What foods you should give to your chickens is a conversation that might seem never-ending. Having healthy chickens is a top priority for all of us, after all. But this subject can get overwhelming!
As most of you probably know, the primary source of nutrition for your chicks, hens, and roosters is quality chicken feed. There’s no questioning that – but what about the treats?
Fruit, for instance, is often a subject of great debate. Your birds love fruit, but you might be wondering whether or not certain ones are good for them. While there are many fruits to consider, today, we choose to research one that just seems like it could be the perfect treat: Blueberries!
So can chickens eat blueberries?
Well, the straight answer is YES! But like with all other foods, especially fruits, there’s a catch. So join us, and let’s figure out how this berry can be used as a delicious and healthy treat without any of the dangerous side effects. Let’s get started:
Can Chickens Eat Blueberries?
This could come as a surprise to some, but chickens actually love munching on fruits! Berries can seem like a risky move. Some of them don’t even sit right with us humans, but chickens have stronger stomachs than we give them credit for.
These lovely birds can enjoy a great range of foods. They can eat a wide array of fruits and vegetables, whether cooked, raw, or fresh. Not only that, they love a dish of certain healthy meats, fish, and whole grains.
But let’s get back to the blueberries. This sweet summer fruit can help with blood pressure, heart diseases, bone health, and a myriad of other things. That may seem like a list about the benefits of the fruit for us humans, but chickens can gain all of those and more from this treat.
Just like with other treats, we suggest making the consumption interesting! Scatter the blueberries around so your chickens can find them. They’ll have a blast competing with each other on who can find the most of them.
Adding blueberries to your chicken feed is also a great option. This way, you’re using the fruit as a healthy addition to an already rich meal. Just don’t go overboard with the blue and the purple – these delicious berries have a bad side to them!
We suggest giving your chickens blueberries a couple of times a week at most. The reason is that they are packed full of some pretty darn healthy nutrients and substances. While this is more good than bad, too much of the good stuff always ends with some health risks. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
How about we take a look at why these little blue and purple berries are so great for our birds:
Health Benefits And Nutrition
The case for blueberries in the treat conversation is pretty darn good. Sure, all berries have a quantity limit you should not cross with your chickens. That’s why they’re great for treats but not so good as a primary food source.
Let’s first take a look at the good sides of this fruit:
They Are Full Of Antioxidants
You have probably heard about antioxidants. You can’t go ten minutes into researching any sort of nutrition online without running into them. But what are they?
Well, to keep it simple, antioxidants are elements that are pretty good at fighting free radicals. Fighting might be a bit strong, but they help the body control them. Free radicals can help develop many diseases, which is why foods that contain a lot of antioxidants are so great.
The particular antioxidants in blueberries contain ellagic acids, anthocyanins, and resveratrol. These are the compounds that help protect your chickens from many diseases.
They Keep Your Chickens Blood Sugar In Check
It may seem strange to hear that fruit helps control blood sugar, but blueberries can actually do wonders in this department. If the other treats, or even the primary food source, contain a lot of carbohydrates – blueberries will help with controlling the blood sugar levels.
All berries generally help with blood sugar, with blueberries being the cream of the crop. Another great reason to always have them around!
Blueberries Are High In Soluble Fibers
Having a lot of fiber in your diet slows down the metabolism and lowers the needed calorie intake by making you feel full faster. This is what fiber does to us humans, but the chickens have the exact same reaction to it!
Blueberries are full of soluble fibers while having insoluble ones as well – just in smaller amounts. There is no significant difference between these two, just that the soluble ones do a better job of helping the digestive tract movement.
So why would you want your chickens to eat less? Well, the thing is that a high fiber diet won’t make them not eat enough – it will help them eat just right. This lowers the chance of obesity because it helps their bodies know exactly what food and how much they need.
Seeing that chickens are already very good at figuring out what their body needs, the fiber boost could make them nutritional geniuses!
They’re Rich In Nutrients
It would be an understatement to say that blueberries contain a lot of healthy nutrients. Sure, many fruits are healthy for your chickens, but blueberries really take it to the next level!
They are a great source of vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, and they help protect your chickens from heart diseases, help with coordination, balance, and improve memory. And even with all those nutrients, they’re still low in calories.
That’s a power treat for you!
They Help Fight Inflammation
Blueberries, like all berries, have some pretty great anti-inflammatory properties. The word inflammation may seem like something bad, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. Inflammation is the body’s natural way of defending itself against injuries or infections.
Inflammations are more often found in chickens that live an unhealthy lifestyle. By that, we mean chickens that don’t get enough physical exercise and are fed unhealthy foods.
If inflammations are left untreated, your chickens will develop chronic conditions like obesity and heart disease. The take-away here is that your chickens need a healthy lifestyle, but even if they already have one, consuming foods that help with inflammation is always helpful!
Blueberries Help Control Cholesterol
Blueberries are great for the heart; that’s a fact. But many types of research show that they are great at reducing cholesterol levels, not just in chickens but many other animals. As if there wasn’t already enough proof that blueberries are great at fighting obesity!
So if you have chickens that seem to be having a problem with obesity, which in turn affects their heart and blood health, implementing blueberries as a treatment option could be a natural cure.
How To Get The Best Out Of These Treats?
These health benefits are great, but it is crucial to keep blueberry intake low with your chickens. The best way to calculate the amounts is to keep in mind that your chickens can eat up to three berries in one day. But we recommend keeping the number of berries lower per bird.
So just add up how many chickens you have, and double the number. That’s approximately how many berries you should be feeding them. And make sure only to feed your chickens blueberries no more than a couple of times a week! Any more than that, and you’re gambling on those benefits becoming health risks.
Let’s take a look at some nutritional values, just to help you orient yourself better with the amounts:
While these are great numbers, especially for a fruit, they are per 100g of blueberries. These kinds of measurements are great for us humans because they reflect how much an average person could eat in a day. But we’re talking about chickens here!
This can generally be a difficulty while researching foods for your chickens. But you can easily calculate the amounts you need and the nutritional values of those amounts. Just make sure always to consider how many chickens you have, and then lower the fruit amount, just to be safe.
Let’s take a look at one more chart:
|Calories||43% of the RDI|
|Vitamin C||35% of the RDI|
|Manganese||32% of the RDI|
|Vitamin K||25% of the RDI|
|Copper||8% of the RDI|
|Folate||6% of the RDI|
The recommended daily intake chart could help clarify things a bit more. It also includes all those healthy nutrients that we mentioned a minute ago. As you can see, blueberries are an incredibly healthy fruit. Sure, your chickens are small creatures, so you can’t really give them a ton of them.
But even with the limited recommended amount, this treat will do wonders for your birds!
So there you have it! Blueberries may not be a great primary food source for your chickens; no fruit is. But as far as using them as a treat – they’re amazing!
You’ll have a hard time finding a fruit that is this low in calories but so rich in healthy nutrients. Just remember, moderation is key. Now pack your things and get yourself to the store; it’s time to get your chickens some blueberries!
Read Also: Can Chickens Eat Blackberries?