Can Chickens Eat Elderberries?

Can Chickens Eat Elderberries?

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Elderberries are tiny, dark-coloured fruits with a mildly sour and bitter flavor. They are used frequently to manufacture jams and other preserves. But can birds eat them without becoming sick? Do you have any extra dry food that you wish to provide your birds? Is there a tree that leans over your garden or yard and reaches the coop? I looked into their suitability for a chicken's diet for a while. I'll be here today to present my findings to you.

Can Chickens Eat Elderberries?

Yes, elderberries can be eaten by chickens, but since this is a dangerous plant, vigilance is required! Elderberry plants have cyanide-producing glycosides that are hazardous, and these glycosides can be found in the stems, leaves, roots, and unripe berries of the plant. Even at modest doses, glycosides are poisonous.


Elderberries: Are They Good For Chickens?

Elderberries can be eaten by chickens and can contribute to the provision of some extra nutrients. They can be a highly healthy treat for your birds as long as only the fruits are consumed, and only in small, irregular doses.

However, you still need to exercise caution, especially if your flock has access to an elderberry shrub or tree. To humans as well as your chickens, the stems, leaves, and roots are poisonous. They each contain a substance called glycoside, which can be harmful and even lethal to your birds in even little doses. Your chickens should, ideally, know from an early age not to hurt them. We can never be too cautious as chicken owners, though. It is recommended to control access, prune the tree or bush, or remove it.

However, there are many other methods to present the fruits, and these birds normally like to consume them.

There are numerous accounts of chicken keepers being shocked to discover that their flock has eaten every fruit from their trees and wondering if it is safe for their flock.

Now that we have a better understanding of the specific vitamins and minerals included in elderberry fruits, we can see why they can be included in the diet:

Nutritional Importance

This component, which is abundant in elderberries, is important for the development of strong bones, the generation of eggs, and the quality of eggshells. We need to know that phosphorous should not outweigh calcium in the diet because both are essential for producing high-quality eggs.

Again, elderberries perform admirably in that they deliver a respectable amount of calcium while avoiding overdosing on phosphorus.

Additionally, the fiber content can promote and maintain the regularity of your chickens' digestive systems. Beyond this, fiber offers a variety of additional advantages, including better behavior (with less feather plucking), maintaining a healthy weight, increasing feed intake capacity, and assisting birds with their feather cover.

Elderberries are abundant in antioxidants, flavonoids, and other substances that can have antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties in addition to vitamins and minerals.

Can Chickens Eat Elderberries in Large Amounts?

Elderberries should only be consumed occasionally, sparingly, and as a pleasure. Once a week and around 2/3 of a cup at a time are reasonable guidelines (dried or fresh). They certainly include a variety of nutrients, but they also have a significant amount of sugar, which can build up. particularly if you are providing other fruits as scraps or rewards.

Additionally, you must make sure that your chickens continue to eat their premium, nutritionally sound poultry feed. Elderberries or any other treats should never be given in place of or substituted for the diet's main course.

Of course, those of you who have elderberry bushes or trees close to your coop or that your birds can freely access when they are roaming may find this to be a challenge. It's crucial to monitor your bird's consumption of this meal, though.

To stop them from ingesting too many of the tree's fruits as well as from eating the poisonous and hazardous stems, leaves, and roots. Which is what they'll do! The excrement of your chickens will change negatively if you give them too many of these berries. There will probably be a lot of cleanups required! This can entail relocating the coop or run or restricting your bird's access to some locations. You could even need to completely remove some bushes or trees, depending on how many you have.


How to Feed Chickens Elderberries

Elderberries are a multipurpose food that is simple to give to your birds. Generally, there are three ways to serve the birds elderberries:

Raw and Fresh

You can either gather these by hand from the tree or bush or buy them at your neighborhood shop. It's also advisable to buy organic products if you can and if you choose to. This should reduce the likelihood that they will transport pesticides and other potentially dangerous substances.

To get rid of any dirt or debris, it's also a good idea to wash them first. Then, either in the coop or in the open area where your birds like roaming, you can scatter some of these berries on the ground.

If not, you can keep letting your birds eat them for themselves from the tree, bush, or ground where they fall. However, as previously indicated, keep an eye on your chickens near this plant!


Again, the simplest option is to look to purchase things offline or online. As an alternative, you can try to dry your elderberries, whether they come from a tree or a shrub or are bought. If you choose to serve them dry, keep in mind that they will be denser and that you may unintentionally serve greater portions because of this.

Additionally, berries are considerably sweeter when they are dried, so your birds will probably be much more receptive to eating them or struggle to quit once they do. Attempt tossing some of these dried fruits, and see your bird's reaction.

With Other Foods, Mixed

Elderberries can also be eaten by chickens after being mashed and combined with other meals. This might include leftovers like oats or even be included in their usual poultry feed. This is a fantastic approach to vary the diet, make it more interesting, encourage your birds to eat more of a certain food, and add nutritional supplements.


Elderberries are palatable to chickens, but there is a catch: they can only eat the fruit. Never give your birds stems, leaves, or roots to eat or let them devour them because doing so puts them at risk.

Consultation with a veterinarian who specializes in chickens or poultry is necessary for such a situation, and the quicker you act, the greater the likelihood that they will be able to stop any fatalities.

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