Chickens love to eat all sorts of leafy vegetables. Lettuce, cabbage, and everything else that we enjoy in our salad bowl at the dinner table chickens generally love too.
One superfood that is increasing in popularity these days is swiss chard. Can chickens eat swiss chard?
Yes, chickens may eat all parts of swiss chard. This highly nutritious leafy vegetable has plenty of vitamins and minerals that chickens need, including an abundance of vitamin A and beta carotene, vitamin K, iron, magnesium, and potassium.
This glossy, leafy cousin to the common beet is extremely nutritious and wherever it comes from all you need to know is that swiss chard is one of the best leafy vegetables you can eat.
It is also one of the best for serving to your chickens if you want them to be strong and healthy.
Keep reading and we will tell you everything you need to know about feeding swiss chard to your chickens.
Nutritional Profile of Swiss Chard
Swiss chard, like kale, is one of the most helpful leafy vegetables you can eat and is rightly renowned for its incredible nutritional profile.
It is packed full of vitamins, including vitamin A equivalents, beta-carotene, lutein zeaxanthin, B complex vitamins, including B3, B5, B6, and folate, vitamin C, vitamin E and tons of vitamin K. Whew!
There’s more good news concerning the minerals present in swiss chard. With tons of magnesium, manganese, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc it has everything a growing chicken needs.
One thing to keep an eye on is the sodium load, which is surprisingly high for a leafy vegetable.
Swiss Chard is also one of the most hydrating vegetables around, averaging 92% water by mass.
Health Benefits of Swiss Chard for Chickens
It would be difficult to comprehensively list the health benefits chickens get from eating swiss chard.
And in that regard, I will just hit the highlights! The B complex vitamins that are so abundant in swiss chard are essential for metabolic and cellular health.
Vitamin A along with beta carotene plays a major role in maintaining nervous system tissues and particularly those of the eyes.
Vitamin E and vitamin K are critical for cardiovascular health and the maintenance of organ tissues.
The potassium and water present in swiss chard will help your birds stay hydrated and also balance their electrolytes, all the iron is vital for creating red blood cells and oxygenating the blood circulating through the body.
Lastly, calcium and phosphorus are essential for good skeletal health and also necessary for laying hens that want to produce abundant eggs with strong egg shells.
Truly, there is hardly any better supplementary vegetable that you can feed to your chickens than swiss chard.
The good news is that chickens typically love the stuff so you aren’t going to have to work very hard in order to get them to eat it!
Can Chickens Eat Swiss Chard Raw?
Yes, chickens may eat raw swiss chard, and this is generally the best way to serve it to them.
The abundant vitamins and minerals present in this glossy green wonder veggies will be degraded and lost during the cooking process, at least partially, so if you want your chickens to get the most nutritional value, serve it raw.
Can Chickens Eat Red Chard?
Yes, chickens may eat red chard in addition to the common green variety.
Can Chickens Eat White Chard?
Yes, they sure can. White Chard is just as healthy for your chickens as green and red is.
Can Chickens Eat Yellow Chard?
Once again, yes. Yellow Chard is just another type of cultivar, safe and healthy for chickens.
Can Chickens Eat Rainbow Chard?
Yes, chickens may eat rainbow chard. Who knew there were this many types of chard? Regardless of the cultivar and regardless of the color, most varieties only vary slightly in nutritional content, taste, and texture. All commonly grown types are completely safe and nutritious for chickens.
Can Chickens Eat Swiss Chard Cooked?
Yes, chickens may eat cooked swiss chard and will usually love the stuff. though Chard is easy enough for them to eat when it is raw, cooking it can reduce the tougher, woodier parts to a more palatable state.
As mentioned above, cooking will reduce the nutritional profile of the chard somewhat, but this is offset by the immense amount of vitamins and minerals that chard has.
It will still be plenty nutritious even after cooking, so if you want to serve it cooked to your chickens, don’t think twice!
Never Feed Swiss Chard to Chickens that Has Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
But since we’re talking about cooking, I would be negligent if I did not mention that you should never serve swiss chard to your chickens if it has been prepared with any harmful ingredients.
Things like salt, sugar, butter, oils, and so forth might make for a delicious dish for you and your family, but they can seriously hurt your chickens.
At best, all of the extra calories present in these ingredients will lead to upset stomachs, loose stools, or diarrhea. You’ll probably also be looking at substantial weight gain in your flock if you persist with serving chard to them this way.
However, at worst serious illnesses can result, some of which can be fatal. Sour crops, sodium poisoning, high blood pressure, fatty liver syndrome, and more are all in store for chickens that are fed an unhealthy diet like this.
If you’re going to serve your chicken’s swiss chard that is cooked, make sure it is cooked plain, with no unhealthy ingredients.
Beware of Pesticides on Grocery-bought Swiss Chard
If you are purchasing swiss chard from the grocery store for serving to your chickens, you’ll need to be extra thorough when you wash it.
All commercial produce is heavily treated with pesticides and other chemicals prior to reaching the market, and even though it’s supposed to be washed some residues often remain.
These residues can build up in the tissues of your chickens over time and lead to serious illnesses.
Accordingly, you must wash or soak your swiss chard before serving it to them, or to further mitigate this risk try to buy organic whenever you can.
How Often Can Chickens Have Swiss Chard?
Swiss Chard is extremely healthy and very good for chickens, but they shouldn’t have it all the time.
Chickens should primarily eat a diet that is between 80% and 90% chicken feed, with the remainder being made up of supplemental, wholesome foods and treats to round out their diet.
Chard should be only a part of this remainder, and if you are serving it to them once or maybe twice a week along with other items here and there, you’re doing good.
Preparing Swiss Chard for Your Flock
You have two broad options when it comes to preparing swiss chard for your chickens. If serving it raw, all you’ll need to do is set it or hang it out for them and let them tear into it. Nearly any chicken can tear off little bites of the leaves, they aren’t that tough.
Alternately, if you want to cook it, consider a gentle boil or a low roast before chopping it up and setting it out in bowls or on trays.
Can Baby Chicks Have Swiss Chard, Too?
Yes, chicks may have swiss chard but you want to let them grow up a little bit before serving it to them.
Once your chicks reach about 6 weeks of age you may tear up a leaf of swiss chard into tiny pieces and let them nibble on it.
Note that chicks have particularly sensitive digestive systems, and there is a chance that swiss chard, as healthy as it is, could upset them.
Keep an eye on them and make sure they are not suffering from diarrhea, constipation, or any other troubles after feeding them chard.
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.