Can Chickens Eat Broccoli?

If you’ve ever wondered whether chickens can have broccoli, you’re not alone.

Chickens are omnivores and, to be frank, they’re not picky eaters. I’ve read countless chicken-keeping forum posts about these birds devouring styrofoam, mice, and yes, even snakes!

It almost makes you wonder why you’re googling if your backyard chickens can eat broccoli or not, doesn’t it? Ha!

Healthy treats are an excellent way to keep your feathered friends happy and occupied. Each afternoon, our birds eagerly rush to meet us at the gate, fully aware of the affable suckers we are, and the joy we derive from feeding them broccoli and other treats.

Chickens eating.

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Can Chickens Eat Broccoli?

Yes, your chickens can have broccoli!

BUT!

There are important considerations when you’re feeding your chickens something other than commercial ration. While your chickens love treats, it’s important to ensure that you only feed your chickens these treats in moderation.

As a general rule, too many treats can affect your chickens negatively. Their feed is specially formulated to provide all the micro and macro nutrients they need, so adding too much extra fresh food can throw their nutrition out of whack, especially fiber-filled food like broccoli florets that don’t have much nutritional value in the way of protein and fats.

Broccoli contains goitrogens, and if offered in excess can cause avian goiter. Goiter is an abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland and symptoms can include weight loss, lethargy, depression, and worse. Broccoli, kale, soybeans, cabbage, and turnips are high in goitrogens – so do monitor your flock if they are on chicken feed with soybeans.

Chickens eating fresh greens.

Broccoli Is Healthy For Chickens Too!

It is well known that chickens need a healthy, balanced diet to stay healthy and have good egg production, but it’s often overlooked how tasty veggies can play a role in their health.

Broccoli is an excellent example – not only does it provide them with essential vitamins, minerals, and some other benefits, but if you read my do chickens have tongues post you may agree with me that your chooks may get an extra flavor boost from water-heavy veggies like broccoli stems!

Broccoli is a great source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants and contains some potassium to help your hens lay lots of healthy eggs!

Don’t forget that broccoli leaves are just as much a healthy treat as the crowns and stems. The leaves are edible, and although tough in texture to us, the chickens adore them – which is great come fall garden clean up, I’ll just cut the remainder of my broccoli plants just above the soil level and bring them to the coop for the girls pick at the leaves.

Broccoli plant.

What Parts Of The Broccoli Plant Can Chickens Eat?

Well, they can eat all of it! The roots, the stalks, and the leaves are all edible and are a great treat for your chooks.

If you’re like me, and you cut the broccoli stalks at the soil level to allow the roots to break down in your no-till garden or you just don’t want to give them the entire plant, it is fine to just feed them the leaves or stalks, or crowns that may have gotten contaminated by those dreaded cabbage worms!

Black copper marans rooster looking inquisitive.

Feeding Chickens Broccoli

Before you serve broccoli to your flock, consider the following:

  • Rinse and inspect the fresh broccoli: If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t feed it to your birds. If there are moldy, rotten spots cut those off and discard them or add them to the compost pile.
  • Chickens can’t just hang out eating whole broccoli plants. They lack teeth and opposable thumbs, which may cause them to get frustrated if the pieces are too difficult for them to pick up and eat – causing them to completely disregard the treat altogether.
  • Make sure that whatever part of the raw broccoli you are giving your chickens is cut up into small pieces so they can pick it up easily and enjoy it. We often use a food processor to chop fresh broccoli into chicken bite-sized pieces.
  • Cooked broccoli can be offered in large pieces, as the cooking process breaks down the tough cells and allows the chickens to peck out appropriate-sized bites.
  • Don’t forget to provide grit. Whenever your chickens are fed foods that are not commercial feed, you’ll need to offer your birds grit supplementation. Grit helps to break down food in the gizzard.

More Chicken Content!

TL;DR

Yes. If you’re considering feeding broccoli to chickens, it’s best to do so in moderation and with proper preparation to ensure their safety. Verify that the broccoli is fresh, and ensure it is diced into smaller pieces to make it more manageable for your feathered friends. Remember to supply grit, especially when giving your birds fresh fruits and vegetables.

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