A chicken’s number one forage is chicken feed, but that is not all they can eat. Besides chicken feed, you can also give your chickens grains, greens (vegetables), and fruits as treats.
Chickens are great at foraging, so they will usually try eating new things. But not every food they try is beneficial for them. Some will be harmful, while some will be safe. Of the safe ones, some will offer more benefits than others.
Similarly, the treats you give your chickens will offer different types of benefits to them. In this article, we will focus on greens and the best kind you can give to your chickens.
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Chickens love kale, and it’s not hard to see why. Kale contains a mélange of vitamins and minerals beneficial to chickens.
Some of the vitamins present in kale include vitamins A, B6, C, and K. Minerals like manganese, calcium, and potassium are also present in kale.
So why are they beneficial for chickens? Well, vitamin A plays a part in egg production, while manganese and calcium help with hatchability. Calcium is also needed for strong bones and shells.
You can feed your chickens raw kale, or you can cook it for them. Whichever way you put it, they are sure to peck at it.
Broccoli is also highly beneficial to chickens. It contains a good range of vitamins and is very safe for chickens to eat.
Broccoli contains folate, vitamins C and K1. It also contains manganese, iron, and potassium. Normally, chickens make their vitamin C, so an external source is usually not necessary. But when the chickens are severely stressed, vitamin C is beneficial.
Iron helps with blood production in chickens, while vitamin K1 is useful to prevent blood spots in eggs. Vitamin K1 is also beneficial in preventing coccidiosis.
Potassium may help ease the harshness of hot environments on chickens. Folate helps in blood formation and feather & egg production.
Broccoli also contains antioxidants such as quercetin, lutein, and beta carotene. These antioxidants can help fight against oxidative stress and toxins. They could also improve fertility and the quality of chicken meat.
You can feed your chicken uncooked or cooked broccoli. But it seems some chicken prefer cooked broccoli to uncooked broccoli.
Lettuce is great for chickens, but you should avoid giving them iceberg lettuce. Iceberg lettuce may cause diarrhea in chickens, and it has no nutritional value.
Lettuce also has high water content, which can be beneficial to chicken in many ways. If you want to feed lettuce to your chickens, you can give it to them uncooked.
4. Swiss chard
Chickens love eating swiss chard, and that’s good since it contains many nutrients beneficial to their development.
Swiss chards contain calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, folate, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin E, and phosphorus.
Phosphorus contributes to making eggs with great shells. It also improves hatchability and reduces the chances of your chickens having rickets.
Vitamin E is beneficial in preventing neurological diseases like crazy chick disease. It also helps with healthy muscles in chickens.
You will also find chickens pecking and eating cucumbers if it’s available to them. Cucumber is great for chickens. For one, it has very high water content.
Water helps chickens with temperature regulation and digestion. Since chickens can take water as much as twice their feed, greens with high water content are very good, especially during heat stress.
Besides water, cucumbers contain vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, magnesium, and potassium. Chickens can eat cucumber cooked or uncooked.
6. Turnip Greens
Like many other leafy greens, turnip greens can help improve egg yolk. Turnip greens contain some nutrients beneficial to the overall wellbeing of chickens.
Some of these nutrients include calcium, potassium, magnesium, folate, vitamin A, vitamin K, and zinc. Zinc facilitates many functions in chickens. It is also essential for chickens’ immunity.
7. Collard Greens
Chickens love collard greens, and the good news is they are very good for chickens too. They contain calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin K. All three nutrients help chickens form strong bones and eggshells.
8. Mustard Greens
Mustard greens are also great greens to feed your chicken. Mustard greens can help improve the growth of chickens. They can also help improve the condition of the chickens’ skin and make them more reproductive.
It contains vitamins A, C, E, K, and B6. Vitamin B6 is essential for chickens to use amino acids properly. It is also important for nerve function in chickens. When deficient, chickens may experience spasms and convulsions.
Mustard greens also contain vitamins B1, B2, and B3. With vitamin B1, your chicken is less likely to have ruffled feathers and muscle paralysis.
Vitamin B2 prevents curled-toe paralysis and diarrhea, while vitamin B3 helps prevent inflamed tongue, bow legs, and cavity in the mouth. Other nutrients found in mustard greens include calcium, phosphorus, iron, and potassium.
9. Carrot Tops
You can feed carrot tops and carrot peelings to your chickens. They can eat them raw or cooked, and they contain many nutrients beneficial to chickens.
Some of these nutrients include vitamin A, vitamin B6, biotin, potassium, and vitamin K1. Biotin is very useful in preventing dermatitis around the beak, around the eyes, and on the feet of chickens.
Carrots are also very great sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants help improve meat color, skin color, immune response, and fertility (especially in roosters).
Asparagus is another type of green you can feed your chicken. But with asparagus, you may want to limit the quantity you offer your chicken. Asparagus is not harmful to them, but if they take too much, their eggs may have an unusual taste.
Asparagus can provide folate, vitamins C, A, E, and K to your chickens. It also contains potassium, phosphorus, and various antioxidants.
11. Radish Tops
Last on our list is radish tops. Chickens love radish tops and even radish leaves. To make things easy for them, try chopping the radishes or cutting them in small bits.
Like all other greens we’ve discussed, radish tops pack many nutrients valuable to chickens. For one, they contain different types of antioxidants. They contain potassium and folate in large quantities. On the other hand, they contain calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamins B6, B3, and K in smaller quantities.