can chickens eat elderberries

Can Your Chickens Really Eat Elderberries? This Farm Boy Has Some Tales To Tell…



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Now I know when ol’ Bessie first started chowing down on them elderberries, I was just a young’un didn’t know nothing about what’s good for chickens.

But let me tell ya, after raising hens my whole life, I can say for sure those elderberries are choice feed for your birds.

Elderberries are filled with antioxidants just like blueberries and other superfoods.

They’re loaded with vitamin C to help fight off disease, vitamin A for vision and growth, and all sorts of other nutrients too.

The berries are like chicken crack too – my girls go loco pecking them things like they struck oil!

I’ve even seen roosters get in on the action, and you know those boys ain’t too stylish with their tastes usually.

As long as the berries are nice and ripe, not one of my chickens has ever had a tummy upset from eating elderberries either.

In fact, many an evening I’ve watched them gobble berries till their crops are fit to burst without any ill effects the next day.

I reckon if chickens could smile after a good meal, my girls would be beaming ear to ear from those antioxidant-packed elderberry snacks.

So in conclusion, rest easy knowing that yes – chickens can certainly eat elderberries to their heart’s content with no troubles a’tall!

Just Be Sure the Berries Are Ripe Before Feeding

can chickens eat elderberries

Now I learned the hard way about only feeding ripe elderberries after one particularly eventful season…

It was early summer and the elderberry bushes out back were bursting with new growth and berries just starting to blush purple.

Figuring my hens would enjoy an early snack, I plucked a few handfuls of not-quite-ripe berries and tossed them in the run.

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Well let me tell you, about an hour later I heard such a ruckus cackling it sounded like a murder scene out there!

Ran outside fast as my legs could carry me and found near every chicken in a tizzy, tummies all a’twisting and feathers puffed something fierce.

It dawned on me then that maybe those berries wasn’t quite ready to eat after all.

After some tummy rubs and water that flock was right as rain by evening.

But from that day on I only let the hens pick berries fresh off the bush when they’re deep purple-black like my mama’s blueberry jelly.

If they don’t look completely ripe to your eyes, best wait till the fruit is really ready to avoid any crop disappointments.

Keep An Eye Out For Berry Overindulgence

can chickens eat elderberries

Now we all know chickens love to stuff their crop fuller than Thanksgiving.

And elderberries being so darn tasty, it don’t take but a minute for one of my hens to scarf down more than she ought.

I’ve seen poor old Bessie look fit to burst after just five minutes in the berry patch somedays.

With her feathers fluffed and waddling like she sat on a bee, it’s clear the girl got in over her head!

So when the berries are flowing, I like to stand guard and keep watch they don’t gorp themselves silly.

A full crop ain’t nothing to mess with, so moderation is key like with any treat.

And come nighttime, I be sure to pluck any lingering berry bushes by the coop so none go back for fourths!

With a watchful farmer, those hens can savor elderberries fresh as can be with no crop complaints.

Give Your Chickens An Elderberry Snack – On A Stick!

can chickens eat elderberries

Now you ain’t never saw such a hoot as my chickens mowing down elderberry kebabs like they was at the state fair!

It was late summer and the berry bush was bursting with more fruit than we knew what to do with.

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So I got to thinking – how can I feed these girls some more and make a game of it too?

That’s when I strung up some branches thick with ripe berries along some dowels for some chicken shish kabobs.

Dang if they hens didn’t peck and peck at them berries faster than blue jays after a worm!

For hours they preoccupied themselves plucking those berries off one by one.

And best of all, they couldn’t gorge themselves stupid eating that way either.

Now elderberry kebabs is a tradition at my place come late summer each year!

So In Conclusion – Can Chickens Eat Elderberries?

Well I reckon after all them stories, ya get the gist – chickens truly can feast on elderberries to their hearts’ content.

Just use your noggin and apply some basic rules of ripe fruit, moderation and all that.

Your flock will be healthier and happier for the occasional elderberry treat, I guarantee it!

So next time you’re in the country and see a chicken deep in the elderberry patch, don’t fret – just let ’em chow down to their bellies’ content!

Your hens sure appreciate you keeping their tummies full of nature’s finest antioxidants. Now go feed those girls – I think I hear them calling for more elderberries!

How To Grow Elderberries For Your Chickens

If you want your chickens to enjoy homegrown elderberries, it’s easy to plant a bush or two.

Elderberries like full sun and well-draining soil, so amend your garden beds accordingly before planting.

American elderberry varieties like ‘Adams’ and ‘York’ are hardy, prolific producers perfect for poultry snacks.

Start with bare root plants in early spring or root cuttings in summer for a head start.

Space plants 8-10 feet apart and mulch well for moisture retention.

Elderberries are mostly care-free but may need periodic pruning to keep in bounds.

Within a few years you’ll have bushels of berries for you and your chickens to enjoy fresh!

How To Harvest Elderberries For Maximum Chicken Enjoyment

For best chicken eating, harvest elderberries only when fully ripe.

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Leave berries on branches until dark purple-black for peak flavor and nutritional content.

Cut branches rather than pull berries to avoid damage to the bush.

Cut branches early in the day when berries are dry for easier removal later.

Lay branches in a single layer to dry for a day before stripping berries.

Berries will then slide off stems with ease for hands-free chicken feeding bliss.

Freeze or can excess so your flock can snack year-round on homegrown elderberries.


Signs Your Chickens Ate Too Many Elderberries

On rare occasion, a flock member may pig out too eagerly on elderberries.

Watch for signs like puffed up appearance, lethargy, loose droppings in excessive amounts.

An overlyfull crop may also cause them to tilt to one side and clutch their abdomen.

If seen soon after gorging, gently rubbing their crop may help aid digestion.

Otherwise, just remove excess berries and provide rest, water and kept watch for 24 hours.

With proper portion control, such issues are few and far between.

Chickens’ natural foraging instinct won’t generally let them eat past their fill.

Can Other Poultry Enjoy Elderberries Too?

While chickens relish elderberries best of all, other backyard birds can partake as well.

Ducks, geese, quail and guinea fowl will happily peck at ripe berries as a tasty treat.

Just keep in mind smaller birds may need fruit halved or quartered for ease of eating.

Turkeys will also eat elderberries, though they tend to prefer other foods more.

And of course, only feed ripe berries and watch for signs of potential overindulgence as with chickens.

With proper fruit and portion size, elderberries offer welcomed natural nutrition to all your feathery flock members young and old alike.

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