Whether you are a homesteader growing fresh collard greens or picked up too many fresh vegetables at the farmer’s market, you may find yourself wondering what you can give your chickens. There are many things a chicken can eat, as they are omnivorous, like people. However, can chickens eat collard greens safely? Let’s find out.
What Are Collard Greens?
Collard greens are a type of leafy green vegetable that belongs to the Brassica oleracea family, which also includes cabbage, broccoli, and kale. These greens are known for their large, dark green, and somewhat tough leaves. Collard greens have a mild, slightly bitter flavor and are a staple in Southern U.S. cuisine.
Collard greens are nutritious and rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They are a good source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as folate and manganese.
Can Chickens Eat Collard Greens?
Yes, chickens can eat collard greens. You may find that chickens gravitate towards fresh collard greens. Unlike people, chickens do not taste the bitterness of raw collard greens, so they may peck at the greens growing up in a garden. If you were to cook the collard greens and serve them up, your flock would lose their minds. So, if you have some extra collard greens sitting around, get ready to prepare them for your feathered friends.
Also, you can give your chickens raw collard green stems. People do not typically eat the stems. Instead of wasting them, offer those stems to your chickens as a snack.
Are Collard Greens Safe for Chickens?
Yes, collard greens are safe for chickens. However, there are some considerations you must keep in mind when feeding your chickens:
- Wash Thoroughly: Before offering collard greens to chickens, it’s essential to wash them thoroughly to remove any pesticides, contaminants, or dirt.
- Variety in Diet: While collard greens can be a healthy addition to a chicken’s diet, they should not be the sole source of nutrition. Chickens require a balanced diet that includes a commercial poultry feed designed for their specific nutritional needs. Collard greens can complement the feed by providing additional nutrients.
- Moderation is Key: Like any treat or supplemental food, collard greens should be offered in moderation. Too much of any single type of food can upset the balance of nutrients in a chicken’s diet.
- Introduction Gradually: If you’re introducing collard greens or any new food to your chickens, do so gradually. This allows them to adjust to the new food and reduces the risk of digestive upset.
- Avoid Spoiled Greens: Do not feed chickens wilted or spoiled collard greens, as they can harbor harmful bacteria or toxins. Fresh, high-quality greens are the best choice.
Can a Chicken Eat Too Many Collard Greens?
When it comes to anything but their feed, too much is most definitely a bad thing for chickens. Even too much feed can cause problems. While collard greens are wonderful for a chicken’s diet, over-consumption can impact their health negatively. You may find that your chickens lack energy or that your hens are not laying eggs regularly. This is because collard greens do not have the protein required for chicken’s to function optimally.
Therefore, it bears repeating that you should only provide your chickens with collard greens as a supplement. In order to provide your chickens with all the nutrition that they need, please abide by the 90/10 rule, where 90% of their calories come from premium chicken feed. The other 10% may come from treats.
Collard Greens Nutrition and Benefits for Chickens
As mentioned previously, collard greens are a leafy vegetable that are chock full of vitamins and minerals. For chickens, all those beneficial vitamins and minerals do a world of good when added to their diet.
Let’s look at the nutritional profile of a cup cooked collard greens:
- Calories: 49
- Protein: 5.15 grams
- Dietary Fiber: 7.6 grams
- Total Fat: 0.65 grams
- Carbohydrates: 9.1 grams
- Vitamin A: 7715 IU
- Vitamin C: 34.6 mg
- Vitamin K: 836 mcg
- Folate: 177 mcg
- Calcium: 357 mg
- Iron: 2.2 mg
- Magnesium: 44 mg
- Potassium: 729 mg
Health Benefits of Collard Greens
Now let’s consider how each of the vitamins and minerals may boost your flock’s overall health:
Rich in Nutrients
Collard greens boast a nutrient profile that caters to various aspects of your flock’s health. With a substantial supply of essential vitamins such as A, C, and K, along with folate, calcium, and iron, these leafy greens offer a diverse range of nutrients crucial for overall well-being, ensuring your chickens get a wholesome nutritional boost.
