Most of our readers know that we raise chickens on our farm in New Hampshire. Chickens are fun to watch and provide us with younger, more tender eggs than the store-bought ones. This article will provide you with a clear picture of why your chickens should or shouldn’t be eating kale. So if you’re wondering about this, keep on reading as I’ll go into everything you need to know about feeding kale to chickens.
Can chickens eat kale? Yes, Kale is a very healthy and nutritious green for chickens to eat. In addition to regular kale, chickens can safely eat Curly Kale, Dinosaur Kale, and Red Bor Kale. However, if you’re feeding them Red Russian Kale, carefully remove its stalk first since they are too fibrous and can be difficult for them to digest.
Rich in many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, kale is a superfood that can be a healthy treat for your feathered pets in moderation. Try adding a little kale to your chickens’ diet. However, be careful not to overfeed your chickens; too much kale can cause them to have digestive problems.
Are you unfamiliar with the various kale varieties that are out there? Or are you curious about how these veggies can benefit your feathered pets? Whatever your queries are, they will be resolved in this article.
Different types of kale
Whenever we hear “kale,” a green leafy vegetable appears in our heads. But what if I told you that there are other varieties of kale as well and that not all of them are green?
Below are the different kale varieties that I have come across:
Curly Kale is a green (or at times purple) hybrid of kale known for its leaves that are so tightly curled that you might face difficulty in chopping them.
The best time to chop their leaves down is when they’re fresh. The longer they’re left, the tougher they will grow to be. It has a peppery flavor that can easily become bitter.
Also referred to as “black kale” and “Tuscan kale,” the Dinosaur Kale is a kale variety that has long, bluish-green leaves that are somewhat shaped like a spear.
The taste of this kale variety is a little on the sweeter side, with a deep, earthy flavor. Moreover, dinosaur kale has a retained firm texture even after cooking it, with its leaves being wrinkled on the edges.
Red Russian Kale
Also known as “ragged jack kale,” the Red Russian Kale is a kale variety with the mildest flavor of all kale varieties.
The leaves of this kale are flat, with fringed or jagged edges, and appear to be red in color. These leaves are attached to purplish stems that are tough and have a woody texture.
Red Bor Kale
As the name suggests, the Redbor Kale is another red-colored kale variety with beautiful wave-like fringes towards the edges of its leaves. Despite its crisp texture, red bor kale tastes slightly similar to cabbages with a nutty flavor.
Is kale healthy for chickens?
There are many advantages of owning chickens. Not only are these egg-laying machines friendly and entertaining, but they’re also easy to please and do not throw a tantrum about food.
These feathered creatures are ready to gobble up anything they can find and say no to very few foods. If you’re wondering if kale is one of those foods, rest assured because it is not.
However, if you start feeding your chickens everything they like, it will take them a couple of days to finish all your groceries. Therefore, the determining factor of feeding the chickens any new food should be the nutritional benefits it can offer to them. Since chickens are too naïve to take care of their nutritional needs, the responsibility falls upon you.
So, is kale healthy for chickens? It is a green, leafy vegetable which is very beneficial for our health. However, our nutritional needs are quite different from that of our feathered pets.
Before we learn about the health benefits that kale could offer to your chickens, let’s take a look at its nutritional table given below:
|Vitamin A||241 mcg|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||0.113 mg|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.347 mg|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||1.18 mg|
|Vitamin B4 (Choline)||0.5 mg|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)||0.37 mg|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)||0.147 mg|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)||62 mcg|
|Vitamin C||93.4 mg|
|Vitamin E||0.66 mg|
|Vitamin K||389.6 mcg|
|Calcium, Ca||254 mg|
|Iron, Fe||1.6 mg|
|Magnesium, Mg||33 mg|
|Copper, Cu||0.053 mg|
|Manganese, Mn||0.92 mg|
|Potassium, K||348 mg|
|Sodium, Na||53 mg|
|Phosphorus, P||55 mg|
|Selenium, Se||0.9 mcg|
|Zinc, Zn||0.39 mg|
|Dietary fibers||4.1 g|
Serving size: 100 grams
If you go through the table carefully, you will learn why kale is considered a “superfood.” It contains all the nutrients vital for a healthy human being, or a chicken in this case.
