It’s hard to imagine any piece of fruit that is more perfect and more appealing than a ripe, juicy strawberry. Enjoyed all around the world and appearing in countless desserts, strawberries are one of the world’s most popular fruits.
That’s all well and good, but what we need to know today is if our chickens can enjoy strawberries also. Can chickens eat strawberries, and are they safe?
Yes, chickens can eat strawberries safely. Chickens enjoy strawberries, and they are surprisingly nutritious, having a good assortment of vitamins and minerals such as vitamins E and K, phosphorus, and potassium.
You won’t need to work very hard to get your chickens to eat strawberries. They seem to hone in on the things! And as good as strawberries are and as healthy as they are for chickens they cannot make up a major part of their diet as with most fruits.
But don’t worry about it, this article will give you all the info you need to responsibly, and safely make strawberries a part of your flock’s diet.
What Benefits Do Strawberries Have for Chickens?
Strawberries, perhaps surprisingly, have a lot to offer your chickens. The vitamins and minerals will help sustain all sorts of critical biological processes, including managing metabolism and cellular function, organ and nervous system health, proper bone growth and repair, circulatory health, and even promoting proper laying in hands, and the formation of a solid, healthy eggshells.
As you know, strawberries are juicy and sweet, and the combination of carbohydrates and moisture can give chickens energy when they are run down.
It’s particularly important for dealing with heat stress as temperatures rise, or if you have a chicken that has heavy plumage.
All your chickens know is that they like eating them, and that’s enough, but you can rest easy knowing that you’re actually giving your chickens a big shot of nutrition when you treat them with strawberries!
Strawberry Nutritional Info
Strawberries are surprisingly dense with various nutrients, vitamins and minerals alike.
Before we go any further, looking at the macronutrient profile we see they have plenty of carbohydrates and a little bit of fiber, and as mentioned above, strawberries are very juicy, with nearly 91% of their weight being water.
Moving down to the vitamins, most of the B complex vitamins are present in varying amounts, with folate and B6 being relatively abundant, and vitamins E and K are present as well.
The best offering among the vitamins present in strawberries is vitamin C. While this is a good thing, it’s not quite as important for chickens as it is for mammals because chickens can synthetise their own vitamin C.
Now let’s look at the minerals… There is a lot to like here, too, with tons of manganese, and a good assortment of other minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and a little bit of zinc.
Truly, strawberries have many things that chickens need! Significantly more than apples and several other fruits besides.
I’ll definitely be looking at strawberries in a whole new light when it comes to feeding my flock.
Are Strawberries Safe for Chickens when Fresh?
Yes, they are! Fresh strawberries are the best choice for your chickens, bar none. Fresh strawberries have the maximum nutritional value and taste great, plus they are so soft no chicken will struggle to eat them.
Also, don’t worry about the seeds. They are safe, too. If you look closely, you’ll see strawberries have a lot of tiny seeds stuck in them.
You don’t need to take these seeds out when feeding them to your chickens; they are totally safe!
Are Strawberry Stems and Leaves Safe for Chickens?
Maybe? This is a tricky question to answer, bear with me. Supposedly, all parts of the strawberry plant are safe and non-toxic.
However, depending on who you ask, you may get conflicting opinions…
Some owners swear up and down that strawberry stems and leaves (the green calyx, or sprout, on top of the berry) cause diarrhea and upset stomachs in chickens.
However, most scientific research is either mum about it, or even says the opposite.
One study even showed that these greens have significant antimicrobial properties for chickens. At worst, scientists say they are harmless: PoultryDVM shows strawberries as listed on their index of safe plants for chickens.
The stem and leaves of the plant do have some nutritional value to your chickens, so if you’re debating whether or not to let your chickens eat them, I say start with a tiny sample, and keep a close eye on your birds for any mishaps or ill effects. If you notice a link, stick with the berries only!
Can You Cook Strawberries to Give to Chickens?
You can, but this is wholly unnecessary, and will degrade the nutritional value of the berries. Not to mention that it is a big waste of time for you! If your chickens are picky eaters and snub whole berries, just slice them or mash them up and throw in some mealworms or something else high in protein to make it interesting for them.
Now, if you have cooked strawberries, they are still safe for chickens so long as they have no added ingredients that chickens don’t need. I’ll talk more about that later, but keep it in mind.
Are Strawberries Still Safe for Chicks?
Yes, strawberries are safe for baby chicks, but you should let them grow before they start eating them.
Chicks are super sensitive eaters, and have stringent nutritional needs, so it is best to give them until 4 or 5 weeks before they try a strawberry for the first time. Even then, keep the portion tiny: chicks don’t cope well with too much sugar.
How Frequently Can Strawberries be Fed to Chickens?
Strawberries are a healthy addition to your chickens’ diet, but it is not a mainstay part of the plan.
Chickens can have strawberries as a treat or supplement once or twice a week, but not more than that, I’d say. Strawberries are full of nutrients, but also pretty sugary, and chickens don’t cope with too much sugar.
Excess sugar, even in the form of fructose, can cause weight gain, lethargy and even serious metabolic issues. Once or twice a week should be enough to give your flock some extra vitamins and pep without worrying about any of that.
What’s the Best Way to Serve Strawberry to Your Flock?
You won’t have to do much to entice your chickens to eat strawberries, or at least you won’t most of the time. Consider removing the calyx, or those green leaves on top of the strawberry and then just hand them over, taking care to spread them around so all chickens get one. If you have small or skittish birds, slice them in half or into quarters prior to serving.
You can also mash strawberries with a fork and mix in a little feed if you prefer, or add other whole ingredients that chickens like.
Try to Only Feed Strawberries to Chickens if they are Pesticide Free
I must caution about store-bought strawberries: among all the fruit that you can buy, strawberries are just about the worst when it comes to pesticide absorption. Washing them off won’t help!
These pesticides can cause serious health issues in your chickens, and will build up in their bodies if they ingest them over time, so if you are buying strawberries for your flock make sure they are organic and pesticide-free.
Of course, the best option possible is to just grow your own – it’s not too hard! That way you will know precisely what is and what is not going into your precious birds.
Strawberries are Safe, But Only Safe By Themselves: No People Food!
Remember when I talked about how popular strawberry desserts are? Remember also when I talked about cooking strawberries?
Now is when I tell you that you must never feed your chickens any food made with strawberries, be strawberries with cream, cake, ice cream, or something else.
People food is not meant to be eaten by chickens, and all of the added sugar, salt and dairy products will make them terribly ill, or even kill them.
Don’t risk it! Fresh strawberries only, please!
Don’t Leave Strawberry Scraps Around the Run or Coop
If there is one more flaw that strawberries have it is that they attract bugs and other pests like there’s no tomorrow. Must be something about that alluring fragrance.
Therefore it is important that you don’t leave any strawberry bits and scraps around the coop, as you will attract all these unwanted guests that can make trouble for your birds later.
Clean up after feeding your chickens strawberries, throw away the leftovers immediately, and make sure that no traces remains behind.
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.