Blackberries are known to be rich in nutrients like vitamins and minerals, so if you have a flock of chickens, you must wonder, can chickens eat blackberries?
Chickens can eat blackberries. However, blackberries should be offered as treats and should not substitute for the main chicken feed. The number of blackberries you feed your flock must be proportional to their nutritional needs. Finally, do not overfeed chickens with blackberries to avoid causing health-related problems like obesity due to the high sugar content in blackberries.
This article discusses facts on feeding blackberries to chickens, how to feed your chickens blackberries, and the different nutrients the blackberry fruit packs. You’ll also learn alternative treats you can and those you shouldn’t feed your backyard chickens.
Can You Feed Blackberries to Chickens?
Feeding blackberries to chickens in moderation is a good idea. After all, this fruit contains vitamins like E, C, and B that aid fertility and egg production and deliver an overall immune system boost.
Chickens love blackberries. They taste sweet and are soft, so chickens can peck and swallow them easily without worrying about choking.
N.B: A controlled number of blackberries is no danger when treating your flock.
If you have a blackberry shrub in your backyard, however, you need to control the access your chickens have to the blackberry fruits. We recommend installing a fence around the garden where you have the blackberries to avoid your chickens snacking on too many berries or destroying your garden.
Alternatively, you can drop a few blackberries in your chicken coop for the chickens to snack on so they do not need to peck on the ones in your garden.
The critical thing to take away is that while blackberries would not cause harm to your chickens, you should ensure that in feeding the flock, this fruit only remains as treats to the chickens. You cannot and should not try to substitute their actual meals for blackberries.
This is because blackberries do not contain all the nutrients necessary for your chicken’s growth. It would be best to incorporate enough protein and carbohydrates for your chickens to flourish.
Nutritional Value of Blackberries for Your Flock
Blackberries are treats packed with essential nutrients to aid your chicken’s growth. Here is a list of the nutritional value your chicken stands to gain from a blackberry treat.
Blackberries are rich in fiber. In every 100-gram blackberries, you will find an average of 5.3mg of fiber which aids healthy bowel movements of chickens and boosts their gut health, thus ensuring better health overall.
Furthermore, the fiber in blackberries also helps manage a chicken’s blood sugar levels, retain the beneficial bacteria in chickens, and reduce the chicken’s cholesterol levels.
Blackberries have a high calcium level. No wonder every 100 grams of blackberries contains at least 29mg of calcium which helps in the bone development process of chickens, especially the baby chicks.
3. Vitamin B
Vitamin B is one of the many nutrients found in blackberries. This vitamin helps chickens avoid health issues like dermatitis, liver damage, bowed legs, and inflamed cavities.
In addition, blackberry seeds also contain omega-3, which is excellent for producing eggs. These seeds are small and easy to digest, so you do not need to worry about choking hazards.
4. Vitamin K
About 19.8mg of Vitamin K is in every 100 grams of blackberries. Vitamin K is necessary in your chicken’s diet as it helps with blood clotting and functional bone metabolism. A deficiency of this nutrient will lead to your hens’ laying eggs with blood spots.
5. Vitamin C
Vitamin C in blackberries is also high. There are 21mg of vitamin C in every 100 grams of blackberries. This nutrient aids the chickens in forming body parts like feathers, bones, and connective tissue.
It is also essential for absorbing iron, regenerating body parts, and healing wounds the chicken may have sustained.
Here is a nutrient that helps to boost the chicken’s immune system and aids in healthy bone development. Manganese also assists the chicken’s body in breaking down and processing amino acids, carbohydrates, and cholesterol while controlling blood sugar levels.
The Potassium nutrient has one of the highest nutrient levels in blackberries. Its primary function is to help the chicken manage the normal fluid level inside their cells.
Other nutrients in blackberries include carbohydrates, protein, sugar, fat, and magnesium. However, these nutrients differ in how high their quantity is in blackberries. For instance, fat is not very high, which makes it even better since chickens do not need much fat in their diet.
However, the low-fat content does not mean you should feed a lot to your chickens. There are other chicken meals with sugar content, so always treat the chickens in moderation, especially if you plan on breeding hens to produce eggs.
What Else Can You Feed Chickens?
Now that you know that you can feed blackberries to your chickens moderately without worrying about health risks. We’ve put together this section to show you other treats you can incorporate into your chickens apart from their regular feed.
1. Fruits for Chickens
In addition to blackberries, you can feed a variety of fruits to your chickens. Here are other fruits you can provide to your chickens.
Strawberries possess antioxidants that help to boost chicken’s immune system, making them a favorite treatment option. These berries also have quercetin which is an anti-inflammatory property.
