Can Chickens Eat Grapes ?

You could never accuse a chicken of being a picky eater! From worms and grubs to fruits and grains, chickens naturally have a varied diet that consists of almost anything they can get their beaks on. Before they were domesticated, chickens would’ve helped themselves to various fruits and berries, so will appreciate an owner that fulfills this niche with oranges, bananas, and even grapes.

I can hear the anxiety in your voice as you wonder, “Can chickens eat grapes?” and understand your concerns, but the truth is that most chickens not only eat grapes but go absolutely crazy for their sweet, nutritious flesh.

Nevertheless, there are a few things the conscientious chicken owner should consider before adding grapes to their chicken’s diet.

In this article, we’re going to discover how grapes may benefit your chickens and what potential dangers they may pose for your flock.

5 Reasons Chickens Love Eating Grapes

Few chickens will “wine” if you give them grapes and most will attack them with the same relish as you attack that bottle of wine at the end of a tough week! Fortunately, grapes are far healthier than wine and your chickens will get the following benefits from the occasional fruity treat:

#1 Potassium Improves Egg Production and Quality

Throw your chickens a handful of grapes and you’ll probably provide them with a week’s supply of potassium – enough to ensure they consistently produce good-quality eggs with strong shells and potassium-rich whites.

Young chicks require even more potassium than laying hens because it aids their growth and development. In roosters and broilers, a daily dose of potassium helps support various bodily functions, ensuring optimal performance and reducing the risk of heat stress.

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It just goes to show – that there’s a lot more to the humble grape than initially meets the eye!

#2 Chickens Need Fibre To Keep Things Moving

According to the UK publication, Farmer’s Weekly, fiber is “the nutrient needed to “keep things moving”. It helps the chicken’s digestive system operate efficiently and synthesize proteins effectively.

Grapes are high in fiber and when fed as an occasional treat can have a positive effect on your flock’s behavior, while improving feed intake and conversion rates, which will help your chickens maintain a healthy body weight.  

Fiber also reduces ammonia buildup in the coop, creating a healthier environment for you and your chickens.

#3 Grapes Are Rich in Nutrients

Grapes are nutrient-rich treats that can positively impact your flock’s overall health. They have a high vitamin C content, which improves egg production, helps maintain a healthy metabolism, and reduces the risk of heat stress.

Grapes also contain vitamin K – an essential vitamin that improves egg production and growth and helps maintain bone health.

Brown chicken eyeing grapes offered by a person.

#4 Grapes Are a Good Source of Hydration

Even though I rarely see my chickens drink, they consume a surprising amount of water, drinking anywhere between 500ml and one liter of water daily. On a hot day, they may drink even more, or seek out foodstuffs, like grapes, that provide that essential hydration.

Fresh grapes are around 82% water, so even a small handful of the fruit can help hydrate your hens on a hot day, reducing the risk of heat stress.

#5 Chickens Relish the Copper Content in Grapes

Chickens need a little copper in their diets, partly to maintain a healthy metabolic system and boost their energy levels, and partly because it helps them absorb iron which is essential for their red blood cell development.

Copper is a trace element many chicken owners overlook, but studies show it’s pretty integral to the chicken’s diet because it reduces bacteria levels in the gut and positively impacts growth and feed conversion rates.

The Negatives of Feeding Grapes to Chickens

Grapes Pose a Choking Hazard for Chickens

Chickens are very competitive over their food and a hen who’s found herself a healthy snack would rather gulp it down whole than share it with the rest of the flock. Unfortunately, that means they sometimes bite off more than they can chew, including grapes!

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While most chickens will be fine even if they swallow a large grape whole, the less fortunate could experience choking or a potentially fatal blockage in the digestive system.

High Sugar Content is Detrimental

Chickens love a sweet treat just as much as we do, but they also tend to over-indulge, resulting in weight gain, digestive issues, and a weakened immune system.

Sadly, grapes are chock-full of sugar, with some varieties containing as much as 23 grams per cup of fruit, so moderation is key.

