If you have blackberries growing around your backyard, naturally you will want to know whether you can feed them to your chickens. Are they beneficial to offer or are they even safe? With these questions in mind I decided to do some research. I would like to share with you what I managed to find today so you know exactly whether to offer these berries to your flock.
So, can chickens eat blackberries? Chickens can eat blackberries and they are safe and tasty treat for them to consume. However, blackberries should only be offered in moderation and never become a staple in the diet. Equally, not all chickens will enjoy blackberries if provided. These birds have their unique tastes which can differ between foods.
Keeping chickens can be an enjoyable and rewarding activity. It is easy making these birds birds happy; they love food, the company of fellow birds, and a dry coop.
It is a joy to watch these birds go about their day interacting with one another. Your reward for applying good husbandry is fresh, delicious eggs. As an appreciative chicken keeper, you will likely want to know what treats to offer your feathered friends.
Depending on your location, you can find blackberries freely from May through to September, and they are widespread.
Do Chickens Eat Blackberries?
Yes, generally, chickens will eat blackberries if offered or they are accessible. Blackberries are relatively sweet and easy to consume; being soft and easily mushed up and swallowed.
Blackberries pose no danger to your bird’s health, and if you browse any of the online forums regarding this topic, it’s clear that chickens love all types of berries and will go to great lengths and daring feats to acquire them.
Blackberries are actively sought out by chickens, even if they are a real challenge to acquire!
These birds seem to enjoy eating the fruit directly off the plant, and it’s funny watching them jump up to pluck a berry high above their heads.
If you have a bush that you want to pick from, you must consider putting up a fence and preventing access. This is the only real way to protect it from your birds as they will eat the lot!
Otherwise, you can look to offer blackberries to your chickens on their own, or even mixed into their regular feed. Either way, they will not likely be around for long.
Chickens that are allowed to free roam will instinctively look to eat and graze on many foods that they come across – berries are just one such example. You will often see your birds eating grass along with grubs (such as worms, slugs) and insects (even ticks!)
One thing to note is that not all chickens will enjoy or will eat berries. While it is likely that a few birds in your flock will, and will eat them all up, some chickens do not have a taste or preference for them. All chickens have their own unique tastes and preferences, and may seek out other foods instead.
There is not cause for concern here, just be sure to remove any uneaten berries and foods from the coop if they are left. This will prevent rodents, such as mice and rats, from being enticed to the coop.
Should Chickens Eat Blackberries? (Health Benefits Versus Risks)
Blackberries are among the safest fruits for chickens to consume, but it shouldn’t be all that they eat.
Chickens can be stubborn, and if they like the taste of something, it can be hard to get them to eat anything else.
This is why we need to be careful as chicken keepers.
Your chickens must get the right balance of vitamins, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates from their diet to ensure optimal health and well-being.
This will promote longevity in your flock and also ensure a good supply of higher-quality eggs.
Let’s discuss the health benefits of blackberries first.
Blackberries provide many health benefits for your birds, let’s look at the nutritional profile they offer per 100g:
|of which sugars||4.88 g|
|Vitamin C||21 mg|
|Vitamin K||19.8 µg|
As you can see, blackberries are very nutritious. The main health-promoting vitamins for your birds include Vitamins C and K, whereas minerals like manganese are excellent too.
Vitamin C is crucial to collagen formation in bones, feathers, blood vessels, and connective tissue. Vitamin C may also help heal wounds, fight free radicals in the body, absorb iron, and regenerate skin and feathers.
Vitamin K helps blood to clot and has a role in bone metabolism.
Manganese is essential for healthy bone development as well as a healthy immune system. It supports the body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates, amino acids, and cholesterol; it also helps control blood sugar levels.
Then, there is the fact that blackberries are low in overall calories, even in higher serving sizes. They are low in fat (which we need to keep low in our flocks diet) and also high in fiber.
Fiber helps to reduce cholesterol, promote healthy bowel movements; it fuels healthy gut bacteria and controls blood sugar levels.
So, there is no doubt that blackberries come with many health advantages for your flock.
