Keeping chicken is usually not the same for everyone. Although we may follow what the guidebooks tell us, in most instances we improvise and come up with our own rules. This is especially true when it comes to feeding chickens. While a strict diet is beneficial to chickens, it’s also important to ensure that your chickens are happy.
Can chickens eat grapes and raisins?
Grapes and raisins are safe for chickens to eat. These food products are not only delicious but safe as well. They are a non-toxic, yummy and nutritious snack for chicks and grown chickens when fed in moderation.
Due to their uniquely sweet yet tart taste, unique texture and easy to eat size grapes and raisins are perhaps some of the most popular snacks out there. Chickens love grapes.
They are also quite affordable hence provide you with a good way to improve your chickens’ diet.
Let’s take a look at some interesting grape facts and address some questions you may have about feeding grapes to your flock.
Types of Grapes Safe for Chickens
All grapes safe for human consumption are also safe to feed to chickens. This includes red grapes, concord grapes, green grapes, grapes with seeds and even wild grapes.
Vitamins and Mineral Content
There are a few health benefits that come from grapes and raisins. These fruits are a great source of vitamins and minerals such as iron, potassium, and fiber. They are also a good source of energy.
Raisins are also composed of 96% carbohydrates, 3% proteins, and 1% fats. It’s believed that one cup of raisins alone contains 97.7 grams of sugar.
Other components that they have include fats with Omega 6 fatty acids being the most abundant.
Both grapes and raisins contain vitamins such as Folate vitamins A, C, E, and K among others.
Can Chickens Eat Grape Vines and Leaves
If you have grapevines growing on your farm, you may wonder if it is safe to let your birds browse on the whole plant itself. Don’t worry, it is typically safe for your chickens to eat the vine all the other parts of grapes.
Typically, though, this isn’t something you have to worry about. Chickens would much rather scratch and peck at the ground, hunting for juicy bugs than eat sticks and grape leaves.
Even so, as long as the plants haven’t been sprayed with pesticides, they should be OK.
Preparing Grapes to Feed to Your Chickens
While chickens can certainly eat grapes and grape seeds right off the vine if you are lucky enough to have them in your backyard, store-bought grapes should be prepped before feeding.
Luckily, this process is easy and no different than you would do if you were eating the grapes yourself.
Typically, all that is needed is to rinse the grapes under running water to remove any traces of pesticide that could possibly still be on them.
Once the grapes are clean, they are ready to feed. As I mentioned, you don’t even have to worry about pulling them off the stem.
Your chickens will eat around it for the most part, and if they do get a few nibbles the stem isn’t toxic for them.
Size the Grapes to Fit the Chickens
One thing to be cautious of is overly greedy chickens. My favorite thing to watch is my hens fight over larger fruits like banana.
With grapes, if I feed a whole bunch, sometimes one hen will grab a piece of the stem and try to run off with the whole thing. It is quite amusing to watch.
You know your own flock better than anyone so if you have some particularly greedy chickens you may want to cut the grapes into smaller pieces or crush them a bit before feeding.
While this isn’t a step I take with my flock, an overzealous bird worried about having her grape stolen by another hen could try to swallow it whole versus pecking at it, causing her to choke.
That is definitely something you don’t want!
Feeding Grapes to Chicks
Grapes are safe for chicks to eat occasionally but should generally be avoided as a treat item for them due to their high sugar content.
The occasional grape won’t hurt them but a high protein treat item like dried (or fresh) meal worms is a much better option for young, growing chickens.
Special Notes About Feeding Raisins
Like whole grapes, chickens can sometimes gorge on raisins as well. Thankfully, they have a crop that is well designed for breaking them down.
Raisins, however, have a much more concentrated sugar level than grapes. That means that you should feed less of them than you might think to avoid giving your hens too much sugar.
Think of them as a good thing to be sprinkled on top of another treat or as a special hidden nugget mixed into their regular scratch rather than something you feed in quantity.
If you remember those little school lunch box raisin packs from when you were a kid, those are just about the right size for a flock of 3 or more chickens every once in a while.
How Many Grapes Can You Feed a Chicken?
Anytime you are feeding a treat, such as grapes or raisins, to a chicken, consider how it will impact their diet.
Chickens should be limited to no more than 3 – 4 grapes per day. Grapes make a tasty treat but should not be a main food source for pet chickens.
