- Chickens can safely eat cherries as they are omnivores, and cherries offer various nutritional benefits.
- Cherries contain vitamins A and C, potassium, antioxidants, and phytonutrients, making them a healthy snack for chickens.
- Cherries support immunity, promote vision, bolster bone health, have anti-inflammatory effects, and support digestion in chickens.
Cherries are a tasty summer fruit that many people enjoy. But can our feathered friends also eat cherries? Let’s find out!
Chickens are omnivores, meaning they can eat both plant and animal matter. Their diets consist mainly of grains, vegetables, fruits, and insects. As cherry season rolls around, you may wonder if it’s safe and healthy to toss your flock some cherries.
The short answer is yes! Chickens can safely eat cherries. But there are some things to keep in mind regarding different types of cherries, portions, and preparation. Read on to learn all you need to know about feeding cherries to chickens.
Do Chickens Like Cherries?
In general, chickens find cherries to be a delicious treat. Both the fruit flesh and juices contain nutrients like vitamins A and C, calcium, potassium, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. This makes cherries a healthy snack for chickens.
The sweet taste of cherries is enticing to chickens. They will eagerly gobble up fresh cherries when offered. It’s best to introduce cherries slowly and in moderation to avoid overindulgence. But most chickens become quite fond of the bright, juicy orbs.
Are Cherries Good for Chickens?
Cherries offer several benefits for chicken health:
- Vitamins A & C – Important for immune health and disease prevention. Vitamin A also aids vision.
- Potassium – Helps nerves and muscles function properly.
- Antioxidants – Reduces cell damage from free radicals; boosts immunity.
- Phytonutrients – Provides anti-inflammatory effects.
- Low calories – A healthy, low-fat treat.
So cherries make an excellent supplemental treat for chickens as part of a balanced diet. Just don’t overdo it, as chickens may ignore more nutritious foods to fill up on tasty fruit.
Benefits of Cherries for Chickens
Let’s take a closer look at some of the top health benefits of cherries for chickens:
- Supports immunity – With high Vitamin C content, cherries can boost immune function in chickens. This aids disease resistance.
- Promotes vision – The Vitamin A in cherries helps chickens maintain healthy eyes and vision.
- Bolsters bone health – The calcium in cherries contributes to bone strength and development.
- Anti-inflammatory effects – Cherries contain antioxidants and phytonutrients that reduce inflammation. This eases joint pain.
- Supports digestion – Cherries provide moisture and fiber to promote good digestion and bowel movements.
Overall, cherries offer great nutritional value packed into a small, flavorful fruit. In moderation, they make a tasty, healthy supplement for chickens.
What Type of Cherries Can Chickens Eat?
Chickens can eat most common varieties of cherries, including:
- Black cherry
- Sweet cherry
- Sour cherry
- Tart cherry
Both sweet and tart cherries are fine for chickens to eat. Sweet cherries may be more enticing and palatable. But chickens don’t seem to mind the sour tang of tart cherries.
You can offer either fresh or frozen cherries. If using frozen, thaw them first to avoid any choking hazard from partially frozen fruits. Canned cherries are also OK, as long as they are packed in water or natural juice, not sugary syrups.
Can Chickens Eat Cooked Cherries?
Yes, chickens can eat cooked cherries without issue. Cooking actually breaks down the cherry flesh to make it a bit easier to digest.
You can boil, bake, or roast cherries as treats for your flock. Just avoid adding any seasonings, salt, sugar, or other ingredients. Plain cooked cherries are the safest option.
You can also save and offer chickens the cooking liquid from boiled, baked, or roasted cherries. This “cherry juice” contains extra nutrients. Just let it cool before serving to avoid any scalding.
Which Parts of Cherries Can Chickens Eat?
Chickens can safely eat all parts of cherries, including:
- Flesh – The juicy, sweet interior pulp provides moisture and carbs.
- Skin – Chicken gizzards can grind up the thin skins without trouble.
- Leaves/Stems – These provide fiber and trace minerals.
- Pits – While the pit itself is indigestible, chickens can eat the meaty inner part.
So feel free to toss chickens whole cherries. They’ll happily peck away the flesh, skin, and any leaves or stems still attached.
NOTEJust monitor consumption of the pits. Swallowing an occasional pit or two is fine, but too many may present a choking risk.
Can Chickens Eat Cherries With Seeds?
Yes, the seeds inside cherries are not toxic or harmful. The flesh inside the pit provides extra nutrition.
However, chickens shouldn’t eat large quantities of whole cherry pits. The woody pits are hard to digest. If consumed in excess, they could potentially cause an intestinal blockage.
To be safe, you can pit cherries before feeding. Or closely monitor consumption and limit chickens to just a few pits per serving. Large cherry varieties with bigger pits like Bing cherries are more of a hazard than smaller fruit.
Can Chickens Eat Cherries With the Pits?
While cherry flesh is completely edible, the hard pits can pose health risks if consumed in large amounts. A few pits here and there is fine. But chickens should not eat cherries with all the pits intact on a regular basis.
The fibrous, woody pits can lodge in a chicken’s crop or intestinal tract, causing obstructions. So it’s best to pit cherries before serving. If feeding whole, limit treat portions to just a few fruits at a time and keep close eye on consumption.
Can Chickens Eat Cherry Skin?
Yes, chickens can safely eat the thin skin of cherries. The skin contains nutrients and fiber.
