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Where we’re from it seems like you can’t go 10 feet without running into a wild blackberry bush. We’re not complaining though. They’re delicious, convenient, and a healthy snack…for us. But, if we can get to them, so can our chickens. That got us wondering can chickens eat blackberries or are all of these berry bushes a disaster waiting to happen?
Wanna know what we found out? Scroll down a little and find out!
Can Chickens Eat Raspberries?
Yes, chickens can eat raspberries! In fact, they absolutely love eating them. Raspberries, when combined with a good balanced regular diet, can be an excellent treat that is also beneficial to your entire chicken flock’s health and wellbeing.
Are raspberries safe for chickens?
Yes, for the most part, raspberries are safe for chickens to eat. However, they do contain xylitol, part of what gives raspberries their sweet flavor and a substance used in many artificial sweeteners, which can be toxic to chickens and other birds and lead to hypoglycemia, pancreas failure, and liver failure.
What about the seeds and leaves?
The calyx, which is the leafy green sprout on top of the berry, is often treated with pesticides and much harder to wash off. It’s best to remove them completely and/or purchase from a pesticide free vendor. Or grow your own but keep your chickens away as they will destroy the plant trying to eat it.
The other leaves of the raspberry plant carry some of the same risks as they are also treated the same. Additionally, it has been said that raspberry leaves can alter the flavor of eggs, as well.
It would be near impossible to remove the thousands of seeds from a single berry let alone a whole batch of them. Fortunately, raspberry seeds are not at all dangerous for your chickens so you can put away the microscope and tweezers for now.
What are the nutritional benefits of raspberries for chickens?
The table below from the USDA’s FoodData Center has a breakdown of the nutritional analysis based on a serving size of 1 cup (123g) of raw raspberries:
|Fiber, total dietary||8||g|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid||32.2||mg|
|Vitamin A, IU||40.6||IU|
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)||1.07||mg|
|Vitamin K (phylloquinone)||9.59||µg|
What do these nutrients do?
Vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients are essential to living a long and healthy life. Here is a short description of what some of these nutrients in raspberries do to help your chickens.
- Vitamin A: eye, skin, respiratory, and digestive health
- Antioxidants: (Beta Carotene, Lycopene) repair damage from free radicals, fight off/prevent future damage, protect from oxidative damage, anti-inflammatory, lower blood pressure, improve heart health in high enough doses, development and health of tissue, skin, and feathers
- Vitamin B6: healthy blood vessels, eye/vision health, nervous system, immune system
- Carotene, Beta (Beta Carotene): egg, feathers, skin, beak, and comb color; converts to Vitamin A
- Vitamin C: joint, cellular, and immune health; collagen synthesis
- Calcium: bones and egg shell strength
- Carbohydrates: give chickens energy
- Copper: helps digestion and elevates the immune system
- Vitamin E: immune system support, cell regeneration
- Fiber: only small amounts or they can become constipated, get a blockage, etc; energy, growth, and digestive health, reduce cholesterol, controls blood sugar, digestive health
- Iron: prevents anemia
- Vitamin K: blood clotting, bone metabolism
- Manganese: bone development, immune system, breaks down carbs, cholesterol, and amino acids; controls blood sugar
- Magnesium: bone development, cellular metabolism
- Phosphorus: egg quality and skeletal development
- Potassium: temperature control; hydration & electrolyte regulation, metabolism; heart health/heart disease preventative
- Protein: muscle growth and development
- Sodium: helps with growth by assisting with energy and appetite
- Zinc: assists in the formation of their feathers
How do you feed chickens raspberries?
If you have your own raspberry bush where your chickens can get to it, they will take care of this for you. You may not like the results but they will definitely handle feeding themselves. However, if you would like to keep your berry bushes intact AND give your chickens a sweet snack, you can try some of these methods.
And remember, no matter which way you choose, make sure to wash them prior to feeding. Even if you got them from a pesticide free grower, you never know if someone is just pulling your leg.
This method is super simple. Just scatter them around in an area you don’t mind chickens scratching through. Make sure you spread them far enough apart that they do not end up fighting and so you can keep a good eye on how many raspberries each chicken is eating.
Try freezing some raspberries, blueberries, cherries, and blackberries, and then hang them all on a piece of fishing line together. Your chickens will not only love their berry medley snack but they will also enjoy chasing the string around as it swings when pecked. This easy to make DIY chicken toy will play double duty as a treat supplement and entertainment (for you and the chickens).
How many raspberries can I feed my chickens?
It’s best to only feed each chicken between 1 and 3 raspberries. We tend to stick to the 90/10 rule which states that 90% of your chickens’ diet should be what they catch free ranging and from a quality chicken feed. The other 10% can be various other snacks and treats like raspberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, rice, or even popcorn and peanuts!
How often can I feed my chickens raspberries?
With a well balanced diet, we like to give our chickens raspberries and other special treats 3 or 4 times a week. This seems to be often enough to keep them happy and not too often that they start to develop health problems.