Spring is one of the best times of the year because all of the plants start to wake up from their winter sleep, so suddenly there are blooms and fruits being produced left and right. Late spring to early summer begins stone fruit season, which is a great thing for anyone who likes fruits like nectarines, plums, and cherries. If you’ve ever found yourself sitting outside snacking on cherries while you watch your chickens happily peck about, you may have wondered if chickens can eat cherries. In short, yes they can!
Chickens are usually game for just about any foods you offer them, so feeding them can be great fun. However, all good chicken owners know that feeding chickens also involves choosing safe, healthy foods. Keep reading to find out more about chickens and cherries!
Can Chickens Eat Cherries?
Yes! Many chickens enjoy cherries, and since cherries are high in nutrients without being too high in calories, this makes cherries a great treat option for your chickens. Your chickens will likely happily accept any type of cherries you offer, whether they’re tart or sweet.
Are Cherries Good for Chickens?
Cherries are high in nutrients like potassium, vitamin A, fiber, and vitamin C. Sour cherries are even higher in nutrients than sweet cherries, but they may be less well-received by a flock of chickens with a sweets habit. A cup of pitted cherries contains approximately 70-80 calories, making them a low-calorie snack. Cherries do contain sugar, though, so they should be fed sparingly as a treat and not as a dietary staple since excess sugar can lead to gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea, and other health problems.
How Many Cherries Can My Chicken Eat?
There isn’t really an exact science to how many cherries you can feed to your chicken or chickens. It’s all dependent on how many chickens you’re feeding, the ages of the chickens, and what other foods the cherries are being offered with. Generally speaking, you can feed your chickens cherries a couple of times per week during stone fruit season. One or two cherries per adult chicken as a treat should be a safe number of cherries. However, chicks and juvenile chickens cannot tolerate as much sugar as adults can, so feed sugary fruits like cherries sparingly to young chickens.
How Do I Feed Cherries to My Chicken?
Feeding cherries to your chickens can be as simple or complex as you choose to make it. Cherries can be fed whole, pitted, or chopped up. They can be offered mixed into feed or tossed onto the ground for the chickens to scavenge. Whole cherries will likely keep your chickens busy pecking away for a while, so it can be a fun treat for them as well. Refrigerated and frozen cherries can be a cool treat on hot days, and the water content in the cherries can help keep your chickens hydrated.
The first big consideration when feeding cherries to your chickens is whether you will offer pitted or unpitted cherries. Like many fruit pits, cherry pits contain a chemical that, when digested, can be converted into cyanide. Obviously, cyanide is deadly, but the dose makes the poison, and your chicken would have to eat a lot of cherry pits for cyanide to be a concern. Unless your chickens have unfettered access to a cherry tree, this is unlikely to be an issue. Some people worry about the potential choking hazard posed by cherry pits, which isn’t totally unfounded since any small, hard object can pose a choking risk. However, chickens are smarter than they are often given credit for and they are pros at picking around the inedible parts of foods. Most chickens will eat the fruit and leave the pit behind, but if they do consume some of the pit, a small amount shouldn’t be cause for concern.
Another consideration when offering cherries to your chickens is whether or not you’ll remove the stems. Cherry stems carry similar risks to the pits, but they are pretty low risk. Most chickens won’t eat them and instead will eat the meat of the fruit and leave the stem behind. It’s best to remove cherry stems before feeding cherries to your chickens, but if someone manages to eat a stem or two, it shouldn’t be cause for concern.
Related Read: Can Chickens Eat Oranges? What You Need to Know!
Feeding cherries to your chickens can provide them with a tasty seasonal treat. When fed correctly, cherries can be a healthy addition to your chicken’s diet but shouldn’t be overfed. Fresh cherries are the best option, but chickens can also be fed dried cherries that don’t have added sugars. Avoid cherry food items like chocolate-covered cherries and maraschino cherries as these are far too high in sugar for your chickens! This summer, while you’re enjoying a fresh cherry snack, toss a couple to your chickens and see if they love them as much as you do.