When considering what chickens can and cannot eat, keep in mind that chickens don’t digest the same as humans. Nor can they digest the same amount of food. Chickens have much smaller stomachs than humans. Can chickens eat strawberries? They sure can eat strawberries but not too much of them.
Meanwhile, it’s always important to balance their food intake. Fruits and vegetables are great, and they enjoy them, but they should be balanced with grain and bugs.
Love for Fruits and Veggies
Chickens actually really like eating fruits and vegetables. Variation in a chicken’s feeding habits can affect the mental health of your chickens. In fact, they can affect the mood of your chickens by reducing stress and stress-related conditions such as feather picking. Plus, the strawberries have nutrients that are essential to your chickens.
Chickens will eat almost everything and anything. Here are some fruits they love!
Apples: They can eat these raw or as applesauce without the seeds because they contain cyanide.
Bananas: Chickens will not eat the peel, but they love the flesh of the fruit which is high in potassium and makes a yummy treat.
Berries: Berries are delicious to chickens, and they are perfect bite-sized snacks.
Pears: Pears make a great treat. However, these might be good cut in small pieces. Pears can be pretty hard.
Peaches: This fruit is soft and perfect for the beak of a chicken. Just watch out for the seed in the center which can hurt their beaks, and they won’t eat them.
Again, it’s all about balance. They cannot eat high quantities of sugary and salty foods because their digestive systems don’t have the metabolic ability to metabolize sugary fruits like strawberries in large quantities. Not only can’t they metabolize it, but overfeeding can become a habit that’ll lead to unhealthy chickens. So, don’t overfeed them strawberries, and you should be fine! How often can chickens have strawberries? Limit consumption to 10% of their food intake in strawberries, or it will negatively affect production of eggs which leads to the production of less and lower quality eggs.
What forms of strawberries can chickens eat then?
Let’s take a look at the strawberry. First of all, it’s not a berry. A strawberry is a thick part of the stem where the flower and organs are located. They’re called receptacles. The actual fruit of the strawberry, believe it or not, are the little dark dots called achenes on the red fleshy part on the outside of the strawberry. Each one of those achenes are an ovary protecting a seed. The green strawberry tops that look like a little hat are the calyx, and they originally protect the blossoming bud and receptacle.
Strawberries are part of the rose family. This is important because this family is known for producing hydrogen cyanide which will kill you and your chickens. In strawberries, hydrogen cyanide is actually expelled from the leaves as a deterrent to pests. This includes the stems. The cyanide does fade over time and dry leaves/stems can be used as tea.
Rarely has death been the result of eating strawberry leaves or strawberry stalks, but consuming the calyxes could cause digestive problems like diarrhea. In chickens, and most farm animals in general, diarrhea is very serious and almost always leads to death without immediate care.
Aside from the natural risk in eating strawberry leaves, consider the pesticides and insecticides they’re typically doused in. If you grow organically or get these plants from a natural or organic grower, the leaves and stems should be ok for consumption in moderation. However, you’ll get more than diarrhea from eating leaves and stem doused in pesticides and insecticides. So will your chickens.
Not convinced? In 2015, strawberries were labeled as one of the most pesticide-contaminated fruits and vegetables as number 4 of 12 on that list. According to the Safer Chemicals, one strawberry has 13 different pesticides. Among these are methyl bromide, chloropicrin, and Telone (1,3-D). All are linked to developmental issues, cancer, and hormonal disruption. The worst is the fumigant methyl iodide which the EPA banned in 2012 but is still used by the farmers with whatever remaining stocks.
Birds are very susceptible to health problems induced by pesticides. So, it makes sense to keep them away from these pesticides. The best way to do this is to feed them natural or organic-grown strawberries. Wild strawberries are great, but you don’t know what they’ve been exposed to. If you have no choice but the standard strawberries, the best option is not to get them at all or to wash them well and even soak them before feeding them to your chickens. Also, keep in mind that if you plan on eating these chickens or using their eggs, you probably don’t want to consume a sick chicken or its eggs. You will get sick.
Chickens are fantastic animals and will eat almost anything you give them. Yes, chickens can eat strawberries, but be educated and weary about what parts you’re feeding them and where they’ve come from!
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