat with their beaks and bite-sized enough like blueberries that they can eat in one bite.
Plus, the chickens love them because they like to eat what’s healthy for them. Berries are so full of vitamins and super tasty. They have vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, and even beta-carotene.
So what’s the issue with berries? There seems to be an internet debate over whether or not chickens can eat berries, but there is no reason to say they cannot. At least, not from my research or experience. The question should really be “what are the berry plants treated with?” Pesticides used to treat these berry plants are in-fact toxic to the chickens. Then, there are issues of certain compounds within the fruits that cannot be eaten in large quantities, safely.
Can chickens eat grapes?
As it has already been established, yes, they can eat grapes. Homesteaders get this question all the time. Visitors don’t often know what is safe and not safe to feed your livestock. But, keep in mind that chickens aren’t necessarily supposed to eat grapes. It’s a treat that should be given in moderation. Chickens get spoiled too where they’ll refuse to eat the normal feed if you keep feeding them the tasty stuff like grapes.
Also, chickens have beaks, so they don’t chew food. They tear it then throw into their gullet. Theoretically, they can choke on grapes which would lead to their death. So, you can cut up the grapes to help them out.
Animals aren’t like people. They don’t know when to stop eating. So, if you keep them eating sugary grapes, they’re going to get a lot of stomach issues. Stomach issues in chickens and most livestock lead to certain death. They typically bloat first before meeting their end.
Can chickens eat grapes with seeds? Yes! But, it’s highly recommended against. Try growing seedless so your birds cannot hurt their beaks or choke.
Can chickens eat blueberries?
Of all the small fruit mentioned here, blueberries are perhaps the best of the options. They’re small, so the chickens won’t choke. Plus, they absolutely love to eat them. The question following “can chickens eat ‘fill in the blank’ ” is often “will they eat the larvae in them without a problem?”
Yes and yes! Chickens love bugs. A bug in a berry is like two treats in one for them. The larvae will never survive in their stomachs because of the high pH.
Again, don’t make this their staple food because blueberries are high in sugars, and the chickens will take preference to the berries over their food.
What not to feed your chickens
Sometimes the best way to find what your chickens CAN eat is to find out what your chickens CANNOT eat. Here are some foods to keep away from chickens.
Apples. Apple seeds have arsenic. It’s a small quantity, but the more the seeds are consumed, the closer the chickens get to the lethal dose. They have to eat a lot to reach the lethal dose but don’t risk it. Give them apples sparingly.
Citrus Fruits. Some say not to give chickens citrus fruits. Others say that it’s fine. Very few studies have evidence of the former. However, a few studies have found citrus fruits to contain limonene which is actually a toxic compound for chickens. Just like apple seeds, it’s toxic in large quantities. However, it won’t kill the chickens. In fact, limonene is only in the citrus peel (which they generally don’t eat anyway), and it makes the eggshells thinner. Besides, my chickens have never wanted to eat citrus fruits anyway.
Chocolate and Candy. Just don’t do it. It’s toxic to dogs because of the compound theobromine and is thought to be toxic to poultry, as well. Plus, it’s not good for them anyway.
Green Potato Skins. You shouldn’t eat green potato skins. So, neither should your chickens. They contain solanine which is a toxic substance. Cooked, it’s ok. However, why go through the hassle?
Dry Beans. Cooked beans are great! However, dried beans have hemagglutinin which is well known for being very bad for chickens.
Junk food. Highly processed food isn’t good for you or your chickens. Chemicals, sugar, sodium, etc. are all terrible for your and their health.
Moldy or Rotten Food. If you won’t eat it, they won’t eat it. Plus, it’ll make them sick if they do eat it.
Chickens will eat everything and anything perishable that’s not cardboard, paper, or leathery like peels. Grapes, blueberries, and other fruits make great treats and your chickens will appreciate them! However, don’t make it their main diet. Watch for seeds. Have fun watching your chickens chase after one another for berries!
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Last modified: November 9, 2017