Bright red in color, strawberries are delicious fruits that taste as good as they look. Of all the berries in the world, these are by far the most attractive ones. Many people grow strawberries in their backyards, while others buy them from the local market. When you bring home strawberries, have you ever thought of sharing these sweet treats with your pets? What about chickens?
Can chickens eat strawberries? Yes, chickens can safely eat strawberries. Strawberries are rich in a number of vitamins and minerals and can make healthy treats for your chickens when fed in moderation. These are safe both for adults as well as baby chickens as long as you remove the calyx, which might contain pesticides. However, refrain from feeding too many strawberries to your pet, since too much sugar can have a catastrophic impact on their health.
In this article, we are going to answer all the questions you might have about feeding strawberries to your chickens. Sit tight.
Do chickens like eating strawberries?
Strawberries are bright and red in color and have a unique texture; there’s no reason why chickens wouldn’t be drawn to it. Moreover, they are sweet, and all of us know how chickens are crazy about everything sweet. It is, therefore, most likely that your chickens will love strawberries almost instantly.
However, it is also possible that some chickens might need time to get acquainted with it. If that’s the case, you should feed them a few small cubes in the beginning and increase the quantity steadily as they get used to it.
If you have served them strawberries several times and still find it untouched at the end of the day, it might mean that your chickens do not like these berries. Then, you can look for other fruits to use as their snack.
Strawberries for chickens: health benefits and risks
Although strawberries have “berry” in their name, these fruits are not really berries. Many botanists consider strawberries to be “aggregate accessory fruits”.
This is because in most cases, the fruits we eat are the ovaries of the plant. However, in the case of strawberries, the part we eat is the one that holds the ovaries. Strawberry is, thus, more of a stem than a fruit.
To determine whether strawberries are healthy for chickens or not, let us first take a look at the nutritional chart of it:
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||0.025 mg|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.021 mg|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||0.387 mg|
|Vitamin B4 (Choline)||5.7 mg|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)||0.124 mg|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)||0.047 mg|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)||24 mcg|
|Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)||58.7 mg|
|Vitamin E||0.28 mg|
|Vitamin K||2.2 mcg|
Serving size: 100 grams
The B-vitamin series play an essential role in maintaining the overall health of chickens. Vitamin B1 (Niacin) has anti-inflammatory properties that prevent chickens from all kinds of swelling and inflammatory diseases such as Mouth cavity inflammation or Bowed-leg diseases.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) improves the quality of your chicken’s egg. A deficiency of this vitamin can lead to Curly-toe paralysis. Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid) keeps the chicken’s skin healthy. If your chicken doesn’t consume enough pantothenic acid, they can suffer from Dermatitis or lesions in their feet.
Vitamin C plays a crucial role in the formation of tissues, blood vessels, bones, and feathers in chickens. It also adds to their diet vital antioxidants. Vitamin E promotes healthy egg production in your chickens and keeps their immune system strong.
The lack of vitamin E can cause Crazy Chick Disease or Encephalomalacia in chickens. Lastly, vitamin K is essential for the blood clotting process. Without a sufficient amount of this vitamin, your chicken can bleed to death even from a small cut or bruise.
While Potassium is important for regulating your chicken’s blood pressure, zinc improves their bone and feather health. Copper cures any kind of digestive issues they might have, while calcium makes their eggs healthy. Manganese plays a key role in the cartilage formation in their body.
Carbohydrates contain simple sugars like fructose and glucose from which chickens derive energy. These nutrients are, thus, an essential part of your chicken’s diet.
Chickens need water to keep them hydrated throughout the day. Strawberries contain a substantial amount of water.
Although strawberries contain sodium in a moderate quantity, eating too many strawberries, or too often, can disturb the balance of sodium in your feathered pet. Too much sodium can make them thirstier and reduce their hunger. It can also cause kidney diseases in them and make their eggs dirty.
