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Can Chickens Eat Blackberries? Safe Food?

Many backyards have a blackberry plant growing, as they are easy enough to grow and yield delicious berries throughout the warmer months. You may be wondering, “Can chickens eat blackberries?” Are such berries safe for your flock? These are all good questions for responsible chicken owners to keep in mind whenever trying new foods.

Let’s get right to the answer.

Can Chickens Eat Blackberries?

blackberry with flower

Yes, chickens can safely eat blackberries. Unlike some other foods, like bell peppers, avocado, and citrus fruits, blackberries contain no toxins or chemicals that could harm your chickens when eaten. For this reason, blackberries are among the favorite treats a chicken keeper can give to their flock. Additionally, the texture of blackberries, which is soft and squishy and juicy, makes them easy for chickens to digest.

In short, your feathered friends are going to have a blast eating berries. The only problem is that they might like the sweetness of the berries so much that they start snubbing their regular food.

Can Chickens Have Blackberry Seeds?

Since chickens can have blackberries without issue, you may be curious if the seeds are safe, too. The good news is that the seeds are safe. If they weren’t, you would have to go through every single blackberry and manually remove them before feeding those berries to your chickens. Talk about a labor of love!

Blackberry seeds are not poisonous. Nor do they cause any digestive issues when consumed. You can give your chickens whole blackberries without any concerns of choking or blockages.

What About Blackberry Leaves?

blackberry leaves

For once, a plant that doesn’t have some kind of harmful toxin in the leaves! You may know that bell peppers and other members of the nightshade family have chemicals in the leaves, stems, and roots that can hurt your flock. Blackberries are much friendlier. While the chances of your chickens pecking and swallowing blackberry leaves are low, it can still happen.

The only time you want to keep blackberry leaves away from your chickens is if you are using herbicides and pesticides around your plants. Any residue from the chemicals could get on your chickens’ feathers or get ingested, potentially leading to a number of health complications.

Oh, but there is one thing you shouldn’t forget. If your chickens are free-roaming, they could get scratched by the very sharp thorns on some blackberry shrubs (many hybrids don’t have thorns). In their best interest, fence off your native blackberry bushes.

Can I Give My Chickens Blackberry Jam or Jelly?

While there are many types of birds that can be lured by jams and jellies, such foods are not recommended for chickens. Blackberry jam or jelly, be it homemade or store-bought, tends to be loaded with all kinds of processed sugar. In other words, you should avoid giving your chickens anything made with jam or jelly, including your breakfast table scraps. Chickens also should not have any blackberry candies that are covered in chocolate or sugary coatings.

Blackberries have enough sugar on their own. Too much sugar can cause weight gain, obesity, and electrolyte imbalances.

What Are The Benefits of Blackberries For Chickens?

blackberry jam

As mentioned earlier, blackberries are very safe for chickens to consume. That does not mean you can go overboard with the treats, though. Chickens tend to be stubborn creatures who get selective about what they eat. They may like blackberries so much that they ignore everything else on their plate.

As a chicken owner, your job is to ensure that your chickens are getting adequate nutrition from a variety of foods. The foundation of their diet (about 90% of all calories) should be a high-quality chicken feed. Treats constitute the remaining 10% of a chicken’s diet. However, even with a good chicken feed, your chickens need some supplementation and treats to keep them healthy and happy.

Blackberries are just one way to promote happiness and longevity within your flock. It helps that these berries also are beneficial to your birds. Here is the nutritional profile of 100 grams of blackberries:

  • Calories: 48
  • Protein: 1.39 g
  • Carbohydrates: 9.61 g
  • Fat: 0.49 g
  • Vitamin C: 21 mg
  • Vitamin K: 0.019 mg
  • Calcium: 29 mg
  • Potassium: 162 mg
  • Magnesium: 0.6 mg
  • Manganese: 0.646 mg

Although these amounts are small, they do help your chickens immensely. 

Vitamins and Minerals in Blackberries

First off, chickens are like people. Without the right amount of vitamins and minerals, things start to go wrong in the body. Take vitamin C, for instance. Vitamin C assists with the formation of collagen, which is needed for connective tissues, blood vessels, bones, and feathers. Since vitamin C also bolsters the immune system and helps with iron absorption, your chickens need small amounts of it throughout the week.

Manganese is another essential nutrient for your birds. This mineral supports the immune system and bone development. Manganese also supports metabolic functions in the body and controls blood sugar levels.

Fiber in Blackberries

Many kinds of berries — blackberries included — are high in fiber. Chickens do not digest food like people do, but they still need fiber in their diet. Not only does fiber maintain blood sugar levels, it fortifies good gut bacteria and promotes healthier bowels.

How to Feed Blackberries to Chickens

Give your chickens a bowl of blackberries, and they will no doubt engulf them all — frantically. Some chickens may be bullied and not even get a nibble. However, you don’t want to give your chickens access to a whole bowl of berries, nor do you want the flock attacking the bushes and ruining your fruit harvest.

To ensure your birds do not get overloaded on the sugar present in blackberries, keep their weekly serving to less than 10% of their total diet. This may seem like a small amount, but blackberries are low in calories. Your birds should be fine with several berries each.

Alternate between blackberries and other kinds of fruits. Not only does this introduce other antioxidants and nutrients, it also ensures that your chickens have a rich diet. Furthermore, some of your chickens may not even like blackberries. Switching up the fruits they receive will keep all your hens happy.

Preparing Blackberries For The Flock

Unlike some foods for chickens, you don’t have to spend too much time worrying about how to safely give blackberries to them. Drop the berries on the ground and observe the frenzy.

red cockerel with red puullet with eat something

That said, there are a couple of things you have to keep in mind:

  • Never give your birds rotten blackberries. Whether you have picked the berries from your own bushes or bought the carton in the store, always look over the fruit to see if they have mold or rot. Since this can make your chickens ill, discard any berries that do not pass the quality check.
  • Do not mix berries into your chicken’s feed. Blackberries are squishy and break easily. Should the juices mix with the feed and make it slimy, your chickens will waste it.
  • Sweep up any berries that are left behind. Blackberries can quickly rot, and when that happens, they smell foul. Leftover blackberries may also attract predators to the chicken coop.
  • Do not put berries in the coop for the same reasons as listed above.

Fresh blackberries are excellent summertime treats, due to the juice. The downside is that the sticky juice can get everywhere. If you want to provide your chickens with something cooling and delicious, consider placing the blackberries in the freezer for a short time. Frozen fruits are just as easily digested as fresh ones, but they will help your chickens endure the heat.

What Other Berries Can Chickens Eat?

Another common question raised by chicken owners is: Can chickens eat berries? There are many kinds of berries out there, but most of them are perfectly safe for chickens to eat. Plus, berries are low in calories and rich in antioxidants. Free-roaming chickens will make a meal out of any fallen berries, sometimes even stripping the bushes of the fruits.

While berries in general have a lot of nutrients and vitamins, they should never become a staple for your birds. Keep that in mind as you look over this list of what berries chickens can eat:

  • Elderberries
  • Cranberries
  • Kiwi
  • Bananas
  • Seedless Grapes
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries (though technically not berries)
  • Tomatoes

Final Thoughts on Blackberries

So can chickens eat blackberries? The answer is yes. Blackberries are perfectly safe for chickens to consume. Since blackberries grow between May and September, they may not be readily available throughout the whole year. Still, your chickens will love having this sweet snack whenever they can. Remember to keep the blackberries as a treat, not a staple. Otherwise your birds will become too picky and not want to eat their regular chicken feed!