Chickens love a bit of variety in their diet. It makes sense, being that chickens are omnivorous, like humans. In fact, life may seem like an endless buffet line for your flock, especially when they can freely roam and are given treats regularly. Knowing what kind of fruit to give your flock is important, which brings us to the question: Can chickens eat strawberries?
Let’s learn how good strawberries are for your flock, as well as how many strawberries to give your chickens, and which parts to avoid.
Can Chickens Eat Strawberries?
Yes, chickens can eat strawberries; they love them. Most chickens are quick to eat a strawberry when the fruit is ripe and juicy. Strawberries also provide a number of nutritional benefits that will make your chickens the pride of your backyard.
So if you have a few leftover strawberries laying around after making a dessert, don’t hesitate to toss them to your birds. That said, you should only give chickens ripe strawberries without the stem or leaves, as these parts of the plant contain toxins.
What About The Strawberry Calyx?
Strawberries are fine for chickens to eat, but you should avoid giving them the calyx — the leafy green cap on top. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, non-organic strawberry calyxes are drenched in pesticides and herbicides. This is why strawberries continue to rank among the highest pesticide-contaminated produce around.
While the pesticides do not affect humans as much, birds tend to be extremely vulnerable to the damaging chemicals. Not only that, but if a sick hen lays an egg and you eat it, you’re going to feel ill, too.
The second reason to not feed the green leaves and stem to your flock is the toxins. Being that strawberries are included in the rose family, the calyx, stem, and other parts of the plant contain small amounts of cyanide. The fruit, however, is safe to eat, as with most edible fruits of the rose family.
Should chickens get a piece of the stem or calyx, the good news is that the amount will rarely be fatal. Most of the time, your chickens will get sick with some diarrhea.
Can I Treat My Chickens With Strawberry Jam?
You may have thought of trying strawberry jam on your chickens or chicks, being that it is softer and easier to digest. Unfortunately, it isn’t recommended to give your chickens any jam. Because jams are loaded with sugar (and other potentially chemicals), they are not a safe food for your chickens. Chickens should never eat sugary or salty processed foods, as well as green or sprouted potatoes or unripe tomatoes.
Are Strawberries Good For Chickens?
Chickens love it when you give them exciting treats like strawberries. The novelty alone is beneficial, as entertained chickens are happier. This is why free ranging is such a favorable practice, because chickens can find other sources of nutrition while on the move. Eating the same thing every single day without any variation means they would get bored and edgy.
Of course, strawberries contain a lot of healthy vitamins and nutrients that your chickens need for egg-laying and well-being. The only downside to strawberries is that the sugar content is a bit high.
Water makes up a large percentage of a strawberry’s composition (about 91%), meaning these fruits are the perfect summertime snack for chickens. Being that chickens need to stay hydrated for their health, it’s important that your flock is getting enough liquids throughout the day.
Strawberries are extremely rich in insoluble and soluble fiber (about 26% of the carbohydrate content), supporting digestive health and motility. Plus, the fiber keeps the beneficial bacteria in your chicken’s gut happy.
As mentioned earlier, strawberries have a large amount of water. Because of that, the amount of carbohydrates is low and primarily made up of simple sugars — sucrose, glucose, and fructose. This also means strawberries are low on the glycemic index, meaning they are a good choice for your birds.
Vitamins and Minerals
Additionally, strawberries are packed with vitamins B9, C, and antioxidants. Decent amounts of manganese, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium are also found in strawberries.
Vitamin C is powerful, and chickens need it to keep their immune system working hard. Folate, also known as vitamin B9, plays a role in tissue growth and cell function. Growing chickens need a lot of vitamin B9 to develop correctly, just like human babies.
Next up is potassium, which supports key body functions and regulates blood pressure.
Then there is manganese. Although manganese is available in trace amounts in strawberries, every little bit counts. Manganese is needed for several processes within the body, so chickens need to get as much of it as possible.
Other Healthy Plant Compounds in Strawberries
Strawberries may be a humble little fruit, but they have loads of plant compounds and antioxidants, including:
- Procyanidins: An antioxidant present in the flesh and seeds of strawberries that protects your birds against free radicals and disease.
- Pelargonidin: One of the primary anthocyanin compounds found in strawberries. This compound is responsible for the reddish color of the flesh. When consumed, pelargonidin and other anthocyanins support immunity, cardiovascular disease prevention, and help with weight management.
- Ellagic acid: A polyphenol, ellagic acid has many benefits for chickens. The most useful action, however, would be the removal of harmful toxins from the body.
- Ellagitannins: Like ellagic acid, ellagitannins bolster your chicken’s immunity and fight off bad bacteria in the gut.
The Health Benefits of Strawberries
Even a small amount of strawberries added to your flock’s diet can have a significant impact on your chickens’ overall health. Strawberries can be used to prevent chronic disease, improve cardiovascular health, lower blood sugar, manage weight, and much more. Now, you might be wondering why you should be concerned about heart problems in your chickens.
