Part of the fun of owning chickens is seeing how they show interest in a wide variety of foods, including some items from your own kitchen.
Any time you have leftover veggies, there is a good chance your chickens will enjoy finishing it off for you.
Broccoli is one such veggie that might not be a big hit for leftovers in your house, so much so that you might consider handing it over to your flock. Can chickens eat broccoli?
Yes, chickens can eat broccoli. The whole plant is completely safe for them to consume, and is a good source of nutrition for chickens, containing vitamins A, C, and E, as well as fiber and potassium. Chickens can have broccoli a few times a week as part of a well-rounded and varied diet with other fruits and veggies.
As it turns out, most of the veggies that people can eat, chickens can also eat, and broccoli is no different.
If you want to give your birds a super-healthy snack that will also entertain them, broccoli is a great choice. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about feeding it to your birds.
What is the Nutritional Profile of Broccoli?
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that is high in vitamins and minerals. It is an excellent source of vitamin C, which is essential for chickens as it helps to boost the immune system.
Broccoli also contains high amounts of vitamins A and K, as well as carotenoids. Carotenoids are antioxidants that can help to protect chickens from various diseases.
Calcium, too, is found abundantly in broccoli and is critical in order for chickens to maintain strong bones.
Without enough calcium, a chicken will begin to suffer from weak and fragile bones and a host of health issues.
It is also especially important to provide extra calcium in their diets during periods of rapid growth, such as when chicks are first feathering out.
|Total Lipid (Fat)||0.37g|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||6.64g|
|– Fiber, total dietary||2.6g|
|– Sugars, total including NLEA||1.7g|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid||89.2mg|
|Vitamin A, RAE||31µg|
|Vitamin A, IU||623 IU|
|Lutein + zeaxanthin||1400µg|
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)||0.78mg|
The other essential nutrient found in broccoli is phosphorous.
Phosphorous is vital for the proper development of nerves and repair of muscles, and ample phosphorous is crucial for healthy egg production.
Egg-laying hens require significantly higher levels of phosphorous than non-laying chickens, so it’s important to make sure they are getting enough of this mineral in their diet, and broccoli is a great way to do just that.
This combination of nutrients makes broccoli an ideal snack for chickens, as it will not only provide them with essential vitamins and minerals but also help to keep their digestive system healthy.
How Often Can Chickens Have Broccoli?
If chickens are awake, they are often found eating, so you can give your chickens broccoli pretty much whenever it is convenient for you and them.
A healthy diet for chickens should include plenty of vegetables, but you want to be cautious as too much fiber can cause constipation.
Also keep in mind that an excess of vitamins can cause problems, too, but it is highly unlikely that your chickens will eat that much from the vegetables alone so long as the bulk of their diet is chicken feed.
For best results, you can offer your chickens broccoli up to twice a week.
If you routinely feed your flock other veggies, consider feeding them broccoli once a week as part of a varied diet.
How Should You Prepare Broccoli for Feeding to Chickens?
When feeding broccoli to chickens, there are a few things to be aware of. Know that you can give the broccoli to your chickens raw or lightly cooked, and they should love it either way.
If giving it to them raw, keep in mind that the woody stems and leaves of broccoli plants can be tough and hard to digest.
They should definitely peck at them and try to eat them, so it’s best to chop or tear them up for feeding time. Alternately just cook the broccoli to soften up both the stems and leaves.
If you want to give your chickens cooked broccoli, simply wait to make sure it is cool before serving it to them.
Also, take care to ensure that you never, ever give your birds broccoli table scraps from a dish that was prepared with something they cannot eat: salt, sugar, oil, excess butter, etc. That could result in inadvertently poisoning your poor chickens.
By following these simple guidelines, you can ensure that your chickens stay healthy and enjoy their broccoli.
Be Sure To Clean Up After They Are Finished With It
Something that new chicken owners might not know is that you must clean up the area after feeding your chickens any produce, including broccoli, whether it is cooked or not.
There are always going to be parts that they won’t eat, and if you don’t clean it up it will begin to rot, and that will attract pests.
Pests can bring with them all sorts of diseases and parasites that will make your chickens sick, so it is important to be vigilant about keeping their area clean post-mealtime.
Furthermore, food that has started to spoil and rot may still be an attractive option to some of your chickens.
Though they probably have lower standards when it comes to food than you do, that doesn’t mean they should eat it! It might make them sick, the same as us.
A good rule of thumb is to clean up any produce that has been out for more than half a day, as that is when it will certainly begin to spoil. If it is hot outside, you will want to clean up sooner than that.
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.