If you've got extra sprouts after harvesting and wondering if your chickens can eat brussels sprouts, you're not alone!
Chickens are natural omnivores and while commercially produced chicken feed supplies all the nutrients they need to survive, I feel that chickens, like humans, benefit from a varied diet.
If you've kept chickens for long, you'll know that chickens are real connoisseurs, enjoying the finer things in life like bugs, bits of food buried underneath the feeder, and straight-up dirty puddle water.
Kinda makes you feel silly for googling if your chickens can have brussels sprouts or not?!
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Can Chickens Eat Brussels Sprouts?
Yes, your chickens can have brussels sprouts! They can eat all types of cabbage, from red to green, to brussels sprouts, and napa cabbage.
BUT WAIT! There's a catch!
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 commercial 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 sprouts that don't have much nutritional value in the way of protein and fats.
Like broccoli and cauliflower, sprouts contain goitrogens, and if offered in excess can cause avian goiter, so caution should be taken when feeding your flock these veggies. Goiter is an abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland and symptoms can include weight loss, lethargy, depression, and worse.
If your chickens are on feed containing soybeans, it's especially important to monitor their consumption of cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, kale, cabbage, and turnips. These contain goitrogens that may impact your flock's health.
Brussels Sprouts Are Healthy For Chickens Too!
While it's common knowledge that chickens require a healthy diet to maintain good health and quality egg production, it's easy to overlook the benefits of veggies. These nutritious and tasty greens can play a crucial role in supporting your feathered friends' overall well-being and egg laying.
The outer leaves are edible, and although tough in texture to us, the chickens adore them. Don't forget that cores and stems are also a healthy treat. So when you're whipping up a batch of smoked brussels sprouts make sure to save the stems and cores for your flock.
What Parts Of The Brussels Sprouts Plant Can Chickens Eat?
Well, they can eat all of it!
The roots, the stalks, the core, and the leaves are all edible and are a great treat for your chooks.
If you're like me, and you cut the brussels sprouts plants 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 and stems, but they can also eat entire heads that may have gotten contaminated by cabbage worms!
Feeding Chickens Brussels Sprouts
Before you serve sprouts to your flock, consider the following:
- Rinse and inspect the fresh sprouts: If you wouldn't eat them, don't feed them to your birds. If there are moldy, rotten spots cut those off and discard them or add them to the compost pile.
- Chickens aren't exactly known for being able to effectively eat whole sprouts. Due to their lack of teeth, they may get frustrated if the leaves are too tough to peck and might just lose interest in the treat entirely.
- Try to ensure that whatever part of the raw sprouts you are giving your laying hens 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 produce into chicken bite-sized pieces.
- Cooked sprouts can be offered in larger pieces, as the cooking process breaks down the tough cell walls and allows the chickens to peck out appropriate-sized bites.
- Don't forget to provide grit. To ensure digestive system health and the overall well-being of your feathered friends, chickens need grit as a supplement to help break down their food in the gizzard when feeding them anything other than commercial feed.
More Chicken Content!
Yes. If you're going to feed chickens brussels sprouts, do it in moderation and prepare it carefully to ensure their safety. Always verify that the sprouts are fresh and in reasonable-sized pieces for easy consumption. Don't forget to provide grit, especially when you give fresh fruits and veggies to your feathered flock.