Can chickens eat cranberries?
Yes, chickens can eat cranberries because these winter fruits are non-toxic and full of vitamins, antioxidants, and nutrients necessary for your flock’s health.
But what are the benefits of feeding chickens cranberries, and how to include fresh cranberries in your chickens’ balanced diet?
Keep reading my chicken feeding guide, and you’ll find the answers.
Table of Contents
- Cranberries are a nutritious snack and can be part of your flock’s diet in moderation.
- Feeding chickens raw cranberries has numerous health benefits.
- Always feed cranberries to chickens in moderation and mix them with other nutritious snacks for maximum results.
Are Cranberries Toxic to Chickens?
Cranberries are an excellent fruit to eat due to their taste and variety of nutrients. Fresh cranberries are usually available during the fall season, and dried cranberries are available year-round.
People often enjoy cranberries in smoothies, baking goods, and desserts. So, it’s natural to wonder if it’s safe to feed cranberries to chickens.
After all, some berries are toxic to chickens, and common garden plants are more dangerous than most chicken owners realize.
So, can chickens eat cranberries? Cranberries are among the safe berries for chickens. They don’t contain dangerous chemicals and can be an excellent treat for chickens to boost their immune system.
Moreover, cranberries are tasty, and chickens love the taste as much as people do. Most flocks will be delighted to have this fresh fruit in small amounts.
Still, chickens need plenty of protein in their diet for healthy bones, growth, and egg production. The commercial feed should account for 90% of your flock’s diet.
But what about dried cranberries? Should you feed chickens dried cranberries? You’d be surprised.
Can Chickens Eat Dried Cranberries?
Chickens are omnivorous animals and will eat dried cranberries. And most birds enjoy dried cranberries as much as fresh ones.
But when feeding dried cranberries, be careful where you get them from. Most dried cranberries found at grocery stores have added sugar and other preservatives.
Too much sugar isn’t healthy for chickens because it can raise blood sugar levels and lead to weight gain. And preservatives can disturb your birds’ digestive tract.
Moreover, dried cranberries are processed to remove all the water, so they lose essential vitamins. So, dried cranberries from the store aren’t healthy treats.
Instead of buying dried cranberries from the grocery stores, you can buy fresh cranberries and dry them yourself. It will be healthier for the chickens since you won’t add sugar and preservatives.
And can you cook cranberries for your chickens? Let’s find out!
Can Chickens Eat Frozen or Cooked Cranberries?
You can cook cranberries and offer them as healthy snacks. But don’t add sugar, artificial sweeteners, or preservatives, and don’t cook them with toxic foods for chickens, such as potatoes.
Keep in mind that cooking destroys some of the beneficial nutrients in cranberries. While cooked berries are softer and easier to peck, uncooked cranberries are better for your backyard chickens.
As for frozen cranberries, they keep most of their vitamins and minerals, so they’re nutritious treats and excellent snacks for chickens during the summer.
But what about the seeds? Are cranberry seeds safe for chickens?
Can Chickens Eat Cranberry Seeds?
Cranberries have tiny seeds which are safe, edible, and full of antioxidants (unlike apple seeds and fruit pits that contain trace amounts of cyanide).
Still, the seeds taste bitter and are hard to peck, so not all chicks will eat them. Now, let’s see if cranberries make a good treat for baby chickens.
Can Baby Chickens Eat Cranberries?
Baby chickens can eat cranberries, but make sure they are cut into small pieces. Large pieces of cranberries could get lodged into their throat and cause them to choke.
Baby chickens can eat cranberries that are fresh, dried, or cooked. But you should wait until the baby chicks are at least a couple of months old before introducing this fruit to their diet.
And what are the benefits and drawbacks of feeding cranberries to chickens?
Health Benefits of Cranberries for Chickens
Cranberries are an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. For such a small fruit, it’s packed with a lot of nutrients that can benefit your flock.
According to Healthline, 100 grams of cranberries contain (1):
- Calories: 46
- Water: 87%
- Protein: 0.4 grams
- Carbs: 12.2 grams
- Sugar: 4 grams
- Fiber: 4.6 grams
- Fat: 0.1 grams
Moreover, cranberries are rich in vitamin E, vitamin C, manganese, copper, and vitamin K, making them the perfect occasional treat to keep chickens healthy.
But let’s talk about the beneficial health effects of cranberries in detail and why you should feed them in moderate amounts.
1. High Fiber Count
Cranberries are high in fiber, which promotes bowel movement and helps prevent bloating, constipation, and other digestive issues.
2. Cranberries Boost the Immune System
Cranberries are a rich source of vitamin C. And as you know, vitamin C is necessary for a strong immune system, and it reduces the risk of respiratory issues during the cold season.
They’re also an excellent source of nutrients and a boost of vitamins necessary for your chickens’ normal immune system function.
3. Cranberries Are Rich In Antioxidants
Cranberries have the following antioxidants: anthocyanin (this is what gives them a robust red hue color), proanthocyanidins, flavonoids, and phenolic acids.
