Chickens love to eat all sorts of fruits and veggies, including many of the same things that you and I like eating.
It turns out that chickens are among the most omnivorous animals you can own, and watching them try out new foods and figuring out their favorites really is half the fun of owning them.
However, not all fruits are safe for chickens, including a few that you wouldn’t otherwise expect. How about blueberries? Can chickens eat blueberries safely?
Yes, blueberries are safe for chickens. They’re full of valuable antioxidants, vitamins and minerals but also high in sugar and very moist, so you shouldn’t let your chickens eat too many.
You don’t have to worry about feeding your chickens blueberries so long as you give it to them sparingly as a treat.
It’s no surprise that most chickens really seem to love them, so if you want to give your flock a wholesome, healthy reward or help them stay hydrated on a hot day you can do a lot worse than blueberries.
But there’s a lot more that you’ll need to know if you want to make them a regular part of your birds’ diet, and I’ll tell you about it in the rest of this article.
What Benefits Do Blueberries Have for Chickens?
Blueberries can do a lot more for your chickens than just serving as a sweet and wholesome treat.
Thanks to their solid nutritional profile, and particularly the high amount of antioxidants they contain, they can help keep your chickens healthy by:
- reducing disease risks and cellular damage
- improve overall immune system function
- enhance circulatory health
- fight inflammation which is critical for helping chickens heal from injuries
Blueberries are also good for the condition of your chickens’ skin and feathers, so aside from keeping them healthy it will also help them to look their best.
Since blueberries are so sugary, it is also a great choice for giving chickens a quick but wholesome boost of energy which is important for helping them to deal with hot weather stress in particular.
Blueberry Nutritional Info
Blueberries contain a surprisingly solid array of vitamins and minerals.
I say surprising because blueberries are such a common fixture in all sorts of desserts and other decadent treats, it’s easier to forget that they’re actually good for you, or rather good for your chickens!
Blueberries contain plenty of carbohydrates and just a little bit of fat and protein that can nonetheless give your chickens a jolt of energy that will last.
The vitamin content is it good overall, with vitamins K and C being standouts. Vitamin C is of course good for chickens, but they don’t have to get it from most foods because they make their own internally.
The B complex vitamins are also well represented with thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and B6 along with folate all being about equal.
The mineral content is slightly less impressive, but still important and meaningful for chickens, with a little shot of iron and calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. Most notably, blueberries contain a ton of manganese.
Blueberries are also, as you already know, quite juicy, and this can help chickens that stay hydrated though you must be cautious with the quantity since too much moist food can upset the digestive tract of most birds, including your chickens. I will address that in more detail a little later on.
Are Blueberries Safe for Chickens when Fresh?
Yes, certainly. Fresh is also best for your chickens! This is because fresh blueberries contain more of the valuable antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that your chickens need.
Cooking and drying blueberries will deplete the amount of available nutrients significantly, and there is not really a benefit to doing either since your chickens will be perfectly happy with fresh blueberries.
Are Dried Blueberries Safe for Chickens?
Yes, but with caution: Dried blueberries are inherently safe for your chickens, but again you must monitor the quantity.
Since dried berries contain much less water, the sugars are concentrated and the fruits are less bulky, meaning it’s far easier for chickens to overeat them, and quite quickly too.
It is also worth noting that in some cases, the drying process can reduce blueberries’ overall nutritional value significantly so your chickens may be missing out on key vitamins and minerals if you only give them dried blueberries.
But so long as you keep an eye on their portions then dried blueberries can definitely be part of your flock’ diet.
Can Chickens Safely Eat Blueberry Seeds?
Yes, with no issues. Blueberry seeds are extremely tiny and soft, meaning most chickens will happily scarf them down with the rest of the berry.
You won’t need to worry about these seeds like you would with apples, for instance.
Can You Cook Blueberries to Give Them to Chickens?
Yes, you can, though there is rarely need to do so. Chickens will find fresh blueberries perfectly tasty and enjoyable, but if you have some cooked blueberries handy for whatever reason, then these can also be given to chickens safely.
Just know that they will not be as nutritious, as mentioned, and also that you should never give your chickens blueberry-based treats like muffins or pies, as these contain ingredients that are not safe for chickens.
Are Blueberries Still Safe for Chicks?
Yes, but with a few restrictions. For one, wait until chicks grow up a bit, around 4 weeks old. Chicks should be living on starter feed at the beginning of their life.
Second, be especially careful feeding moist foods to chicks: they have delicate digestive systems, and can easily get an upset stomach or diarrhea from consuming too much moist food.
You can treat chicks with a tiny nibble of blueberry rarely, but don’t make it a regular treat until they are grown.
How Frequently Can Blueberries be Fed to Chickens?
Blueberries are a good food for chickens, no doubt about it, but it isn’t a primary food. This means that it should not be fed to your chickens in large quantities or even every day.
Instead, opt for feeding blueberries more like a special treat or supplement: once or twice per week at most is plenty for them to get the benefits and enjoy themselves.
Not only will this ensure that your chickens are eating the nutrition they need from more complete sources, but it will also help prevent issues that arise from too much sugar in their diet.
Consider that only about 10% of a chicken’s weekly calories should be coming from whole food sources, meaning other-than-feed. Of that 10%, blueberries should only be a fraction each week.
What’s the Best Way to Serve Blueberries to Your Flock?
For most chickens, you can simply toss some blueberries to them, and they will go to town. Alternately you can serve them up in a bowl or other container (as long as your chickens don’t get too possessive over food).
For smaller breeds or dainty, fussy eaters, consider slicing them in half first to entice them.
Try to Only Feed Blueberries to Chickens if They are Pesticide Free
There is one major issue with blueberries, or rather store-bought berries, you need to know about.
As with all types of fruit, blueberries are almost certainly sprayed with pesticides and other chemicals to protect them until they can be sold.
These toxins can be very harmful to chickens over time when consumed in large quantities, so it is really important that you only feed blueberries to your birds if they are certified organic or pesticide-free.
If you don’t grow your own, seek out a seller that offers them truly pesticide-free or talk to a local grower and see if they can help.
Blueberries are Safe, But Only Safe By Themselves: No People Food!
Like I mentioned above, blueberries are used in all sorts of desserts and other delicious sweets, but this means they are made with butter, sugar, oil and other ingredients that aren’t safe for chickens.
No matter how much your feathered friend seems begs for a nibble of your food, know that it is not at all good for them and resist!
Eating harmful things like that can cause serious problems like fatty liver syndrome or sour crop, so to keep your chickens healthy, happy and safe, make sure they only get plain blueberries on their own – cooked or otherwise.
Don’t Leave Blueberries around the Run or Coop
And one last thing: make sure you clean up when the flock is finished with the blueberries.
Leaving them around can attract insect pests and even predators, which could spread disease to your flock, or make a pass at them.
It can also lead to mold and mildew which won’t promote a healthy environment for chickens. So make sure you pick up those blueberry scrap after feeding them to your chickens!
Tim is a farm boy with vast experience on homesteads, and with survival and prepping. He lives a self-reliant lifestyle along with his aging mother in a quiet and very conservative little town in Ohio. He teaches folks about security, prepping and self-sufficiency not just through his witty writing, but also in person.
Find out more about Tim and the rest of the crew here.