Chickens are probably the least-picky animals you can own. They eat almost anything, from fruits and veggies to meat and insects.
These avian omnivores want it all, and seem especially keen to get any leftover veggies or vegetable scraps from their owners, even things you might not like!
So, how about brussels sprouts? Can chickens eat them?
Yes, they can. Chickens love all parts of brussels sprouts, and they are a great source of nutrition for them. Brussels sprouts are packed with vitamins and minerals that chickens need, including vitamins A, C, and K, as well as fiber. They also contain a good amount of protein.
Though you and your family may turn your nose up at these little nutritional powerhouses, your chickens definitely won’t! Your birds will enjoy them, and they’ll certainly get a big boost of nutrition in the bargain.
But there are a few things to keep in mind when feeding brussels sprouts to your chickens. We’ll talk about them below.
What’s the Nutritional Profile of Brussels Sprouts?
While most people think of brussels sprouts as a human food, these little green vegetables can actually be quite beneficial for chickens.
Brussels sprouts are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, both of which are essential for a chicken’s immunity.
Other vitamins include vitamin K, which is necessary for blood clotting, and folate, which helps the chicken’s cells to divide properly.
In addition, brussels sprouts contain a type of soluble fiber known as inulin, which can help to maintain a chicken’s digestive health.
Finally, the high levels of sulfur in brussels sprouts make them a natural dewormer for chickens. As a result, brussels sprouts can be a healthy and tasty treat for your feathered friends.
Best of all, brussels sprouts are a low-calorie option, meaning your chickens can chow down until they are full without bulking up too much, and they will be getting tons of quality nutrients in the bargain.
Can Chickens Eat All Parts of a Brussels Sprout?
Chickens can, and will, eat every part of a brussels sprout. This includes the leaves, stalks, and even the roots.
In fact, some chicken keepers say that their chickens seem to prefer the tougher parts of the vegetable, like the stalks, over the leaves though this is likely just something stimulating for them to peck on.
So, if you have some leftover parts from preparing brussels sprouts that you were planning to throw away, don’t! Your chickens will love them just as much as the whole veggie.
How Should You Prepare Brussels Sprouts for Your Birds?
There are two main ways to prepare brussels sprouts for your chickens: cooked or raw.
If you choose to cook the brussels sprouts first, it’s best to steam them. This will help to retain as many of the nutrients as possible while making them softer and easier for your chickens to eat. Just make sure to let them cool a bit before handing them out!
Of course, you don’t have to cook the brussels sprouts before giving them to your chickens. Raw brussels sprouts are perfectly fine, too, stems and all. Some flocks seem to prefer raw veggies over cooked ones.
No matter how you prepare them, you have two choices when it comes to serving: You can give them to your birds whole, or split or chop the brussels sprouts into small pieces to make them extra easy to eat.
If you decide to leave them whole the birds will need to work a little harder on them, but they’ll get a good workout and have fun doing it. Keep in mind that whole, raw sprouts are probably a bit too tough for chicks.
If you do chop or split the brussels sprouts, make sure to do so just before giving them to your chickens. Once cut, the veggies will begin to wither and lose their nutrients quickly unless frozen.
Also, keep in mind that your chickens might not want much to do with the stalks, and will often leave the tough core from the bulb behind after getting their fill of the leaves, especially when raw.
This is just fine: that part of the sprout is probably just too tough for them, though they might peck at it a bit. There is not anything in there that will hurt them!
One Note About Cooked Brussels Sprouts
Just to be on the safe side, I should remind readers to never give cooked brussels sprouts to their chickens if they were prepared with anything that they shouldn’t have.
This means no salt, sugar, butter (too rich and too many calories) or spinach, or anything else that might be harmful to your birds.
If you have leftover cooked brussels from your last meal, your birds will love them so long as they are plain roasted, steamed, or cooked some other way.
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.