Heart-related issues are just as debilitating for birds. Ensuring that their hearts stay healthy and strong ensures that they will live long, productive lives.
The vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in strawberries provide the following benefits:
- Improved cholesterol profile and reduction of bad cholesterol
- Less inflammation
- Reduced oxidative stress
- Enhanced blood platelet function
- Reduced blood pressure
- Increased vascular function
- Blood sugar control
Strawberries Regulate Blood Sugar
There is a reason why it is recommended that you should limit your chicken’s intake of sugar, even if its from mangoes and bananas. Sugar causes the release of insulin, which helps the body utilize the sugars for fuel or stores it. When chickens eat too much sugar, their bodies become insulin-resistant, they gain a lot of weight, and then they struggle with metabolic dysfunction.
Strawberries do have sugar, but they also contain a number of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that assist with slowing sugar absorption. In other words, their blood sugar levels are better regulated, preventing unhealthy glucose and insulin spikes.
In other words, your flock stays more fit and feisty. Plus, you will get more eggs!
How To Feed Strawberries to Chickens
Now that you know about the numerous health benefits of strawberries for your chickens, you are probably excited to give these fruits out as treats. Before you do that, let’s talk about how to feed your chickens strawberries. Remember, you don’t want to overdo it with any kind of sugary fruit, even ones as good for your chickens as strawberries. Avoid giving strawberries daily. A few times a week should be enough!
Get Rid of Moldy Strawberries
Humans shouldn’t eat anything moldy. Neither should your chickens. Coming in contact with mold could result in terribly sick birds or even death. Whenever you prep food to treat your flock, make sure you are removing anything that is rotten or covered in mold.
A slightly squishy strawberry is fine — so long as it hasn’t gone bad.
Serve Up Frozen Strawberries
Chickens can easily become heat-stressed in the summertime. They need large amounts of hydration, which makes strawberries the ideal summer snack. To make this fruit even better, you can serve up frozen strawberries straight from the freezer. Your chickens will love the chilled berries on a hot summer day.
You can also make frozen strawberry pops for your chickens. There are two options for going about this: either blend up berries, mango, and banana into a smoothie and pour it into an ice cube tray or take the whole fruits and drop them into the ice cube tray before covering with water. Both will freeze up and become a tasty, chilly snack for your flock.
Other Ways to Give Chickens Strawberries
Whether you have an overabundance of strawberries from the garden or bought one too many cartons at the farmer’s market, there are many ways to give them to your chickens. Aside from freezing berries, you can also dice them up and mix with other fruits, seeds, and grains. Strawberries can be tossed to your chickens whole (with the leaves and stems removed) or blended into their chicken feed. The choice is yours!
Here are some foods that mix well with strawberries (and that your chickens will love):
- Apples (with seeds removed)
- Tomatoes (only red, ripe tomatoes without leaves or stems)
- Cooked rice
Naturally, you can give your chickens dehydrated strawberries as well. This is a good option for mixing into chicken feed, since juicy fruits may cause the texture of the feed to become unpalatable, even for chickens.
Foods To Avoid Giving Chickens
Yes, there is no inherent danger to feeding strawberries to your chickens. As long as you remove the stem and leaves from the fruit prior to feeding, your chickens won’t come into contact with any of the toxins present. However, you need to be cautious when it comes to other kinds of foods. While some parts of fruits and vegetables are safe, there are some that could make your chickens horribly ill.
Here are some foods that chickens should never have:
- Strawberry calyxes.
- Moldy or rotten food. Over-ripe is fine, but there should be no mold or rot present.
- Avocado skins and pits, due to a toxin called persin.
- Raw potato skins or sprouted potatoes. Cooked potato is fine.
- Salty foods, including chips and pretzels.
- Processed and greasy foods.
- Dairy food, including milk, yogurt, and ice cream. Chickens cannot digest lactose.
- Eggplant, pepper, and tomato stems and leaves contain a toxin called solanine that makes chickens very sick.
- Chocolate — it contains theobromine, which is deathly toxic to a number of animals and birds.
- Dry or uncooked rice and beans. Dry beans contain hemagglutinin, a toxin that causes clumping among red blood cells.
- Raw eggs, as chickens might start eating their own.
Final Thoughts on Strawberries
If you were wondering, “Can chickens eat strawberries,” you now have your answer. Strawberries are a wonderful snack for your chickens! Strawberries are full of vitamins and water, which is good for all chickens. However, as with any other kind of safe fruit for chickens, strawberries should never exceed 10% of your chickens diet.
Valerie has been content writing since 2016 for websites and companies all around the world. A traveler, dancer, martial artist, Valerie loves gathering experiences and wisdom. Her travels have taken her to over 20 countries, and she hopes to see more of the world soon.