Chickens are well known for being fond of a varied and healthy diet. Spinach is one of the juiciest and leafiest vegetables out there. Before you head out to the backyard chicken coop, consider whether or not your flock can eat spinach.
Can chickens eat spinach? Yes, chickens can eat spinach in moderation. Spinach is loaded with vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Magnesium. The leaves of the plant contain traces of omega-3 fatty acids and calcium. Spinach is rich in oxalic acid which when consumed in excess can cause problems with your chickens’ calcium absorption.
Chickens can eat spinach. In fact, they will love it! Spinach is one of the most nutrient-dense leafy greens you can give your chickens, providing lots of vitamins A (beta carotene), C, and K as well as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and manganese.
Do you remember how, as children, we all watched Popeye the Sailor gain enormous strength from spinach? It turns out that spinach can indeed do wonders for our health. Not only is it full of nutrients, but it also acts as a stabilizer for our blood sugar, reduces hypertension, helps in weight loss, and is even claimed to prevent cancer!
But what about your little pet friends? Does spinach offer them such wonderful health benefits as well? That is what we are going to explore in this article. Stay with us until the end to find the answers to all your questions about feeding spinach to chickens.
Is spinach healthy for chickens?
Spinach is called a “superfood” for a good reason. When it comes to nutrition, it covers quite a wide range; it has a low-calorific count, can boost our immunity, and happens to have anti-inflammatory properties. As far as your flock’s health is considered, spinach has much to offer to them as well.
Before we start discussing the health benefits of spinach for chickens, let’s first explore its nutritional composition. This will give us a better understanding of what makes these vegetables so healthy.
For your benefit, we have curated a table below which depicts the nutritional breakdown of spinach. Take a look:
|Vitamin A||469 mcg|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||0.078 mg|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.189 mg|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||0.724 mg|
|Vitamin B4 (Choline)||19.3 mg|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)||0.065 mg|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)||0.195 mg|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)||146 mcg|
|Vitamin C||28.1 mg|
|Vitamin E||2.03 mg|
|Vitamin K||482.9 mcg|
|Calcium, Ca||99 mg|
|Iron, Fe||2.71 mg|
|Potassium, K||558 mg|
|Sodium, Na||79 mg|
|Copper, Cu||0.13 mg|
|Magnesium, Mg||79 mg|
|Phosphorus, P||49 mg|
|Zinc, Zn||0.53 mg|
|Manganese, Mn||0.897 mg|
|Dietary fibers||2.2 g|
|Calories (Energy)||23 kcal|
Serving size: 100 grams
Now, we’re ready to talk about the health benefits that spinach can offer your flock:
Vitamin A preserves the epithelial cells of the chickens, keeping their skin healthy. It also keeps the lining of their digestive, reproductive, and respiratory tracts functional, leading to their overall healthy growth and development.
Thiamin helps the chickens in the metabolism of carbs; its deficiency can make them lose weight and result in their dull and fragile feathers.
Niacin is essential for the well-being of their baby chicks; without it, their embryonic mortality rate among chickens can also increase.
Choline is perhaps the most essential of all B-vitamins for chickens. Not only does it synthesize their DNA, but it also keeps their nervous system healthy. Moreover, it is also required for regulating their heartbeats and supporting their muscle movements.
Pyridoxine is essential in their amino acid metabolism; convulsions in your chickens are often a consequence of the deficiency of this vitamin in their diet.
While chickens synthesize their own Vitamin C, they require a larger quantity of this vitamin than they can produce in times of stress. Under such circumstances, the Vitamin C present in spinach can help them a great deal.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that supports the neurological functions of chickens. If they don’t have enough of it in their diet, they can suffer from Muscular Dystrophy and Encephalomalacia.
Calcium is essential for chickens as it strengthens their bones, promotes their muscle growth and development, and is responsible for well-formed eggshells.
Magnesium supports their cartilage formation, Zinc promotes their feather health, and Iron protects them from Anemia.
Other than the aforementioned health benefits, here are more ways spinach can help your pets in:
- Spinach is rich in many antioxidants, including carotenoids, that strengthen your chickens’ immune health, enabling them to fight against all kinds of diseases and infections. Carotenoids are also helpful in keeping their eyesight healthy.
- Spinach has anti-inflammatory properties to protect your pets from all inflammatory diseases.
- Spinach has a negligible sugar content and a low-calorific count, which means that eating it will not make your chickens gain extra weight, nor will it interfere with their blood sugar level.
What happens if chickens eat too much spinach?
