As I was cleaning out my refrigerator the other day, I noticed a big bunch of uneaten grapes. Like most things in life these days, it made me wonder….rather than throwing these away, can I feed grapes to my chickens or are they poisonous to chickens like they are to dogs?
Yes, Chickens can eat grapes. Like with most fruits, grapes are not only safe for chickens, but your flock will love this sweet treat ( with a few small caveats that we will discuss below ).
Now that we know it’s generally safe to feed grapes to our feathered friends, you might be wondering there’s anything special you need to do, or if you can just toss the grapes vine and all to your chickens and watch them go to town.
Which Parts Of Grapes Can Chickens Eat?
While most of us consider grapes to be just the fruit, it’s important to keep in mind that there are a variety of different parts that make up what we consider to be a grape.
Let’s take a look at how your flock will deal with each piece and get a better understanding of how and when to feed them.
Grape Skins or Peels For Chickens
Since the skin or peel of a grape is not as thick as it is on some other fruits, your flock can eat grape skins.
In fact, of all the parts of the fruit itself, grape skins contain some of the highest levels of nutrients including a big dose of polyphenols which give a variety of health benefits to your birds.
One important thing to note is that if you are buying conventional (non-organic) grapes, you may want to give the fruit a very thorough wash before you feed them to your chickens.
While the skins of grapes have large nutritional benefits, they are also often found in the “dirty dozen” list of foods that have the most pesticides.
Giving your grapes a thorough scrub before you feed them to your flock or your family will massively reduce any pesticides that may still be present on the skin of your grapes.
Grape Vine/Stems For Chickens
Although most humans probably wouldn’t touch the stem or vine of grapes (after all, there’s pretty much nothing worse than chewing on what is essentially tree bark close parentheses, your feathered friends can eat grapevine or stem with very few issues.
In fact, like many of the parts of food, humans choose not to eat, your chickens will have a grand old time if you throw in grapes, stems, and all.
Grapevine can also serve as a nice little added fiber boost when you’re feeding your chickens.
Not to mention, it’s a built-in way to hang this sweet treat for hours of endless amusement for you and your family.
Grape Leaves For Chicken
Although not as commonly found in most grocery store grapes in the United States, as they are in other parts of the world, if your bunch of grapes does come with leaves, there’s no reason you need to remove them before feeding them to your flock.
Although your chickens won’t be as eager to eat the leaves as they are the fruit itself, they are packed full of fiber and are a good source of vitamin c and calcium, both of which are important for the overall health of your flock.
Grape Seeds For Chickens
Generally speaking, there’s no technical reason why your chickens can’t eat grape seeds, although if your birds are particularly prone to choking, you may want to remove them before feeding grapes to your flock.
Although they might pose a small chicken hazard, they don’t contain any harmful compounds, so even if you don’t buy seedless grapes, your feathered friends should be just fine.
Whole Grapes For Chickens
There’s no reason you would need to cut or break grapes before feeding them to your flock, your chickens will do just fine eating the fruit whole.
Keep in mind that if you have bought grapes that contain seeds, you may want to remove them before feeding grapes to your chickens.
Raisins For Chickens
Although raisins are technically just dried grapes, it’s best to avoid feeding raisins to your chickens due to the extremely high sugar content.
Even if, you’re able to find raisins with no sugar added, the fact that they are dried and have a more concentrated level of sugar, means it’s better to avoid feeding them to your chickens.
Are Grapes Healthy for Chickens?
Yes, in moderation, grapes are healthy for chickens.
Although, like with most other fruits, grapes should be fed as an addition to and not a replacement of their traditional feed.
Feeding grapes to your flock is a great way to give them a sweet treat that also has a nice nutritional bump.
Grapes contain a decent dose of vitamin c, vitamin k, vitamin B6, and a small dose of calcium and magnesium.
Although chickens don’t need vitamin c, they can produce their own as we’ve discussed previously, in times of stress (like changes in the weather) giving them fruit with a decent vitamin c content can be a nice boost to their immune system.
Additionally, the inclusion of calcium and magnesium can help boost the overall quality of the eggs from your laying hens and can help ward off a variety of diseases such as rickets.
Should Your Chickens Eat Grapes?
Let’s face it, Chickens are opportunistic when it comes to feeding. They are always ready and eager to pounce on anything that looks like food. This means they are more likely to eat anything they lay their eyes on as long as it looks delicious.
In the field, your birds will spend most of their time looking for food. They will go as far as scavenging for different types of foods, whether good or spoiled. This explains why you might have seen your chickens scratching the ground, looking for grubs and worms to eat.
Better still, you will find them turning every dustbin upside down in search of leftovers from your kitchen. This should not surprise you because your birds might have spent a better part of their lives eating everything they find.
The same case applies to eating grapes. Your chickens will like grapes as soon as they get a taste of them.
As such, it is advisable to give them a few grapes as their treat. This type of chicken treat is only suitable when you give your flock a varied healthy diet.
In other words, don’t just ignore other foods because you are feeding your chickens grapes only. Instead, you should ensure that their meal is nutritionally balanced to keep them healthy.
Most importantly, avoid foods that can affect your birds’ digestion system. Now to answer the question, you can give your chickens grapes but in moderation or sparingly.
Guidelines and Cautions for Feeding Grapes to Chickens
Although it is completely safe for your chickens to eat grapes, I wanted to quickly discuss two areas of concern and give a quick word of advice about how to feed grapes to your chickens.
Quantity Of Grapes To Feed Your Chickens
As I touched on above, grapes should be fed as a treat or a supplement and not as a replacement for regular chicken feed.
It’s also important to keep in mind, that because grapes are a higher sugar fruit, you’ll want to limit the intake to a few grapes per bird or less.
Not only does excess sugar cause many of the same effects in chickens as it doesn’t humans, like weight gain, it can also reduce the number of eggs your hands are producing if they consume too much.
As I mentioned above, in the section about grape skins, grapes are typically found on the list of the 12 “dirtiest” foods.
This list is put out every year by a few different organizations, like EWG, to classify foods that pose the greatest risk of pesticide exposure.
Because grapes are traditionally consumed whole (skin and all) non-organic grapes can pose a risk of pesticide exposure.
Obviously, small exposures aren’t likely to do much damage to your flock, but repeated exposure to large amounts of pesticide can have long-term and damaging side effects.
To avoid this, it’s important to thoroughly wash any grapes you’re going to give to your flock and consider soaking them in a quick water bath before you do.
Can you feed your chickens grapes that have larvae? Absolutely! Grapes infected with larvae are just a tasty treat for your birds. This is like serving them two different meals at the same time. Most likely, your birds will enjoy the taste of larvae and that of grapes indiscriminately.
How do you start feeding your chickens grapes for the first time? As usual, you must introduce a new type of a treat in small quantities. This way, you will help your flock to get used to their new food. Within no time, they will like it and eat in large quantities. Just like everything else, feed them grapes in small amounts and at specific intervals.
At the end of the day, not only can your chickens eat grapes, but they will love them as the occasional treat.
If you’re looking for some great afternoon entertainment, consider hanging a bunch of grapes. (Vine and all) over top of your flock and watch them go to town.
Additionally, on particularly hot days, consider freezing grapes before giving them to your flock, and watch them pick away at these delicious little “frozen pebbles” for a few hours.
If you’re not sure what other kinds of fruits and vegetables, you can feed your chickens, you may want to check out our comprehensive list here.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Chicken Board!!