Can Chickens Eat 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.
Chickens love strawberries and feeding them to your flock is an excellent way to get them to like you.
Can Chickens Eat Too Many Strawberries?
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.
High Sugar Content
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.
Can Chickens Eat Strawberry Leaves?
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. Chickens can eat strawberry leaves, or the top of the strawberry. 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 first 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 strawberry, it’s ok.
Can Chickens Eat Strawberry Stems?
The stems, like the leaves, are safe for chickens to eat in small amounts. And as you know, stems are almost never by themselves, so if a chicken finds one its most likely stuck to the leaves, which are also ok for the chicken to eat.
And as I mentioned before, if the fruit is present and your chickens are anything like mine are, they’ll probably just disregard the leaves and stems anyway.. There is no doubt that the fruit is preferred by the critters over the leaves and stems.
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.
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.
Chickens are susceptible to pesticides and are more susceptible than most to health problems caused by pesticides.
This is another reason to keep an eye on how many strawberries our chickens consume.
Do You Have To Prepare Strawberries For Chickens To Eat?
There’s really not a whole lot that you have to do to get the strawberries ready for your chickens to eat. If the strawberries are whole, most chickens should still be able to eat them just fine, as they will simply peck away at the strawberry until they have a nice bite-sized chunk that they can swallow.
Other Considerations When Feeding Strawberries To Your Chickens
Keep an Eye Out For Moldy Strawberries
I love to forage through my strawberry patch here at home. More times than I like to admit I’ve bitten into a berry only to find out that it’s moldy and rotten. It happens.
Mold is disliked by chickens as well, and if they consume it, it can could potentially cause illness and in the most severe cases, death.
So before giving your chickens strawberries to eat on, do a quick check just to make sure that they are mold-free and not rotten. A little soft and squishy is fine, but try not to feed them anything with fungus or mold on it.
Provide Extra Grit For Digestion
Chickens require grit to digest their food, which I like to provide in the form of oyster shell. If you’re adding something new to their diet like strawberries, be sure to give them an extra handful of grit to help them process the berries.
Chickens are simply just unable to break down berries as easily as commercial feeds due to the berries high sugar content. So a little grit will do the trick.
Alternatives To Strawberries Your Chickens Will Love
If you don’t have strawberries or are unwilling to part with them, chickens also enjoy the fruits and vegetables listed below.
Foods NOT To Give Your Chickens
Stay away from and do not feed any of these food items listed below to your chickens.
- Moldy or rotten food
- Heavily salted food
- Avocado pits and avocado skins
- Raw potato skins
- Tomato leaves
Final Thoughts: Can Chickens Have Strawberries?
Yes. Chickens can eat 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.
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