Chickens are typically fed a diet high in protein if a chicken routinely gets too full on grapes or raisins, their protein intake will decrease because they won’t be hungry for their normal food.
In the wild, chickens would naturally eat a variety of foods. Though they would never encounter raisins, even if a chicken stumbled upon a grapevine they would be more likely to browse a bit on the fruit and then carry on looking for bugs and insects.
The goal should be to give your chickens as balanced a diet as possible while introducing chicken safe treats like grapes and raisins more as a distraction and less as a staple in their diet.
Benefits and Risks of Grapes and Raisins for Chickens
There tend to be a bit of stigma against grapes and raisins as snacks for chickens (and other poultry). For instance, it’s widely known that gapes are toxic to dogs hence must be avoided.
Because of this many people believe that these fruit products are also poisonous to other domestic animals such as chickens. This is not true.
People have been giving their chickens grapes and raisins for many years and the results are well documented. This means that when used as an occasional snack, chickens are not likely to experience any issues.
There are a number of benefits that come from grapes and raisins with one of them being the source of some of the best vitamins and minerals such as potassium, fiber, iron. In addition to these, they also provide energy.
The reality is though, that grapes and raisins should only be given as a treat for your chickens, not a main meal source. They simply don’t have enough protein.
But just like any food, the possibility of overeating is there. If a chicken consumes a lot of raisins, they can easily put on a lot of weight. Portion control is very important when giving your chickens any snacks.
Other Grape Products
Aside from grapes and raisins, there are other products made from grapes you may be wondering about. When it comes to packaged or processed products that include grapes, always read the label to see what other food additives may be contained within.
When in doubt, verify all of the ingredients are safe for chickens before feeding to your birds.
Here are some other grape products you might consider:
Jams, Jellies, and Preserves
Grape Jam, Jelly and Marmalade should not be fed to chickens. While safe if consumed accidentally, these delicious human treats are very high in sugar content and best kept away from your chickens.
Grape juice is safe for chickens, however, due to the high sugar content in most grape juices, this item should be avoided.
As with other grape products, if given occasionally in small quantities it shouldn’t cause any adverse affects to your flock.
One thing to note here is that grape juice should not be added to your flocks main water source. It can, however, be incorporated into other treats.
You should not give your chickens, or any other animal, wine.
Freeze-Dried Grapes and Raisins
Freeze dried grapes and raisins, like their fresh counterparts, are safe for chickens to eat in moderation.
Frozen grapes are safe for chickens to eat in moderation. These can make particularly tasty snacks on hot days.
Special Note About Grapes for Other Animals on Your Farm
Unlike chickens, dogs should not be fed grapes and raisins. According to veterinarian clinics, raisin consumption by the dogs is not encouraged at all. According to Merck’s Veterinary Manual, dogs that eat grapes or raisins are likely to develop renal failure.
If your dog does eat grapes, you should call your veterinarian immediately for advice. Negative effects can take effect in as little as 72 hours. However, the particular chemical that causes this is unknown.
Grape Treat Recipe for Chickens
Are you looking for a way to incorporate grapes and raisins into a treat for your flock? Here are some great treat recipes they are sure to love.
Grape & Peanut Crumble Chicken Treat
- 6 tablespoons of oats.
- 10 grapes or 2 tablespoons raisins
- ½ cup of unsalted peanut butter.
- ½ cup of chicken layer pellets or crumbles.
- ¼ – ½ cup of dried mealworms.
Mix together in a bowl until evenly distributed. You can feed straight from the bowl or make up smaller portions to dole out to your birds.
Keep in mind that, due to its potentially sticky nature, this treat is best fed in a dish.
Things to Remember
Before giving your chicken any additional snacks it’s important that you give a complete diet. A nutritious and wholesome diet tends to consist of a quality chicken feed in addition to plenty of vegetables and fruits.
When feeding grapes and raisins to your chicken, you want to remember these key points:
- Do not overfeed your chicken
- Ensure that the normal ration for your chickens is balanced before introducing them a snack like grapes and raisins.
- Wash store-bought grapes before feeding to remove any pesticide residue.
- Do not allow your dogs to feed on grapes and raisins.
Grapes and raisin are safe for chickens but it is important to keep a balance in mind. Since your chickens need to eat healthily just like humans, you should add treats to their diet in moderation. This is especially true with treats, like grapes, that have high sugar content. A balanced diet will help your flock produce less fatty meat and great eggs.