Can chickens eat strawberries and other berry fruits?
I've fed my chickens the surplus and soft strawberries from my garden each spring and summer, and they have never had any problems. Berries like strawberries are a delicacy for chickens, have some essential nutrients and make the perfect bite-sized snack. They are also brilliant frozen in hot weather as a cooling treat for your chickens.
Berries also make excellent chicken training aids.
Below: A hen eating a berry from the keepers fingers.
Too much of anything is bad for hens and strawberries, as well as all other berry fruits, can be harmful to your chickens in large quantities. If done in moderation and not every day a few strawberries is likely to be beneficial for chickens.
My hens love strawberries, raspberries and all edible berries except blackcurrants. The only berry harvest I seem to get is above the jumping height of my tallest chicken.
I also give my birds the left over pulp from juice making but limit the amount to 1 tablespoon per bird.
How many berries can a chicken have at a time?
You can feed you chickens one or two berries per bird. Treats are meant to be just that and too much of anything is never a good idea.
One strawberry or cherry, 2 blueberries or currants.
Things to remember when feeding berry fruits:
- Scale down your portions to account for the size of your chickens. They only need one two.
- A chicken’s diet should be balanced in a completely different way. Fruit contains sugar which should be limited.
- Do not feed berry fruits every day, mine only get whats left when in season as I grow my own.
- Mouldy feed is toxic to chickens, soft is fine but spoiled is never a good idea.
- Variety in the diet is essential to the happiness and well being of your flock.
- Feed fruit in the mornings as it is easily digested. Evening feeds need to sustain them into the night.
Remember that chickens or poultry of any kind do not digest food in the same way that we do, so what might be a nice treat for us might be harmful to your chickens.
Below: Not too many treats for chickens.
Treats should never be more than 5% of the diet.
Can chickens eat strawberries?
Yes. Strawberries are a favourite treat, at least for my hens. I have spent more time over the years wondering how to keep my chickens off my soft fruit than I have thinking about whether or not it's good for them.
They contain trace elements and vitamins including A, C & B9 as well as being rich in antioxidants. Strawberries contain small quantities of quercetin which is an anti-inflammatory agent.
Below: A good example of what not to feed chickens.
Chickens love strawberries and I have a few hens that will go to great lengths to steal them if they get the chance.
Mine broke into the soft fruit enclosure last year and massacred the strawberry patch. Every single one of them is still alive and never suffered any effects from their afternoon raid. I would say it's alright for them to have.
Can chickens eat wild strawberries?
In my opinion, wild strawberries are much tastier and it is likely the chickens find them the same.
Wild strawberries are great. My chickens discovered the wild strawberries at the base of a hedge on my property and spend ages hunting for the fruits and squabbling over them.
Mine eat the wild strawberries, tops, fruit and entire plant. The same rules apply - no mould,it's not OK to give them overly ripe strawberries they have white fuzz on them.
Can you feed chickens strawberry tops?
This is probably the most common way people feed strawberries to their backyard flock. They give the hens what is left after they have prepared their own food. It is exactly what I do.
Below: Feeding hens berries.
Are parts of strawberry plants poisonous to chickens?
Strawberries are members of the rose family, which also includes peaches, apples, apricots, plums, almonds, pears, cherries, raspberries and roses.
All members of this family produce hydrogen cyanide in very small quantities in the seeds and in some cases the leaves.
Data on the quantity of cyanide in strawberry is not readily available but as I mentioned earlier my flock demolished hundreds of strawberry plants in one afternoon and felt no ill effects.
As a backyard chickens keeper I would say this is something you do not need to worry about. More of a problem in my view is that commercially grown strawberries are one of the most pesticide contaminated fruits on the market, a study in 2015 found 13 different pesticides present in just one berry.
The best way to do this is to feed them homegrown, natural or organically grown strawberries.
Can chickens eat Blueberries?
Yes, chickens can eat all sorts of berries and blueberries are one of their favourites. Packed full of vitamins and minerals, blueberries also contain antioxidants.
Below: Hens chasing blueberries.
Be aware that their poop will turn blue / purple.
They will also eat the bugs and any berries they can reach off the plants. Fly larva won't survive a trip through a hens digestive system so there are some advantages to allowing your hens into the fruit patch.
Can chickens eat Raspberries?
Chickens can and do eat raspberries. I lose all the berries that are within easy chicken reach, every year without fail.
Below: A hen stealing fruit by jumping.
Raspberries are taller and so more fruit may survive but it only takes one chicken to fly up and start and the others will likely follow suite.
Do chickens eat blackberries?
They do eat blackberries. I have bushes all along one edge of my chicken fields and they eat some but really seem more interested in scratching about underneath for insects.
Expect purple poo in blackberry season.
Can chickens eat Cherries:
Yes, without any problems. Cherries are full of minerals and the vitamins A, C, E & K. They also contain choline which is essential for a chicken’s health. Cherries can be fresh or cooked as long as they have no added sugar.
I just throw a handful in the run and let the birds pick over them. It keeps them entertained as well as bring variety to the diet.
Can baby chicks eat berries?
I just fed some strawberries to my chicks that are growing out right now, they went crazy for them. Remember though, always give treats in moderation, not as a food source.
Blue berries might be a bit big for baby chickens to swallow whole so should be cut in half.
Cherries should be left whole as they have to be pecked at which helps entertain the birds.
Also my flock is free range and often come over fallen redcurrants which they happily eat. This includes mother hens and their chicks.
So yes chicks can have the same berry fruit as adult hens just in smaller pieces and quantities.
Can poultry eat Mulberries?
Chickens really like the mulberries that fall from my tree, as do I. They do like variety in their diet.
Below: Chickens raiding a Mulberry tree.
I know for sure chickens eat mulberries. I had free range hens and a huge mulberry tree. They pigged out on fallen mulberries, and left piles of purple pooh everywhere!
Can chickens eat Currants?
My chickens eat the red currants but avoid the black, I was wondering it it was a fruit size issue as the black currants are larger.
The berries are good in small amounts, but as with any fruit, I'd only let them have small quantities. Too many will result in very nasty diarrhoea.
I happened to mention this to a friend of mine who also keep chickens and she said the hens get all of hers every year. So expect your mileage to vary.
Can chickens eat Gooseberries?
This is one would avoid. The leaves are toxic to chickens even in quite small quantities. The gooseberries contain Oxalic acid which can cause stomach ache in humans and maybe more in birds.
My own feeling is this is dependant on the variety and the growing conditions but why take the chance. In human the fruit is diuretic and laxative so my advice on gooseberries and chickens is to keep them well apart from each other.
Can chickens eat Rowan berries or Mountain ash berries?
Chickens can eat the berries from the Rowan tree. Wait till they are fully ripe and scatter a few around for them to find.
Below: Rowan or Mountain ash berries are fine for birds.
Mountain ash are prolific and the fruit is not only safe, but a favourite of many types of birds. They also store well in a garden shed and are easy to preserve and feed all winter.
Since mountain-ash berries hang on well through winter and many birds depend upon them for winter feed.
Can you feed elderberries to chickens?
Elderberry leaves and stalks are poisonous, they contain a strong alkaloid that will kill a bird easily.
The fruit contains a compound that gives birds diarrhoea. This is part of the survival mechanism of the plant and it means the birds poop the seeds everywhere without digesting them. You may have seen the results splatted on your car after birds have been feasting on them.
Feeding your chickens strawberries, or indeed any fruit, is all about balance. It has its benefits and its disadvantages and whether one outweighs the other is entirely down to you. Provided you go easy and feed small quantities of seasonal fruit you Shouldn't have any problems.