Can Chickens Eat Alfalfa Cubes?

Can Chickens Eat Alfalfa Cubes?



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Let me tell you a funny story about the time I tried feeding my chickens some new snacks.

I had just bought a huge 50-pound bag of alfalfa cubes for my horse Bluebell, and was lugging the heavy bag across the barn.

Well, one of my feisty red hens named Henrietta came pecking at the bag, trying to get a taste!

I thought, shoot, I bet the chickens would love these tasty alfalfa cubes too.

But then I wondered – is it safe for chickens to eat alfalfa cubes?

In short – yes, chickens can absolutely eat alfalfa cubes!

Keep reading to learn all about feeding alfalfa to chickens.

Nutritional Benefits of Alfalfa Cubes for Chickens

Can Chickens Eat Alfalfa Cubes?

Alfalfa is packed with lots of great nutrients chickens need to stay healthy and lay delicious brown eggs every day:

  • Protein – Alfalfa contains 15-22% protein, which is essential for egg and feather production in chickens. The more bugs and protein in their diet, the more eggs they lay!
  • Calcium – Alfalfa has high levels of calcium, which chickens need for strong eggshells. My Buff Orpington Penelope lays such thick, sturdy eggs now after I started giving the flock alfalfa.
  • Vitamins A, E, and K – These fat-soluble vitamins support overall health. Vitamin A boosts immunity and reproductive health. Vitamin E protects their cells. Vitamin K plays a role in blood clotting.
  • Bioflavonoids – These antioxidant compounds in alfalfa also support immune system health in chickens. My barred rock hen Mildred hasn’t gotten sick since I introduced alfalfa.

Plus, the nutrients in alfalfa cubes are more bioavailable than in loose alfalfa meal. The cud that forms when ruminants like cows and horses digest alfalfa actually makes the nutrients easier to absorb.

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How Much Alfalfa Cubes Can Chickens Eat?

Can Chickens Eat Alfalfa Cubes?

Moderation is key when feeding alfalfa to chickens.

Too much can cause digestive upset.

Here are some tips on how much to feed:

  • Limit treats like alfalfa to less than 10% of their total daily diet. Otherwise they may get fat or stop eating their regular feed.
  • For my 20 chickens, I give each bird 2-3 alfalfa cubes as a supplement 2 times a week. It’s about a tenth of what my horse Bluebell eats daily.
  • Provide free-choice insoluble granite grit in a separate dish. This aids digestion of plant foods like alfalfa.
  • Monitor their droppings for signs of loose stools, which indicates too much alfalfa.

Best Ways to Feed Alfalfa Cubes

Can Chickens Eat Alfalfa Cubes?

I like to mix up how I serve alfalfa cubes treats to my flock.

It keeps them interested and adds enrichment to their day when they get bored of the usual chicken feed.

Here are some creative ideas I’ve tried for feeding alfalfa cubes:

  • Whole cubes in a treat ball that they have to peck and roll around to dispense the alfalfa
  • Crumble the cubes over their regular feed for an extra protein boost – this motivates them to gobble it all up
  • Skewer small cube pieces on stainless steel kabobs I hang around their coop
  • Hydrate the cubes and chop them into a fresh salad I serve in their hanging lettuce feeder

Risks of Too Much Alfalfa Cubes

While nutritious for chickens in moderation, too much alfalfa can cause problems:

Well I hope this gives you the scoop on feeding alfalfa cubes to chickens!

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Let me know if you have any other questions.

Your pal Tanner signing off for now.

Alfalfa Cubes vs. Pellets for Chickens

Besides cubes, alfalfa pellets are another option.

But cubed alfalfa is better than pelleted alfalfa for chickens for a few reasons:

  • Cubes are less processed – Pellets are made with machinery that subjects alfalfa to high heat and pressure, which can destroy nutrients. Cubes are just compressed without as much processing.
  • Cubes are easier to eat – Chickens have to spend more effort crushing up hard pellets. Cubes are more tender. My flock wastes less when I give them cubes.
  • More enrichment – Cubes take chickens longer to eat. The chickens in my flock seem to enjoy nibbling on the cubes.
  • Attracts foraging – I scatter whole cubes in their run. Seeing the green cubes gets my chickens foraging and exercising as they peck at them.

For optimal nutrition and enjoyment, I only give my chickens alfalfa in pressed cube form, not pelleted.

Growing Alfalfa for Chickens in the Garden

Besides buying commercial alfalfa cubes, you can grow your own alfalfa to feed chickens.

Growing alfalfa for chickens is easy and rewarding.

Here are some tips:

  • Choose a sunny spot – Alfalfa needs at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily to thrive.
  • Amend soil – Work aged compost into garden beds before sowing. Alfalfa needs phosphorus for root growth.
  • Plant in spring/fall – The best times to start alfalfa are early spring after the last frost and fall.
  • Cut frequently – Harvest every 6-8 weeks so plants keep regenerating tender leaves. Avoid flowering.
  • Dry thoroughly – Cut alfalfa and dry completely until crispy before collecting and storing.

I like to dry my garden-grown alfalfa, then lightly dampen and press it into cubes for my flock.

Having a few dedicated alfalfa beds provides my chickens with the freshest, most nutritious treats.

Sprouting Alfalfa Cubes for Chickens

Sprouting alfalfa seeds is an easy way to boost nutrition.

It unlocks more nutrients and live enzymes versus feeding dry alfalfa.

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Here’s how I sprout alfalfa to feed my chickens:

  • Soak seeds – Put seeds in jar, cover with 2 inches water. Let soak 8-12 hours.
  • Drain and rinse – Drain off water. Rinse seeds 2-3 times a day.
  • Harvest in 5-7 days – Once sprout tails form, expose sprouts to light for vitamin boost.
  • Serve immediately – Feed chickens fresh sprouts right away before they spoil.

My hens go crazy for the tender sweet sprouts!

Sprouting your own alfalfa at home provides chickens with a living food packed with vitamins.

Dangers of Moldy Alfalfa Cubes

Because alfalfa has high moisture, there’s a risk of mold growth if not stored properly.

Feeding moldy alfalfa can make chickens very sick.

To prevent moldy alfalfa cubes or hay:

  • Store in cool, dry area – Dampness promotes mold.
  • Keep off ground – Place hay off concrete floor to prevent moisture wicking up.
  • Check interior bales – Mold can grow inside a bale even if outer layer looks fine.
  • Buy preservatives – Propionic acid stops mold growth in moist hay.

Signs of mold include discoloration, musty smell, and fuzziness.

Immediately remove any visibly moldy alfalfa from your flock’s feed.

Maximizing Egg Nutrition with Alfalfa Cubes

Adding alfalfa to a chicken’s diet can make their eggs more nutritious.

Here are some of the ways alfalfa enhances egg nutrient content:

  • More vitamin E – This antioxidant vitamin gets deposited into egg yolks.
  • Increased omega-3s – Alfalfa contains alpha-linoleic fatty acid that enriches eggs.
  • Darker yolks – The xanthophylls in alfalfa produce darker, richer yolk color.
  • Sturdier shells – The calcium in alfalfa leads to thicker eggshells.

I’ve noticed the eggs from my flock have more vibrant orange yolks since feeding them alfalfa.

The nutritious treat not only benefits my chickens but also gives me better quality eggs!

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