There is hardly anything more appealing to eat than a perfectly ripe blueberry. The intense flavor, the delicate sweetness and the beautiful color all come together to create a work of art that is as delicious as it is stunning.
You might enjoy blueberries or not, but it makes you wonder if your chickens do, too. Can chickens eat blueberries?
Yes, chickens can definitely eat blueberries. They’re a great source of nutrition, and are packed with antioxidants, which are great for your birds’ overall health. They’re also a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin K, and antioxidants.
Chickens love blueberries and will gobble them up quickly, so you’ll want to be careful not to overfeed them.
But aside from a few simple concerns you won’t have much to do or worry about. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about treating your birds to some delicious blueberries below.
Nutritional Profile of Blueberries
As we mentioned, blueberries are an excellent source of nutrition for chickens.
They contain a variety of vitamins and minerals that are essential to your chicken’s diet, including vitamin C, vitamin K, and dietary fiber. Blueberries are also a good source of antioxidants.
|– Dietary Fiber||2.4g|
|Vitamin A, RAE||3µg|
|Lutein + zeaxanthin||80µg|
|Fatty acids, total saturated||0.028g|
|Fatty acids, total monounsaturated||0.047g|
|Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated||0.146g|
Finally, blueberries are a natural source of sugar, good for quick energy and giving your flock a little boost.
This makes blueberries a perfect treat for chickens, as they love sweet foods and will also get some valuable vitamins and minerals in the bargain.
Benefits of Blueberries for Chickens
Blueberries offer a number of benefits for chickens, thanks to their high nutritional content.
The antioxidants in blueberries can help to protect your chicken’s cells from damage, and have strong anti-inflammatory properties.
Vitamin C in blueberries is also important for chickens. This vitamin helps with the absorption of iron, and also helps to keep your chicken’s immune system strong.
Vitamin K is important for blood clotting, and the dietary fiber in blueberries helps with digestion.
Overall, blueberries promote healthy hearts and help with reducing inflammation throughout the body. This can help your chicken stay healthy and active, and may even help to extend their lifespan.
How to Serve Blueberries to Chickens
It does not get any easier than this: simply put some blueberries in a bowl (or multiple bowls, to reduce squabbling) and set them out for your chickens. That’s all there is to it. No special prep, no involved safety procedures.
If you have wild-picked your blueberries or just brought them home from the store, give them a cool water rinse first, and that is it.
Smaller chickens may peck at them a bit but larger birds will just eat them whole. Don’t worry about that, it is normal.
Can Chickens have Frozen Blueberries?
Frozen blueberries are perfectly safe for chickens and offer the same nutritional benefits as fresh berries.
In fact, many people feel that frozen berries are actually better for chickens than fresh ones, as they can help them cool off on hot days.
If you have a surplus of fresh berries that you can’t eat before they go bad, freezing them is a great way to preserve them and make them ready to serve to your flock.
Can You Serve Blueberries to Chicks?
Yes, you can give blueberries to chicks, but you will need to chop them up first. Chicks have small beaks and can’t eat whole berries.
You can chop the berries into small pieces, or mash them up into a paste. Either way, your chicks will be able to enjoy the taste and benefits of blueberries.
Do take care, though, as berries are very juicy and this can lead to digestion troubles for chicks. More on that in a minute.
Beware of Pesticides
One of the only potential drawbacks of feeding blueberries to your chickens is the possibility of them ingesting pesticide residues.
Many such pesticides contain chemicals that are toxic to chickens, and even low levels of exposure can cause health problems.
For example, a pesticide called Diazinon has been linked to respiratory problems in chickens, and another called Dursban can cause neurological damage.
Furthermore, many pesticides are broad-spectrum insecticides, meaning that they kill a wide range of insects, including the beneficial ones that chickens eat.
As a result, feeding chickens any fruit with the potential of a high pesticide residual load should be done with caution. One way to dodge this problem entirely is by purchasing organic berries, though they can be expensive.
If you choose to feed your chickens non-organic berries, just be sure to wash them thoroughly before giving them to your flock.
A good rinse in cool water should do the trick, but you can also soak them for a few minutes if you like before giving them a final rinse. This will help to remove any pesticide residue that may be on the berries.
Problems Associated with Overconsumption of Blueberries
Chickens cannot really overdose on anything found in blueberries, but all the same they should not have them too often. As we mentioned, blueberries are a natural source of sugar.
This means that they can cause your chicken to become overweight if they have too many of them.
A healthy diet for chickens includes some treats, but you should not give them any more than about 10% of their total food.
The rest of their diet should be made up of a high-quality chicken feed, with plenty of protein and other essential nutrients.
Another thing to watch out for is loose, watery stools. This can happen if your chickens eat too many blueberries and is usually nothing to worry about in most cases.
However, it can lead to dehydration if it happens too often, so be sure to monitor your chickens’ stools closely if you are feeding them a lot of berries.
Also remember that fresh or frozen is always better than dried. Dried blueberries still have all the sugar but none of the water content, so they can be easy for chickens to overeat.
Be Sure to Cleanup Scraps and Leftovers from Chicken Enclosures
Another potential problem with feeding blueberries to chickens is that it can attract pests to their enclosures, insects, and rodents alike.
This is because any scraps or leftovers from the berries will be full of sugar and very attractive to vermin. As you likely already know, infestations of insects or rodents are bad news for your flock.
Parasites like fleas, mites and lice are not far behind, and rodents of all kinds can kill chicks, eat eggs and harass your adult birds.
As a result, it’s important to clean up any scraps or leftovers after your chickens have finished chowing down on them. Just because they are all-natural does not mean you can leave them laying around!
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.