Elderberries, a small dark-colored fruit, have a slightly tart and bitter taste. They are used in the preparation of jams and several other preserves. But the main question is, can chickens eat elderberries? Chickens can eat only the fruits of elderberries since the leaves of plants are toxic, so they must not eat these parts.
You can offer both raw and dried elderberry fruits directly from the tree, and do not worry because chickens typically love eating both. The elderberry fruits have many nutritional and health benefits, but they must be offered in moderate quantity. Moreover, these fruits have naturally high sugar content, so it is a treat to chickens.
Are Elderberries Safe For Your Chicken?
Chickens can consume elderberries since they provide an extensive range of additional nutrients. They can be a very healthy treat for your chickens as long as you give them fruits to eat and only in infrequent and small servings. However, you have to be extra careful, especially if your birds have access to the bush or tree of elderberry.
The leaves, stems, and roots of elderberry are poisonous to both chickens and humans. They contain glycoside, a compound that can be harmful or fatal for your chickenswhen consumed even in small doses.
How Many Elderberries Can Chickens Consume?
It is best to serve elderberries in moderation, sparingly, and as a treat. A desired rule of thumb is offering 2/3 of a cup at a time and once per week. Elderberries have a range of nutrients and contain a lot of sugar, which adds up when you offer other fruits as scarps or treats.
You must ensure that your chickens still eat their nutritionally balanced and high-quality poultry feed. Never feed elderberries to displace the poultry food since they are a treat. It is very crucial to keep an eye on how much they consume this food.
Not only do you have to stop your chickens from over consuming this fruit, but also prevent them from eating harmful and poisonous roots, stems, and leaves. Overconsumption of these berries can cause unfavorable changes in their poop.
So, limit the access of your chickens to certain areas. Depending upon the number of bushes or trees you have, you may need to remove some of them altogether.
Poisonous Plants for Chickens
Some plants are dangerous for chicken, but they are quite intelligent about what to avoid and what to consume. Chickens are foraging birds by nature, which means they have a well-developed sense of what is not beneficial and suitable. So, it is not common for a chicken to eat poisonous plants as they have a fully developed sense of smell.
Following is a list of plants that can be harmful to your chickens:
- All the Green Parts of the Nightshade Family
You should avoid all the green parts of the nightshade family, such as tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants. Solanaceae is the Latin name for these plants as they have a compound named solanine (toxic to chickens). A plain ripe tomato is an exception to this; however, avoid all the green parts of the plants.
You can break this compound by cooking these plants. So, there is no harm in giving your chickens cooked eggplants or potatoes. Bear in mind that green leaves contain oxalic acid- it will not kill your birds, but it may make them feel a bit crappy for a few days.
- Anything Moldy
Mycotoxins are present in a mold, which can be fatal, and spore can be a problem.
Other Foods That Are Poisonous To Chickens
- Chocolate or Sweets
Theobromine in chocolates can be fatal even in small quantities. Sugar in the chocolate messes with the calorie protein balance of the diets of your chickens.
- Never Feed Chickens Moldy Food
Mold causes illness, and therefore, it may be lethal. Stale bread, wilted, overripe vegetables are all fine as long as mold is absent.
Onions are not at all beneficial for any pet, including chickens.
- Salty Foodstuff (like food leftovers)
Like humans, salt has a similarly adverse effect on the chickens. They cannot consume a high amount of salt in their diet; therefore, it can be toxic.
- Dried Raw Beans
Dried raw beans contain hemagglutinin, which can be harmful to your birds. However, well-cooked beans are fine.
Provide your chickens with plenty of fresh grasses to eat, or else they may consume harmful plants if they have nothing else to nibble at; be mindful about it.
Plants That May Not Be Poisonous For Your Chickens
The plants like elderberry, apple pips, citrus, daffodils, lamb’s quarters, and stinging nettles come in the ‘maybe not dangerous’ category. Chickens have been feeding and consuming these plants for a long time, and no visible harms have been noticed yet.
Tips to Protect Poultry
- You need to be careful before free-ranging your chickens in an ornamental garden. And have a clearly defined run and, if necessary, clip primary wings.
- Cultivate some things, especially for your birds, like lettuce, dandelions, or courgettes.
- Ex-battery hens need a bit more training and supervision than the others.
- Be conscious about what you are feeding your chickens; they will eat whatever you present before them.
- If you are unsure about anything, then it is best to avoid it.
How to Feed Your Chickens Elderberries
You can give elderberries to your chickens without any problems since they are a versatile food. Generally, you can give them in three ways:
You can buy dried elderberries from your nearby store or online as well – whichever way that suits you. You can put the elderberries of your garden to dry. Before deciding to give dry elderberries to your chickens, consider the fact that they will be denser, and you can accidentally supply larger serving sizes without even intending to.
Moreover, when dry, the berries are much sweeter, so your chickens might find it hard to stop eating them. Drop a few of these dried fruits, and you will see how they respond.
2. Raw and Fresh
You can purchase them from the store or can pick from the bush or tree yourself. It is always recommended to source them organic if possible because this reduces the probability of elderberries carrying pesticides or other potentially toxic substances. It is better to wash the fruits first to remove all kinds of debris or dirt.
Drop a few fresh elderberries on the ground, either in the open space or the coop. You can also let your chickens eat them free from the ground or the bush/tree. But as mentioned earlier, keep an eye on your birds when they are around this plant.
3. Mixed with other Foods
Finally, you can give this fruity treat by mushing and mixing them with other foods. For example, you can give them elderlies with their normal regular poultry diet or other scarps, such as oatmeal. It is an excellent way to mix up the diet of your birds, adding variety and making them eat more of a particular food, and it will supplement the diet with more nutrition.
Can Chickens Eat Elderberries? What is The Boundary line?
Yes, the chickens can consume elderberries, but make sure they only eat its fruits. Never let them consume the leaves, stems, or roots, or else they might face severe consequences. In such a scenario, consult a vet specializing in poultry or chickens. The sooner you act, the higher the possibilities to prevent any fatalities.
If you have an elderberry tree or plants in your garden or property, and you know that your chickens are pecking at them, rest assured that they will be fine as long as they are eating fruits only.