can-chickens-eat-kale-and-spinach

Your Chickens Will Go Crazy for Kale and Spinach!

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So you’ve probably heard all about how humans can benefit from eatin’ their greens but have you ever wondered – what about your chickens?

Can they chow down on kale and spinach too? Well lemme tell ya friend, after the experience I had with my flock, I’m here to let you know that your feathery pals will absolutely love gettin’ their leafy fix of these super foods!

It all started a few weeks back when I was pullin’ some kale and spinach out of my garden.

Usually my chickens just peck around for bugs but this time, I spotted some heads bobbin’ up and down in the veggie patch.

Lo and behold, they were gobblin’ up those greens faster than I could pluck ’em! I was like no way, are they actually eatin’ their veggies?! Well apparently my girls had discovered they had a hankerin’ for the healthy stuff.

Now they go crazy for it every time.

The nutritional benefits of kale and spinach make them top-notch additions to your chickens’ diets.

In moderation, these leafy greens provide tons of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to support your flock’s overall health and egg production. S

o read on friend and I’ll tell you all the nitty gritty details on how to serve up these superfoods to your cluckin’ crew.

Kale & Spinach are True Nutritional Powerhouses for Chickens

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When it comes to dense nutrition, it’s tough to beat kale and spinach. Just one cup of each is packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that chickens really reap the benefits from. For example, one cup of chopped kale contains:

  • Over 600% of your daily value for vitamin K! This little powerhouse supports strong bones and skin health. A few bites a day keeps osteoporosis away, if you know what I mean.
  • Over 200% DV of vitamin A from beta-carotene. This antioxidant does a number on free radicals while also supportin’ your chickens’ vision at night when they’re foragin’.
  • Over 130% DV of vitamin C. As an antioxidant, vitamin C strengthens immune function to help chickens fight off pesky illnesses.
  • Over 20% DV of calcium for solid eggshell formation. We all know strong shells mean less shell-less eggs rollin’ around the coop!
  • Almost 7% DV of iron for carryin’ oxygen through the body. This keeps your chickens energetic and helps prevent anemia.

And that’s just in one measly cup! Spinach contains similar essential vitamins and minerals too. The antioxidant combo in these leafies also protects cells from damage over time. All in all, a diet with kale and spinach gives your chickens a major nutritional leg up compared to feed alone.

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Egg-layin’ hens especially benefit since the extra calcium, protein and antioxidants support overall health and maximize production. With nutritional powerhouses like these in their diet, your girls will lay like champs year round!

How Much Kale and Spinach Can Chickens Safely Eat?

can-chickens-eat-kale-and-spinach

Now you might be wondering – how much is too much of these superfood greens? As with any new feed additions, moderation is key when serving kale and spinach to your chickens.

A general guideline is to aim for around 1-2 cups total of chopped kale or spinach per 10 birds, 2-3 times a week. That may not sound like much but chickens are tiny and don’t need huge portions. A little bit goes a long way nutritionally.

I like to distribute the veggies throughout their coop run so everybird gets a chance to chow down. This also encourages natural foraging behaviors. You can even grow small kale and spinach patches strictly for your flock!

However, resist the urge to overfeed greens which can potentially cause tummy troubles. Too much of the long fibers and some chickens just aren’t built to process ’em all if you catch my drift. Stick to those 1-2 cups a few times weekly and watch ’em thrive without any digestion issues.

As a general rule, moderation is always best when introducing anything new to chickens’ diets. Their wittle tummies aren’t as durable as ours, so take it slow at first till you know your specific flock’s limits with leafy veggies.

The Best Ways to Serve Up Greens Toot Sweet

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Now that we covered how much kale and spinach chickens can handle, let me spill the beans on some tried and true methods to get those greens into your feathery faces quickly and easily!

For starters, I always give my veggies a good rinse under runnin’ water to wash off any dirt or grit. Chickens don’t mind a little dirt but too much gunk won’t be very appetizin’.

Next, I’ll tear or chop the leaves into bite-sized pieces around 1-2 inches wide. This makes it way simpler for tiny beaks to grasp onto without much fuss. No chicken wants to spend all day pickin’ at one tough leaf!

Another tip – remove any super long stems that could pose a blockage risk if eaten whole. Most chickens won’t bother with stems anyway but it’s better safe than sorry in the coop.

Now for the fun part – distribution! You can toss pinches of chopped greens straight into the main run area and watch the flock feed frenzy commence. But I’ve found my chickens really go bonkers if I hide lil’ treats within the leaves too.

Sprinklin’ in some mealworms, whole oats, or cracked corn amongst the kale and spinach gets every bird involved in the forage feast. The rustlin’ leaves make finding goodies part of the excitement! Try enhancin’ your greens this way and I promise your chickens will devour ’em even faster.

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With those simple preparation tips, it’s a cinch to get your flock fuelin’ up on leafy superfoods several times a week. In no time, kale and spinach will become favorite treats in your chickens’ diets too!