Chicken gizzards are well equipped to grind up cherry skins with no trouble. The skins provide beneficial antioxidants like anthocyanins.
NOTESome people prefer removing the skins before feeding due to potential pesticide residues. But with thoroughly washed, organic cherries, the skins pose no safety risk for chickens.
Can Chickens Eat Cherry Leaves?
The leaves of cherry trees offer some nutritional value and are safe for chickens to eat. Cherry leaves contain minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
However, cherry leaves contain cyanogenic glycosides. These release small amounts of cyanide when metabolized. So leaves should be limited.
A few cherry leaves here and there is fine. But avoid offering chickens access to large quantities of cherry leaves. Moderation is key.
Can Chickens Eat Cherry Stems?
The stems of cherries are safe and edible for chickens. In fact, cherry stems contain higher levels of some nutrients than the fruit itself. This includes beneficial antioxidants like quercetin.
The woody stems also provide fiber. This aids digestion and waste elimination.
So feel free to toss chickens whole cherries with the stems attached. The stems pose no risk and offer some nutritional value. Just monitor intake, as too much of any one non-feed item can displace more balanced nutrition sources.
How to Prepare Cherries for Your Chickens
Here are some tips for preparing cherries to offer chickens as a healthy treat:
- Wash thoroughly under running water to remove dirt, chemicals, etc.
- Pit cherries to avoid potential choking hazard from excess pits.
- Chop/dice into bite-sized pieces for easier eating.
- Mash cooked cherries into a paste for young chicks.
- Mix with chick starter feed or layer feed to encourage intake.
- Pour cooked cherry juice over feed. Let cool first to prevent scalding.
- Offer frozen cherries on hot summer days for a cooling treat.
- Refrigerate unused portions if not serving immediately.
Always avoid added seasonings, salt, sugar, or other flavorings meant for human consumption. Plain, unseasoned cherries are best.
How Many Cherries Is Safe to Give Chickens?
Cherries should be fed in moderation as an occasional treat, not a daily diet staple. About 1-2 cherries, 2-3 times per week is a good general guideline per chicken.
Adjust portions based on cherry size. Offer less for larger varieties like Bing cherries. Closely supervise feeding at first to ensure chickens don’t overindulge.
Free-feeding large amounts of any fruit can lead to diarrhea, nutritional imbalances, weight gain, and other issues. Follow suggested portions to keep cherries a healthy supplemental snack.
What Happens if Chickens Eat Too Many Cherries?
Eating too many cherries can cause some adverse effects, including:
- Diarrhea – Excess fruit sugars and juices may loosen stools.
- Malnutrition – Filling up on cherries displaces more nutritious feed.
- Weight gain – The simple carbs in cherries can lead to obesity.
- Choking hazard – Too many pits consumed whole may obstruct the esophagus or crop.
- Intestinal blockages – Excessive pits and fibers can clump together in the digestive tract.
To avoid issues, serve cherries in moderation. Follow suggested portion sizes instead of allowing chickens to binge. Promptly remove uneaten cherries between feedings.
Can You Feed Cherries to Chickens Every Day?
It’s best not to offer cherries to chickens daily. Cherries should be an occasional treat no more than 2-3 times per week.
Daily cherry feeding can lead to nutritional imbalances as chickens fill up on the tasty fruit instead of whole feed. It may also cause loose droppings.
For a daily treat, offer nutritious alternatives like chopped veggies, sprouted grains, mealworms, other fruits, or other supplements. Reserve cherries for a few times a week only.
NOTEVariety is key to a healthy chicken diet. Rotating different treats prevents boredom and ensures a well-rounded nutritional profile.
Can Baby Chickens Eat Cherries?
Yes, baby chicks can start enjoying small portions of cherries from their first day. Chicks can eat most foods adult chickens do, simply served in a safe, bite-sized form.
For chicks, be sure to pit cherries and dice the flesh into tiny pieces. To improve digestibility, briefly cook the diced cherries or mash into a puree.
Slowly introduce just a bite or two of cherries at first to avoid gastrointestinal upset. Mix with chick starter feed for balanced nutrition. Monitor to ensure proper chick development.
Cherries offer many great nutritional benefits for baby chicks. Just serve in moderation along with a quality feed to support growth. With a few precautions, even day-old chicks can savor sweet cherry treats!
So in summary, cherries make a nutritious, appetizing supplementary treat for chickens of all ages. Follow some common sense feeding guidelines, and both you and your flock can enjoy the summer cherry bounty!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can chickens eat cherries and blueberries?
Yes, chickens can eat cherries and blueberries. These fruits are not only safe for them but also offer valuable nutrients and antioxidants. Remember to remove pits from cherries before feeding.
Can chickens eat ground cherries?
Chickens can eat ground cherries in moderation. Like other fruits, they provide a tasty treat for chickens. However, as with any new food, introduce them gradually to observe how your chickens respond.
Can chickens have cherry pie?
While chickens can technically eat cherry pie, it’s not recommended to feed them processed or baked goods. These often contain added sugars, fats, and other ingredients that may not be suitable for their digestive systems. It’s best to stick to fresh, whole fruits.
What is chickens’ favorite fruit?
Chickens can have individual preferences, but many seem to enjoy watermelon as a favorite fruit. The high water content and sweet taste make it a popular and refreshing treat among chickens.