Can Chickens Have Strawberries?
Chickens love eating fruits and vegetables, and strawberries are no exception. As a matter of fact, here in Oregon, my chickens forage on our leftover strawberries all the time. The house I moved into had a nice sized strawberry patch before my small flock of hungry hens had their way with it! But is it ok for them to have so many?
So yes! Chickens can eat strawberries! Both the berry and the tops are ok for them to snack on.
But, the key to almost anything you feed your chickens (that’s not chicken feed) is moderation. And the same holds true with strawberries. You want to be sure to limit your chicken’s consumption of strawberries to 10% of their overall food intake.
But what happens if your chicken eats more than their 10% share of total food intake as strawberries? Well, according to h2ouse.org, a diet high in strawberries can negatively affect egg production quantity as well as produce lower quality eggs.
But that’s not all. Let’s take a little closer look at whether or not chickens can have strawberries and what can happen if they eat too many.
Side Effects Of Eating Too Many Strawberries
So now that we’ve established that it’s technically ok for chickens to have strawberries, let’s take a quick look at what some of the negative side effects are of consuming too much of this delicious food, besides possibly decreasing egg output.
The thing about strawberries is that they are high in sugar. And eating too many of these sugary treats can be unhealthy for your flock.
In addition to the yummy sugary part of the strawberry, there’s also the green leafy stem. What about this part? Is it safe for a chicken to eat the leafy stem of a strawberry?
Yes. However, again, too much of this part of the strawberry and it could cause diarrhea in your bird. And as with all animals, diarrhea can be a very bad thing.
But in my experience, I’ve found that my chickens will almost always attack the red berry part of the strawberry and leave the green leafy stem alone. It’s as if the birds know to just leave it alone. But if yours do ingest that part of the berry, it’s ok.
Pesticides: Another Factor To Consider
Growing up, there were many summers where I worked on a strawberry farm picking berries. Back in those days it was almost a right of passage. It seems like all of my friends were picking berries at one time or another.
But what I learned while spending time there is that strawberries are not clean. As a matter of fact, they’re quite dirty. And I don’t mean they’re dirty with dirt. No, strawberries are absolutely covered in chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides. And all of those chemicals are going into your hens.
Check this out, in 2015, strawberries were labeled fourth out of twelve most pesticide contaminated fruits and vegetables. According to SaferChemicals.org, a single strawberry has 13 different pesticides on it. And of these 13 chemicals, some are known to be linked to developmental issues, cancer, and hormonal disruption.
So another reason to keep an eye on how many strawberries our chickens consume.
Final Thoughts: Can Chickens Have Strawberries?
Yes. Chickens can absolutely have strawberries. But again, the key is to keep their consumption of strawberries in moderation. Strawberries pack a ton of nutrition and healthy vitamins. But just like anything else, too much of a good thing can have a negative effect.
I’ll continue to feed strawberries to my chickens, but I may just keep a little closer eye as to how many I toss into their pen from now on.