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Tips for Growing Greens Specifically for Chickens

Nothing beats a homegrown snack for your feathery friends! If you’ve got space in or around the coop, dedicate a small patch just for your chickens’ veggie needs. Here are some tips for easy greens production:

Start with fast-growing leafy varieties like spinach, kale orlettuce that chickens can harvest all season. Plant in full sun for max yields. Raised beds near the coop keep beaks & claws out of main gardens.

Amend soil with compost or manure before planting for fertile nutrients. Space seeds or transplants 6-12” apart depending on variety. Water daily until established to keep leaves plump.

Let chickens free-range the patch to naturally forage as plants grow in. They’ll snack on bugs too! Fence off for a few weeks if you planted from seedlings so tiny greens can thrive.

Once a few weeks old, chickens can join the patch full-time for constant greens harvesting. They’ll prune browsed areas, encouraging bushier regrowth too!

With a small chicken garden, your flock always has a fresh salad bar ready to enjoy. And you’ll never have to worry about running out of their favorite treats either.

Can Chickens Eat Other Leafy Veggies Too?

While kale and spinach are nutritional all-stars, chickens can enjoy some other leafy veggies as part of their diet variety too!

Lettuce is a mild green chickens rarely refuse. Romaine, red leaf and butterhead are favorites. Chop large leaves for easy eating.

Mustard greens pack a vitamin K punch. Smaller amounts are best due to their peppery bite. Chinese cabbages like bok choy are milder alternatives.

Swiss chard comes color-coded for vitamins. Reds boast more beta-carotene than greens. Steam chopped stalks for extra softness chickens prefer.

Herbs like parsley, cilantro and mint add antioxidant perks. Drying isn’t necessary – fresh is just fine for flocks. Rosemary and sage go great with poultry too!

Experiment offering small amounts of any leafy veggie already in your garden. Most are fair game in moderation as your chickens’ regular forage fare.

Can Chickens Eat Fruits and Berries Too?

While their staple diet focuses on protein, grains and greens – fruits and berries can make welcome snacks for chickens now and then as well.

Soft berries like blueberries and blackberries are chicken-friendly as long as they’re pesticide-free. Washed quantities of a few tablespoons work well.

Melons posed cut into bite-sized chunks are a refreshing summer treat. Watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew sweeten up a hot day.

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Mashed bananas, chopped apples and peeled oranges offer fiber. Citrus wedges may cause diarrhea in quantity so serve sparingly.

Dried fruits work too for extra nutrients. Chop prunes, raisins, cranberries and dried apricots into the size of a cuticle first though.

In moderation, a variety of fruits can lend needed vitamins and variety to an avian diet. Always supervise first fruits to prevent overly sticky beaks!

Dealing with Diarrhea from Too Many Greens

Most flocks fare well on leafy diets when fed properly. But occasional loose stools can happen if too many greens are indulged at once.

Scale back serve size and offer primarily protein/grains like feed for a day or two. Ensuring clean water is also important for rehydration.

Natural yogurts contain probiotics to help regulate GI flora imbalances. A tablespoon per chicken in feed can relieve symptoms quickly.

Activated charcoal supplements are sometimes recommended to absorb toxins for severe cases. Veterinary guidance is best if issues persist beyond a few days.

Going forward, stick to the 1-2 cup maximum greens amounts discussed to prevent issues. Moderation prevents both blockages and runs in chickens.

Storing and Preserving Greens for Winter

Come colder months, your chickens still need their leafy fix even if gardens have shut down outside. Thankfully greens can be procured and preserved:

Bulk kale, spinach and lettuce buys at farmstands or co-ops provide greens for months. Wash, chop and freeze in 1-2 cup portions in bags.

Dehydrating excess garden harvests makes greens lightweight and shelf-stable longterm too. Reconstitute dried bits with water as needed.

Canning chopped greens in broth or water works too if pressure canners are on hand. Just thaw portions for winter poultry pleasure.

A cold frame or hoop house extends fresh growing seasons for hardier winter greens like Swiss chard. Lay down straw for insulation as needed.

With a little preservation forethought, leafy livestock veggies can supply flocks year-round even in colder climates too. Your girls will be gobbling greens all winter thanks to your planning!

Nutrient Boosts for Laying Hens and Breeder Flocks

Laying hens and breeder flocks in particular need extra support for their reproductive needs. Leafy greens add the perfect nutrient punch:

Calcium from kale, collards and chard fuels strong eggshell formation. Supplement feed rations as needed too.

Protein-rich spinach and mustards maintain proper follicle development and ovulation. Quality feed still very important here too.

Xanthophyll carotenoids from marigolds, cornilies and alfalfa nourish plump, vibrant yolks within developing follicles too.

Antioxidants fend off stress while essential vitamins/minerals promote overall vigor and stamina through laying cycles.

For best breeding and performance, focus on young and actively laying flocks. Greens aren’t a stand-alone diet but rather supplementation to optimized basic diets. Layer feeds combined with some leafy love work best!

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