The elevated levels of vitamins A and C in collard greens serve as potent antioxidants. These antioxidants play a pivotal role in combating oxidative stress within the chickens’ bodies, helping to reduce inflammation. By shielding against cellular damage, collard greens contribute to a robust immune system and general health among your feathered friends.
Collard greens form a trifecta of bone-supporting elements: calcium, vitamin K, and magnesium. Together, these nutrients work synergistically to fortify bone density and strength. This ensures that your chickens maintain resilient skeletal structures, supporting their mobility and overall health.
You may not think much about a chicken’s heart, but you should! The fiber content in collard greens, coupled with potassium and folate, makes them a heart-healthy addition to your chickens’ diet. Fiber aids in cholesterol regulation, while potassium helps manage blood pressure. The inclusion of folate further contributes to reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, promoting cardiovascular well-being in your flock.
Beyond basic nutrition, collard greens provide additional health benefits through their phytonutrients and antioxidants. These compounds collaborate to deliver anti-inflammatory effects. By mitigating chronic inflammation, collard greens contribute to the overall health and longevity of your chickens, promoting a state of well-being.
High in dietary fiber, collard greens play a pivotal role in promoting digestive health among your chickens. The fiber content facilitates regular bowel movements, preventing issues like constipation and diarrhea. Both of those issues can be problematic for chickens. As such, a good amount of dietary fiber ensures a comfortable and efficient digestive system for your feathered companions, supporting their overall happiness and well-being.
How to Feed Collard Greens to Your Chickens
If you decide to offer collard greens to your chickens, you have options for how to do that. Here are some options for incorporating collard greens into your chickens’ diet:
Fresh and Raw
Your first option is the easiest: Simply wash and chop the collard greens and serve. The chickens will peck at the greens while moving about the run or when free-ranging.
To make the collard greens more easily digestible for your flock, consider boiling or steaming the leaves and stems. Do not add anything to the greens — just water. Once the collard greens have cooled, you can chop them up, put them on a plate, and serve your clucking friends.
This means that leftover collard greens from your takeout are not good for your birds. Avoid any scraps or leftovers, be they collard greens or something else, that may have an excess of oils, salt, or sugar.
Mix chopped collard greens with other vegetables or fruits to create a varied and colorful mix. You can add collard greens to kitchen scraps, such as carrot tops, apple cores, or cucumber ends.
During the warmer parts of the year, your chickens need all the help they can get with staying cool. Here is a fun way to help them: Blend collard greens with other chicken-friendly fruits and vegetables to create a nutrient-rich smoothie. Freeze the mixture in ice cube trays for a refreshing and nutritious treat.
Treat Balls and Foraging Toys
Place chopped collard greens inside treat balls or foraging toys to encourage natural foraging behavior. This adds an element of mental stimulation for chickens as they peck and work to extract the greens.
Blended with Grains and Seeds
You can also mix chopped collard greens with grains, seeds, or scratch feed to create a well-rounded treat. For example, have some corn laying around? Treat your chickens to some Southern US flavor. Just ensure that the overall mixture is balanced and doesn’t compromise the chickens’ nutritional needs.
Final Thoughts on Collard Greens
The question of whether chickens can eat collard greens has been answered with a resounding “Yes!” Collard greens are very beneficial for chickens but must be fed to them in moderation. So, if you find yourself with an abundance of collard greens, don’t fret; your clucking companions are ready to enjoy the feast. Just remember to wash, chop, and serve. Your chickens are going to spread their wings in joy when they see collard greens on the menu.
Valerie has been content writing since 2016 for websites and companies all around the world. A traveler, dancer, martial artist, Valerie loves gathering experiences and wisdom. Her travels have taken her to over 20 countries, and she hopes to see more of the world soon.