Picture a beautiful summer day. There’s a gentle breeze and you are comfortably nestled under a shady tree with a bowl of your favorite summertime snack; fresh strawberries. Your chickens are clucking around and you want to share some with them. But, can chickens eat strawberries?
Is it safe for them to enjoy the same snack that you love so much?
Can Chickens Eat Strawberries?
Fortunately, for you and your feathered friends, it is perfectly safe for chickens to eat strawberries. There are a few caveats, but, if you toss some their way, they will probably not have any negative impact.
Parts Of The Strawberry
The green, leafy part on top is called the calyx. The red fleshy part is not actually the fruit. The fruit is technically the tiny seeds speckling the outside of the strawberry.
The chickens can eat any part of the strawberry and it will be fine. However, if you are feeding them conventional/store bought strawberries, be wary of feeding them the calyx.
This part of the strawberry can hold onto any pesticides that were used while it was growing. If the chickens ingest this it can make them sick. If you are growing your own strawberries or buying pesticide free, organic strawberries, you don’t need to worry about this.
Chickens need to have a well balanced diet in order to stay healthy and keep laying reliably. Strawberries, and most forms of vegetation, have their place in this diet. Strawberries, as well as other fruits, do contain a high level of sugar.
Since chickens do not process food and nutrients the same way we do, too much sugar can be bad for them. It is best to keep sugary fruits as snacks and not give them to them everyday. You will also want to limit each bird’s strawberry intake to around one or two berries per feeding.
How To Feed Your Chickens Strawberries
Here are a few of the best practices we have observed with our own flock.
– as we mentioned above, feed in moderation
– avoid giving them strawberries that are moldy
– make sure they have access to grit, either naturally or in supplement form
– avoid feeding them the calyx (ignore if organic/pesticide free)
– feed them strawberries early in the day. They will burn through the sugar quickly. If they eat them before bed, their nutrients may not last them the night
– bonus tip: freeze strawberries and help your chickens cool down in the summertime
Can Baby Chicks Eat Strawberries?
Since chicks are still developing, they are pretty susceptible to problems with any wide swings in nutrition. Since the sugar content is so high, it is possible they can have too much even with a very small amount. So it is best to just keep them on their specially formulated chick feed.
However, IF you do want to give them strawberries, make sure the pieces are cut very small AND they have access to grit. This will help them digest the strawberries more easily. The small pieces is so you can gauge how much each chick is eating and also to avoid any choking hazards.
Quick Guide To Chicken Treats
Strawberries are not the only type of treat you can give your chickens. In fact, you can give them a wide variety of different berries, fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins.
Keep this list handy for the next time you’re wondering, “Can a chicken eat…?”
These berries are similar to strawberries in that they all have a pretty high sugar content. Therefore, you should only feed them in moderation to avoid any ill health effects. Freezing your berries, like blueberries or blackberries, will help slow the pace at which they can be eaten.
– Rowan Berries
– Mountain Ash Berries
Berries To Avoid
While your chickens can eat a wide variety of different types of berries, there are a couple that you will want to avoid. Here are a few that can be toxic to your chickens.
Fruits, just like berries, usually have a high sugar level. Because of this, you will want to take the same level of precaution as you do with strawberries. You will also want to cut most of these fruits into smaller pieces to avoid any potential choking.
– Grapes (not raisins)
– Apples (not the seeds)
Vegetables & Gourdes
Our chickens LOVE when we toss them some of our garden scraps. Both them and the goats have a battle whenever we give them our excess squash (that is when we aren’t freezing our yellow squash or zucchini).
Again, these are all snack ideas and not meant to be meal replacements. Just like we shouldn’t binge on an entire loaf of bread, neither should your chickens. However, while there is not a ton of nutritional value in most grains, they will help your chickens add some extra weight which can keep your chickens warmer during the winter.
Here are a couple of options that are bit more nutritious for your chickens. You can usually find these at your local farm store or you can dig them up on your own.
– Grubs from the garden
– Dried Meal Worms