Chickens are content eating just about anything, but if I’ve noticed one thing about these birds over the years it is that they seem especially enthusiastic about a perfectly ripe berry.
And who can blame them? There’s just something about the sweet juiciness of berries that makes you feel good, and clearly it makes chickens feel good too.
But chickens, as wide-ranging as their appetites are, cannot eat every kind of berry out there. Let’s look at raspberries for instance. Can chickens eat raspberries safely?
Yes, chickens can safely eat raspberries, and the entirety of the berry is nutritious and also harmless. Raspberries contain vital minerals and vitamins that can improve a chicken’s wellness, so they’re a great supplement to their diet.
I know, it just makes sense the chickens can eat berries in general, and raspberries are no exception.
They’re definitely a wholesome snack for your birds, but you should know up front that chickens can’t have all the raspberries that they want.
Too many raspberries in their diet can actually start to cause problems. It’s not much to worry about, and I will tell you all about it below…
What Benefits Do Raspberries Have for Chickens?
Raspberries offer lots of health benefits for chickens, namely the improvement of metabolism, blood clotting, and oxygenation factors, and the elimination of free radicals that can degrade cellular health.
Raspberries are also packed with vitamins that can help maintain and repair nerves and improve a chicken’s eyesight. They also promote healthy laying in hens, and improve the yolks of eggs.
More than this, raspberries have been linked with skeletal and connective tissue health, and even enhancement of feathering and chicks that get injured or just going through the usual yearly molt.
All told, that’s quite a lot of benefit from such a little bitty berry!
Raspberries Nutritional Info
Raspberries are probably most known and beloved for that delectable sweet, astringent flavor, and their aroma is second to none.
But they should be known for their surprisingly good nutritional profile, including a tremendous assortment of vitamins and a solid range of minerals.
Beginning with the vitamins, we see that we have most of the B-complex vitamins accounted for, with pantothenic acid, folate and niacin being the leaders, but there is thiamine, riboflavin and B6 too. Other vitamins include K, E and C.
Over on the minerals side, we have tons of manganese and significantly less but still respectable amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, and phosphorus.
Are Raspberries Safe for Chickens when Fresh?
Yes, completely safe, and fresh is what’s best for your chickens when it comes to raspberries.
Fresh berries will have the maximum amount of nutrients, and they’re so soft and plump there isn’t a chicken on Earth that will be unable to eat them this way.
Are Raspberry Seeds Safe for Chickens?
Yes, also totally safe. The seeds will disappear with the rest of the berry when eaten, and they won’t hurt your chickens in the slightest.
Can Chickens Eat Other Parts of the Raspberry Plant?
Yes. Chickens can and will nibble on bits of the leaves, stems and other plant parts if given the chance.
However, it’s not necessarily a nutrient-dense food source, but more of a “because it’s there” snack that won’t be able to provide your chickens with the same nutrition as the actual berries do.
Can You Cook Raspberries to Give Them to Chickens?
You can, but there is no need at all. Cooking raspberries will not make them easier to eat for your chickens, and it will also reduce some of their nutritional value. Keep them fresh!
But, for whatever the reason, if you happen to have some (plain!) cooked raspberries you can feed them to your chickens without worry.
Are Raspberries Still Safe for Baby Chicks?
Raspberries are nominally safe for chicks. I say nominally safe because juicy, sugary foods and chicks don’t really get along, and raspberries do fit into that category.
This is because they’re likely to cause diarrhea or indigestion in chicks, and when at a young and vulnerable age, either can potentially be fatal.
Even worse, they might cause chicks to choke or develop sour crop, and that can likewise prove deadly.
So, while they can and will eat them, it is better to wait until your chicks mature enough before introducing raspberries into their diet.
I recommend letting them reach about 6 weeks, maybe a hair younger, before giving them juicy fruits like raspberries.
How Frequently Can Raspberries be Fed to Chickens?
There is no question at all that raspberries are nutritious and wholesome, and that your birds will love them.
But even so, raspberries aren’t a mainstay for a chicken’s diet; rather, they are supplements. Think of them like healthy treats.
I recommend giving your chickens raspberries no more than once or twice a week, depending on the size of your flock, and also limit the quantity.
When given in moderation, they can provide excellent nutrition and relief from menu boredom without causing issues due to their moisture content and sugar.
Chickens that are allowed to indulge on berries whenever they want are likely to experience loose stools or even full-blown and nasty diarrhea.
Plus, if your chickens get too used to having delicious treats like this all the time, they might become picky eaters and turn down the more regular menu items you offer them!
What’s the Best Way to Serve Raspberries to Your Flock?
Just hand them over. You can scatter them on the ground or place a few bowls where your chickens will hopefully break up in groups to eat them.
Know your flock, and make sure that no one bird hogs all the berries.
Try to Only Feed Raspberries to Chickens if They are Pesticide-Free
Grocery store-bought raspberries have one major issue associated with them, and that is pesticides…
Studies have raised a number of concerns about the health risks posed by pesticides used on commercially bought raspberries and their potential long-term impact on avian (and human) health.
Research has linked the presence of certain pesticides on raspberries to an increased risk of egg deformities, and other serious harm.
Sadly, washing is not enough to eliminate all residues from the berries, and many berries (including raspberries) are leaders when it comes to retained toxins.
While organic raspberries may be free from some chemical treatments, they do not always guarantee safety.
Organic produce may still contain certain types of pesticides that are derived from natural sources and may still be harmful…
The best thing you can do if you want to serve raspberries to your birds is to get them in their natural state, from a local farm or market that uses no harmful chemicals. Or just grow them yourself!
Raspberries are Safe, But Only Safe By Themselves: No People Food!
Another thing to know about raspberries, or rather raspberries-as-ingredient: never, ever give your chickens any “people food” with raspberries in it.
People food is not good for chickens, as it has things like sugar, salt, and other unhealthy ingredients that chickens just don’t need.
These things make our favorite raspberry treats delicious, but disqualify them for our chickens.
Major health issues like hypertension, sour crop, sodium poisoning and fatty liver syndrome can arise if a chicken eats these things, and will tell you that all are painful and terrible for chickens, and often fatal.
Don’t risk it, and you aren’t depriving your chickens by doing so! They will love all-natural plain raspberries plenty, I promise.
Don’t Leave Raspberries Around the Run or Coop
And one last word of wisdom from me. If you give your chickens raspberries, see to it that you don’t leave them around the run or coop.
Raspberries will rot quickly, which might make birds sick that nibble on them later.
They will also attract lots of bugs and vermin thanks to that sweet aroma. Both outcomes are obviously bad news for a healthy coop and flock.
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.