Following are the health benefits that your feathered pets will gain from eating kale:
Kale can support the eye health of your pets
Kale contains lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that can lower the risk of macular degeneration in your chickens as they grow older. Moreover, Vitamins C, E, Zinc, and beta-carotene, all the nutrients that support eye health, are present in kale.
Kale has an abundance of Vitamin C.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a key role in strengthening the immune health of both humans and chickens. Most people consider citrus fruits to be the richest source of Vitamin C. However, kale contains a higher amount of Vitamin C than these fruits, even more than spinach!
Like humans, chickens cannot synthesize Vitamin C independently and are dependent on external sources for it.
Kale also contains Vitamin K.
Chickens are clumsy little creatures that keep running around all day and can easily be injured in the process. This is why they need to have optimized blood coagulation to don’t bleed out at every minor cut or wound.
This is where Vitamin K comes in; when it enters our body, Vitamin K activates certain types of proteins to bind with Calcium and promotes blood coagulation.
Kale has a low amount of fat.
If you take a close look at the table above, you will notice that the fat content of kale is merely 1.5 g, much lower than most fruits and vegetables. Do you what it means for your feathered pets? It means that you will not gain any extra fat from eating kale. And for overeaters like chickens, this is nothing short of a miracle.
Kale is a fiber-rich vegetable.
Kale has a good amount of fibers in it. And since fibers regulate your pet’s bowel movements and prevent them from constipation, it would be right to say that eating kale is good for their digestive health.
Kale is rich in antioxidants.
Like all the other leafy greens, kale is rich in several antioxidants such as flavonoids and kaempferol. These antioxidants fight against the free radicals roaming in their body that can cause oxidative damage to their cells, resulting in early aging and other health problems.
Additionally, antioxidants can lower their blood pressure, prevent inflammatory diseases, and protect their cardiovascular health.
Kale can lower your pet’s cholesterol levels.
It might come as a surprise to many of you, but a high cholesterol level has often known to be a cause of cardiac problems. Eating kale can prevent this. But how? Let’s find out.
Kale contains bile acid sequestrants, which are the substances that reduce the total amount of cholesterol in their body, ultimately lowering their cholesterol levels.
How much kale should you feed your chickens?
We can all agree with the fact that as healthy as kale is for your feathered pets, you can’t make it their staple diet. If you keep feeding them kale regularly, they might suffer from the deficiency of some nutrients and overconsumption of others, both of which would be disastrous. Therefore, chicken’s commercial feed should always be used as their staple diet.
Even as a snack, kale should not be the only vegetable they’re eating. Chickens like variety in their diet and should, thus, be fed a mixture of other vegetables and fruits as well. Lastly, you must not forget that your pets are omnivores that love snacking on insects as well; don’t forget to include it in their diet occasionally.
But how often should you feed them kale? I’d recommend you treat them with these veggies, not more than 2-3 times a week. One medium-sized kale leaf should be enough for a single chicken.
Feeding kale to chickens: things to remember
When it comes to preparing kale for your feathered pets, there is not much that you need to do. Just keep in mind the following pointers, and you’re good to go:
- While purchasing kale for your chickens, always go for organic ones grown in a protected environment and do not contain toxic chemicals that could harm your pets.
- Also, pick for them fresh kale, not the yellowing one. Avoid feeding them the kind of vegetable you wouldn’t eat yourself.
- Kale is the healthiest for your chickens in its raw form, so you needn’t cook it for them. Also, chickens might have trouble digesting cooked kale, so avoid feeding them cooked kale at all.
- Although adult chickens are fully capable of eating kale whole, you can also chop them into smaller pieces for their convenience.
Frequently asked questions
Can I feed spinach to my chickens? Yes, you can. Spinach is loaded with vitamins and minerals and can be healthy for your feathered pets. However, because it is rich in oxalic acid, you should only feed it to your chickens sparingly.
Conclusion: Can Chickens Eat Kale?
Feeding kale to your chickens can make your flock happy and give you healthier eggs since kale is packed with nutrients. Keep in mind, though, that too much of anything is never good for them. So, feed kale to your chickens in moderation.
I really appreciate you taking the time to read this article on my blog. Hopefully, now you know just how great it is to see your chickens munching on those crunchy leaves.
It was fun to research for this post and I hope I have inspired you to try feeding your chickens new foods.