Blackberries are among the easiest berries to grow. With a backyard garden, you can plant a blackberry bush and collect berries in no time. If you’re a chicken raiser who happens to have berry bushes, you probably have wondered if you can give it to your flock. So, can chickens eat blackberries?
Can chickens eat blackberries?
Let’s cut to the chase. To answer this commonly asked question, yes, chickens can eat blackberries.
Blackberries, just like strawberries and blueberries, are safe for chicken consumption. Unlike other produce such as bell peppers and green potatoes, blackberries do not have chemicals that are dangerous to chickens when ingested.
In addition, blackberries are soft and can easily be broken down by chickens. This means that your chickens will have no trouble eating and digesting them.
In fact, your chickens might have a good time munching on blackberries. However, this does not apply to all of our feathered friends as the personal preference of your flock still has a say.
As natural foragers, chickens would love to peck at berries like blackberries. If you have your blackberry bush, you can pick and harvest blackberries and feed them to your chickens.
Here is a video of a flock enjoying a couple of blackberries:
Using Blackberries as Treats for Chickens
Can chickens eat blackberries? Again, yes. However, you should remember that blackberries should serve as treats, supplementing their primary diet, not replacing it. They are, in no way, an alternative to sustenance which should be chicken feed.
Just like other berries and produce, blackberries do not meet all the nutritional needs of your chicken. Your chickens need the right mix of carbohydrates, protein, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals.
You can give all these to your chickens by choosing the right chicken feed and adding fruits, vegetables, and herbs as treats.
In addition, blackberries are enticing to chickens because they are sweet. The reason for this sweetness is their sugar content. Too much sugar can be bad for your chickens and may cause excessive weight gain and health problems.
Can chickens eat blackberry seeds?
Another question that chicken farmers come across is: Are blackberry seeds safe for chickens to eat? This gets asked frequently because manually removing the seeds from your blackberry can be a hassle.
If you are planning on giving your flock blackberries, you don’t have to worry. Chickens can eat blackberry seeds.
Are blackberry seeds poisonous to chickens? No, they are completely safe to eat, though, whether your chickens will like them depends on their preference.
To sum it up, your chickens will also have no trouble digesting these seeds, so you can definitely give them whole blackberries and save yourself the hassle of taking out seeds one by one.
Can chickens eat blackberry leaves?
There is no problem with your chickens eating blackberry leaves as they do not have harmful chemicals which may poison or hurt your chooks.
However, the chances of your chickens munching on blackberry leaves are slim as they may not find them enticing. They would rather focus on the berries instead.
If you use pesticides, you may also want to avoid giving blackberry leaves to your chickens. If there is pesticide residue, it may be ingested by your chickens, eventually leading to health problems and complications.
Nutritional value of blackberries
Blackberries are healthy treats for your chickens because they are packed with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that can help in your chooks’ growth.
These berries are rich in fiber which is very useful for your chicken’s digestive system. Fiber helps your chicken’s digestive tract with its processes which is why the right fiber content is recommended in chicken feed.
Additionally, blackberries are also a good source of manganese which is essential in various body processes of your chickens. It helps develop bones and keeps the immune system healthy so your flock can fight off diseases and health problems.
For vitamins, blackberries have a good amount of vitamin A which plays a significant role in egg production. The deficiency of vitamin A can cause a decline in eggs produced by your hens. Vitamin K, also found in blackberries, is equally important as it helps regulate blood clotting
Below is the nutritional content of 100g blackberries according to the Department of Agriculture.
|Fiber, total dietary||5.3 g|
|Vitamin a||11 µg|
|Vitamin K (phylloquinone)||19.8 µg|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||9.61 g|
|Sugars, total including NLEA||4.88 g|
|Glucose (dextrose)||2.31 g|
|Calcium, Ca||29 mg|
How often can chickens eat blackberries?
Now that it has been established that chickens can eat blackberries, the subsequent question to address is: How often should they be fed blackberries?
As mentioned earlier, blackberries should only be given as treats. Because of their high sugar content, giving too much of it too often might cause health problems such as weight gain which may further complicate into chicken obesity.
Therefore, it is best to feed chickens blackberries in moderation. There is no fixed amount of blackberries your flock can consume. It is your responsibility as the chicken keeper to control their intake.
A handful of blackberries for a small coop for sharing would be ideal. You can alternate giving blackberries and other produce as treats so that your flock will get a variety in terms of taste and also nutritional value.
Preparing blackberries for chicken feeding
Can chickens eat blackberries? Yes, and you don’t have to spend so much time and effort in preparing these berries for your chickens to enjoy. Blackberries are convenient treats because there is no need for you to do a lot of preparations.
Before giving them to your chickens, quickly check the quality first and discard rotten and moldy berries.
To feed blackberries to your flock, all you have to do is prepare your berries and just give them to your chickens as they are. Your chickens will surely enjoy pecking at them as they are soft and sweet.
It is important to avoid mixing blackberries with the chicken feed when using them as treats. Because they are soft berries, blackberries can easily be crushed. When mixed with chicken feed and left unconsumed, they may rot.
You surely would not want rotten blackberries with your chicken feed. Not only will they smell but they might also make your chicken feed unpleasant to eat. Leaving them to rot with your chicken feed may be costly as you will have to throw the affected feed away.
On top of that, rotten fruit is bad for your flock’s health. Rotten fruit can bring in a lot of health problems that you can easily avoid.
In conclusion, feed your chickens blackberries in places that are far from their feed and where you can clean up easily after their snack time. Cleaning up is easy as you just have to pick up blackberry debris and the remaining parts of the fruit that were left uneaten.
Watch these chickens enjoying freshly picked blackberries from the bush.
What kind of berries can chickens eat?
Apart from blackberries, your chickens can eat other berries. In fact, all kinds of berries are safe for chicken consumption.
You can give them strawberries and also blueberries as these are packed with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients for your birds.
Preparation is also easy as you just simply have to check for molds and rotten berries so you can throw them away.
Other chicken treats
Treats, especially natural food, are great for your chickens because they add variety to their diet. These healthy treats also serve as a supplement to chicken feed in terms of nutrients.
What natural food can you give to your chickens? Well, there are many options to choose from.
During warm sunny days, you can give them watermelon served cold. This treat will help them stay cool and hydrated. You can also make frozen treats such as popsicles of fruit in frozen water.
Vegetables also make great treats regardless if they are cooked or raw. Some healthy vegetable options are cabbage, squash, carrots, and lettuce. Chickens will also enjoy herbs such as rosemary, thyme, and oregano.
So your flock won’t get bored easily with their treats, give them different fruits, vegetables, and other natural food daily.
Wrap-up: healthy and easy treats
Can chickens eat blackberries? Yes, they can — and you might find satisfaction in feeding them these berries, knowing they provide essential vitamins and nutrients and are easy to serve. The most important thing you should remember is that blackberries are only meant to be treats. Don’t make them your flock’s primary diet.
Joseph Hudson has been raising chickens for over 15 years. In 2018, he completed the Agriculture & Natural Resources program at Mt. San Antonio College. He currently raises over 1400 chickens on his 7.5-hectare farm. He keeps sharing his experience on raising healthy and happy chickens on Chicken Scratch The Foundry.