Being a fruit, strawberry is naturally rich in sugar. While chickens love sugar, it is not great for their health. Sugar can increase their blood sugar levels, make them overweight, and even lead to cardiac diseases. It is also believed that sugar impacts egg production in chickens negatively.
Can chickens eat strawberry tops (calyx)?
In a survey conducted in 2015, strawberries were ranked 4th on the list of “most pesticide-contaminated food items”.
In order to protect these sweet berries from the attack of pests, both farmers and vendors add chemical pesticides on the strawberry tops (calyx). In many cases, these pesticides don’t come off by merely washing them.
While these pesticides would not affect you much if you ate a calyx accidentally, they can be lethal for your chickens. Therefore, you should always carefully remove the strawberry calyxes before feeding them to your chickens.
If your chickens have eaten the calyx of strawberries, they could suffer from diarrhea. Under such circumstances, it is best to contact your veterinarian immediately before things get worse.
It is also better to grow strawberries in your own garden to have healthier strawberries both for yourself and for your chickens.
Are strawberry seeds safe for chickens to eat?
Every time you think of feeding your chicken a fruit, the first question that comes into your mind is whether its seed is safe for the bird. While some seeds contain toxic compounds, others pose a choking threat to them. Are strawberry seeds safe for chickens to eat?
Yes, chickens can safely eat strawberries as they are, without removing the seeds. Besides, strawberries don’t even have the kind of seeds that other fruits do.
Do strawberries have their seeds on the outside?
Just like strawberries are not true fruits, they don’t contain any seeds either. The small seed-like things that we see on the surface of strawberries are not really seeds but are the plant’s ovaries.
These little ovaries are called “achenes”. Each achene contains a separate seed within it. Moreover, seeds are not as essential in strawberries as they are in other plants, since strawberries are not grown from their seeds.
Can chickens eat the leaves of the strawberry plant?
The leaves of the strawberry plant do not contain anything that can be toxic for your little pet friends. So, they can safely eat their leaves if they like.
However, most chickens are not fond of eating leaves. In case you find your chickens showing an interest in strawberry leaves, you should restrict its quantity. Eating too many leaves can taint the taste of their eggs.
Can baby chicks eat strawberries?
The diet of chicks is not much different from that of their parents, except for the amount of food. Because of their smaller bodies, they eat lesser than adult chickens. The same is true in the case of strawberries.
As long as you are feeding them strawberries in moderate, they are perfectly safe for the chicks. Also, you can pick out smaller, softer strawberries that chicks can eat more easily.
Strawberries for chickens: serving ideas
Serving strawberries to chickens is not a complex task. Once you bring strawberries home, you should soak them in lukewarm water for a while to get rid of any chemicals that could be added on their surface. After a few minutes, rinse the water and wash them with clean water.
The next step is carefully removing the top (calyx), which often contains pesticides. You can use a knife to do it more precisely. Strawberries are now ready to be fed.
It is up to you whether you want to feed them whole or chopped strawberries. Since strawberries have no seeds, you need to worry about serving them whole is not a bad idea.
You can also tie the fruit to their cage with a thread and let them work to get it. This will also stimulate the brains. If you have other fruits at home, you can also make a fruit salad for them. Avoid adding salt to it, for chickens do not need more sodium in their diet.
Frequently asked questions
Which season is the best for feeding strawberries to your chickens? The ideal time for feeding strawberries to chickens is in summers when the ample water content of the fruit can keep them cool and hydrated in the hot and sunny days.
Can chickens eat chilies? Yes, chilies are healthy food for chickens who are immune to their fiery flavor. Chilies act as a pest deterrent and keep your chickens healthy.
Chickens rarely say no to anything you feed them, and strawberries are no exception to this. From the health perspective as well, strawberries are great as they add many essential nutrients to your chicken’s diet. However, chickens get bored easily and prefer to have a diverse diet. Thus, it is best to keep shuffling their treats.