If you’ve ever watched chickens go to and fro on your property while out foraging for food, you’ve probably noticed that they take a bite here and there for most plants, and then others they will eat right down to the ground.
Turns out a lot of chickens most favorite plants are actually herbs, and they will go out of their way to get to them.
Most herbs are actually quite good for chickens, containing antioxidants and a variety of vitamins and minerals, but not all are. How about cilantro? Can chickens have cilantro?
Yes, chickens can eat cilantro, and they should. Cilantro is nutritionally very dense, with tons of vitamins and minerals, and also has proven immune system-boosting compounds in it.
It turns out that cilantro is something of a secret weapon for improving the health of your chickens. They absolutely love the stuff, and it is so good for them you’ll be glad they are eating it.
This article will tell you more about how to incorporate it properly into their diet, how to serve it to them, and other need-to-know info.
Nutritional Profile of Cilantro
Cilantro, love it or hate it, is an integral part of many cuisines around the world.
But, aside from that fresh, citrusy taste, cilantro is also super healthy: that’s because it is chock full of vitamins and minerals alike, and it even has a little bit of protein.
Let’s go down the list and you’ll see what I’m talking about…
First up, the vitamins. There is a lot to like about the vitamin payload of cilantro, as it contains a tremendous amount of vitamin K, lots of vitamin C, vitamin A, beta-carotene, and folate.
Also, well represented are the B complex vitamins, with B1, B2, B3, B5, and B6 all being present in abundance, and bringing up the rear but definitely not least is vitamin E.
The mineral content is similarly impressive with manganese, iron, and potassium all being plentiful along with magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, zinc, and a little bit of sodium.
Also worthy of mention is the fact that cilantro, despite being lush and leafy, is 92% water by weight, meaning that it can help to keep your chickens hydrated a little bit on hot days.
Benefits of Cilantro for Chickens
As you’d expect, the vitamins and minerals found in cilantro can do wonders for your chickens, but there is more besides.
Looking at the vitamins, the vitamin K found in cilantro also helps to improve chickens’ blood clotting abilities and keeps them from getting anemia.
The B complex vitamins found in cilantro are important for a variety of reasons, such as helping to process carbohydrates and fats into energy, reducing the risk of nervous system degradation, and improving digestion.
And lastly, vitamin E is great for skin and feather health, so your chickens will not only look better and also be more resistant to parasites and various ailments.
The minerals found in cilantro are important as well, with the iron being necessary for the production of red blood cells, and the manganese being important for healthy bones.
The calcium found in cilantro is also great for keeping your birds’ eggshells strong, and preventing them from getting too brittle, and is as always crucial for skeletal health and growth.
But aside from the sheer improvement of health brought on by its excellent nutritional content, cilantro also contains various antioxidants and other compounds that can boost the immune system performance of chickens.
It is also shown, again in laboratory studies, to actively reduce harmful bacteria in the digestive tract of chickens which will subsequently improve overall health and the absorption of other nutrients.
This makes cilantro a wonderful one-two punch for the wellness of your flock!
Can Chickens Eat Fresh Cilantro?
Yes, and they should! Fresh cilantro contains the most potent concentration of vitamins and minerals, as well as other compounds that are beneficial for your chickens. If at all possible, feed your flock fresh cilantro.
Can Chickens Eat Cilantro Stems?
Yes, though some birds seem to avoid them. This is mostly because the stems are tougher and somewhat fibrous.
So if you have chickens that don’t seem keen on cilantro stems, it may be a good idea to remove them before feeding.
Can Chickens Eat Cilantro Seeds?
Yes. Also known as coriander seeds, the seeds of cilantro are a great source of vitamins and minerals, which can have beneficial effects on both digestive health and overall well-being.
Can Chickens Eat Cilantro Roots?
Yes, they sure can. The roots of the cilantro plant, while not the choice bits for most chickens, are still tasty and many chickens will peck at them if they can get to them.
The tender roots of younger plants are also used in various cuisines around the world for their intense flavor (even more intense than fresh leaves!), but this pungency does not seem to bother chickens one bit.
Can Chickens Eat Dried Cilantro?
Yes, they can. And though they will eat it happily enough, you should know that dried cilantro loses much of its nutritional content.
The drier it gets, the worse it is. Save this stuff for seasoning…
You can toss some in with chicken pellets or other food if you want, but you should not rely on it for benefits.
Can Chickens Eat Cilantro Cooked?
Yes, though anything except very light cooking will likewise degrade the nutritional content of the cilantro.
The best way to feed chickens cooked cilantro (assuming you need to cook it for whatever reason) is to lightly steam it, as this will preserve most of the beneficial compounds.
Never Feed Cilantro to Chickens that Has Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
On the topic of cooking, ensure that you never feed your chickens any cilantro prepared with other ingredients that they cannot have, or else dishes that are prepared with cilantro as an ingredient.
Things with lots of oils, butter, salt, sugar and the like are all bad for chickens, and can lead to serious health issues like obesity, salt poisoning, liver problems and heart problems.
On the other hand, there are several simple dishes commonly made with cilantro that chickens can have so long as they don’t have any of the bad stuff.
Rice and cilantro or beans made with cilantro and other herbs are ideal snacks for chickens when fed sparingly.
Beware of Pesticide on Grocery-bought Cilantro
One more thing to be aware of with cilantro concerns any store bought fresh herbs or live plants obtained from a nursery or greenhouse.
Cilantro, like pretty much all commercially sold herbs and produce, is heavily treated with pesticides and other chemicals.
You should make sure to wash them very thoroughly as a rule before feeding them to your chickens.
A better option is to buy only pesticide-free organic varieties from trusted vendors.
Even so, in both cases there is always a chance of pesticide residues being in the tissues of the plant, and that can spell bad news for your birds over time.
The best option, by far, is to grow your own if you can. That way, you can ensure that your cilantro is free of any chemicals or toxins and will provide maximum nutrition to your chickens.
How Often Can Chickens Have Cilantro?
Chickens can have cilantro often, but it should not be the only thing in their diet. Cilantro is at its best when fed on a supplemental basis a few times a week, either on its own or mixed in with its usual feed.
Preparing Cilantro for Your Flock
Giving cilantro to your flock is a cinch. You can give it to them whole on a stalk, minced and mixed with other food, or just let them nibble on any plants you have growing on your property if you allow them to free-range.
If mixing it in with other food mince the leaves, and stems if you wish, and then stir it in with whatever else you are giving them. A tiny shot of olive oil or another safe oil can help it stick to the food, ensuring your chickens eat it.
Can Baby Chicks Have Cilantro, Too?
Yes, chicks can also have cilantro. However, you should not let them try it until they’re at least six weeks old, and nearing the end of their brooding period.
In fact, some experts think it is best to wait until they are at least eight weeks old before introducing any new foods aside from their starter feed, including cilantro.
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.