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We know you absolutely love your chickens and you want them to enjoy life and what they eat. Maybe you even want to spoil them with some tasty treats. That is perfectly fine. But, before you start tossing them whatever you find in your fridge, you should ask, can chickens eat grapes or not?
Can Chickens Eat Grapes?
Yes, chickens can eat grapes. In fact, they will be super psyched if you bring them some to eat. You do want to keep a few things in mind, however, when feeding them.
Are Grapes Safe If Chickens Eat Them?
Generally speaking, yes, grapes are safe and chickens can eat them. However, there are two ways in which they may be hazardous.
The size of a grape can be a hazard for chickens because they can easily choke on them. Much like with human children, grapes are the perfect size to get stuck in a chicken’s throat. Usually, chickens will just peck the grape until they have finished eating it. But if there are less grapes than chickens, they may become frantic and try to eat it before someone can take it.
The best way to prevent this is to cut your grapes into smaller pieces so they are easier to swallow for a chicken.
Can Chickens Eat Raisins?
The second way grapes can be hazardous is not actually in their natural form. Raisins are grapes that have been dried out. So, can chickens eat raisins or are they not?
Unlike whole grapes, which can be a big choking hazard, raisins should be no problem for your birds. The real issue, and we will touch on this more later, is the sugar content. Since raisins are dried, they have less water to balance out the sugar and are thus highly concentrated. Too much sugar is NOT good for your chickens.
If you grow your own or buy organic/pesticide free grapes, you can ignore this. But for regular store bought grapes, you will want to make sure you wash the grapes throughly; just like if you were eating them yourself.
Chickens are really sensitive to any kind of pesticide and ingesting it may make their stomachs feel terrible. You may also want to remove any stems or leaves as those can hold onto pesticides.
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Since we are discussing what is safe for a chicken to eat, we need to cover their nutrition. Chickens require a well balanced diet. If they free range, they get most of what they need from just pecking around and eating what they find.
But if they don’t or they rely mostly on you for their food, you will want to make sure their nutritional intake does not get thrown out of whack. Many fruits and vegetables do offer a wide array of vitamins, nutrients, minerals, and can give some significant health benefits.
The issue with grapes, strawberries, and most fruits really, is they have a high level of fructose, or sugar. A high level of sugar can be detrimental to a chicken if it is either too high or in excess over time.
So, can chickens eat blueberries, raspberries, cherries, and grapes? Yes, but to be safe, it is best to give your chickens fruit treats in moderation and keep track of how much extra stuff they are eating. The fruit is good for them, just not in large quantities.
Parts Of The Grape
The nice part of grapes is chickens can eat any part of them; the fruit, skin, seeds, and stems; assuming there are no pesticides, of course. As we mentioned above, do this in moderation and in appropriate sizes, preferably cut into pieces and not a whole grape) and your chickens will be happy with their treat.
How To Feed Your Chickens Grapes
Here are a few of the best practices we have observed with our own flock.
– your chickens should always have access to grit, either naturally or supplementation
– don’t feed them moldy grapes; or rotten food in general
– try to keep the amount of grapes (or other fruits) to less than 10% of their total balanced diet
– feed grapes early. They will process the sugar quickly. If your chickens eat at night before sleeping, they may not have the nutrients to last overnight and they may feel bad
Can Baby Chickens Eat Grapes?
The same issues that can arise in adult chickens are amplified with baby chicks. It is probably best to not give them any fruit and keep them on their chick feed. However, if you really want to give them grapes, make sure you cut them into very small pieces.
You will also want to make sure each chick only gets a small amount to eat. You do not want to throw off their blood sugar levels unnecessarily. You will also want to give them some sort of supplemental grit so they can more easily digest.
Quick Tips For Chicken Treats
Chickens love all kinds of treats, not just grapes. You can feed them all sorts of different things.
Pretty much any fruit is going to have a significant level of fructose in it. You can safely feed fruit to your chickens, but the same guidelines for grapes apply: cut them into easily swallowed pieces and keep it in moderation.
– Apples (not the seeds)
Vegetables & Gourdes
Vegetables are a little bit better on the sugar front. But you still want to feed veggies in moderation, as well. Our chickens are big fans of pretty much any kind of squash.
– Tomatoes (even though the are technically a fruit)
Berries are so easy for chickens to eat. They are bite sized and really tasty. Berries, like fruit, have a lot of sugar though so you want to keep an eye on how much they are eating.
– Mountain Ash Berries
– Rowan Berries
Berries To Avoid
You want to avoid giving your chickens both elderberries and gooseberries. Both are toxic and can make your chicken very sick or even kill them.
Foods To Avoid Feeding Your Chickens
Here are a few things your chickens should not eat.
– Apple seeds (they contain cyanide and can be lethal)
– citrus peels
– dry beans
– jam, jelly, or preserves (too much sugar!!!)
– raw/green potato peels or skins
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.