Berries are one of the most delicious, diverse, and appealing fruits there are. The flavors, the colors, there is something for everyone. They are just wonderful.
Chickens also love berries, but as it turns out there are quite a few berries out there that your chickens should not eat. How about raspberries? Can your chickens have those?
Yes, chickens may have raspberries and all parts of the berry itself including the seeds, raspberries are a healthy and hydrating snack with a good profile of vitamins B, E, and K, and minerals like manganese, magnesium, iron, and phosphorous.
As you might have expected raspberries are indeed a wholesome option for your chickens, but like everything you feed them moderation is key.
Keep reading and we will tell you everything you need to know about giving your chickens raspberries and the rest of this article.
Nutritional Profile of Raspberries
Raspberries are a healthy and wholesome option for chickens. Mostly carbohydrates with only a little bit of fat and protein, raspberries also contain a respectable selection of vitamins and minerals.
Raspberries contain all of the B complex vitamins including folate, a little bit of choline, vitamin E, and vitamin K in amounts ample enough to be a good shot of nutrition for your birds.
They also contain a fair few minerals, including several that chickens require regularly in their diet.
Manganese is the most abundant, followed by magnesium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc, then potassium and calcium.
Also worth mentioning is that raspberries are mostly water, like most fruits, and average 85% water by weight.
Health Benefits of Raspberries for Chickens
Raspberries are a great addition to the diet of chickens, and aside from being a tasty treat that they will enjoy eating they can also help them keep hydrated on warm, dry days.
All of the B vitamins present in raspberries have a wide array of benefits for chickens, enhancing the absorption of other nutrients, improving metabolic processes, improving feathering, and more.
Vitamin E is a vital antioxidant while vitamin K is important for bone and connective tissue health.
Vitamin A is particularly important for nervous system tissues and eyesight and also helps laying hens when producing eggs.
The minerals too, are all especially important, but perhaps none more so than the calcium and phosphorus contained in raspberries.
Both are essential for strong and healthy bones, and both are similarly important when it comes to laying eggs.
Zinc is vital for feather formation and health, particularly during the molt, while manganese works together with calcium and vitamin k to improve skeletal health and the formation of connective tissue.
Can Chickens Eat Raspberries Raw?
Yes, your chickens may eat raspberries raw and this is the best way to serve them as it preserves the most nutrients.
Cooking starts to reduce vital nutrients, particularly vitamins but also some minerals. Raspberries don’t need to be cooked to be safe for your chickens.
Can Chickens Eat Raspberry Seeds?
Yes, chickens may safely eat raspberry seeds, and even though you might not see them, they are definitely there.
A single raspberry may contain thousands of tiny, tiny seeds that are nearly invisible to the naked eye so your birds are going to be swallowing them, that are for sure.
Can Chickens Eat Raspberry Stems?
No, chickens should not eat the calyx or stem of the raspberry. Aside from being mostly indigestible, they are another intense source of chemical and pesticide residues. See the following sections for more information.
Can Chickens Eat Raspberries Cooked?
Yes, chickens may eat cooked raspberries although raspberries don’t need to be cooked in order to be safe for them to eat.
As mentioned previously, cooking also reduces the nutritional profile of the raspberry by reducing the amount of vitamins and minerals they contain.
Considering how soft and easy to eat most raspberries are, you really don’t need to cook them prior to serving to your chickens.
Never Feed Raspberries to Chickens that Has Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
Since we are talking about cooking, now is a good time to point out that you must never give your chickens any raspberries which have been prepared with harmful ingredients, or raspberries that have been used as an ingredient in food that is harmful for them.
Raspberries are commonly used in all sorts of desserts and toppings which have way too much salt, sugar and other stuff for chickens.
Preserves, jams, jellies, cakes, pies and all that stuff are supremely delicious, for people, but your chickens shouldn’t get any.
You might think it funny or even kind to give them such a succulent treat, but you’ll really be setting them up for sickness and poor health.
Sugar, salt, butter, oils, and all that stuff will do nothing but cause your chickens to gain weight, leading to obesity, or potentially causing such horrendous health conditions as sodium poisoning, sour crop, or fatty liver syndrome.
Beware of Pesticide on Grocery-bought Raspberries
One other thing you should keep in mind if purchasing raspberries from the grocery store to give to your chickens.
Pretty much all commercial products, but berries in particular, are treated with tons of pesticides and other chemicals prior to making it to market.
Though they are supposed to be washed before this point, some residues almost always persist and can make your chickens gravely ill.
Unfortunately, berries, all kinds of berries, are some of the worst when it comes to the retention of pesticide residues.
You should definitely make it a point to wash any raspberries you purchase prior to giving them to chickens, but do your best to procure organic berries if possible.
Washing is often not enough to remove the pesticides that have been absorbed into the flesh of the raspberry.
How Often Can Chickens Have Raspberries?
Your chickens can have raspberries once or twice a week as a component of a well-rounded diet.
90% of a chicken’s calorie intake should be in the form of a nutritionally complete chicken feed, with the remaining 10% being made up of various, wholesome supplemental foods and a few treats.
Raspberries definitely fit into this latter portion. They are wholesome and healthy, but serving them too often to your chicks will lead to weight gain and can potentially cause indigestion, diarrhea, or sour crop thanks to their moisture and sugar content.
Preparing Raspberries for Your Flock
You don’t have to do much to give raspberries to your flock. They are soft enough that any adult chicken can easily pick them apart and swallow bites from them, although you should keep an eye on overenthusiastic birds to make sure they don’t try to swallow them whole and maybe choke.
For young, small or infirm birds, you can lightly mash the raspberries to make it even easier for them to eat.
One nice treat you might consider giving your chickens on a very hot day is frozen raspberries.
Raspberries thaw quickly, but cooling them down will help cool down your birds when they eat them and they won’t struggle to pick them apart even when they are frozen solid.
Can Baby Chicks Have Raspberries, Too?
Yes, baby chicks can have raspberries, but you should wait for them to get a little bit older, around 6 weeks of age, before you feed them.
The reason why, is that chicks have extremely delicate digestive systems that are prone to be upset by novel foods, particularly sugary, watery foods. Sounds a lot like a raspberry…
Giving them to chicks too early can cause digestive problems including diarrhea, and that can lead to the dehydration of the little guy or gal quickly.
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.