All chicken owners know that these omnivorous birds are voracious eaters. Bugs, fruit, veggies, all kinds of stuff. Pretty much anything they can reach, it seems like chickens are keen to try it.
In fact, one of the best ways to ensure your chickens get a properly varied diet is to feed them leftovers from your garden or even scraps from your own dinner table.
So how about that one veggie that everyone has an opinion on: Asparagus. Can chickens eat asparagus?
Yes, chickens can eat asparagus. Asparagus is a healthy food for chickens and provides many essential nutrients, including vitamins A, C, E and K. It also contains thiamine, niacin, vitamin B6 and folate, and is a good source of fiber. However, asparagus might be a bit too tough for some birds and it can alter the taste of eggs.
Like most veggies that are healthy for us, asparagus is healthy for chickens. So long as you give it to them in moderation your flock should enjoy this woody stalk of a veggie.
There are a few other things to consider, but we will tell you all about it in the rest of this article.
Asparagus Nutritional Profile
Asparagus is a nutrient-rich food and an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals. Asparagus is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, E and K. It also contains thiamine, niacin, vitamin B6 and folate.
These vitamins are essential for nerve, brain and blood cell function. In addition, asparagus is a good source of fiber which can help chickens maintain a healthy digestive system.
Asparagus is also a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. Calcium is essential for strong bones and egg production, while iron helps to prevent anemia and supports a healthy immune system.
|Total lipid (fat)
|Carbohydrate, by difference
|– Fiber, total dietary
|– Sugars, total including NLEA
|Vitamin A, RAE
|Vitamin A, IU
|Lutein + zeaxanthin
Magnesium is important for proper muscle function, phosphorus is necessary for cell growth and repair, and potassium helps to regulate fluid levels in the body.
Lastly, zinc is involved in a variety of critical processes, including metabolism, immunity and reproduction.
By ensuring that your chickens have access to these essential minerals, you can help them lead long and healthy lives, and one of the best ways for them to get a big boost of these nutrients is by eating asparagus.
How Often Should Chickens Have Asparagus?
While asparagus is a healthy treat for chickens, it should not be given to them every day.
In fact, it’s best to only offer asparagus to your flock a few times a week at most. This way, they can enjoy the benefits of this nutrient-rich veggie without overdoing it.
Too much asparagus can cause some digestive upset in chickens, so it’s important to offer it to them in moderation.
While there is some debate on the matter, most experts agree that chickens should have access to fresh greens and vegetables periodically throughout the week, and that they should tally about 10%-25% of your birds’ diet.
If you are feeding your chickens only a few types of veggies, this should be around two servings, at different times during the week.
If you are feeding them a multitude of veggies, you should give them asparagus once a week.
Can Chickens Eat Asparagus Raw?
Yes, chickens can eat asparagus raw. In fact, this is the best way to feed it to them.
Asparagus is packed with nutrients that are essential for chickens, and by eating it raw they can get the most benefit from these nutrients.
That being said, some chickens may find raw asparagus a bit tough to eat.
If this is the case with your flock, you can try chopping it up into smaller pieces or removing the toughest, woody part of the stalk.
Can Chickens Eat Asparagus Cooked?
Chickens can eat asparagus that is cooked, even though it is not strictly necessary. Cooking asparagus will definitely make it softer and easier to eat, a plus for young or small chickens.
However, cooking asparagus will cause some of the nutrients to be lost, so it’s best to only do this if absolutely necessary or you have some leftover from a meal.
If you do choose to cook asparagus for your chickens, be sure to only cook it lightly. Overcooked asparagus can be hard for chickens to digest.
Also, make sure that you never, ever serve chickens any asparagus cooked with something they cannot have, like oils, salt, sugar, excess butter, etc.
These ingredients can be toxic to chickens, so it’s important that you serve them only asparagus that has been cooked plain.
Can You Serve Asparagus to Chicks?
Yes, but they will struggle to eat it unless it is finely minced or cooked first. You can give chicks a small amount of asparagus once they are about six weeks old.
Chicks have difficulty eating anything that is not small and a little softer. If you cut off the soft, bushy heads of the asparagus and serve that to them they will love it.
Caution: Asparagus Might Change the Flavor of Chicken Eggs!
If you have chickens that lay eggs for you, be aware that asparagus might change the flavor of their eggs.
This is not harmful to the chicken, or the egg, or you in any way, but some people say that asparagus makes the eggs taste a little bit like asparagus. This, as you might imagine, could be highly off-putting for some!
The reason for this phenomenon is not fully understood. Scientists believe that it may have to do with the compounds present in the asparagus.
One theory is that these compounds interact with bacteria in the gut, resulting in the production of sulfur-containing compounds that can lend chicken eggs a distinctly odd flavor.
Another possibility is that the compounds in asparagus directly alter the structure of egg proteins, leading subsequently to a change in taste.
Regardless of the mechanism, it is clear that asparagus can and usually will have a profound impact on the flavor of chicken eggs.
So, if you’re planning to feed your laying hens asparagus, be prepared for the possibility that their eggs might taste a bit different.
But once again, there’s no need to worry about any negative health effects for you or the hen; it is totally safe!
Make Sure You Clean Up Afterward
As with any other fresh produce, it’s important to clean up any asparagus or scraps that your chickens don’t eat. This is because rotting food will attract pests, including insects, mice and rats.
If rodents get into your chicken coop they can cause all sorts of problems, including spreading parasites like fleas and lice, and all sorts of other diseases. Rodents will also try to eat eggs and can potentially injure your birds!
Not for nothing, few veggies smell as awful as rotting asparagus, so you definitely don’t want that in your chicken coop or near your home.
Tidy up after you give your flock this healthy treat and you will all be a lot happier.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.