As most chicken keepers know, chickens are unfussy omnivores who will happily devour just about anything they can get their beaks on, and many foods contain all kinds of nutritional goodness that can help chickens thrive.
However, there are also some foods that should be avoided since they can make chickens sick, and you may be wondering if raspberries are one of them. So to help you understand the answer, in this post, we look at the question, can chickens eat raspberries?
Can Chickens Eat Raspberries? The short answer
Before we talk in-depth about giving chickens raspberries, let’s start with a simple answer.
Can chickens eat raspberries? Yes, they can, with no problems!
If you have spare raspberries that you want to give to your birds, go ahead – your chickens will not only love them, but they will also receive lots of nutritional benefits since raspberries are an incredibly healthy food for them to eat.
So now having given the short answer, let’s delve into the details of feeding raspberries to chickens, why raspberries are so good for them and how you should go about preparing your raspberries for your birds.
Are raspberries good for chickens?
Raspberries are an incredibly healthy food for both humans and chickens.
They are full of essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals, and one of the most important is their vitamin C content.
Vitamin C plays a vital role in things like maintaining the immune system among other things, so feeding them raspberries is a great way to help your chickens stay healthy and free of disease.
Along with a high vitamin C content, raspberries also contain high levels of manganese, an important mineral, and they also contain high levels of dietary fiber, among the most of any fruit by weight.
They are also made up of 86% water, and both dietary fiber and water are vital for maintaining a healthy digestive system.
As well as these major nutritional benefits, raspberries also contain some vitamin B along with minerals like calcium, potassium and iron.
So in short, it’s easy to see why feeding raspberries to chickens will give them a whole range of important nutritional benefits.
How should you feed raspberries to chickens?
When feeding raspberries to chickens, there’s no particular trick to it. Raspberries don’t have large pits like some other fruits – they only contain tiny seeds – and the flesh is soft and juicy, so there’s no risk of your birds choking on them.
This means you can just feed raspberries to chickens as they are, and your chickens will love them!
Perhaps one useful piece of advice would be to start off slowly. When you feed raspberries to your chickens for the first time, don’t give them too many – and perhaps cut them all in half.
This will make it easier for the chickens to eat them, and they will have a chance to get used to the flavor. At the same time, their digestive systems will be able to become accustomed to this new type of food.
But after that, you don’t need to cut raspberries up for your chickens because chickens are more than capable of dealing with a whole raspberry without any help.
The only exception to this would be if you’re feeding raspberries to chicks, in which case cutting them up to make it easier for the chicks to eat them would be a good idea.
Again, when feeding raspberries to chicks, start with just a few pieces and then increase the dose as the chicks get used to them.
Is there anything to be careful about?
In general, there’s nothing to worry about when feeding raspberries to chickens – other than overfeeding them, which is something we’ll come to in a moment.
However, one thing to be aware of is that store-bought raspberries that are not organic are likely to have been sprayed with chemical pesticides, so it’s far better to give your chickens organic raspberries than non-organic ones.
Unfortunately, organic raspberries are expensive, and they’re a luxurious treat that most people are unlikely to pay for just to give to their chickens!
If you have some non-organic raspberries left over that you want to give to your chickens, you still can – just make sure you wash them thoroughly in cold water before handing them over to your birds.
However, by far the best solution is to grow raspberries yourself in your garden.
That way, you will know that they are organic and free of pesticides – and you won’t need to burn a hole in your pocket paying for such an expensive treat for your birds.
Can chickens eat raspberry leaves?
If you have raspberry bushes in your garden, you may notice that the chickens sometimes peck at the leaves, in which case, you may be wondering if it’s safe for them to eat the leaves too.
The answer to his question is yes, it is. The leaves from the raspberry bush, like the fruit, are non-toxic for chickens, so they can eat them if they want.
You can also pick a few leaves from your raspberry bush and actively feed them to your chickens – although the leaves aren’t nearly as nutritious as the fruit, and most chickens probably won’t be very interested in eating them anyway.
Protect your raspberry bushes!
One of the biggest problems with growing raspberry bushes and keeping chickens is that chickens don’t know when they’re allowed to eat raspberries – so if they have unrestricted access to your raspberry bushes, you’ll quickly find you have no fruit left for yourself.
Chickens have no sense of self-restraint, so once they realize there are raspberries to be had, they will devour everything they can grab until there’s nothing left.
Furthermore, chickens can jump a lot higher than most people realize, so the berries on a raspberry bush will be within easy reach for them.
All this means that if you want to keep some raspberries to eat yourself instead of letting your chickens help themselves to your entire crop, you’ll have to work out a way to keep your chickens from reaching them.
Either keeping the chickens in a separate area from your raspberry bushes or placing netting over your bushes are the two best solutions.
This is also important because chickens shouldn’t be able to gorge themselves on raspberries as much as they like but instead should only be fed raspberries in moderation – and we can look at why this is now.
Moderation is the key
Chickens have very specific dietary requirements, and the commercial feed you can buy for them is specifically formulated to meet their needs.
However, if you give them too many treats – like raspberries – they will fill up on the treats and ignore their proper food, much like a child who eats too much candy and then doesn’t eat a proper dinner.
If this happens, they will be missing out on some of the important nutrients that are contained in their regular food, which can result in reduced egg-laying output or even malnourished chickens in the most extreme cases.
To avoid this, always follow the 10% rule. Only 10% of a chicken’s diet should come from treats, and the other 90% should be made up of their regular feed to ensure they’re getting all the necessary nutrients they require.
When it comes to raspberries, too many can also cause diarrhea in chickens, so as a guideline, feeding your chickens two or three raspberries once or twice a week is about perfect.
However, they certainly shouldn’t be eating lots of raspberries every day or it will negatively affect their health.
To finish, here are a couple of pro tips about feeding raspberries to chickens.
Freeze raspberries for a cooling summer treat
In the summer, a great way to help your chickens stay cool is to freeze some raspberries (or other similar fruit) and then feed them to your birds cold.
This will help reduce their body temperature while also giving them plenty of essential nutrients along with the extra water they need to stay properly hydrated during the hottest months.
Chickens will eat raspberries you might not want
If you have raspberries that are looking a little old – perhaps even with a touch of white mold – you can still feed them to your chickens. This is a great way to ensure no food gets wasted, even if you would turn your nose up at raspberries in this condition yourself.
However, don’t feed raspberries that are covered in lots of green mold to your chickens – because they could make your birds sick.
Chickens can eat raspberries – and most chickens love them!
So as we’ve seen, chickens can most certainly eat raspberries, and what’s more, almost all chickens absolutely love them.
Just make sure you feed your birds organic raspberries – or if they’re non-organic, make sure you wash them first – but other than that, as long as they don’t eat too many, raspberries are a wonderful source of nutrients for chickens and make a delicious snack they’re sure to adore.