We know chickens love strawberries. But, can chickens eat strawberry leaves? Are strawberry tops also fine for chickens?
Backyard chickens are notorious for eating all the parts of plants that we don’t want or eat. It’s always a good idea to check anything your chickens are eating is safe for them though, because you never know – some unassuming plants contain toxins.
Can Chickens Eat Strawberries?
Strawberries are perfectly fine for chickens. Not only are they fine, if you ask anyone who has given their flock some strawberries, but I’m also sure they’ll tell you the same as me – chickens love strawberries!
Much like most fruits, strawberries are rich in vitamins and antioxidants, which means they’re packed full of goodness.
This doesn’t mean you can overboard though. Chickens have different dietary requirements from us, they need a diet rich in protein, calcium, and some other key nutrients.
All of which are met by feeding them a quality commercial feed. Fruits, vegetables, and table scraps should all be fed to chickens in moderation.
Any foods outside of their feed are “treats”, despite being healthy and packed with good nutrition.
Can Chickens Eat Strawberry Leaves?
Let’s be honest, one of the best things about raising chickens in the backyard is that they’ll eat most of the foods and parts of plants that we don’t or can’t eat.
Such as the tops of strawberries, the leaves, and other parts of the plant we usually ignore while eating the main strawberry.
While researching this post, the interesting thing I found out is that not only are the leaves of the plant fine for chickens to eat – they actually contain some great nutritional benefits.
An article was published by the Journal of Agricultural and Food in 2014 that looked into the properties and health benefits of strawberry leaves.
The study concluded;
Strawberry leaves contain high amounts of diverse phenolic compounds potentially possessing defensive activities against microbial pathogens.
Which, in simple terms, means the antioxidants in the leaves are rich in bioactive natural sources and can help strengthen your chicken’s immune system and keep them healthy.
Interesting, right? Not only can you give your chickens the leaves and other parts of your strawberry plants to not waste them – they provide some decent health benefits too.
What Should You Be Feeding Your Chickens?
It’s not difficult to keep backyard chickens. In fact, as I already touched on, the fact that they’re happy to eat most of the things we don’t makes it pretty fun.
It’s very important that you provide them with a balanced diet though. Chicken – especially laying hens – have some specific nutritional requirements to ensure they stay healthy and lay their best eggs.
A basic backyard chicken’s diet looks like this:
Commercial Feed – A good 90% of a chickens diet will come from their feed. You should pick a feed that is appropriate to their age and stage of life.
Laying hens, for example, need a laying feed as it’s higher in protein and calcium. Two key nutrients they need to lay at their best.
Grit – Chickens do not eat grit, per se. They need it to help them digest food. You can also buy a grit rich in calcium and other vitamins as a supplement to boost their intake.
Fruit & Vegetables – This is the fun part. As long as your flock is eating their feed, you can supplement their diet with fresh fruits and vegetables.
Fruit and veg are a way to give them some variation in their diet and provide them some loads of good nutrition. Plus, there aren’t many foods chickens turn their beaks up at!
Some Foods Chickens Should Not Eat
Most foods we eat are fine for chickens. It’s always a good idea to check though, some innocent-looking food and plants are actually quite toxic to chickens.
This isn’t a complete list, but here are some of the foods that you should never give to your chickens:
Raw Beans – Unless properly cooked, most beans are very toxic to chickens, even fatal in small amounts.
Nightshade Vegetables/Plants – Most members of the nightshade family are able to produce a toxin called solanine that is harmful to chickens (and us). This means potatoes and tomatoes, although only when they’re green, some peppers, eggplants, etc.
Coffee and chocolate – There are compounds in coffee and chocolate (two of my favorite things!) that are toxic to chickens, and most small animals.
Avocado (Pit/Skin) – I love avocados, and obviously I don’t eat the stone or the skin – who’s tried? You need to be aware that you can’t give it to your chickens either as it contains a harmful toxin called persin.
Greasy/Salty Foods – While not toxic as such, you have to respect that chickens require good-quality nutrition to stay healthy and lay tasty eggs. Giving them leftover junk food or foods high in salt and additives etc isn’t good for them.
Now you know, you shouldn’t be throwing away the leaves of the strawberry plant if you have backyard chickens – they’ll happily gobble them up and they provide some great nutrition.
It’s fun feeding different foods to chickens. If you want to really treat your flock, why not plant them their own wild strawberry patch!
Image credits – Photos by Brett Jordan and Henry & Co. on Unsplash