Chickens love treats! Fresh fruits and vegetables rank high among their favorite things to eat. Chickens can definitely eat blueberries with only a few restrictions. Owners should offer blueberries and other berries and fruits in moderation. The total ratio of treats to balanced feed should not exceed around 10 percent. Blueberries should be offered separately from the chicken feed, to avoid making too much mess. Also, owners should never offer moldy or rotten blueberries to their chickens. Read on to learn more about feeding chickens blueberries, the health benefits, and whether feeding them too many can cause problems.
Can Chickens Eat Blueberries?
Blueberries are among the many table scraps chickens can safely eat in moderation. Blueberries, and other berries such as strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, cranberries, and huckleberries make excellent treats for chickens. These fruits are not toxic to chickens, and the birds can eat the whole berries with no problems. The only issue that owners should avoid is feeding chickens too many of the sweet treats, because they do have a high sugar content. Limiting the amount of blueberries to just a few berries per chicken per day will help keep things in balance.
What Nutrients Do Blueberries Provide?
Blueberries are rich in antioxidants known as flavonoids. They are among the most antioxidant rich foods in the world. Blueberries provide other vitamins and nutrients, including Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and manganese, along with potassium and iron. They also provide a source of dietary fiber. Based on studies in humans, the various nutrients in blueberries can help prevent cancer and the damaging effects of aging, support the immune system, protect against vascular and heart disease, improve brain function, protect muscles, help prevent urinary tract infections, and much more.
How Many Blueberries Can Chickens Have?
Chickens should be fed a diet consisting of 90 percent high quality, balanced commercial feed and 10 percent healthy treats, according to Purina Mills, an industry leader in poultry nutrition. Laying hens should be fed approximately 0.25 pounds of feed per day, which equals about 0.5 cups. That means, at most, owners should feed each chicken only about 2 tablespoons of various treats, such as blueberries, each day. That equals just a few, maybe three or four, ripe berries per bird.
|Percent||90 percent||10 percent|
|Amount||0.25 pounds or 0.5 cups||2 tablespoons|
Can You Feed Chickens Blueberries Every Day?
The type of treats chickens receive, ideally, should vary and include more leafy green treats than sweet fruits. Given this, owners should probably try to limit blueberries and other berries to no more than a couple of tablespoons per chicken, no more than two to four days each week.
Can Feeding Chickens Too Many Blueberries Cause Problems?
Feeding chickens too many sweet, sugary fruits such as blueberries can cause digestive problems including diarrhea. A change in poop, to a loose or watery consistency, can be a sign of trouble. A change in color, however, to a purplish hue after eating blueberries, is totally normal and nothing to worry about.
Feeding your chickens too many blueberries and other sweet treats, over time, can also contribute to obesity or even diabetes. Although blueberries are loaded with healthy antioxidants and important nutrients, they also have a very high sugar content. Remember to keep all treats, especially sweet ones, limited to just a couple of tablespoons per chicken per day, or a ratio of no more than 10 percent of their daily diet.
Benefits of Feeding Chickens Blueberries
The high levels of antioxidants in blueberries provide some of the greatest benefits to chickens. These chemicals are well known for their health benefits, including helping to protect DNA and prevent cancer. Blueberries and other dark colored berries and fruits are chock full of antioxidants.
Blueberries also have high levels of Vitamin C and Vitamin K, along with manganese and iron. Vitamin C helps to boost the immune system. Vitamin K promotes blood clotting and healthy bones, while also improving egg production. The manganese in blueberries promotes good bone health, and iron boosts red blood cell production and helps prevent anemia. These nutrients can also be provided by leafy green vegetables and other treats, so try to mix things up.
Avoid Feeding Blueberries to Chicks
Although adult chickens can eat sweet treats such as blueberries in small amounts, owners should avoid feeding these treats to chicks. When can chicks start receiving treats? The nutritionists at Purina Mills recommend waiting until chickens reach 18 weeks of age, or until hens lay their first egg. Young chicks need all the nutrients in their balanced feed. Offering blueberries or other treats too soon may dissuade them from eating their feed, and thereby prevent them from getting the balanced nutrition they need for healthy growth.
Never Feed Chickens Moldy Blueberries
Owners should be aware of the many toxic foods chickens should not eat. These include any and all moldy or rotten fruits and vegetables. Some types of mold can harm or even kill chickens. As a rule, you should never feed chickens any fruit that you wouldn’t feel safe eating yourself. This includes moldy or rotten blueberries and other berries and fruits.
Remove Uneaten Blueberries to Avoid Pests
Some chickens love blueberries and gobble them right up. Others only peck at them or refuse them completely. Blueberries are especially juicy and can make a significant mess, so it is a good idea to offer them separately from other feed and outside the chicken coop. Make sure to remove any uneaten blueberries or other treats from your chickens’ enclosure or yard within a few hours to avoid drawing pests. Also, look around for any blueberries that may have rolled or gotten flung away from the bowl where they were offered.
Watch for Signs of Digestive Problems and Allergies
Although rare, chickens can have allergic reactions to various treats. Try introducing new treats, such as blueberries, one food at a time over a week or two. Watch for signs of acute digestive issues or other problems after feeding your chickens any new treats they have not eaten before. If you notice problems, stop giving them the new treat and provide plenty of water. Make sure to seek medical attention from your veterinarian if your bird shows signs of an acute allergic reaction. These can include serious skin rashes, difficulty breathing, watery stools, or any other symptom that causes alarm.
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