Chickens love all kinds of veggies, including a bunch that people eat. This makes it easy to give them the occasional treat or scrap leftover from your meals.
One of the most popular vegetables all over the world is cabbage. Chances are you have cabbage from time to time and have probably wondered if you can serve it to your flock. Should chickens eat cabbage?
Yes, chickens may eat cabbage, and it’s a nutritious vegetable for them to have from time to time. Cabbage is packed with healthy vitamins and minerals and provides many benefits for chickens. They can eat it cooked or raw, and chicks can also enjoy this vegetable. Chickens should have cabbage once or twice a week as part of a healthy diet.
You won’t need to give your birds much in the way of encouragement; they love this stuff.
Still, knowing how to properly prepare cabbage and how much they can have is important for maximizing health and their safety. You can learn everything you need to know in this article.
Nutritional Profile of Cabbage
Cabbage is a leafy green vegetable that is high in several vitamins and minerals.
It is an excellent source of vitamin C, with one cup providing over 150% of the recommended daily value for humans. Cabbage is also a good source of vitamin K, vitamin B6, and magnesium.
Cabbage also contains several potent antioxidants that can help to protect against cellular damage and prevent disease.
These nutrients and minerals make cabbage an important part of a healthy diet- for people and chickens!
Benefits of Cabbage for Chickens
Cabbage can be an important supplement to a chicken’s diet. Cabbage is a good source of vitamins and minerals, and it also contains compounds that can help to prevent certain health problems.
For example, feeding cabbage to chickens has been shown to reduce the incidence of respiratory problems.
Cabbage is also thought to improve egg production and the quality of eggs so long as it is given sparingly.
In addition, cabbage leaves can provide chickens with a source of entertainment and stimulation, fostering their foraging instincts and helping to keep them from getting bored.
In addition, cabbage contains organic compounds that can help to reduce inflammation and tissue damage caused by it.
This is important because chronic inflammation is linked to several avian diseases. Cabbage’s anti-inflammatory properties likely help to keep chickens healthy and disease-free.
Can Chickens Eat Cabbage Raw?
Chickens can eat cabbage raw or cooked. If you’re feeding them raw cabbage, it’s helpful to split the head or hack it into smaller pieces to make sure they can eat it easily and digest it properly.
Smaller pieces also reduce the risk of choking for young birds and small species.
Can Chickens Eat Cabbage Cooked?
Cooked cabbage is perfectly safe for chickens to eat. In fact, some people find that their flock enjoys cooked cabbage more than raw.
You can cook cabbage in a variety of ways- steaming, boiling, sautéing, etc. All are totally acceptable and will soften the sometimes tough leaves of this leafy veggie.
If you do choose to cook cabbage for your chickens, keep in mind that regular ingestion of moist foods can negatively affect the digestion and stools of chickens.
Also be sure not to add any spices, seasonings, or harmful ingredients to the cabbage before you cook it. More on that in just a minute.
How Often Can Chickens Have Cabbage?
Chickens can have cabbage once or twice a week as part of a healthy diet. This leafy green is packed with nutrients, but too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.
Cabbage is high in fiber, which while it is good for chickens, too much can cause digestive problems if your flock decides to overindulge- which they will if you let them!
Furthermore, as good as cabbage is, it is not a nutritionally complete food for chickens.
Chickens should subsist primarily on chicken feed, with supplemental fruits and vegetables, including cabbage, making up no more than 10%-20% of their diet.
So be sure not to overdo it on the cabbage or any other healthy snack produce.
Beware of Pesticides on Store-bought Cabbage
If you’re feeding your chickens store-bought cabbage, it’s important to wash it thoroughly before giving it to them.
Cabbages (and other commercial produce) are often heavily sprayed with pesticides and other harmful chemicals.
These can be dangerous for your chickens if ingested, so be sure to wash all the leaves thoroughly before serving.
You can rinse the cabbage under cool water or soak it for about 10 minutes to remove any unwanted residue.
Never Use Leftover Cabbage Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
If you’re cooking cabbage for yourself or your family, never give your chickens the leftovers if they’ve been prepared with harmful ingredients.
This includes spices, sugar, salt, vinegar (i.e. sauerkraut) and other things that are poisonous to chickens.
Cabbage that has been sautéed in bacon grease or butter is also off-limits, as too much fat and calories can lead to health problems in chickens.
Also, any leftover cabbage that has begun to spoil or go bad should not be fed to your flock.
Spoiled cabbage can cause significant digestive issues and make your birds sick, so it’s best to err on the side of caution and toss anything that looks or smells questionable.
Remember: When it comes to produce if you wouldn’t eat it, you definitely don’t want to serve it to them!
How Should You Serve Cabbage to Your Chickens?
You can give your chickens whole leaves, chopped-up pieces, or shredded cabbage. If you have young birds or smaller breeds, it’s best to chop them up into small, manageable pieces to avoid any choking hazards.
Cooked cabbage is soft enough that your birds can easily tear off small pieces before swallowing it.
One great way to give your birds added enjoyment is to roughly split open a head or chunk of cabbage and then hang it up so they can peck at it around eye level.
If your birds have a chicken wire enclosure you can usually stick it into the holes to hold it. Alternately tie some string around the stalk and hang it from an overhead object.
Can Baby Chicks Eat Cabbage Also?
Yes, chicks of about 3-4 weeks old can have cabbage bits as a treat and part of a healthy diet. Just be sure to shred it into tiny pieces so they can eat it safely and easily.
Cooking can make cabbage more palatable to chicks, but they are even more sensitive to moist foods than adults, so think twice on that one.
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.