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Can Chickens Eat Kale? Is It Safe?

One of the main concerns with keeping chickens is that they are going to get their beaks on something poisonous. Chickens are omnivorous, and they also look to peck at whatever looks edible. As such, it is important to know which fruits and vegetables are good for them and which ones may be toxic. That raises the question, “Can chickens eat kale?” Kale is a source of magnificent nutrition for both humans and chickens, and so you can give your chickens kale without worry. However, there are some things you should know before you begin feeding your flock dark leafy greens.

Can Chickens Eat Kale?


Yes, chickens can eat kale safely. Kale is highly beneficial to chickens, because it is packed full of nutrients. Hailing from the brassica family of plants, kale is closely related to cabbage, another vegetable that chickens can eat.

Is Kale Safe for Chickens?

Being that kale is such a superfood for people and animals, it comes with no health risks for chickens. You can give kale to your flock without any worries. However, you should always wash your kale, as it may contain dirt, pesticides, and other hazardous substances that could negatively impact your chickens’ health.

Keep in mind that organic kale is going to be the safest option for feeding your birds, aside from growing your own. Either way, you should always wash off the leaves of your vegetables before consuming them.

Is Kale Healthy for Chickens?

Kale is certainly one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. Giving your chickens a taste is always a good idea. Kale is low in calories and protein, but it is also packed with water, vitamins, and minerals that can boost your flock’s overall health and immunity. Here are some of the ways that kale is healthy for chickens to eat:

Kale Contains Minerals and Antioxidants

One of the reasons kale is so popular for juice and smoothies is because it is loaded with minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Even a single cup of kale contains a whopping 53.3 mg of calcium, 6.93 mg of magnesium, and 73.1 mg of potassium. Humans and chickens alike rely on these minerals for bone health, cellular functions, and warding off chronic diseases, like those that impact the heart. You also get trace amounts of iron, folate, choline, and selenium.

Furthermore, you can account for polyphenols, flavonoids, and beta carotene in kale to bolster the immune system. Chickens do get sick, so providing them with food that also acts as medicine is important to keeping them well. Antioxidants are also useful during the development of feathers and skin.

Kale is High in Vitamin A, C, and K

kale leaves

An astounding amount of vitamins are present in kale, including vitamin A, C, and K. As you are probably aware, vitamin C is necessary for collagen synthesis, as well as immune support. Kale happens to be one of the best courses of vitamin C. Vitamin K is useful for blood clotting, which your chickens need, should they get injured.

Providing your birds with foods that fulfill their vitamin needs is essential to keeping them happy and healthy.

Kale Supports Eye Health

Did you know that kale is good for the eyes? This leafy green vegetable contains lutein and zeaxanthin, both which reduce macular degeneration when aging. Vitamin C, E, beta carotene, and zinc — all of which are found in kale — support eye health.

How Much Kale Should I Feed My Chickens?

Although kale is a wonderful food for chickens, it cannot be the only thing they eat. Again, chickens are omnivores, meaning they need a variety in their diet to ensure they are getting all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients they require to survive. As with any snack meant to be given in moderation, your chickens should receive no more than 10% of their calories from kale in a single day. If you want to give your flock kale, give it to them 2-4 times a week — no more. Also, incorporate other foods to complement kale.

On those days when your chickens are not getting any snacks, they should be allowed to free roam for a while. Chickens love hunting down bugs and other edible plants and insects.

Remember, chickens are designed to be constantly on the move, gathering food. They should have  regular chicken feed available throughout the day, as well as fresh water. Do not overdo it with the snacks, even if it is just kale. Your chickens will not do well on a diet with minimal variety.

How to Give Kale to Your Chickens

chickens and cock

Kale contains zero toxins, so every portion of the plant can be given to your chickens. You do not have to worry about them struggling with the stalks or leaves. Your chickens will figure it out. Here are some tips on how to prepare fresh and cooked kale for your flock:

Fresh Kale

Providing your chickens with some raw kale is always a good idea, since it contains the largest amount of nutrients. The stems can be rather fibrous, so you may want to cut up the harder pieces into smaller, digestible bites. Otherwise, you can crush the kale with your hands.

Fresh kale can be thrown to your chickens as they wander the run or yard. They will enjoy picking at the stalk and leaves. This is an excellent vegetable to throw or hang from rope during the winter, since your chickens will need to eat more in order to stay warm. Just be sure to clean up any remnants of kale at the end of the day. You do not want to attract pests or enemies to your household.

Cooked Kale

As with any vegetable you cook, boiling, sauteing, or baking kale will soften it up but cause some of the nutrition to be lost. That being said, providing your chickens with easily digestible food is always smart. You do not want them choking, right? Cooking the stems gives your chickens a wholesome snack that also goes down without a fuss. The fiber in the kale will linger, assisting with digestion.

Kale can be cooked up in a number of ways. Do not use any oil, seasonings (especially salt), or other additions, like butter.

Mixing Kale

The final option for giving kale to your chickens is to mix it with other ingredients. You can chop up kale finely then toss it in with their chicken feed. You can also lump kale together with frozen fruits and vegetables in the summertime to keep the flock cool. If you plan on mixing the kale with anything dry or uncooked, like seeds, make sure the kale is also raw. Otherwise, the moisture from the cooked leafy greens will make other food mushy.

In the end, you can watch a video where the host feeds his flock with kale:

Final Thoughts on Kale For Chickens

Can chickens eat kale? Of course they can! Kale is a wholesome, nutritious food that chickens will happily consume. You should certainly consider giving your adult flock pieces of kale — either cooked or raw — today. They will thank you with eggs, for sure. Just remember to wash any kale that is not organically grown, as it may contain dangerous pesticides that could hurt your flock.