These antioxidants help slow down or prevent free radical damage to the cells. And cranberries are effective for urinary tract infections in humans, benefiting the excretory system.
#4 High in Water
Cranberries are around 87% water and can keep your birds hydrated in hot weather. So, these juicy fruits are an excellent healthy snack for chickens during the summer months.
#5 Heart Health
Due to their high antioxidant content, raw cranberries can support proper heart function, reduce stress, and prevent heart problems.
And cranberries are rich in vitamins necessary for proper blood clotting and bone health. But are there any dangers in feeding chickens cranberries? Let’s find out!
What Are the Dangers of Feeding Your Chicken Cranberries?
Cranberries are healthy treats for chickens, but you should feed cranberries to chickens in moderation. And here is why.
#1 High Sugar Content
While cranberries have many nutritional benefits, they contain sugar. And too much sugar in your birds’ food can cause high blood sugar levels and disrupt the digestive system.
Moreover, excessive amounts of sugar can interfere with the normal production of eggs and lead to weight gain, bad blood sugar control, and other problems.
Also, you should avoid feeding birds cranberry sauce or cranberry pie. Sweet things can be suitable snacks for chickens but shouldn’t be part of your flock’s daily diet.
Manufacturers often treat cranberry plants and their leaves with pesticides. And these pesticides can be dangerous for your flock or pet birds.
So, to keep your chickens safe, you should always wash this sweet fruit well to remove any toxic residue.
#3 Lack of Essential Nutrients
As specialists from RSPCA say, “A good quality commercial poultry feed should be the main component of your hens’ diet to make sure they get all the nutrients they need.” (2)
Cranberries aren’t the best source of protein or calcium, both of which are necessary for your flock’s proper bone growth, digestive health, and egg production.
Are you wondering whether it’s safe to feed your chickens dried apricots, kiwi, blueberries, or raspberry leaves? Our articles “Can Chickens Eat Dried Apricots“, “Can Chickens Have Kiwi“, “Can Chickens Eat Blueberries“, and “Can Chickens Eat Raspberry Leaves” explore these questions in detail, providing you with all the information you need to make informed decisions about your chickens’ diet. Don’t miss out on these valuable insights and advice for every chicken owner!
How To Feed Cranberries To Chickens
Chickens tend to eat anything you put in front of them. So, you won’t have a hard time getting them used to cranberries in their diet, as you can see from this video.
But here are a few tips to help you:
- Pick natural cranberries, preferably organic. Avoid store-bought products with added sugar and moldy foods. They can make your birds ill.
- Wash the cranberries well to remove any pesticide residue.
- Give cranberries whole or cut them into pieces.
- Alternatively, crush and mix cranberries with other fresh fruits to include them in your flock’s winter diet.
- Remember to provide a bowl of water, especially during hot weather conditions.
How Much And How Often To Feed Cranberries To Chickens
Just like any other fruit, you should provide cranberries for chickens as treats. Larger amounts of cranberries can cause digestive problems such as upset stomach and diarrhea.
The number of cranberries to feed should be about 1-2 cranberries for each chicken. This is enough for them to reap the health benefits and avoid the risks.
1. What Should Chickens Absolutely Not Eat?
Flock owners should avoid potatoes, tomatoes, avocado flesh, onion, garlic, uncooked beans, or uncooked rice. Also, don’t give citrus fruits because they interfere with calcium absorption.
2. Are Dried Cranberries OK For Chickens?
Dried cranberries are great treats for chickens. However, you should feed them in moderation to your backyard chickens.
3. Which Fruits And Vegetables Are Poisonous to Chickens?
Chicken owners should avoid plants from the nightshade family, such as tomato plants, peppers, or potatoes. Avocados, apple seeds, rhubarb, and uncooked beans are also toxic.
4. What Is Highly Toxic to Chickens?
Avocado pits, avocado skins, apple seeds, uncooked green beans, green tomatoes, and unripe peppers are toxic to chickens, and flock owners should avoid them.
5. Are Strawberries Toxic to Chickens?
Strawberries are safe bird food, and adding strawberries to your chicken’s diet has many health benefits.
Can chickens eat cranberries? These winter berries are an excellent chicken snack and are beneficial for your flock’s immune system and digestion.
And it doesn’t take much time to prepare cranberries for chickens, so they’re a great fruit to add to your chickens’ diet when you’re busy.
What do you think about this topic? Can chickens eat cranberries? Share your thoughts in the comment section.
1. Atli Arnarson, PhD. Cranberries 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits [Internet]. Healthline. Healthline Media; 2019. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/cranberries#nutrition
2. What should I feed my backyard hens? – RSPCA Knowledgebase [Internet]. Available from: https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/what-should-i-feed-my-backyard-hens/
My name is Ben Roberts, and I absolutely love animals. So, naturally, I love writing about them too! As far as my animals, I have a Pit-bull, a Beagle-lab mix, a Chihuahua, and one old cat. Each one of them provides me with a new adventure every day. And the best part is they’re all best friends. Well, except the cat when he gets a little annoyed.
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