I know it isn’t totally responsible, but part of the fun of owning any animal is figuring out what fun treats that they can have. Animals have feelings just like we do, and there’s hardly anything more joyous than getting your favorite morsel to eat.
They are certainly no different, and though chickens can eat many different things, including a lot of things that we eat, they cannot eat everything without risk.
How about raisins? Is it safe for chickens to have raisins?
Yes, raisins are safe for chickens in moderation. Despite nutritious vitamins and minerals raisins are mostly sugar and should only be given to chickens on a strictly limited basis to prevent health problems.
When you get right down to it, raisins are just dried out grapes, and chickens can have grapes… so it stands to reason they can have raisins.
But just because something is wholesome and natural does not mean it is always good, and in the case of raisins you’ve got to be really careful not to give your chickens too many lest they suffer from all the sugar.
But, as a once in a while treat raisins are just fine. Keep reading and I will tell you more just below.
What Benefits Do Raisins Have for Chickens?
Raisins, despite being such a sweet treat, actually have a pretty good assortment of vitamins and minerals which means they do have health benefits for chickens.
Raisins are obviously a good source of quick energy, particularly when your flock is dealing with stress or cold weather.
The vitamins present in raisins will help various metabolic processes in the body, and can even help overall cellular function and health.
The mineral content of raisins can do even more good, particularly:
- promoting bone growth and repair,
- promoting laying in mature hens,
- and even increasing the thickness of eggshells which will lead to higher quality, healthier eggs and greater viability if you’re hatching chicks.
Raisin Nutritional Info
Raisins have a solid nutritional profile, but not a stellar one.
They have a good assortment of vitamins and minerals, with vitamins K and E being vital for good health, and most of the B complex vitamins are represented, including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, B6 and folate. They also contain choline.
The mineral content is indeed pretty impressive, with lots of copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and calcium being present along with small amounts of zinc selenium and sodium.
Nothing to sneeze at, but the reason that raisins are not considered a particularly nutritious is because they are mostly sugar by weight, and they contain a very little water to bulk them up.
That means it is easy to go overboard eating sugar, for both chickens and people!
Are Raisins Safe for Chickens Raw?
Yes, they are. Raw, plain, or I guess technically “fresh” raisins are just fine for your chickens, and this is how they will probably prefer them.
Plain raisins also have the most amount of nutrients, as their vitamins and minerals greatly diminish when cooked.
Can You Cook Raisins to Give Them to Chickens?
You can, but you definitely don’t have to. Cooking raisins can plump them up, but this will reduce the nutrients as mentioned, and also make the much moister.
Moist foods are not great for chickens much of the time, and can lead to potential crop issues and even choking.
Just something to keep in mind, but in any case, you need not go out of your way to cook raisins before giving them to chickens.
Are Gold Raisins Safe for Chickens?
Yes, completely. Golden raisins are just a slightly different variety of raisins, but they are still safe and nutritious for chickens in all the same ways.
Are Black Raisins Safe for Chickens?
Yes. Black raisins, also called currants, are smaller, darker raisins, and that is pretty much it. They are just fine for chickens, but always remember to keep these treats in moderation just the same.
Are Raisins Still Safe for Chicks?
Yes and no. For small chicks, let’s say younger than 5 weeks or so, I would avoid giving them raisins as their digestive systems are just not mature enough to handle them.
They are a heightened choking risk, and all the sugar in raisins means you are just asking for trouble.
But for older chicks, and especially for adolescent chickens, raisins can be a fine treat so long as they are given rarely and only in small amounts: chicks, in no way, have to have raisins!
Stick to their starter feed and they will do just fine. Raisins are a great occasional treat for young chickens, and that is all.
How Frequently Can Raisins be Fed to Chickens?
As I hope is obvious by now, raisins are a treat for chickens in the strictest sense. They should never make up the bulk of their diets, and they aren’t even a proper supplemental food like whole veggies or other fruits. They are just too sugary!
Too much sugar is just bad news all around for chicks, and can cause a host of issues like poor egg quality, increased disease susceptibility, obesity and sour crop.
So, the general rule of thumb is to avoid feeding them raisins except periodically, only offering a scant few here no more than once a week (and preferably less) as an occasional treat.
In any case, watch your chickens closely: if they start acting oddly or having crop issues, then it’s definitely time to cut back their sugary snacks!
What’s the Best Way to Serve Raisins to Your Flock?
All you need to do to give raisins to chickens is toss them where they can reach them. Your chickens should at no time be getting so many raisins at once that you need to fill up a bowl or feeder with them! A few raisins per adult chicken is more than enough.
Raisins Are Safe, but Only Safe by Themselves: No People Food!
Raisins are quite sugary, as I have explained multiple times throughout this article, but that hasn’t stopped humans from making them even more delectable by adding raisins into recipes for deserts and other dishes.
For chickens, a few raisins here and there by themselves is perfectly fine, but if you start feeding your chickens things like cakes, puddings, tuna salad, and other creations you’re setting the stage for disaster!
Ingredients like excessive sugar, salt, oils, fats, dairy and the like will all play hell on your poor chickens’ health.
All of the issues attendant with excess sugar will be magnified, and a host of other issues could present themselves, including a few deadly – and agonizing – ones like sodium poisoning, or liver failure.
I get it: you want your chickens to be happy, and so you might think to share your food with them. But this is one instance where you need to think again, and for their own sakes.
By feeding them people food you are setting the stage for extra vet bills, sick chickens and potentially their deaths too!
They will like raisins plenty on their own, so just stick to them alone, eh?
Don’t Leave Raisins Around the Run or Coop
One last tip to help you head off an annoying consequence of feeding your flock raisins. You might think that leaving a few raisins lying around the run or coop is harmless enough, but the sugar in the raisins will attract pests like mice, rats and insects; before long you’ll have a full-blown infestation on your hands.
Save yourself and your flock the headache later on and ensure that you feed your chickens raisins in a part of the run or yard away from the coop, and drop them on a clear patch so they can get them all.
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.