So, Can Chickens Eat Fennel?

Chickens are known to nibble on all sorts of bushes, shrubs, and flowering plants. I think everyone who owns chickens and allows them to free range a little knows by now that none of your plants, be they decorative or in the garden, are safe.

But how about fennel? Will chickens try to eat fennel plants?

chickens eating fennel
chickens eating fennel

Yes, chickens can and will eat fennel. Fennel can serve as an excellent boost of nutrition for chickens, containing abundant B vitamins and tons of minerals, including calcium, iron, and manganese.

Originating in the Mediterranean, this hardy, flowering herb has now established itself all over the world and is extremely popular as a flavoring in all sorts of dishes.

All you need to know is that you can feed fennel to your chickens, and we will tell you everything you need to know about doing just that below.

Nutritional Profile of Fennel

Many people know fennel for its licorice-like taste, but only few know how nutritious fennel really is, the seeds in particular.

Compared to other vegetables and seeds, fennel has a limited profile of vitamins but the ones it does have it has in abundance, including vitamins B1, B2, B3 or niacin, B6, and vitamin C.

Things look even better when considering the minerals, and fennel seeds have tons of calcium and manganese, and nearly as much iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.

They’re also a rich source of zinc and potassium, though chicken owners should know they have a fair bit of sodium, so keep an eye on that.

Health Benefits of Fennel for Chickens

Chickens can drive many benefits from eating fennel, noticeably the well-rounded B vitamin profile which will greatly improve metabolic and cellular health.

Sadly, the ample amount of vitamin C present in fennel seeds is somewhat wasted on chickens since they can create their own internally.

But this is made up for by the tremendous amount of minerals that fennel contains, and a particular importance to chickens is the calcium and iron.

Calcium as everyone knows is vital for the growing and strengthening of bones but also critical for laying hens, prompting them to produce strong and solid egg shells.

The iron present in fennel is important for producing red blood cells and also for oxygenating the blood, making it an important nutrient for overall cardiovascular health.

It should also be pointed out that the compounds and other micronutrients present in fennel and the seeds in particular promote reproductive health and are a natural egg-laying stimulant; meaning that a little bit of fennel might supercharge egg production if you have a flock of laying hens.

Can Chickens Eat Fennel Raw?

Yes, chickens may eat raw fennel and this is the preferred way to serve it to them if you want to maintain its outstanding nutritional profile.

Cooking fennel, any of its parts, starts to deplete the vitamin and mineral profile.

Can Chickens Eat Fennel Bulbs?

Yes, chickens may eat the root part of a fennel stalk, usually called the bulb. Although not as tough as some other woody, fibrous vegetables certain chickens might still struggle to eat it raw.

Can Chickens Eat Fennel Seeds?

Yes, chickens absolutely love fennel seeds and ounce for ounce this is one of the most nutritious parts of the whole plant.

You should absolutely encourage your chickens to eat the seeds if they don’t on their own.

Can Chickens Eat Fennel Leaves?

Yes, chickens may eat all parts of the fennel plant with complete safety, including the leaves, fronds, and sprouts.

Can Chickens Eat Fennel Cooked?

Your chickens can also eat cooked fennel, although as mentioned this will deplete the nutritional payload somewhat.

Chopped bulbs and stalks of fennel that are lightly cooked will soften them somewhat and make them more appealing to picky chickens.

Never Feed Fennel to Chickens that Has Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients

Since we are talking about cooking, now is a good time to point out that you should never, ever give fennel to chickens that has been prepared with harmful ingredients that they shouldn’t eat.

Things like sugar, salt, butter, oils, and things of that nature will only spell trouble for chickens.

Though it is true that limited quantities might not have any ill effect, diarrhea, and digestive troubles are still highly likely.

Best case scenario, your chickens will be looking at substantial weight gain if fed these items consistently and then all the other problems attendant with obesity, but they can cause more severe health problems, including salt poisoning, fatty liver hemorrhagic syndrome, high blood pressure, and more.

You might think that your favorite fennel recipe could be a welcome treat for chickens, but it won’t if you are subjecting them to food that will hurt them.

Beware of Pesticides on Grocery-bought Fennel

Also, if you are purchasing fennel from the grocery store with the express purpose of giving it to your chickens you’ll need to be cautious of pesticide residues left on the plant itself.

Pretty much every kind of consumer fruit and veggie is heavily treated with pesticides prior to being sent to market.

Although most such produce is supposed to be washed prior to making it to retail, invariably some residues remain.

These residues are bad enough for people but they can spell major trouble for chickens.

Therefore you must take the time to thoroughly wash or soak all produce you buy from the grocery store, including fennel, prior to giving it to your birds.

If at all possible, purchase organic fennel from the store instead or just grow your own.

How Often Can Chickens Have Fennel?

Fennel is definitely a healthy option for chickens and one that they will enjoy, but that doesn’t mean they should have it all the time.

Chickens should only have fennel once or twice a week as part of a nutritionally complete diet consisting of 90% chicken feed and 10% supplemental items, including fennel.

Fennel, as healthy as it is, is not nutritionally complete, and excess consumption can lead to malnutrition and other problems.

Like so many things, moderation is key!

Preparing Fennel for Your Flock

Preparing fennel for serving to your chickens is mostly a matter of deciding whether you want to cook it or not.

If serving it raw, you can set out whole stalks of fennel including the seeds and let your chickens work it over as they would normally.

As mentioned, smaller or pickier birds might not care for the root that much.

However, if you want to give your chickens an easier time of things and don’t mind a slight degradation in the nutritional profile, you can chop up the fennel and lightly roast or pan sear it, potentially with other vegetables.

This will make it significantly more appealing to most birds in your flock!

Can Baby Chicks Have Fennel, Too?

Baby chicks can have fennel, but you’ll generally want to wait until they’re a little bit older, generally around 6 weeks, before you allow them to have any and the seeds in particular.

Although chicks will drive similar nutritional benefits from fennel, the abundant minerals and other compounds present in fennel can give chicks some pretty serious indigestion sometimes.

As with adult chickens, chicks should live pretty much entirely on starter feed for the first few months of their life, and only get tiny bites of supplemental foods every now and then as a treat.

Make Sure You Clean Up After Giving Your Chickens Fennel

One more word to the wise. When serving your flock fennel, or any other piece of produce, make sure you clean up immediately after they are done with it and lose interest.

Fennel will begin to rot and mold quickly, and if your chickens should come back around and nibble on it this spoiled fennel could make them sick.

You don’t want to deal with that and I know you definitely don’t want that to happen to your beloved birds, so clean up any scraps after meal time and discard.

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