This is a safe fruit option for chickens, not only because of its nutrient but because all parts, even the seeds, are edible. So, you do not need to fear any choking hazard when you feed your chickens watermelon.
Here is another great snack option for chickens. You want to chop the apple into smaller pieces so the chickens can peck on them easily. Also, we recommend removing the apple seeds because they can be toxic to the flock.
Rich in vitamins A, B, and C and remains a favorite for chickens. However, you may want to chop grapes into smaller pieces to prevent a choking hazard, as they are bigger than blackberries.
Bananas have many nutrients like potassium, iron, vitamins A and C, and magnesium, making them a healthy snack. The peel is also safe to snack on, but you will find that hens tend not to snack on the peel.
This is also a good fruit for chickens and is rich in vitamins and minerals. However, not all chickens enjoy the flavor, and because its sugar level is high, you should serve it in moderation.
You can feed your chickens only ripe tomatoes as they are rich in fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin K. Green tomatoes are never a good snack for chickens.
This fruit is high in carbohydrates and sugar, so while chickens may be able to eat them, you should serve them in moderation.
Asides from treating your chickens with fresh coconuts, you may also decide to serve it as coconut water or coconut milk, as chickens enjoy this treat in any way.
- Citrus Fruit
Chickens can eat several citrus fruits like lime, oranges, and grapefruit. However, many chickens don’t enjoy this flavor, so don’t be surprised if they don’t peck on it as much as you would have hoped.
Peaches are also an excellent choice for treats and have many nutritional values to chickens. However, this treat’s pit contains cyanide, so if you must feed your chickens this treat, ensure you remove the pits.
2. Vegetables for Chickens
Vegetables are a safe and accessible snack choice for chickens, and below are some of the best options to serve your chickens. Read on to learn how to serve these different veggies to your flock.
Whether you cook or serve the carrots raw, it remains a good treat for chickens. However, chickens often prefer their carrots cooked because it makes them easier to eat. It would be best to avoid canned carrots because they are more salty.
- Blackberry Leaves
Chickens can eat these leaves, but in a situation where the chicken has the chance to pick from eating the leaves or the berries best believe they would go for the berries. Also, you must ensure the leaves are free from toxic chemicals like pesticides before feeding them.
You can feed fresh potatoes to chickens, including sweet potatoes, since they have vital nutrients that help the chicken’s development. Avoid feeding the chickens green potatoes as they contain solanine, particularly poisonous to hens.
Kale is a healthy snack that helps limit the chances of heart disease in chickens as they contain high potassium levels, making them a safe meal for the flock.
Chickens enjoy pecking at lettuce; they can have it since it’s good for them. However, you may want to stay away from iceberg lettuce because it can cause diarrhea which is not worth the value it gives.
This vegetable is preferred to lettuce because it packs more vitamins and minerals, and chickens enjoy it.
3. Other Meals for Chickens
As a chicken keeper, you must know that feeding chickens is not as direct as having only one type of meal for chickens. There are other treats chickens can snack on that don’t have to be a fruit or a vegetable, and here are some of them.
Chickens find it easy to peck on grains, so whether it is regular oatmeal or even sunflower seeds, you should know these treats have enough amino acids and antioxidants that aid your flock’s development.
Chickens enjoy snacking on shrimp; luckily, it is a healthy snack. Ensure you serve plain shrimp without seasoning; your flock will be fine.
NB: Always switch up the treats you offer your chicken. Sometimes offer fruits or veggies only.
What You Should Not Feed Chickens?
As much as chickens can have a variety of meals, there are some treats you should never consider giving your flock because it can cause problems for their immune system or affect their development. Here are some of such meals.
Onions tend to cause anemia and affect the egg flavor. For chicken keepers whose aim is egg production, it is best not to serve your flock with onions as treats, as this may affect your purpose for keeping these chickens.
This treat for chickens is a bad idea because parts of the treat, like the leaves, skin, and pit, have toxic properties that can harm your chickens. While the flesh is edible enough, it is not worth the risk of feeding it to your chickens.
Chicken keepers must not give any product that contains caffeine to chickens. This includes tea, coffee, chocolate (including chocolate cakes), and colas, as they have properties that are harmful to chickens.
Chickens find it hard to digest beans in any form, so it is best that you avoid feeding them this meal altogether.
Pickles are processed treats containing a lot of salt and sugar, making them unsuitable for chickens.
They may not be poisonous to chickens directly. However, they have a high sugar level which can affect the health of your chickens in the long run, so it is best to avoid giving them as treats.
Chickens can enjoy several treatment options, like fruit and vegetables. However, there are some factors to pay attention to when picking a meal for your flock.
- Always consider the nutritional value of the treat
- Always serve treats in moderation
- Serve your chickens based on the nutrient they need at every developmental stage.