We have a large berry patch on our homestead. Our chickens free range (and get into the garden and everything else if we aren't careful). That got us wondering can chickens eat blackberries or are all of these berry bushes a disaster waiting to happen?
If you have a good chicken health care routine, you probably also know treats can help keep your chickens happy and healthy. Perhaps you already feed chickens watermelon or other fruits. Before you let them go crazy in your blackberry patch, let's make sure you know if it's safe and if so, how to feed them to your flock. Scroll down a little and find out!
Can Chickens Eat Blackberries?
Yes, chickens can eat blackberries - including the seeds, leaves and plants. In fact, blackberries are packed with essential nutrients like vitamin c, vitamin K and fiber.
The only berries you really want to avoid letting your chickens eat are elderberries and gooseberries. Both of them are can be toxic due to cyanide in certain parts of the berry or plant. Apples also have cyanide, but it is such a small amount that chickens can eat apples.
How do you feed chickens blackberries?
There are several different options when feeding blackberries to your backyard chicken flock. Make sure to follow these tips to ensure they get the healthiest and tastiest treat offering.
- Straight off the bush: If you have a blackberry bushes, you don't really have to do anything. Unless, of course, you want to keep some berries for yourself. If you do, you might want to add a barrier to prevent your chickens from helping themselves to the all-you-can-peck blackberry buffet.
- Homegrown: as long as you didn't use any sprays or pesticides, you can simply pick whatever berries you want to offer to the chickens and toss them to your flock.
- Store-bought: opt for organic where possible, just to avoid pesticides. Either way though, you will want to wash the berries thoroughly before offering them to the chickens.
- Not moldy or rotten: you just want to go through the same steps you would for your own snack. Make sure there are no berries that are rotting or moldy. As a general rule, if you wouldn't eat your food under those conditions you shouldn't feed your animals their food in subpar condition.
- Don't add to their feed: make sure you offer the berries in a separate are from their feed (and definitely not in their feeder). This way they won't get the feed wet and cause any mold or other issues.
- Frozen treat: One thing they really love is when we freeze blackberries (or freeze blueberries, freeze strawberries, freeze raspberries, etc) before bringing them out. The extra cold berries are a fantastic summer cool down treat.
How Many Blackberries Can They Have?
The same rules apply for feeding blackberries as when feeding chickens cherries, feeding chickens cantaloupe or other treats. Even though they are healthy and provide lots of important vitamins and nutrients, you should offer them in moderation.
Make sure you are aware of about how much feed to give each chicken per day. And, then, from there the standard rule of thumb is to offer only up to 10% of the chicken's diet in treats. The remaining diet should be a high quality chicken feed.
Overfeeding chickens, or feeding them the wrong amounts of nutrients can cause a myriad of issues. Obese chickens, for example, can have tons of issues including reduction in egg laying and inflammatory issues.
Need some help keeping your chickens health and care taken care of? Check out the Organized Chicken Keeper for an easy to follow system.
Nutritional benefits of blackberries
As you can see on the table below, blackberries are full of many of the nutrients and vitamins that a chicken needs to live a healthy life. Some key minerals to pay attention to are Vitamin A, Vitamin K and Fiber.
The table below from the USDA's FoodData Center has a breakdown of the nutritional analysis based on a serving size of 1 cup (144g) of raw blackberries:
|Vitamin C||30.2 mg|
|Vitamin B-6||0.043 mg|
|Carotene, beta||184 µg|
|Vitamin A||308 IU|
|Vitamin K||28.5 µg|
- Vitamin A: vitamin A is essential for so many functions from immune system to reproductive and cardiovascular. Vitamin A deficiency for chickens can cause issues like increased sickness and stunted growth. It is good to ensure your chickens have extra vitamin A during times of stress like excess heat. You can feed chickens mango as well if they need even more vitamin A.
- Vitamin C: blackberries are high in vitamin C as well. Vitamin C is also essential for immune function and can help when chickens are stressed. Additionally, it has been shown to have an impact on overall egg laying performance. You can also feed chickens grapes and feed chickens oranges if you are looking to increase their vitamin C.
- Fiber: the high fiber content in blackberries is a great health benefit for chickens. It has impacts on nutrient absorption, overall digestion and so much more within the GI tract. If you let your chickens eat bananas or let your chickens eat asparagus, both of those treats can also up their fiber intake, too.
- Vitamin K: which blackberries are packed full of is important in blood clotting, bone metabolism and other functions. Vitamin K also plays a role in egg laying and has been shown (especially when combined with vitamin A) that it can help increase egg production, eggshell thickness and more.
- Manganese: this mineral is important for a wide variety of functions from eggshell quality, to bone growth to overall growth.
Feeding Chickens Blackberries FAQ
Yes, chickens can eat blackberry leaves (and the whole blackberry bush, actually). They typically are way more excited to eat the fruit, of course. Also, you want to be sure that the bushes haven't been sprayed with pesticides as even in small amounts they can be very dangerous for a chicken.
Yep, chickens can eat blackberry seeds. And, that's great, because who would want to try and de-seed a blackberry?
No, chickens should not eat blackberry jelly or jam. There is too much added sugar which is not healthy for them and is not part of their natural diet.
Yes, chickens can eat wild blackberries. In fact, they would be a part of their natural diet is they were just foraging around on their own.
Yep, chickens can eat unripe blackberries. Though they are not usually as juicy, sweet and tasty as ripe ones.
If you need more help with taking care of your chickens, check out The Organized Chicken Keeper for a complete system for managing their health through keeping their supplies stocked and coop clean.