However, it is remiss not to discuss the potential risks of feeding blackberries to your birds.
Firstly and as previously mentioned, blackberries should not be the only food that your birds eat nor should they make up the bulk of the diet. While they are nutrient-dense, they do not provide everything your chickens need.
So eating too many blackberries, and at expense of other foods, will mean they will likely miss out on other nutrients. This will have adverse effects in the long run.
Chickens need a varied diet, and they must try different supplemental foods each day.
We must remember that blackberries do contain sugar, which in excess can lead to your chickens becoming overweight and producing fewer eggs.
Remember, blackberries are unlikely to be the only source of sugar in the diet, and without us even realizing it, it can soon add up.
Chickens require a nutritionally balanced diet, and a high-quality commercial chicken feed can provide all the nutrition they need for each developmental stage of their life.
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How Many Blackberries Can Chickens Eat?
Chickens can eat a lot of blackberries, even well beyond what would be a healthy serving amount. If they have access, they will keep eating until there’s nothing left on your bushes.
But, how many blackberries they should eat is another matter. They love fruit and enjoy the sweetness and juiciness of the fruit, and there’s little you can do to stop them when they get started.
Generally, as long as a high quality feed makes up the bulk of their diet, and they are eating a variety of other foods, they should be okay to eat as many blackberries as they wish.
You should start feeding your chickens anywhere between 4 to 6 ounces of feed per bird each day.
You can eventually adjust the amount of feed required. Once you notice the food quickly disappearing, you will know it’s time to add more.
Other Fruits To Feed Chickens
Most fruits are safe for chickens to consume. However, you must exercise caution when it comes to the seeds and peel of certain fruits.
Seeds can contain cyanide and the skin can carry pesticides and can also be hard for your birds to digest.
The following fruits that are safe for chickens to consume are:
- Apples (raw and applesauce, avoid the seeds)
- Berries (all berries )
- Grapes (seedless only)
- Watermelon (ideally served cold on a warm day)
These fruits are great to offer along with blackberries as treats. Again, the same rule applies – the majority of your chickens diet should be a high quality commercial feed.
Fruits to avoid include avocado and all citrus fruits. These can be especially harmful to your birds and never provided.
It’s reassuring to know that blackberries are safe for chickens to consume, especially as blackberries grow in abundance between May to September and your chickens may be eating them without even you knowing!
It can be a daunting task thinking about what foods are safe to feed your chickens each day. But thankfully, we now know blackberries are safe and a good option to feed. You can tick them of the list.
There is no doubting the health benefits of blackberries; rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C and K and manganese.
These nutrients are advantageous to the healthy growth, development and maintenance of these birds.
As a responsible chicken keeper, you must consider that blackberries can be addictive. If your chickens like the taste of something, they can develop preferences and stop eating other important foods altogether. This can lead to them missing out on other necessary nutrients.
Blackberries do contain sugar, and paired with too many other fruits can result in your birds becoming overweight – leading to other health complications. Egg production can even start to decline.
Offering other fruits to your birds is a good thing to do, but you must be aware of how much and how frequently you feed them. You’ll also need to ensure you stick to the safe fruits avoiding avocado and citrus fruits (like oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit) at all costs.
Beyond this, you’ll want to be careful with pear and apple seeds, as they contain small amounts of cyanide. Cyanide is toxic to chickens.
Ultimately, you must make sure that your chickens get a varied and nutritionally balanced diet – but blackberries can be a part of that!
Chickens can eat berries, and these are great fruits to offer. Berries are lower in calories and sugar than other fruits and they are completely safe and easy to eat. Berries are often actively sought out by free-roaming chickens and there are lots of reports from chicken keepers of birds stripping entire bushes back of their berries. It is best that your chickens get a variety of berries to ensure they get a wider variety of nutrients. Berries should never become a dietary staple or form as the bulk of the diet, and you do have to be careful that your chickens do not develop a preference, at the exclusion of their staple dietary feed.
Wondering what else chickens can eat? Check out my other chicken feeding guides below!
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.