Asparagus is an odd looking vegetable with loads of flavor and character. Humans love munching on asparagus a dozen ways, but can chickens eat raw asparagus? Are there any benefits? Turns out chickens adore both raw and cooked asparagus as much as people do. Here is everything you need to know about giving asparagus to your chickens.
Can Chickens Eat Raw Asparagus?
Yes! Chickens can eat asparagus both raw and cooked. Extremely popular, asparagus is a well-known treat for flocks of chickens and other animals. Asparagus may also be known for making the bathroom smell less than desirable, but it does have an enticing flavor and nutritional benefits your chickens will love. You may notice they are less energetic and hungry after eating asparagus, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing (more on that in a moment).
First, a little bit about asparagus. Believe it or not, asparagus is a kind of lily and derives its name from a Greek word meaning sprout. Asparagus is originally from the Mediterranean region and comes in three varieties: green, white, and purple. The latter is far less common than green or white, but purple is delicious, too. You may find that purple asparagus is a bit sweeter than the other variants. White asparagus is the most delicate and light.
Regardless of which color you decide to offer your chickens, it is easy to prepare — as in needs zero preparation — and is laden with dozens of minerals for healthier, happier chickens.
The Benefits of Giving Chickens Asparagus
What are chickens getting when they eat asparagus? Supplementation. While a high end chicken feed should manage most of a chicken’s nutritional needs, the vitamins and minerals present in asparagus will fill any nutritional gaps. A half cup of asparagus contains the following ingredients:
- Calories: 20
- Protein: 2.2 grams
- Fat: 0.02 grams
- Fiber: 1.8 grams
- Vitamin A: 19% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI)
- Vitamin C: 12% RDI
- Vitamin K: 56% RDI
- Vitamin E: 8% RDI
- Folate: 35% of the RDI
- Phosphorus: 5% RDI
Now, while these values reflect the percentage based on 2,000 calories consumed by a person a day, these numbers are still impressive for chickens, too. There are also small quantities of iron, riboflavin, and zinc present — all of which benefit chickens.
A High Source of Antioxidants
Chickens, like people, need antioxidants.
Antioxidants do a lot of the body, including fighting off oxidative stress and free radicals. You can’t do much to avoid these things, but you can consume antioxidants. The more antioxidants consumed, the less of an effect free radicals have on your body. This is why giving your chickens a few pieces of asparagus is a good idea. You can keep them healthier for longer.
And for those egg-laying chickens, the healthier they are, the more eggs they are going to lay.
As you saw above, asparagus is a powerhouse. Your chickens get vitamin C and K, as well as flavonoids, polyphenols, and glutathione. These vitamins and compounds are known for their ability to bolster the immune system, lower blood pressure, and reduce inflammation in the body.
Asparagus For Stronger Bones
Being that chickens are birds, they aren’t the strongest or most resilient of creatures. You can do something about that, though. Like people, chickens have bones that benefit from calcium, iron, phosphorus, and vitamin K. Each of these nutrients help make denser bones and can ward off osteoporosis later in life.
Vitamin K, for instance, is excellent for blood coagulation in the event of injury. Furthermore, vitamin K patches up bones, reducing brittleness.
A single treat of asparagus meets about 10% of the chicken’s daily nutritional needs, which is why it is such a powerful treat.
Give Asparagus For Digestive Health
One of the best reasons for giving your chickens asparagus is for their digestive health. Asparagus contains about 1.8 grams of fiber in a single cup serving. For chickens, that is about 7% of their daily fiber needs. Yes, it may seem like a small amount, but it adds up quickly.
Studies have proven that diets rich in vegetables and fruits have a lower chance of developing chronic diseases. That is also true for your feathered friends.
Secondly, asparagus also has soluble fiber. When digested, soluble fiber can feed the beneficial bacteria inside a chicken’s gut. Since the microbiome is key for vibrant health, you want to give your chickens foods like asparagus to keep the bacteria healthy. Plus, those bacteria produce vitamins, including vitamin B12.
