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Can You Feed Chickens Cherries?

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If you know anything about me you know that I’m a fruit guy, I love when new fruits come into season.

My latest obsession is the cherries that just came into season around here and that made me wonder,  can I feed my chickens cherries? 

Yes, your chickens can absolutely eat cherries and they’re one of the best fruits that you can add to their diet.  They have a wide variety of highly bioavailable nutrients and they are one of the most fun fruits to watch your chickens eat. 

While cherries are considered safe for chickens of all shapes and sizes, you may want to avoid giving baby chicks too many as they may upset their digestive tract, just like with most sweet treats.

Now that you know that it’s safe to feed cherries to your chickens,  you may be wondering if it’s okay to feed the whole fruit or if you need to feed individual pieces to your flock.

Can I Feed Whole Cherries To My Chickens?

 The answer is generally yes, you should be able to feed your chickens without much worry,  but we’re going to take a deeper dive into each portion so you can understand the pros and cons of feeding whole cherries vs. cherry parts.

Can chickens have Cherry Pits?

After all, we probably all remember that just like apples, cherry pits can be potentially poisonous to humans and there’s no reason to think that they may not also be poisonous for our chickens as well.

Even though the pits of cherries contain trace amounts of some chemical compounds that create cyanide when digested,  chickens will generally avoid the pits, demonstrating again that they’re often smarter than we are.

There’s nothing wrong with feeding whole cherries to your chickens as your flock will typically peck around it and only eat the edible parts of the cherry.

 In a rare instance where they may take a small portion of the pit or even consume the whole thing, it can generally be passed without any real health issues.

Can Chickens Eat Cherry Stems?

Just like with cherry pits, you shouldn’t be too worried about removing the stems from cherries before you feed them to your chickens. Unlike with most other animals, such as dogs and cats, chickens are fairly picky eaters and won’t only go after the things that they can easily Digest.

While it’s true that there is some possibility of toxicity from the consumption of Cherry stems, chickens will generally leave them alone just like they do with the pits.

Can Chickens Have Cherry Skin?

 Even if after reading this article you decide not to feed whole cherries to your chickens, you should consider giving them the skin or flesh of cherries.

Cherry skin and cherries, in general, are some of the most nutrient-dense and diverse fruits that you can feed your flock.

They contain everything from fiber and vitamin C to the far more difficult to find potassium, copper, and magnesium, and best of all your chickens will love them.

Which Types Of Cherries can Chickens Eat?

 Now that we understand chickens can safely eat cherries in general, it begs the question can chickens eat all kinds of cherries, or are there certain types that are better than others.

Can Chickens Eat Sweet Cherries?

Typically, when we think of cherries we think of sweet cherries such as the Bing or Royal Ann varieties.

As we talked about above, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with feeding sweet cherries of any variety to your flock.

Chances are, they’ll gobble them up even faster than you and your family can because of the higher sugar and sweet taste.

Can Chickens Eat Sour Cherries?

There’s nothing wrong with feeding your chickens sour cherries in place of something like sweet cherry and in fact they have a higher content of a variety of vitamins and minerals than sweeter cherry varieties.

Although, you may want to keep in mind that if your flock has a sweet tooth, they may not gobble these up quite as quickly.

Can Chickens Eat Wild Cherries?

 Unlike sweet cherries or sour cherries, wild cherries tend to be more bitter and are less likely to be eaten by your flock, but there’s nothing wrong with allowing them to enjoy them as well.

Can Chickens Eat Canned/Jarred Cherries?

While it may not be extremely poisonous or detrimental to the long-term health of your chickens, I would generally suggest avoiding feeding them canned cherries such as Maraschino or Luxardo cherries,  mostly because of the high sugar content added to keep them stable during the canning process.

If you have a few jars of these lying around, it’s okay to be selfish and save them for your next ice cream sundae or cocktail respectively.

How To Feed Cherries To Your Chickens

As we discussed above it’s okay to feed whole cherries to your chickens, but what about all of the other common ways that you may find cherries in your supermarket  Or local Fruit Stand.

Feeding Your Chickens Dried Cherries

If you have any concerns about your chickens potentially eating the stems or pits of cherries, using dried cherries is probably the best way to avoid this issue.   Your chickens can eat dried cherries, just try to make sure that if you decide to buy some that they don’t have any additional sugar added.

Feeding Your Chickens Pitted Cherries

The next step up from feeding something like a dried cherry would be to feed them cherries that are pitted.  As discussed chick and can pass it without issue if it is consumed, but they could still be a choking hazard for smaller birds.

 If you want to avoid this issue altogether you can either buy cherries that have been pitted or you can pet them yourselves by slicing the cherry and half and removing a fit by hand.

You don’t lose any nutrients that your chickens may consume by removing the pit, although it can be a very time-consuming process if you have more than a handful of cherries.

What Happens If Your Chickens Eat Too Many Cherries?

Just like with most Sweet Treats, we should be relying on the advice that all of our mothers gave us as children, “everything in moderation”.

Even if your chickens eat more than their share of Chevys, they generally shouldn’t suffer any adverse health consequences.

 One thing you may want to watch out for is a change in the consistency of their poop.   If you see a large change in the consistency before and after feeding them cherries, you may want to scale back on the amount of fruit that you are giving to your flock. 

Benefits of Cherries for your Flock

As you’re probably aware chickens will eat pretty much anything that you give them if they are hungry enough, but they will almost always go for the fruit first!

Cherries are no exception to this “rule” and are packed full of a variety of important nutrients for your chickens.

They can be a great source of vitamin A and just like in humans it can not only help to improve their eyesight but also can give a good boost to their egg production capabilities. 

If you’ve noticed a decrease in your egg production it may have something to do with vitamin A deficiency.

The inclusion of things like folate and niacin, among other members of the B Vitamin family help, prevent any inflammation and improve skin health, while reducing the chance of something like dermatitis.

Additionally, you will note that cherries are a great source of vitamins c and e, which can help to relieve stress and prevent Encephalomalacia, respectively.

Cherries are also extremely high in calcium which can be used to help boost overall egg health. 

They’re also a good source of available iron and copper which can help chickens cure their digestive issues and prevent anemia.

The nutritional makeup varies slightly from variety to variety, but most cherries are packed with a high amount of the following:

  • Vitamin A
  • Folate
  • Niacin
  • Pantothenic Acid
  • Pyridoxine
  • Choline
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Potassium
  • Calcium 
  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • Phosphorus
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Manganese

Final Thought

As we’ve discussed throughout this article, your chickens can absolutely eat cherries and as you’ve seen from the information above it is one of the best fruits that you can include in their diet.

Just like with most other fruit, you’re going to want to make sure that your chickens are eating cherries in moderation, which shouldn’t be hard if you’re using fresh cherries since they are only available seasonally throughout most of the world.

If you’re curious about what else your chickens can eat, you may want to take a look at our full guide on everything that chickens can eat.

Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Backyard Chicken Board!!

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