Nothing says enjoyable like coming in from the hot outdoors, reaching into the fridge and pulling out a bunch of grapes. That cold juicy sweetness just begs to be consumed. In moderation, these wonderful treats are actually good for you. But what about your backyard, egg-laying, feathered friends. Can they eat grapes? Do they even want to?
Other than freshly dug potatoes, I’ve never seen a chicken enjoy anything more than a grape. Chickens love grapes! Sweet or sour, green or purple, it doesn’t seem to matter. These tiny tasty fruits are at the very top of a chicken’s must have list.
Are Grapes Good For Chickens?
Grapes aren’t just loaded with taste, they’re loaded with nutritional goodness. A few of these nutritional pluses are:
- Vitamin K – Helps slow blood loss by clotting. Chickens have a lot of blood flowing through their combs and wattles. Damage to either of these will see notable bleeding.
- Vitamin B-6 – Has been proven to help the production of serotonin; a hormone that influences mood. (And if you want to prove that on a scientific level, eat a handful of cool sweet grapes and tell me if that doesn’t brighten your day.)
- Vitamin A – Helps support vision. And those birds have got to have good eyesight if they’re going to rid your backyard of those pesky bugs!
- Vitamin C – Helps the body repair and rejuvenate. On the unfortunate occasion that your bird gets sick or injured, Vitamin C will help it along the road to recovery.
Grapes are also a source of good hydration. So if the birds in your flock are looking a little sluggish after a long hot summer day, then a handful of grapes might just be in order. These juicy treats would be a great finish to a rough day.
Just make sure that everyone gets some. The bigger birds can be more aggressive when they’re hot and it would be easy for a smaller bird not to get any.
Are Grapes Necessary For My Chicken’s Health?
Free range birds with access to a quality feed, should be getting all the nutrients they need.
From plant matter to bugs, your backyard is full of nutritious things for a chicken to eat. And they are really good at finding it! You will see a big difference in the amount of times you fill their food in summer verses how many times you fill it in winter.
But even after the snow sets in and the bugs and berries have disappeared, you generally shouldn’t have to worry about your bird’s nutritional needs. With the exception of grit (for digestion), a high quality feed will have everything they need for good health.
So as far as the chicken’s everyday health is concerned, grapes are just a bonus.
Can A Chicken Eat Too Many Grapes?
This is a logical question, that can be answered in part with the knowledge that grapes have sugar. So…can you eat too much sugar?
Chickens are remarkably resilient compared to their human benefactors. The different types of food that is palatable for them is fairly impressive.
If I accidentally ingested some chicken feed, I’d probably be okay – bad taste not withstanding. If however, I swallowed a toad, skin and all, I probably wouldn’t fair so well. And chickens eat a lot worse than toads during the summer!
So while it is possible to feed chickens too many grapes, chickens are on a different level when it comes to eating too much of something.
A word of warning though. It’s best not to give your birds too many grapes just before bed. This doesn’t necessarily keep them from going to sleep, but you will find an over-abundance of purple poo in the coop the next morning.
What Kind Of Grapes Can I Feed A Chicken?
I’m not sure that any one particular type of grape is going to be preferred by your bird. Obviously, that will depend on the individual members of your flock. However, there are a few things that you should keep in mind.
1) Chickens don’t chew their food. While chickens are good at breaking things down with their beaks, they do occasionally try and swallow something that is just a little too big for them. You can see this quite often when another bird is trying to steal what they have – which is all the time for grapes.
Slicing the grape in half, is a good way to help your chicken with their healthy snack. Not only will this make it easier for them to swallow, but it gives you more to hand out in a hurry.
Of course, this only necessary for bigger grapes. Smaller grapes are easy and, quite frankly, more fun as you can toss them out into yard. The grapes bounce and roll quite well, giving your feathered friends something to chase after.
2) Chickens have gizzards. With a lack of teeth, nature has provided your birds a different way of breaking up food – the gizzard. The muscles in this organ, along with little bits of roughage that’s been consumed, does comparably what our teeth do. So why is this important?
Anything that goes in to a chicken inevitably has to come back out. And if for some reason, your bird consumed something that can’t be broken down, it could cause internal complications. In the very least it could be painful to try and pass the object. At the very worst, it could cause blockage.
Some have used this knowledge to feed their birds only seedless grapes. Personally, I’m not sure that grape seeds are any bigger than the seeds found in some of the wild berry bushes we have in the backyard. But I would definitely be wary of cherry pits. These pits may or may not be a problem, but you won’t know until after you have a sick bird!
Can Chickens Eat Old Grapes?
How many times have we forgotten something in the fridge? Things get shoved to the back and if it’s out of sight then it’s out of mind. The rediscovery of these forgotten items is usually followed by a ‘yuck’ or ‘how long has that been in there?’
Grapes do spoil, unfortunately. But what is beyond hope for us, might not be bad for the chicken. Remember, these birds eat toads and bugs all summer long. Chickens on the farm might even scratch and peck their way through a cow pie, looking for seeds or bugs. A brown squishy grape is not going to be an issue for them.
The Grape Hazard
There are two things that you should keep in mind when giving your flock grapes.
1) Stems – As previously mentioned, chickens don’t have teeth. Consequently, food is not chewed before it’s taken in. Stems can be very hard and it’s doubtful that the bird’s gizzard could do much about it.
Be careful when giving your birds grapes that they don’t consume a lot of those small stems that sometimes cling to the top of the grape. You don’t want anything lodging itself internally as this could be very bad for your feathered friend.
2) Dogs – If you have a dog that shares the area with your flock, then be very careful that no grapes are consumed by the dog. It’s doubtful that a hungry chicken will overlook a tossed grape. But if they do and the dog eats it instead, then you could soon have a very sick dog as grapes can cause kidney failure in canines.