Chickens will eat all kinds of things, including things that you and I would rather not. On the topic of herbs, parsley is most commonly used in America as a simple garnish.
This is a shame because parsley is actually a nutritional rockstar, absolutely jam-packed with vitamins and minerals.
Small wonder why it isn’t eaten more often! That brings up a good question though: can chickens eat parsley?
Yes, chickens can eat parsley. Although some chickens seem to avoid it, parsley is safe and is chock-full of important vitamins and minerals that chickens need.
Parsley is also a known stimulant for egg laying. It can increase production or get hesitant hens started.
I’m telling you, I had no idea prior to doing research for this article just how healthy parsley really was.
I’m looking for ways to incorporate it into my own diet more, but adding it to the diet of your chickens is going to give them a major boost.
Keep reading, and I’ll tell you about everything I learned when it comes to giving parsley to your flock…
Nutritional Profile of Parsley
Bottom line up front parsley is extraordinarily nutritious, and absolutely packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that have a host of health benefits for chickens.
You would have never guessed just looking at that little decorative sprig on your baked potato, would you?
Parsley contains a good cross-section of protein and carbohydrates for a leafy vegetable.
That alone is reason enough to include it in the diet of chickens, but looking at the micronutrient profile is where it gets truly impressive.
Parsley contains a ton of vitamin A, beta carotene, and lutein along with most of the B complex vitamins, including B1, B2, B3, B5, and B6.
It contains abundant folate, a ton of vitamin C and an astonishing amount of vitamin K. Rounding all this out is a little bit of vitamin E.
The mineral profile is likewise very impressive, with tons of iron, potassium, zinc, and calcium along with magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and a little bit of sodium.
All told, this is a superb source of nutrition for chickens and it definitely warrants including parsley in their diet regularly.
Health Benefits of Parsley for Chickens
The vitamins and minerals listed above, all abundantly present in parsley, have many health benefits for chickens.
Vitamin A plays an important role in maintaining the health of mucous membranes, the skin, and the comb, as well as promoting good eye health.
The B vitamins all have various roles, such as helping to maintain the nervous system, converting food into energy, and general metabolic health.
Vitamin K is involved in blood clotting and calcium absorption for strong bones.
Folate is an important component of DNA synthesis which helps with cellular growth and healthy feathering.
Iron is important for red blood cell production, while potassium plays a role in the cardiovascular system.
Last but not least, zinc is important for proper immune function and maintaining the reproductive function.
Aside from the obvious improvement of overall health thanks to the vitamin and mineral content, parsley is a unique herb for chickens because it can stimulate egg laying naturally and safely.
This can increase overall production levels in your flock, and can sometimes spur a hesitant hen to start laying on a regular schedule.
Together, the benefits of parsley for your chickens are just too great to ignore.
Can Chickens Eat Fresh Parsley?
Yes, and they should: fresh parsley contains the most nutrients and antioxidants, resources which rapidly degrade when the plant is dried or cooked.
If you have access to fresh parsley, it’s best to give that to your chickens directly. I’ll tell you how a little later on.
Can Chickens Eat Parsley Stems?
They can, though some chickens will ignore them. They’re a great source of fiber and also contain nutrition.
Can Chickens Eat Parsley Seeds?
Yes, they sure can. Parsley seeds are often used as a seasoning or ingredient on their own, and they can also be fed to chickens as an additional source of nutrition.
The seeds contain a good amount of proteins and fats, so they are excellent for providing energy.
Can Chickens Eat Dried Parsley?
Yes. Dried parsley is totally safe for your birds, but it is nowhere near as potent, nutritionally, as the fresh stuff. Still, you can mix it in with their feed, and they’ll like it well enough.
Can Chickens Eat Cooked Parsley?
Yes. Cooked parsley is totally safe for chickens, but as noted it does lose out on much of its nutritional value and antioxidants. Cooking parsley should be done sparingly for this reason.
Never Feed Parsley to Chickens that Has Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
Since we brought up cooking parsley, I should explain that you should never give parsley to your chickens that have been prepared with other ingredients that they cannot or should not eat.
Parsley is an ingredient in all kinds of salsas, sauces, and other dishes and condiments that contain lots of salt, sugar, oils, butter, and other things that they just should not eat.
Sure, you and I might love all of these things and it is understandable that you want to offer treats to your chickens, but this is not the way to do it.
Feeding these sorts of things to chickens can cause devastating, even fatal, health issues like fatty liver syndrome, salt poisoning, high blood pressure, diarrhea, and more.
So please be careful when feeding your chickens any cooked parsley containing other food.
Stick with fresh parsley instead of anything else prepared with it, unless they are all wholesome ingredients that chickens can have.
Beware of Pesticide on Store-bought Parsley Plants
One more thing you should be aware of with fresh parsley, and especially live parsley purchased from the grocery or a greenhouse.
Like pretty much all other produce, parsley is likely to have been sprayed with pesticides to keep bugs and other critters away until it can make it to store shelves.
So if you are getting fresh parsley from a store, it’s best to buy certified organic and pesticide-free varieties.
Lacking that, wash it off with cool water first before giving it to your chickens, and know that there will be lingering chemical residues on the leaves or stems.
The single best answer to this issue is, of course, growing your own. That way you can be absolutely sure there are no harmful chemicals in the parsley that could harm your chickens.
How Often Can Chickens Have Parsley?
Chickens can have parsley regularly. You don’t want to give it to them every single meal, but you should definitely be supplementing their diet with it a couple of times a week.
Preparing Parsley for Your Flock
Preparing parsley for your flock is easy to do, but know that some chickens really don’t seem to like it.
Luckily, we can resort to the usual tactic of hiding the “medicine” in food that they do like! You have a couple of options.
- If you know your flock likes parsley, all you’ll need to do is grab some fresh sprigs, and either tosses them out or roughly chop them up.
- If you know they don’t like it, but want to make sure they get the nutrition from it, try mixing in finely chopped parsley with their dry feed using a dash of oil to make it stick.
- You can also blend parsley down into a paste (again with just a little dash of oil) and mix it into their favorite foods.
This way, they’ll be getting the vitamins and minerals while enjoying their meal normally. In time, you will probably find that your chickens will grow to like it on their own.
Can Baby Chicks Have Parsley, Too?
Yes, chicks can also have parsley, and it has the same benefits for them as adults.
However, you’ll want to wait until they are at least 6 weeks old before feeding them parsley for the first time, and feed to them very sparingly: parsley has tons of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin K, and it is not out of the question that chicks could get too much.
And there you have it! Parsley is a great addition to your chickens’ diet and can give them the boost of nutrition that they need to stay healthy and happy.
Just keep in mind the dangers of prepared parsley dishes or store-bought plants that might contain harmful chemicals.
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.