Even though chickens are known for eating anything you throw into the coop, and what to feed them is mostly common sense, every once in a while, you may come across a food that raises a few questions.
Perhaps you have heard of an old wives’ tale foreboding death if you feed your chickens this certain food. Maybe an article warning against feeding this food to your chickens popped up on your Facebook timeline.
There is always someone wanting to start a hot new topic on what is safe to feed your chickens. While there are certain foods to shy away from, there are very few foods that chickens find in nature, and that they willingly eat, that will cause them harm. Grapes are no exception.
Yes, chickens can eat grapes. And here’s why grapes are a good and healthy snack for your chickens.
Why Are Grapes Healthy for Chickens?
Grapes Provide Variety
Just like people, when chickens eat a variety of foods, it offers the opportunity to add important vitamins and minerals to their diet. While vitamins and minerals are added to chicken feed in the recommended proportions, research suggests that natural forms of these vitamins and minerals are better for your chickens.
Fresh Foods Are Absorbed More Easily
Processed food reduces the ability of supplements to be absorbed. Fresh food is the best way to absorb nutrients for people and animals. More importantly, fresh food introduces those all-important prebiotics and probiotics, and fiber, that keeps a chicken’s gut healthy. A healthy gut means a better immune system and better quality eggs and meat.
Grapes Are High in Many Healthy Vitamins
What’s good about grapes? What about them make them healthy for chickens? Grapes are very high in vitamin K. Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for blood clotting and keeping bones strong and healthy. They are also high in vitamin C which is a powerful antioxidant and important for connective tissue health.
Grapes also contain:
- Antioxidants (resveratrol)
We go by the mantra, “you are what you eat”. For chickens, the more appropriate mantra should be, “you lay what you eat”. If you want those bright orange yolks, popping with nutrients and vitamins, supplementing your flock’s diet with foods like grapes is a great way to boost the nutrition in your eggs.
According to research conducted by DSM, experts in animal nutrition and health (https://www.dsm.com/anh/en/feedtalks/increasing-vitamin-content-eggs.html) “Studies have recognized a direct link between feed and the vitamin content of eggs…both the productivity of laying hens and the nutritional content of their eggs are a function of the hen’s dietary intake.”
Tossing snacks like grapes into the coop and supplementing your chickens’ diets with fruit and vegetables is the best way to ensure your chickens are passing along vitamins and minerals to you through eggs and meat.
Why Might Grapes Be Considered Dangerous to Chickens?
The problems and myths surrounding feeding grapes to chickens may have been predicated on those feeding grapes to their chickens in excess. You can cause damage to a chicken’s health if you feed it too much of any food that is not a mainstay of its natural diet.
Let’s look at some of the dangers grapes could possibly pose to your chickens, especially if fed in excess.
- Grapes are high in sugar. You want to limit feeding no more than 5% of their daily food intake with foods high in sugar.
- Some chickens may try and eat the grapes whole. They could pose a choking hazard.
- Ingesting too many grapes in one feeding can lead to bloating and digestive issues.
- Too many treats like grapes can turn your chickens into picky eaters.
How to Safely Feed Your Chickens Grapes
1. Seedless grapes are an advantage as they lessen the chances of a choking hazard. The best way to serve your chickens grapes is to buy organic or make sure they are thoroughly washed. You don’t want to be introducing any toxic pesticides into your chickens’ diet.
2. You can hand bundles of grapes as an entertaining snack for your chickens. They will jump to retrieve them, chase each other around trying to lay claim to the prize, and they will peck at the vines and any leaves. Count on 3 to 4 grapes per chicken.
3. To prevent a choking hazard, you can cut the grapes up into pieces and distribute them evenly to make sure everyone gets their share. You can cut the grapes into pieces and freeze them to toss into the coop on a hot summer day.
4. Raisins, the cousin of grapes, are also loved by chickens but they are higher in sugar than grapes. They can be used as a weight gain supplement if you are trying to put weight on your chickens. Feed raisins in moderation and always check that the stools are staying firm and normal in color and consistency.
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