After reading all about the advantages of eating spinach for chickens, you must also learn about the problems they can face if they’re eating more spinach than they should.
Unlike the long list of health benefits spinach offers to your pets, there is only one thing wrong with it: its high oxalic acid content.
Oxalic acid is an organic compound present in spinach that can interfere with the minerals chickens consume, particularly calcium. This acid binds with calcium, preventing it from being used by the chickens. This leads to a deficiency of calcium in their bodies, which could negatively impact their bones, muscles, and eggshells.
Thus, we recommend you feed spinach to your feathered pets in moderation.
Practicing moderation with spinach
If you have no idea of moderation, you should feed your flock spinach once a week. If you have a single chicken, 2-3 medium-sized spinach leaves should be enough; for more pets, multiply that amount with the number of chickens you have.
Moreover, if there are baby chicks in your backyard, limit their spinach intake to once in 2 weeks.
What else can be done?
Let’s suppose your flock is quite fond of munching on spinach leaves (because most chickens are), and you don’t want to take that away from them. Is there a way to ensure that they can eat as much spinach as they want without suffering from calcium deficiency?
We heard you, and we’re here to provide you with a solution.
There are two ways to tackle this problem.
- You can either give them calcium supplements to increase the amount of calcium in their diet. Many brands sell trustworthy supplements both online and offline.
- Another way to go about it is to start adding small amounts of apple cider vinegar in their water. It promotes your chickens’ ability to absorb all nutrients, including calcium. Additionally, apple cider vinegar in their water can also help them stay free from all kinds of bacteria and algae.
Raw or cooked spinach: which one is better for chickens?
Many of us are used to cooking spinach before we eat them. But when it comes to your flock, is cooking a sensible idea, or should you go with raw spinach instead?
Your chickens will not mind eating spinach, whether it’s raw or cooked, unless it’s too hot, in which case they might end up burning the insides of their mouth. However, if we talk about it from a health perspective, raw spinach is much healthier for both you and your pets than cooked one.
It was proved in research conducted to study the impact of cooking spinach on its nutritional value. The research observed that the lutein (a carotenoid related to Vitamin A) content of baby spinach dropped 40% within the first 4 minutes of boiling it.
Therefore, cooking spinach is a bad idea for your chickens as well as for you. If you don’t want to eat spinach raw, you can always blend it to make an equally healthy smoothie without diminishing its nutritional value.
Is it safe to feed chickens spinach along with its stems?
Most people believe that spinach stems, unlike the leaves, are poisonous and must not be consumed. This, however, is nothing but a mere rumor. In truth, the stem is just as nutritious as the leaves and can certainly be eaten along with it.
However, the stems of mature spinach can sometimes be thicker and fibrous, making it difficult for us to digest them. In such cases, you can remove them before cooking.
The same rule applies to your backyard pets as well. You don’t need to remove the stems from the spinach before feeding it to them. However, if they’re only eating the leaves and ignoring the stem, it is best not to force them.
Feeding spinach to chickens: things to remember
Feeding spinach to chickens is a fairly simple process and doesn’t require much preparation, unlike most other fruits and vegetables. All you need to do is wash the spinach thoroughly (you can also use lukewarm better for a more effective wash) and put it into their serving bowls.
Some chicken owners prefer to chop the spinach into smaller pieces for their pets, but it is not really necessary unless you have baby chicks in your yard.
We would recommend you to go for organic spinach when feeding your chickens. It is because commercially grown spinach is often sprayed with toxic chemicals such as pesticides and insecticides to protect them from the attack of insects.
Although most of these chemicals are washed away with water, some are more persistent than others. While these chemicals are not strong enough to harm us, they can cause severe damage to the health of our little pets.
Frequently asked questions
Do chickens like eating sunflower seeds? Yes, they are quite fond of it. On many occasions, they eat the seeds along with the flower itself.
Can I feed swiss chard to my chickens? Yes. Not only are swiss chards healthy for your feathered pets, but they also love munching on these leafy vegetables. However, don’t be surprised if they ignore their stems.
Conclusion: Can Chickens Eat Spinach?
This has been a fun article to write, but I think it’s time to wrap it up.
If you’re raising chickens, it’s a good idea to feed them spinach from time to time. Spinach is one of the best vegetables to give to backyard chickens because it provides a good range of nutrients.
Backyard chickens love fresh greens, which make them healthier and happier. So this will be a hit with your flock, and it’ll keep them healthy.
Well, that is the end of our little article on why chickens can eat spinach. We hope you have enjoyed it and learned more about chickens as well as the topic.
Thank you for reading and remember to share!