If you’re starting your first chicken farm, there must be a lot of questions that need an answer – how do hens and roosters behave, how many roosters you can have on a farm, and how big your coop should be? Nevertheless, there is likely one, even more, important question standing what should chickens eat, and what kind of treats they’re allowed to eat? We know that chickens can eat corn, as well as poultry concentrate when the chicks are little. But, what about other treats such as lettuce, carrot, or even fruits like blueberries?
What many people don’t know is that chickens need varied nutrition to grow big and remain as friendly and communicative as they should be. However, many commercial farms oversee feeding chickens with vitamins and minerals through concentrate supplementations and other types of supplementation.
If you’re growing chicken for the sake of growing and for eggs, then you need to provide them with dietary-rich food that will make them feel energized and allow them to grow. With that in mind, it’s more than okay to provide them with other food variants, both vegetables, and fruit.
That being said, can chickens eat blueberries? What kind of fruit should you give to your chicken coop? This article answers this and many other questions regarding feeding chickens with blueberries as well as other fruits. Continue reading this article to learn more about a proper chicken diet.
Although chickens will mainly use corn feed, as well as some other supplied feed, blueberries should be seen as a feasible option for them to enjoy all the nutrients they may need daily. Needless to say, blueberries are supplied with all the necessary vitamins and minerals, as well as amino acids which are key nutrients for the healthy growth and reproduction of chickens.
Can Chickens Eat Blueberries?
A lot of fruit, as well as vegetables can be eaten by chickens, and blueberries are no exception when it comes to eating healthy, delicious, and nutrient-packed blueberries. It’s worth noting, however, that chickens should eat blueberries only as a treat that they may get every few days or so.
That’s why, the total nutrition of chickens should be calculated from their feeds. Overall, 90% of the food that the chickens eat is their feed, and only 10% of it is dedicated to the treats that you may give them every few days. An egg-laying hen will consume around 0.25 pounds of feed per day, according to a report.
It’s of utmost importance to follow the guidelines regarding the chicken feed, as you don’t want them to get intoxicated or sick. If you give your chickens blueberries, don’t give them more than every 3 to 4 days, and only two or three blueberries per hen or rooster.
Keep in mind that chickens are significantly smaller than we are, hence they can’t eat as many blueberries as humans do, which would be half a cup or even a whole cup. Don’t worry, two to three blueberries will provide more than enough nutrients to keep your chickens healthy and energized.
Nutritional Benefits of Blueberries for Chicken
There are several benefits of feeding your chickens with blueberries, especially for egg-bearing hens and roosters that live with a big chicken flock in their coop. Just as blueberries are beneficial for humans, there are also a lot of advantages to feeding blueberries to chickens. Continue reading below to learn what benefits those are.
It’s no secret that antioxidants can help improve immunity, and chickens are no exception to that rule. Eating blueberries as an occasional treat will equip chickens with necessary antioxidants that will help their immune system fight off infections because of the high nutrient value of antioxidants in blueberries, according to a study.
Better Egg Quality
Thanks to all the vitamins in blueberries, such as vitamin E, vitamin C, and vitamin K, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, blueberries can help chickens improve their egg quality.
It can also help prevent blood spots, which while not particularly harmful, can make the experience of shopping for eggs quite unpleasant. Additionally, it can ruin the reputation of a farmer.
Helps Repel Parasites
Another great addition to the immune system in chickens is the high content of vitamin C which can help prevent parasites from multiplying inside chickens. It’s especially important for the prevention of lice and mites from spreading from one chicken to another.
Besides the high vitamin content, blueberries are also packed with minerals such as iron and zinc, which provide great supplementation to help chickens fight stress and nervousness.
There are quite a few stressful situations chickens can be exposed to, like being exposed to a predator, the addition of new flock members like hens or roosters, as well as moving from one coop to another.
Making sure they eat healthy they’ll also be in a better mood and will have positive behavior toward other chickens.
