Chickens are omnivorous and enjoy a broad spectrum of foods. Yet, if you are just starting out as a chicken owner, you may not know exactly what to give your chickens. For instance, do you know what kind of leafy greens, like spinach, to give your chickens? Spinach is an excellent treat for chickens, but so long as it is eaten in moderation. Let us take a closer look at spinach and why it is beneficial for your chickens.
- Is Spinach Healthy For Chickens?
- Can Chickens Eat All Parts of Spinach?
- Can Baby Chicks Eat Spinach?
- Is Spinach Safe For Chickens?
- Why You Should Give Spinach to Your Chickens
- What Happens If You Feed Your Chickens Too Much Spinach?
- Proper Way to Give Spinach to Your Chicken
- Final Thoughts on Spinach For Chickens
Is Spinach Healthy For Chickens?
For humans, spinach is considered a superfood. People love incorporating spinach into numerous recipes. You may be looking for something healthy to give your chickens throughout the day and think that spinach would do the trick. Good news! Spinach is very rich in nutrients. Even in small amounts, spinach can boost the health of your flock. It is a great option, as well as cheap when compared to other vegetables.
Can Chickens Eat All Parts of Spinach?
Yes, chickens can eat spinach leaves and stalks without issue. Your chickens will have no issues with pulling apart spinach and digesting it. The only time you should be careful is if your chickens are struggling with gizzard problems. The fibers in the stalks can sometimes get stuck in the crop, where it will rot and make your chickens ill.
Your chickens will also eat spinach both raw and cooked. If you wish to give them stems but are worried about the crop getting impacted, lightly cook or steam the spinach. However, keep in mind that your chickens are going to get a lot more nutritional benefits from raw spinach. Cooked spinach does lose some of its vitamins and minerals.
And in case you were wondering, chickens will attack spinach if they see it growing in your garden. Spinach in your yard will not be safe from them, because they tend to love it. Here is a video proving just that:
Can Baby Chicks Eat Spinach?
When first born, baby chicks should be given nothing but a high quality starter. Once the first few weeks of life have passed, you can start offering your chicks some treats, including spinach. However, since younger chicks still do not have the same digestive power as the adults in the flock, you should avoid giving them anything too fibrous. Blanched or steamed baby spinach leaves are the best choice. The chicks will be able to pick up the wilted spinach with their beaks and swallow it without problems.
Is Spinach Safe For Chickens?
Now, while spinach is rich in nutrients and vitamins, there are some things to keep in mind. Spinach contains something called oxalic acid, an organically occurring compound in spinach. Though beneficial in its own way, oxalic acid can prevent calcium from being absorbed. Now, while a small quantity of oxalic acid is not harmful to humans, it can be problematic for chickens that produce a lot of eggs. Layer chickens require loads of calcium to produce strong eggshells. Without calcium, those eggs may not have strong shells. Chickens lacking in calcium may not lay eggs at all.
If you want to give your chickens spinach, then it is recommended that you boost their calcium intake. One of the best ways to do that is to give them oyster shell supplements.
With added calcium, your chickens will be able to enjoy spinach and similar leafy greens, like kale.
Why You Should Give Spinach to Your Chickens
Examining the nutritional value of the snacks you want to give your flock is always wise. That way, you can decide if something is worthwhile. When it comes to spinach, there are numerous benefits. Aside from lowering blood pressure, spinach also acts as an anti-inflammatory. This alone is useful for chickens, as they can sometimes from complications concerning their hearts. Let’s take a look at all the vitamins and nutrients low-calorie spinach contains:
- Vitamin A: Necessary for skin, respiratory, reproductive, and digestive health.
- Vitamin E: Fights disease (including E. coli), boosts neurological functions, and is required for reproduction and cell growth in chickens.
- Vitamin K: Aids in the clotting process. Chickens also need vitamin K to prevent coccidiosis.
- Vitamin B1: Essential for glucose metabolism. If a chicken is deficient in vitamin B1, they will suffer from weight loss, muscle paralysis, and dull-looking plumage.
- Vitamin B2: Required for a chicken’s metabolism. Deficiency in vitamin B2 can lead to diarrhea, poor egg production, and increased embryonic deaths.
- Vitamin B6: Needed for amino acid metabolism. Without B6, your chickens will lose motor control of their muscles.
- Vitamin B9: Also known as folic acid, vitamin B9 is critical for developing eggs.
- Choline: Needed for DNA synthesis. It also maintains the nervous system, pulse, memory, and aids in muscle development.
- Calcium: Any hen that is expected to produce eggs must receive the right amount of calcium. The mineral assists with strong egg shells, as well as the overall formation of eggs. That is why spinach is such a great treat — it has high amounts of calcium.
- Folate: Supports feather growth and prevents perosis, a condition that causes metatarsal twisting, a flattened tibio-metatarsal, and swollen hock joints.
- Magnesium: Chickens need plenty of magnesium for bone health and utilizing energy from food.
- Manganese: There are many things that manganese does for chickens. Not only does it prevent perosis, it also aids in food absorption. Chickens also need manganese for reproduction, cartilage and bone development, healing, and eggshell formation.
- Potassium: Prevents dehydration and reduces muscular pains and aches. Chickens need potassium for their kidney health, too.
- Zinc: Improves the overall quality of eggshells.
- Iron: In all living things, iron is necessary for blood and oxygen. Without an adequate intake of iron, your chickens will become anemic and lethargic.
- Carotenoids: Spinach has a high amount of carotenoids, which are responsible for turning the egg yolk that healthy orange color.
As you can see, spinach can support the general health and wellness of your chickens. Even just a couple of leaves throughout the week will be enough for them to see the astounding benefits.
What Happens If You Feed Your Chickens Too Much Spinach?
As established, chickens can eat spinach — in moderation. You already know that spinach contains oxalic acid, which could prevent your flock from absorbing the calcium also in spinach. Thus, you need to find a careful balance and give your chickens calcium supplements, too. Should your chickens eat far too much spinach, they will face the effects of low calcium, which causes a wide variety of problems:
- Swollen joints
- Poor quality eggs
- Reduced egg production
- Weak or papery eggshells
- Rigid legs
- Paralysis of the body
To avoid such issues, feed your chickens the correct amount of feed and treats. As with all snacks, spinach should not make up more than 10% of their diet. Less is more when it comes to spinach.
Proper Way to Give Spinach to Your Chicken
If you plan on giving spinach to your flock, it is recommended that you only give each chicken a few leaves once or twice a week. It is best to mix spinach in with other vegetables and herbs. Giving your chickens a salad with spinach makes for a healthy snack that will give your feathered friends a fully beneficial treat.
Optionally, you can slice up leaves of spinach or baby spinach and mix the greens in with the flock’s commercial feed. You could also toss some greens into a bowl, letting your chickens nibble on it throughout the day.
Make sure that the spinach you give your chickens is not too old or moldy. Food that has gone bad should never be given to your chickens, as it could make them very ill.
Final Thoughts on Spinach For Chickens
Can chickens eat spinach? They certainly can — and should! Although spinach contains oxalic acid, which can reduce calcium absorption, a small portion once or twice a week will not do them any harm. Spinach is incredibly nutritious, and it can bolster the wellness of your entire flock. If you want to offer your chickens a bit more spinach, consider giving them supplements, such as crushed oyster shells, to keep their overall calcium levels satisfactory.
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.