Unlike most pets, chickens are not picky about what they eat. In fact, it’s entirely the other way round in most cases. While layer feed and water make a good old staple diet, it doesn’t mean they can’t have fun and get the odd treat or two. We love to spoil our backyard chickens with occasional treats, don’t we?
But there’s a lot of confusion going around what’s best for you chickens and what’s not. Where do we draw the line? One common query revolving around this debate is, “Can chickens eat blackberries”? This is due to the abundance of berries that grow wild in many backyards and gardens.
But should you let them free roam your backyard eating berries at will?
Berries make a delicious treat for chickens and are packed with goodness and vitamins. However, they should be given as part of a balanced diet. We suggest only once or twice a week and no more than 5-10% of their diet.
Can Chickens Eat Blackberries?
There are lots of fruits that we perceive as harmless but can be fatal to the chickens. Citrusy fruits will negatively impact egg production, while avocadoes will invite respiratory problems. So how do blackberries fare? Can chickens eat blackberries?
A big, fat yes!
Berries are packed with nutrients, in addition to being tasty and refreshing. So, why not? They make the perfect ‘bite-size’ treat for your chickens.
Will Chickens Eat Blackberries?
Once again, yes!
They’re soft, mushy, and sweet—just right for your chickens’ taste buds. These birds love to nibble on everything, and if given something as tasty as berries, your chickens will devour them in no time.
Why should you feed your chickens blackberries?
These plump little berries will give even the most nutritious foods we know a run for their money. These are specifically rich in Vitamin K and C, which are known to promote birds’ overall health. Let’s have a more in-depth look.
100 grams of blackberries roughly contain 19.8 micrograms of Vitamin K. Especially in chickens, it plays a vital role in blood clotting mechanism and bone metabolism. Additionally, it helps to keep complications like Coccidiosis (intestinal disease) and hemorrhages at bay. If you’re noticing too many blood spots in the egg, it’s a telling sign of Vit K deficiency.
Blackberries are rich in Vitamin C, with 100 grams of the fruit constituting almost 21 mg of the vitamin. It contributes in collagen formation in blood vessels, connective tissue, bones, and feathers.
Seems quite important, right? It definitely is! The list doesn’t end here. This vitamin also helps in regenerating skin and feathers, fighting free radicals in the body, and healing wound. So, can chickens eat blackberries? You better feed them.
Manganese is one super mineral that’s vital for healthy bone development and the immune system. 100 grams of blackberries contains 0.64 mg of manganese. And your chickens need it for a variety of reasons—from the formation of healthy cartilage and bone to wound healing, from eggshell formation to preventing Perosis. The list is quite long!
Fiber is an imperative part of the diet for any bird, and your chickens are no exception. It’s recommended that this nutrient should make up about 10% of your bird’s diet every day.
Good news: blackberries are loaded with fiber, with 100 grams of the fruit containing 5.3 gm of fiber. It’s really beneficial to keep your chickens’ gut happy by promoting healthy bowel movement and regulating blood sugar levels and fuel healthy gut bacteria.
Actually, the entire length of this article can be about the benefits of blackberries for your chickens, but let’s cut it short, shall we? Now, we’re sure that you’ve found answers to can chickens eat blackberries, let’s move on to how much and how.
How many blackberries should you feed your chickens?
Apart from all that nutrients, blackberries are also high in sugar. Now we know why they taste so yum!
They make excellent treats when given in moderation. And treats should not make up over 5-10% of a chicken’s overall diet—similar to dogs! Although there are a few exceptions to this rule. Green treats like kale, parsley, and swiss chard can make up more than 10% of your chickens’ diet.
As for blackberries, 4 to 6 ounces of berries per chicken a day will be enough. Frozen blackberries make wonderful treats during summer.
Remember, backyard chickens are quite headstrong! Once they realize blackberries are ‘good food,’ it can be hard to feed them anything else. You should give these treats in the morning or afternoon only after they have had their fill of balanced layer feed.
Just like too much of anything can be harmful, feeding your chickens blackberries in excess can do more harm than good. If given in moderation, these yum berries will please your chickens’ health and taste buds. So, can chickens eat blackberries? In moderation, yes!
Few things to know before giving your chickens blackberries
Apart from the quantity, there are a few things you should keep in mind while giving your chickens blackberries.
- Do not give the fruit every day as they’ll get bored too quickly
- Don’t give moldy berries as these are high in toxins
- Scale down the portion of the treat (blackberries) depending on your chickens’ size
- Chickens are really little food-munching machines – they will eat practically anything.
- It’s better to give the berries in the morning for easy digestion
- Expect purple manure during the blackberry season
- Make sure no pesticide gets into your chickens’ system by either growing your own blackberries or washing them thoroughly
Can chickens easily digest blackberry seeds?
Chickens must really have some evolved digestive systems since they seem to digest everything they peck on. Luckily, blackberries seeds are easily digestible and don’t mess with the chickens’ gut health.
What’s even better is that just like the fruit, the seeds can be quite helpful to promote health in chickens. These seeds are rich in omega-3, which boosts cardiovascular health and egg production. On top of that, they’re also high in protein and dietary fiber. The answer to can chickens eat blackberries is, ‘yes, seeds, too.’
But be careful about Calyx
Calyx refers to the green bit on the top of blackberries or any other berries due to the contamination of pesticides. If you grow your own berries, there’s not much to worry about. But if you’re feeding ones brought from a store, soak them for some time so that pesticides wash away.
Chickens are susceptible to pesticides and will fall sick immediately. One of the most common side effects of ingesting pesticides is diarrhea.
And without immediate treatment, diarrhea can be life-threatening for chickens. Also, eating eggs from sick chicken is harmful to humans too. Be careful.
DIY blackberries for your chickens
The title might seem absurd, we know, but if you could create chicken-friendly berry patches for your birds to free-range, wouldn’t you love that?
Blackberry shrubs are good to have in a chicken garden because they don’t only provide nutritious treats but also shelter and production. Their thorny canes will even act as barrier hedges from sly predators.
These shrubs are biennial, which means they take two years to complete a lifecycle. Likewise, the trailing types can be trained over structures.
If there is ample space in the backyard, why not consider growing your own blackberries?
What’s the right age to give blackberries (treats)?
Even though this article is about blackberries, this answer is for all kinds of treats. A handy little tip.
In the wild, mama hens introduce young chicks to treats, in the form of bugs and greens, when they’re just a couple of days old. However, in the brooder, it’s wise to wait until they’re a week or two old.
You may ask why. That’s because chicks need to understand what’s ‘proper food’ before being introduced to the concept of treats.
Also, it’s critical to give your chicks grit in a sperate feeder whenever you feed them anything other than the staple feed. Otherwise, they’ll have a tough time digesting it. A dish of sand will do the trick.
Can chickens eat blackberries? Yes, blackberries come with an array of health benefits for your chickens. This fruit is rich in Vitamin K & C, manganese, and fiber, among others. And all these nutrients can have a wondrous impact on your chickens’ health when given in moderation.
Just make sure that your chickens don’t overindulge. Although blackberries make wholesome treats, their diet should have the right balance of vitamins, fats, carbs, and protein, and the best way to provide that is with nutritious, well-planned feed.