On a hot day or whenever you want juicy, sweet refreshment, fresh grapes are one of the best things you could reach for.
If you have chickens, they could probably stand a little something to get through a hot day as well. You already know what greens they prefer, but how about grapes? Can you feed grapes to your chickens safely?
Yes, chickens can eat grapes of any color. They are a decent source of nutrients for chickens, and they will definitely enjoy the taste as well. Grapes are high in antioxidants, and also contain vitamins and minerals that chickens need. They are abundant in such vitamins as K, B1, B2, and B6 as well as potassium.
It’s good to know that your beloved birds can enjoy these succulent berries just the same as us.
However, chickens aren’t people, and that means they have different nutritional concerns than we do!
You don’t have to worry about giving your birds grapes but there are a few things you should know first. Keep reading to find out.
Nutritional Profile of Grapes
Grapes are a good source of antioxidants and a decent source of vitamins, with one standout exception.
While grapes do contain a fair amount of vitamins B1, B2, B6, and C, they are not an excellent source of these vitamins like other fruits such as apricots or blueberries.
However, grapes are packed with vitamin K and also contain a fair bit of potassium. Grapes are a good source of fiber and are 81% water by mass on average.
Health Benefits of Feeding Grapes to Chickens
Your chickens will definitely love getting refreshing grapes as a sweet treat, but they will also be getting some good hydration and nutrition in the bargain.
Vitamin B1 is essential for keeping a chicken’s nervous system functioning properly, while B2 is key to maintaining good vision.
Vitamin B6 helps with the metabolism of fats and proteins, and is also involved in the creation of red blood cells.
Chickens need vitamin C to maintain strong immunity, but unlike people, they can actually synthesize this vitamin on their own, so any extra in their diet is a bonus.
Vitamin K is important for proper blood clotting, and chickens need it just like we do. Potassium is a mineral that helps with muscle contraction, keeping a chicken’s heart beating properly and helping to maintain fluid-electrolyte balance in their bodies.
Grapes are also a good source of the antioxidants quercetin and resveratrol. These nutrients neutralize harmful toxins and byproducts that can damage cells, leading to inflammation.
Just as importantly, the water content in grapes can help keep your chickens hydrated, especially on a hot day.
Can Chickens Have Raw Grapes?
Yes, they can. Chickens can eat raw grapes of any color with not issues. Whole grapes may be swallowed whole, or be too big to swallow and cause problems, however. Check the section on preparation for more info.
Can Chickens Eat Grape Seeds?
Chickens can eat the seeds of grapes with no issues. Nothing in the seeds is harmful to chickens. In fact, the seeds of grapes actually contain additional nutrients that are beneficial for chickens
Can Chickens Eat Grape Skins
Yes, they can. Grapes skins are not harmful, and not much impediment to any chicken’s beak. They are also a good source of fiber, though some chickens won’t like eating them.
Can Chickens Have Raisins?
Yes, chickens can eat raisins- they are just dried grapes! However, raisins have far more sugar and calories by weight than whole grapes, and so it will be easy for chickens to overindulge in them.
Their small size also makes it likely that chickens can swallow them with ease. You don’t want to let your birds overdo it or they can gain weight and develop other problems.
Can Chickens Have Cooked Grapes?
Yes, you can feed your chickens cooked grapes. Keep in mind that cooking seriously degrades the already small amount of vitamins that grapes contain, so they are more of a treat than a healthy snack at this point.
Never Give Your Chickens Jellies, Jams, Preserves, or Wine
It should be obvious, but it bears repeating: Never, ever give your chickens jellies, jams, preserves, or wine made from grapes.
Wine and other grape-based alcoholic beverages are flat-out poisonous to chickens, as is anything that contains alcohol.
Jellies, jams, and preserves contain immense amounts of sugar and preservatives, which can lead to obesity and other serious health problems in chickens.
As much as we enjoy these toppings and wish our chickens could also, keep them to yourself!
Beware of Pesticides on Store-Bought Grapes
Commercial fruits are notorious for being heavily treated with pesticides at all stages of growth. Grapes are no different and are one of the most heavily dosed of all common fruits.
If you’re feeding your chickens common store-bought grapes, make sure to thoroughly wash them first. If possible, you should be buying organic grapes for the purpose.
How Often Can Chickens Have Grape?
As wholesome and natural as they are, grapes should only be a treat or occasional supplement to the diet of your chickens.
Because of their high water and sugar content, grapes should only be given to chickens in moderation. Chickens live eating mostly dry food; wet food can lead to digestive problems.
Sugar, in particular, is troublesome, since it can lead to serious weight gain or dangerous conditions like sour crop.
A good rule of thumb is to give your chickens no more than 10% of their diet in fruit, “diet” meaning their total allotted calorie intake. Make sure you space out the grape in their menu so they don’t get watery stools or other problems.
Preparing Grapes to Give to Your Chickens
Your best bet for preparing grapes as a treat for your chickens is to split or chop them. This will reduce the chances of a chicken swallowing a whole grape and choking on it or having it block their crop or gizzard.
It also allows them to get at the sweet flesh of the grape, likely their favorite part. Just place them on a bowl or tray and let them go at it.
Can Baby Chicks Have Grapes, Too?
Yes, but only after 6 weeks of age and very, very sparingly. Baby chicks have delicate systems that can be easily overloaded, particularly by sugar and moist food, so it’s best not to give them too many grapes or any other fruit at all.
Once they are a bit older and more robust, you can give them grapes as a treat like any other chicken.
Always Clean Up After You Give Grapes to your Flock
As with anything else you give your chickens, there will be grape bits, peelings, seeds and other bits left behind.
These can quickly attract vermin or start to rot, so make sure to clean up after your flock enjoys their grapes.
Moldy bits could make your chickens ill if they come around and eat them later, and the presence of mice and rats will only lead to harm- namely hurt chickens, killed chicks and stolen eggs!
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.