The chicken is the most common domesticated livestock on the planet and happens to be the most common bird in the world. People across the world love chickens, and their meat and eggs are widely consumed by billions of people each day. Farmers also use their fertilizer to provide nutrients to the soil in home and industrial gardens. As livestock, chickens provide a sustainable profit and are fairly self-sufficient.
However, it’s important to note the daily care and maintenance needed to keep your chickens healthy and thriving. This includes their diet. Hens can eat a variety of different foods, but there are also food items from which they should absolutely be kept away. So, are cranberries on the list of foods that chickens can’t eat?
Are Cranberries Okay for Chickens?
Chickens can absolutely eat cranberries. You can serve your chicken cranberries solo or as part of a mix with other fruits and vegetables for their daily feed. Cranberries are high in vitamin C, fiber, and other antioxidants. And similar to humans, they provide chickens with an array of health benefits including immune support and blood pressure regulation.
What Daily Nutrients Do Your Chickens Need to Survive?
A complete diet is essential to your chickens’ health. The vast majority of farm chickens are fed a ration of corn and soybeans. Good quality chicken feed should have a protein level between 17-22% and be fairly rich in omega-3 fatty caids. Probiotics, prebiotics, and calcium are all important daily nutrients. Chickens need daily protein to maintain their energy levels while they grow and lay eggs.
For more nutritious eggs, omega-3s are a must, and probiotics, prebiotics, and magnesium help boost immune system functions and support digestive health. Calcium and magnesium, nutrients that can become very depleted from egg laying, are essential for strong shells. A nutrient-dense feed will reduce waste and provide all the nutrition your chickens require for healthy eggs and post-hatch health.
Chicken Water Supply
Water is vital for chickens, even though it can often be overlooked by new chicken farmers. A chicken adult needs to consume about two to three times as much water as they consume in feed. A chicken’s ability to eat will be affected by its thirst believe it or not. This will also affect their growth and potential for egg production. So, to say, a constant supply of clean, fresh water is essential for chickens.
Chickens & Calcium
As mentioned earlier, Calcium is essential for eggshell production in mature egg and dual-purpose chickens (birds bred for both egg production and their meat). Although layer feed rations will typically have extra calcium to meet this need, it’s still a good idea for hens to be given calcium grit or oyster shells (which are high in calcium). Supplemental feeding can cause a decrease in their ability to absorb enough calcium. And top-producing chickens may require more calcium than the normal layer ration.
When to Feed Table Scraps, Grit, & Scratch Grains
Chickens love scratch grains (a nutritious mix of grains) and table scraps. However, they’ll stop eating after they’ve had enough carbs for the day. They should only be given table scraps and scratch and table scraps as treats. These treats should be fed late in the evening after your flock has received their normal feed ration.
Things to Avoid Feeding Your Chicken
There are certain foods that are absolutely toxic to chickens, or that may cause allergies, extreme digestive discomfort, or bowel obstructions — which can be fatal. Here are a few of the top foods that your chickens should not have under any circumstances.
Raw or Dried Beans
While beans are often staple foods that farmers use to cook and feed their chickens, they can be fatal if consumed raw. While cooked beans are safe for humans and chickens alike, dried beans or raw beans can pose a risk to chicken health.
Beans contain the toxic “phytohemagglutinin”, which can be fatal for chickens. A little as two or three dried beans can cause a chicken to die in less than an hour. So, make sure to soak your beans in cold water for at least five hours before you cook them.
Avocados are not poisonous to humans. However, some avocados contain toxins that could cause death or damage to your chicken’s health. The toxin “persin” is found in avocados, stone bark, bark, and leaves. It is not known if avocado flesh is safe for chickens. We recommend that you remove avocados from your chicken’s food list.
The “persin” toxin can cause serious harm to your chicken. The presence of large quantities of skin avocados can lead to a problem with the respiratory system in chickens. A small amount of persin can cause death in a matter of minutes.
Call a professional veterinarian if you are certain that avocados have been given to your pet and they are eating the right foods. If you don’t have assurances, there is no reason to be concerned. Chickens won’t typically eat poisonous foods that could cause harm to them.
Moldy or Spoiled food
Rotten or moldy food is not suitable for chickens, as it can cause health issues and vitality, similar to humans. They shouldn’t be fed even a small amount of moldy food, as their small bodies can easily be more susceptible to smaller levels of toxins.
Green Potatoes or Leaves
You may have heard of potato leaves being green potato skins being dangerous to dogs and cats, and this is true for chickens as well as other animals. Potato skins contain about 30%-75% solanine–a glycoalkaloid poison that’s toxic to many animals. High levels of solanine can lead to heart disease, diarrhea, and even death in chickens.
Fresh potatoes contain less solanine than cooked ones. Chlorophyll, which is the green potato skin, contains more solanine than other foods. So before feeding your chicken potatoes, be sure to keep them in their skins to prevent them from turning green. Also, be sure to cook the potatoes before serving them in the feed.
Most farmers will usually recommend against feeding your chicken chocolate, as it contains theobromine and caffeine. Theobromine, a toxic substance found in chocolate, can cause diarrhea in your chickens. It may cause them to vomit and display other signs of poisoning– in which case you should call your vet immediately.
Wrapping Things Up
Yes, you can feed your chickens cranberries as part of a healthy and nutritious diet. However, it’s best to remember that everything is best in moderation. Chickens need a diet full of protein, vitamins, and minerals. They are omnivores that will essentially eat anything you toss into their feet, so it’s important that you refrain from giving them things that can be toxic to them or cause digestive issues.
This includes food such as onions, avocados, dried beans, chocolate, and any food that has mold on it. These foods can cause allergic reactions in chickens in addition to stomach upset, bloating, and possible fatality.
Featured Image Credit: Pixabay