An adequate amount of blueberries every week can help chickens digest their feed better and prevent indigestion and diarrhea. Still, even though this is a benefit, it can also be too risky to feed your chickens with too many blueberries. You can learn more about it below.
Potential Risks of Feeding Your Chickens Blueberries
Even though blueberries are a great food source for chickens, it’s important to note that you shouldn’t always give them to your chickens because of the potential side effects. Below, we detailed some of the side effects of feeding your chickens with blueberries.
Even though earlier in this article, we highlighted that chickens should eat blueberries to improve their digestion, they’re by no means a good food resource that you should constantly feed to your chickens. Otherwise, they could develop diarrhea themselves thanks to the high fiber content in blueberries.
If you notice that there is more liquid poop around the chicken coop blueberries or some other fruits likely are to blame. According to this thread on Quora, blueberries may cause diarrhea because they don’t have a valuable source of probiotics. Decrease the blueberry content or stop it temporarily and see if their nutrition improves over time.
Editor’s notes: Remember, not all chickens will benefit from eating blueberries. Be patient and see whether they’re good for them. Don’t feed them with more than 1-3 blueberries per chicken and you can expect positive results.
Even though blueberries are nearly as tiny as corn feed, you shouldn’t feed them to your chickens as a whole. They have tiny throats and tiny beaks that likely can’t consume the whole blueberry and may begin to choke. Make sure to cut the blueberries into small pieces and see whether that helps them eat easier. Choking on blueberries is a serious condition that could result in the death of your hen or a rooster.
If you’re feeding your chickens with too many blueberries, and not much of their regular feed, you’re risking for them to have an unbalanced diet. Remember, the chicken diet consists of 90% of feed and 10% of treats. Blueberries are a treat and should be treated as such, it’s best to combine it with other treats they’re allowed to eat and make it only 10% as opposed to 90% of their feed.
Blueberries should be sourced from organic sources if you want to be 100% sure that it’s safe to feed your chickens with them. Otherwise, you should consider washing blueberries or leaving them in water for a few minutes before feeding them to your chickens.
How to Feed Blueberries to Chickens?
If you’re worried about nutritional values, varied diet, and choking hazards, we wrote this section to help you feed blueberries to chickens appropriately.
Don’t Force Your Chickens to Eat Blueberries
As we saw earlier in the article, there are many benefits to eating blueberries. However, if you force too many of those benefits, they can easily turn into disadvantages, like the high content of fibers that can cause poor digestion in chickens.
That being said, it’d be best to gradually introduce blueberries to your chickens, and then increase the amount as time passes. Give only one blueberry to each chicken in the coop, and you’ll see whether they like eating them and whether they feel good from eating them.
Cut Blueberries into Small Pieces
If you are worried about choking hazards from blueberries, it’s best to cut them into small pieces and feed them to your chickens that way. Usually, eating blueberries won’t cause choking, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. You can cut them in halves or even quarters, and experiment to see whether your chickens will eat them, or try to make them smaller with their beaks.
Combine them With Other Treats
As exciting as it may sound, blueberries are not the only treat that chickens eat. There are other fruits such as apples, bananas, lettuce, and other fruits and vegetables. See what your chickens prefer eating and make a fruit mix that they can eat.
Editor’s notes: Remember not to give them too many treats, and only stick to the 90:10 meal plan that chickens should consume.
Blueberry Alternatives to Feed Your Chickens
Although chickens love eating berries, especially blueberries, there are many treatment alternatives that you can consider if your chickens don’t want to eat particularly blueberries. Below is the definitive list:
There are many other treats that chickens would love to eat. However, keep in mind that some treats like mushrooms and strawberries should only be eaten in moderation. Otherwise, they could upset the stomachs of your hens.
Although there are many different treats that chickens can eat, blueberries and blackberries are among their favorite ones. They are packed with all nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that the chickens need to live happily and healthily. Remember, however, that their primary source of nutrients is their feed which is also packed with proteins chickens need to lay eggs. That being said, consider giving your chickens blueberries in moderation, as well as other treats.