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.
Can My Chickens Eat Canned Olives?
When most of us think of olives, we think of jars or cans of olives you buy at any store. This is due to the fact that folks seldom ever eat fresh olives due to their bitter nature. Oleuropein is the culprit for the naturally bitter taste of olives.
To get rid of this bitter taste, we brine the olives in a saltwater bath for many months before the curing process and, finally, the canning process. Now, you may ask, considering it’s impossible to find olives in the fresh veggie section, or all you have are unripe olives off an olive tree (avoid feeding to chickens)
Can chickens eat olives that have been cured or canned?
Chickens can eat canned olives occasionally, yet fresh olives are preferred. Fresh produce is always preferable to canned options if you can find it. You could wonder if the hens won’t like the bitter flavor.
Fresh olives are intolerable to us but not to hens. Although chickens have taste buds, they aren’t as refined as ours.
Fresh olives will provide them with the most nutrition without salt. If fresh olives are unavailable, canned olives are OK in moderation.
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 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.
Can Chickens Eat Olive Leaves?
The olive leaves are safe for chickens to eat. They do not contain any toxins that could harm chickens.
However, if the olive tree has been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals, I would advise against letting chickens eat olive leaves from those trees.
These chemicals are dangerous and could cause health issues for chickens. If chickens consume too many pesticide chemicals, it could be fatal for them.
Therefore, only allow chickens to eat olive leaves if they are organically grown and free of harmful chemicals.
Are Olives Healthy For Chickens?
Olives are healthy for chickens; so long as you offer them fresh varieties that are minimally processed.
In fact, when the right options are offered they make a great treat and chickens tend to enjoy pecking away at them. One thing to consider, however, is that olives can come in a variety of different ways which are not always suitable for these birds.
You need to be careful that they have not been soaked in oils, marinades, or other things that can prove to be problematic. So, the sourcing of your olives is crucial, or how you prepare them in advance for your birds.
Let us now take a closer look at the specific vitamins and minerals found in olives, before we turn to how this supports the health of your flock.
How Many Olives Can You Feed Chickens
Olives should be considered a treat, and therefore you should look to serve them to your birds no more than once per week. A small serving, an ounce or an olive or two per bird is a good rule of thumb to follow.
As mentioned previously, olives are naturally high in fat and if you were to offer cured olives, they’ll be high in salt too. Both of these need to be managed in the diet. Too much fat in the diet can result in excess weight gain, whereas too much salt can lead to electrolyte imbalances and other hydration issues.
Remember, just like any treat in the diet – be sure to mix the foods you offer up and be sure to offer variety.
They should also never be fed instead of, or before, your bird’s regular high-quality pelleted feed. This must form the basis of the diet as it provides all the nutrition your chickens need.
Eating too many olives prior to this can result in a lack of appetite or even dismissal of their feed altogether. Treats and scraps should enhance the diet – not become it!
How to Feed Olives to Your Chickens
So, I’ve read accounts from some backyard chicken owners who are happy to throw olives to their birds as they come.
They come back later and find the olives have been eaten and the pits are laying around on the floor. This makes sense, chickens are pretty clever and generally know what they can and can’t eat.
Personally, I slice the olives and remove the pits then throw the halves in for my chickens. It makes it a little easier for them, reduces any risk of them eating the pits (I have a couple of silly hens), and means less cleaning up for me.