In short, asparagus is low in calories but high in fiber. Your chickens don’t need a lot of asparagus to feel overwhelmingly full. Due to that fullness, they may not be tempted to eat anything else for a while. Give them some time to digest before giving your flock anything else to eat.
One Downside of Asparagus For Chickens
Some of the treats you give chickens comes with the warning that they may overindulge. You don’t have to worry about that much with asparagus. Most chickens instinctively know when they have had enough and won’t glut themselves on the vegetable.
No, there is another reason asparagus needs to be limited in consumption. If you have had asparagus before, you probably know why.
Yes, asparagus alters the flavor of eggs. While it is not a total sulfuric flavor, it is a subtle change that you may dislike. In fact, there are some chicken keepers who absolutely refuse to give their chickens asparagus for this very reason. Sadly, avoiding asparagus means denying your chickens the amazing benefits.
If you are worried about such a change in the eggs, give your chickens a very small amount of asparagus. There should be little to no effect.
Lastly, make sure you clean up whatever remnants remain after giving your chickens a treat. Asparagus and other treats will rot overtime, and that smell could attract dangerous predators to your yard. So get rid of the remains, even if it still looks edible.
How to Feed Your Chickens Asparagus
You can choose how you want to give your chickens asparagus. If they are roaming your yard, they may even wander to where the asparagus is growing in the garden to peck at it. In other words, whether you steam it, grill it, roast it, dice it, saute it, or toss it to your chickens raw, they are going to like asparagus. Preparation doesn’t matter.
One word of caution, though. You do not want to give whole stalks of raw asparagus to your chickens. Asparagus that hasn’t been cooked is a little like bamboo — fibrous and woody. Your chickens will have a difficult time pecking at and eating the vegetable. If you plan on giving your flock raw asparagus, chop it up into manageable bits first.
However, chickens who have never had asparagus before are going to be a bit wary. Don’t worry if they don’t jump on the stalks immediately. Give your flock some time to investigate the strange new vegetable laying on the ground. One of the braver chickens will peck at the asparagus eventually and discover just how delectable it is.
The best place to give your chickens asparagus is in the coop. There, the asparagus is safe to lay on the ground for a while. You don’t have to worry about other animals sneaking around for a bite of the asparagus (and the chickens). Just remember to pick up whatever remains at the end of the day. Also, asparagus should only be provided a few days a week.
Keeping Asparagus Fresh
Fresh asparagus is the best asparagus — your chickens will agree, too. Once you have bought or harvested your asparagus, know that it has already begun to lose some of its benefits. To keep your asparagus from going bad, store it somewhere cool and dark, such as the refrigerator. The easiest way to keep asparagus until you are ready to cook with it or toss some spears to your chickens is to wrap it in a damp towel. Then, place the asparagus in a plastic bag or air-tight container before putting it in the refrigerator.
What Not to Give Your Chickens
Although asparagus is perfectly fine for chickens to have as a treat, there are also some foods that you should avoid. Some of those fruits and vegetables are often grown alongside asparagus in the garden, so you should know what’s considered safe or not. For example, avocado pits and skins are dangerous because they contain persin, a known toxin.
Similarly, rhubarb should never be given to chickens. Rhubarb tends to have a laxative effect. Other foods you should not give you birds include raw potatoes, onion, garlic, uncooked rice, uncooked beans, chocolate, and anything rotten or moldy. That includes a month-old dish of steamed asparagus.
Other than that, you can feed chickens almost anything. They are omnivores, after all, and can digest insects, fruits, vegetables, and meat with ease.
Conclusion: Chickens Love Asparagus
While the majority of your flock’s diet should be composed of high-quality chicken feed, there is nothing wrong with tossing them a treat now and again. For that reason, you learned that yes, chickens can eat raw and cooked asparagus. Due to asparagus having tons of vitamins and minerals, it is one of the more beneficial snacks you can give to your chickens. So why not toss them a few stalks of asparagus today?
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.