I’ve said this before but it’s something that bears repeating homesteaders really appreciate their animals. Whether it’s their dogs and cats, or livestock animals, they understand and appreciate the value of having healthy stock.
This is especially true when it comes to chickens and other birds which have a much more… stringent diet.
The health of one’s chickens will determine the quality of the meat and/or eggs and so they have to be very carefully fed and cared for. This caution extends, of course, to the treats that you give them.
When it comes to treating your birds (because everyone likes a treat every now and then) you need to know which treats are safe for them and which ones aren’t. With that in mind, one of the more common snacks to give are grapes but are they healthy? Can chickens eat them?
Yes, chickens can eat grapes – in moderation. Their small size is easily eaten, and the texture and flavor make it a favorite snack. It’s also highly nutritious – high in vitamins and minerals like iron, potassium, and fiber.
Adding grapes to your birds’ diet will add a nice bit of variety – which will be greatly appreciated.
There are several health benefits that chickens get from grapes. For one thing, fresh foods are digested easier, and grapes are high in vitamins and minerals including iron, magnesium, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, fiber, and vitamins A, C, E, and K – as well as many others.
They provide a good source of energy and, all in all, they’re a healthy snack that are a great source of antioxidants!
The vitamins and minerals found in grapes also help to promote healthy weight gain and bone development, and control diabetes in your birds. They also ensure a healthy gut and strong immune system.
You’ll be glad to know that these vitamins and minerals also contribute to making the eggs your hens lay much healthier.
As far as health risks go, the biggest one is overeating – though this is mostly attributed to owners feeding their birds too many grapes.
Grapes are a sweet treat and overfeeding them to your birds will turn them into fussy eaters; they’ll want grapes and little else. This poses quite a health risk; they don’t get all the nutrition they need to stay healthy.
They are high in sugar and, much like us, chickens can only eat so much sugar before it starts to negatively impact them.
Overeating grapes can cause bloating and/or digestive issues, there’s also the chance your birds will try to eat them whole which poses a choking hazard.
Choking hazards like this can be mitigated easily enough; just cut the grapes in half or into quarters and feed the smaller pieces to your birds.
Store-Bought or Off the Vine?
So, which is better? Wild grapes straight from the vine or store-bought grapes? If you’ve got grapevines on your homestead, the birds may occasionally browse at the fruit for a bit before going back to their search for tasty bugs.
Store-bought grapes, however, should be rinsed off before they’re given to your birds. This is to make sure that there aren’t traces of pesticides/chemicals which might cause problems for your flock.
Can Chickens Eat Raisins?
The answer is yes, but only in moderation. Raisins are high in sugar and can cause digestive issues if chickens eat too many of them. In addition, raisins can be a choking hazard for small chicks.
For these reasons, it’s best to limit the amount of raisins that your chickens consume. If you do decide to give them a treat of raisins, be sure to monitor their intake and remove any uneaten raisins from their coop.
Grapes are a type of fruit that chickens can eat. However, there is some debate over whether or not grapes with seeds are safe for them to eat.
The seeds of grapes contain a compound called amygdalin, which is converted into cyanide in the chicken’s digestive system.
Cyanide is poisonous to chickens and can cause death. However, in small amounts, it is not fatal.
Some people believe that the amount of amygdalin in grape seeds is too small to be dangerous to chickens. Others believe that it is best to avoid giving chickens any grapes with seeds.
In reality, it’s unlikely that the number of seeds your chickens would eat from even a large handful of grapes would be enough to cause problems – it’s not something I’ve ever witnessed in my flock. As long as these aren’t a main portion of their diet, you are probably fine.
For the most part, chickens eat a diet of seeds, grains, and greens. However, they also enjoy the occasional treat, such as a juicy grape.
Grape Skins are not toxic to chickens, so there is no need to worry if your feathered friend takes a nibble. However, grape skins are not particularly nutritious, so they should not make up a large part of your chicken’s diet.
Also, the grape skins can be tough for them to digest. As a result, you may want to remove the grape skins before giving them to your chicken.
Yes, backyard chickens can eat grape leaves! Grapes are a great source of antioxidants, which can help to boost the immune system and protect against disease. Furthermore, grape leaves are a good source of fiber, which can help keep chickens healthy and improve their digestion.
Like ripe red grapes, grape leaves and stems from any type of grape plant (concord, seedless, thomcord, Niagara, and more) are great for your birds.
Grape leaves contain tannins, which can help to prevent parasites from infesting the gastrointestinal tract.
Finally, grape leaves can provide chickens with a source of essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, manganese, vitamin K, vitamin C, iron, and calcium. The whole plant has benefits for your birds.
Chickens can even eat grapevines! Although they might not do too much more than nibble on the woody vines, they’ll love munching on the leaves and other parts of the plant throughout the day.
So if you have a grapevine in your backyard, feel free to let your chickens take a bite.
You may want to protect the fruits on the plant with netting so your chickens can’t harvest them prematurely, though.
Feeding your Chickens
If you’re looking to feed grapes to your chickens, there are a few ways to do so safely.
Ideally, you can reduce the chances of choking, you can feed your birds seedless, organic grapes and/or cut them into smaller pieces to be spread evenly to allow each bird an equal share. You can also freeze the grapes and give them to your birds on a hot day.
Hanging bundles of grapes in the coop provides a workout for your flock and an amusing show to watch as they jump to grab a grape or two and/or chase each other around to try and score an easy treat.
So, before I leave you all, let’s do a quick recap:
- Yes, chickens can eat grapes; they are in fact highly nutritious – when fed in moderation.
- Grapes are a good source of energy and are high in iron, potassium and fiber as well as vitamins A, C, E, and K. These vitamins promote healthy weight gain and bone development, and keep your chickens’ guts clean and their immune systems strong. They also improve the quality of your hens’ eggs.
- There are risks of choking and overeating. Overeating leads to bloating and digestive problems. Choking hazards can be mitigated by cutting the grapes into smaller pieces and/or by giving them seedless grapes.
I think that covers everything, feeding your chickens grapes is something they will certainly appreciate but it’s important to keep in mind that this isn’t part of their natural diet.
As with anything that isn’t naturally a part of an animal’s diet; it should be consumed in moderation.
To quote an aunt of mine: “everything in moderation” and, before you ask, no, we don’t exactly follow that rule in our house.
So if you have extra grapes lying around from making jams, jellies, or preserves and want to offload them on your chickens, go for it! Just don’t get too carried away.
Anyways, I hope you enjoyed the article and found it informative. Thanks, as always, for reading and I’ll see you in the next one! Take care!
Questions You May Have
The amount of grapes a chicken can eat will depend on the individual bird’s size and appetite. In general, it is safe to say that most chickens will enjoy a few grapes as a treat.
The best way to feed grapes to chickens is to cut them in half or quarter them first. This will help to prevent your chickens from choking and also make it easier for them to digest the grapes.
Avocados are toxic to chickens, since the pit and skin contain a substance known as persin. This can be deadly.
Grapes are fine in moderation, but you should avoid feeding foods like chocolate (which contains theobromine), apple seeds (cyanide), caffeine, fruit pits, alcohol, and excess sweets.
Greg spent most of his childhood in camping grounds and on hiking trails. While he lives in the suburbs nowadays, Greg was raised on a small farm with chickens. He’s a decent shot with a bow, and a huge knife enthusiast. Find out more about Greg.