Elderberries safe for chickens?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by WYNot, Aug 12, 2013.

  1. WYNot

    WYNot Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wife and I recently found a large stretch of elderberry plants near our home and picked two 5-gallon buckets full. She's using some for a tincture (see this month's copy of "The Herb Quarterly"). I'm using the rest to make some elderberry jelly (http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/surejell-elderberry-jelly-60866.aspx). While the semi-cooked goo is in jelly bags draining I was wondering if it is safe to feed the leftover mash to the chickens. I know people aren't supposed to eat them raw in large quantities but wasn't sure if the chickens can handle them. After all, the wild birds in the area seem to love them. And, they are semi-cooked with the juices drained off for the jelly. I've got two jelly bags full of mash.

    Edit - Forgot to add, these are laying hens.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2013
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Toxicity I would be concerned with would be in seeds that may be liberated by grinding action of gizzard. Give them a small amount and see if they will eat more the next day. Mine must get a little sick to learn what is noxious or toxic. Mine also eat nighshade berries, it does not seem to set well but they do eat a few.
     
  3. WYNot

    WYNot Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, I got (11) half-pint jars of jelly and the wife got (4) pint jars of her tincture.

    Had never had elderberry jelly before but after tasting some of the leftovers... that stuff is YUMMY!

    Still looking for information on whether it is safe to feed to the hens. It has been boiled so it should be fine but just wanting to make sure as this is my first go at raising chickens.

    Number five of five laid her first egg today so all five are now laying. [​IMG] Quite tickled. Now to figure out what to do with the extra eggs.
     
    Bridger Davis likes this.
  4. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Elderberries I have read are poisonous if green but fine if blackened in color (ripe). So if you picked them at the appropriate time, then the berries should be safe.

    But I agree with centrarchid that caution is warranted, as the plant definitely has some issues.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2013
  5. WYNot

    WYNot Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Guess it is all a moot point. [​IMG] Stupid birds turned up their beaks at the berry leavings. They took a few bites and then proceeded to resume their scratching for bugs and seeds in the yard.
     
  6. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    They do have their personalities, that is for sure!
     
  7. fitchstr

    fitchstr Out Of The Brooder

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    Mine love the ripe berries. Their beaks are all red from the juice. Read the same on Toxin on green berries make sure they are dark purple.
     
  8. CAmountaingirl

    CAmountaingirl New Egg

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    I fed mine some cooked must after I made elderberry syrup, we will see how they are tomorrow.
     
  9. CAmountaingirl

    CAmountaingirl New Egg

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    What recipe did U use?
     
  10. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    From what I have read, there are different varieties of elderberries. Some are toxic in all stages of growth, cooked or not. Most varieties are edible, only a few are the highly toxic versions. If you are unsure of your variety, be sure to find out first.

    Around here, we have one of the dark blue/purple elderberries and are known for their edibility. But like other varieties of elderberries, they must be cooked first. Small amounts (for humans at least) are okay raw, but large quantities need to be cooked to break down the toxins. That said, we feed the strained remains (from making syrup) to our chickens and they liked it. They didn't devour it instantly, but they did eat it up over several days. We fed probably about 1/2 gallon of cooked/strained berry remains to perhaps 30 chickens.
     

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