Olives are famed for their fantastic health benefits. For thousands of years, humans have taken advantage of these benefits. People raved about the health benefits of olives even before science could back it up. We use it to make oil, as a garnish, on pizza, and as a snack. If you are a fan of them, you might wonder can chickens eat olives? Let’s jump right in.
Can Chickens Eat Olives?
Yes! Chickens usually love eating olives. Olives hold all the same benefits for chickens as they do for people. So while they should be an occasional treat, they are a healthy one. There are even countries that use rotations of chicken flocks to clean up their olive groves.
They work in partnership to let flocks free-roam and clean all the olives that have fallen from the trees. They also fertilize the ground and olive trees as they run around. In turn, the chickens get a more balanced diet through foraging.
Benefits Of Olives
Olives are high in vitamins and minerals. Each of these boosts your chicken’s immunities and produces the best eggs. If you are going to give your chickens a treat, why not make it a healthy one too? Everyone always talks about the benefits of olives, but what are they? Let’s look at each one and why they are excellent for your flock.
Olives are renounced for their high levels of vitamin E. And with so many benefits to just this vitamin, you might be wondering why more people don’t feed olives to their chickens. Vitamin E is excellent for growth in young chickens.
Your chickens will grow up faster and more plump than chickens who lack vitamin E. Most feeds already carry enough vitamin E for your hens, but you can’t give them too much.
Vitamin E is also great for egg-producing hens. Especially if your pullets are almost ready to lay their first egg, the extra vitamins will help them. Not to mention vitamin E is known as the miracle vitamin for shiny plumage.
For egg-laying hens, iron is crucial. Iron drives cell-reproduction and increases oxygen intake. Without iron, your hens will become anemic, but too much can also give them blood poisoning. The perfect balance is needed, but olive treats won’t put them over their iron requirements.
We all know that calcium is the main ingredient in eggshells. For egg-laying hens, most people choose a special feed fortified with calcium. Another great way to give your hens extra calcium is to give them a few olives. Calcium also helps with beak and bone support in chickens of all ages.
For a healthy immune system and perfect health, everyone needs antioxidants. Olives are famous for their high potency of antioxidants. Which, in turn, makes them a healthy snack for your birds.
When anyone thinks of olives, they think of healthy fats and amino acids. Your hens could benefit from these just as much as people do. Healthy fats support good heart health. And the amino acids also produce the creamiest eggs. So can chickens eat olives? The better question is, why aren’t they all eating olives?
Can Chickens Eat Canned Olives?
When most of us think of olives, we think of jars or cans of olives that you buy at any store. Have you ever wondered why you don’t see fresh olives in the produce section? That is because fresh olives are naturally bitter and hardly edible by people. Oleuropein is the culprit for the naturally bitter taste of olives, which is not harmful. But it tastes awful.
To get rid of this bitter taste, we brine the olives in a saltwater bath for many months. Then the olives are canned, or cured, and distributed for our everyday use. But is this canning process safe? Can chickens eat cured olives? While fresh olives are more desirable, canned olives on occasion won’t harm your hens.
The main factor to consider is how much salt your hens are eating. A little salt now and then is perfectly healthy, and can even help keep your flock hydrated. But you don’t want to overdo it because your hen’s food will have all the salt they need.
Is Canned Or Fresh Better?
Fresh produce is always better than canned versions if you can get your hands on them. You might be thinking, but won’t the hens hate the bitter taste? While fresh olives are unbearable for us, hens don’t mind them.
Chickens do have taste buds, but they aren’t as sensitive as ours. So giving them fresh olives will provide them with the most amount of nutrients without the added salt. But if you don’t have fresh olives, canned is ok in moderation.
Where Can You Buy Fresh Olives?
Unless you live near an olive orchard, there are no places that sell them fresh. Because of their bitter taste, no grocery store carries them. But some cities have olive trees growing in parks and neighborhoods. If you are a lucky one, you can harvest these olives to feed your hens occasionally. If you don’t have an olive tree easily accessible, you could always grow one.
Olives fair well in mild climates and grow without effort. But beware that if you take this route, they grow large. Olives also produce a crazy amount of fruit. You will have olives falling to the ground frequently. It will be almost impossible to make use of all of them unless you start your own olive canning business.
Can Chickens Eat Olive Pits?
When you get your hands on fresh olives, you might be wondering how safe the pit is. Chickens usually have a good sense of what is edible and won’t eat something that will hurt them. Chickens eat all around the pit without a problem most of the time. But you might not want to give your hens olive pits out of caution.
Especially if you have a chicken that is known to eat harmful things, pits are not a good idea. They are too hard to be digested and could cause an impacted crop. If your hens eat the pit, it could also pose as a choking hazard.
If you plan on giving olives often, olive pitters are cheap and easy to use. Or you could just cut them in half and remove the pit yourself. Removing the pits doesn’t just keep your hens safe; it also keeps the runs clean. If you give your flock olives that aren’t pitted, the pits will lie in the run. Pitting the olives prevents a mess that you have to clean up later and unwanted trees from growing.
Does Color Matter?
Depending on your taste buds, you can either eat black or green olives. But it might have you wondering if one color is preferable over the other. Both colors of olives are the same fruit grown from the same tree. Green olives are picked when they aren’t ripe yet, and black olives are completely ripe.
So both colors have the same benefits no matter how they taste to us. So it doesn’t matter what color olives you feed your chickens. You might even find that your hens eat one type more than the other.
How Often Can I Give Olives To My Flock?
The secret to giving treats to your chickens is to keep it under 10%. Can backyard chickens eat olives every day? Daily canned olives are probably not a good idea. Your hens will get sick from all the salt in cured olives. And to err on the side of caution, they shouldn’t even be a weekly treat. But every other week or so should be perfectly acceptable.
If you are feeding fresh olives, you can provide these much more often. While you still don’t want to feed it daily, every few days to once a week is perfectly acceptable. As long as your hens still eat a balanced feed, fresh olives are a yummy snack.
What About Olive Oil?
Since we are talking about olives, we might as well talk about olive oil. Can chickens eat olive oil? Yes, it is just as beneficial to them as it is for us. And many backyard chicken owners use olive oil to treat some common ailments like mites and impacted crop.
And if you are going for a double whammy, tinned fish in olive oil is great too. So if you are wondering, “Can chickens eat sardines in olive oil?” The answer is that your hens will adore you for this tasty treat. Chickens love fish, especially sardines. Giving them tinned sardines in olive oil is a nutritious snack that will have your chickens coming back for more.
So Go On Ahead
Now we have answered the question of can chickens eat olives. The next big question is, will chickens eat olives? Most chickens love to have an olive treat every once in a while. But you never know what your flock likes until you go out and try it. No matter what color, fresh or canned, giving olives can benefit your flock immensely.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Backyard Chicken Board!!