Giving your chickens one or two grapes each twice a week constitutes a healthy treat, but letting them peck away at a large bunch every day could cause problems.

The Cost of Grapes is Prohibitive

Grapes can be quite costly, especially if you’re buying them out of season. The average price of a pound of grapes was hovering around $2.24 a couple of years ago, and they’re not getting any cheaper.

There are exceptions to that rule, however. If you live in California, the grape capital of the US, and purchase grapes in season in September or October, you could pay as little as $1 per pound. For the rest of the year, you might want to consider more affordable treats like Granny Smith apples or Mandarin oranges.

Can Chickens Eat Grape Seeds?

Feeding chickens fruit is usually safe, at least in moderation, but with the seeds of those fruits, it’s often a very different story.

Many fruit seeds, like those found in apples, contain a substance called amygdalin, which when consumed, releases cyanide into the bloodstream causing potentially fatal toxicity.

Fortunately, grape seeds don’t contain any amygdalin and are beneficial to both humans and chickens. Grape seeds are rich in antioxidants, which help prevent disease, reduce inflammation, and maintain healthy egg production.

Hand feeding a grape to a red-crested chicken.

Is The Skin Of Grapes Safe For Chickens To Eat?

Some fruits, like bananas, have thick skins or peels that may be too fibrous for a chicken to digest, but that’s not the case with grapes.

Grapes have thin skins that are surprisingly healthy! Studies show that the skins of certain types of grapes have “antioxidant, anti-diabetic, anti-obesity, and anti-inflammatory activities,” so can have a positive impact on your chicken’s health.

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Grape skins are also easy to digest, so unlikely to cause choking or result in an impacted crop.

What Types of Grapes are Best for Chickens?

There are hundreds of different varieties of grape, some of which are used to make wine and others that are mostly eaten as raisins.

While chickens can eat almost any variety, as a responsible chicken owner, you might want to steer clear of those like the Cotton Candy grape which has a very high sugar content.

Red grapes are generally healthier than green grapes because they contain more anthocyanins, which increase the chicken’s healthy bacteria, improving production and overall health.

FAQs

Can I Give My Chickens Whole Grapes?

While most chickens will peck away at a whole grape, pulling off pieces of skin and flesh, some might be so excited about the prospect of a sweet treat that they swallow the fruit whole.

Most of the time, this is no cause for concern, but there’s a chance the grape could get stuck, causing a choking hazard, or blocking the digestive system. You can eliminate that risk by cutting the grapes in half or even into quarters, making them easier for your chickens to digest.

Can Chickens Eat Frozen Grapes?

Frozen grapes are an excellent treat for a hot day and will help your chickens regulate their body temperatures and boost their water intake. Frozen grapes also provide mental stimulation for your flock, especially if you hang them up.

How do you Feed Chickens Grapes?

The best way to feed your chickens grapes is in moderation! A flock of 10 chickens needs no more than a cup of grapes once or twice a week – any more than that could cause unhealthy weight gain and digestive problems.

While some chicken owners enjoy watching their chickens fight over whole grapes, others prefer to chop them up to reduce the risk of choking.

If you trust your chickens, you could hang a small bunch of grapes in their coop, giving them entertainment and a nutritional boost at the same time. If you don’t, cut the grapes in half before tossing them into the coop for your chickens to enjoy.

Parting Thoughts

Chickens can eat grapes and will benefit from the high fiber content, potassium, and other essential nutrients. These juicy little fruits have many health benefits for chickens, supporting their immune systems, boosting their metabolisms, and promoting healthy growth and egg production.

Too much of a good thing is nearly always problematic, however, and offering your chickens grapes daily could cause obesity, lethargy, digestive problems, and a drop in egg production. It could also prove prohibitively expensive!

If you want to treat your chickens, by all means, offer them a few grapes once or twice a week, but resist the temptation to toss them these fruity gems any more frequently than that, regardless of how enthusiastic your flock might be about the prospect!

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