Just like humans, birds need to consume a balanced diet to lead a healthy life. A bird’s typical balanced diet includes vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, fats, and of course, water.
For chicken, commercial feeds, and other household foods, including cauliflower, have a great nutritional value. According to research, 90% of their diet should be composed of commercial feed and the remainder supplemented by grains, vegetables, and fruits. Trust me, chicken, do enjoy that seed-filled piece of watermelon you throw out during a hot summer day.
Even when you think they are satisfied, these birds will still be seen chasing after other delicacies in their environment, such as bugs, worms, and the occasional lizards and snakes.
Have you ever left your plate of cooked white rice in the vicinity of chickens? Well, we all know how that story ends. Chicken are food-loving animals, so if you enjoy treating your chickens to different goodies, cauliflower would be a great option to consider because chickens love it, and it’s healthy.
The Health Value of Cauliflower in Chicken
Cauliflower is one of the healthiest vegetables that exist globally. Chicken enjoy the taste of cauliflower, and they can often be seen eating them raw or cooked. According to research, cauliflower has a great nutritional value for these household birds because it contributes vitamins, minerals, fiber, carbohydrates, and antioxidants to their diet.
Most of us throw cauliflower leaves away because we consider them unsafe to eat. However, this is far from the truth as these parts of the cauliflower plant are indeed safe to eat. For me, cauliflower leaves are like Nacho chips for my chicken.
They eat it cooked or raw, so I don’t mind taking time off to make them a cauliflower dish. However, I always make sure they clear it on the same day because cauliflower easily goes bad when cooked.
The calcium contained in cauliflower is essential for egg laying chicken as it helps to strengthen the eggshells. If chickens are not supplemented with calcium-rich foods, they will deplete the calcium in their bones during the process of making eggs, thus becoming malnourished and unproductive.
Consequently, Chicks that hatch from these calcium deficient eggs are prone to disease and developmental problems. Obviously, cauliflower doesn’t provide all the nutrition that chickens need. However, it is essential in maintaining good health among chicken. That being said, we should give cauliflower to chicken as a supplemental diet and not a main diet.
Minerals are Abundant in Cauliflower
A common cause of poor health among chicken is poor feeding programs as most chicken keepers are not conversant with the basic necessities of chicken feeds.
Understanding different types of feeds, as well as the traditional needs of layers and broilers, is important in the decision-making process when buying feeds.
Traditionally, most of us eat only the white or purple heads of cauliflower, but we don’t recognize the nutritional value of cauliflower leaves and stems.
As reported by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), cauliflower plants contain minerals such as calcium (24 mg) and phosphorus (47mg), which are essential for any chicken breed. Further, numerous studies have shown that vitamins are also abundant in cauliflower, the fact being that a cup of raw cauliflower will provide 10% of vitamin B, 20% of vitamin K, and 77% of vitamin C based on daily needs.
Cauliflower Fibres and Antioxidants
Equally important, the fiber and water contained in cauliflower are essential in preventing constipation and maintaining the health of the digestive system.
Studies have shown that these fibers help in regulating the immune system, thus decreasing the risk of inflammations and obesity among chicken. Yes, chicken can suffer from obesity too. In fully grown chicken, obesity may lead to infertility, egg-binding, or even death as it increases the chances of heat strokes and liver damage.
When I started raising chicken, I always thought that overfeeding my chicken would improve meat and egg production. Within a few weeks, I was losing about 2-4 chickens a day. This was a big blow to my investment, and I had to figure out why this was happening. Shockingly, I realized that I was slowly causing their demise by overfeeding because, just like humans, chickens store excess fats in their bodies and can result in death if the fats accumulate to dangerous levels.
I also found out that egg-laying chickens are especially in danger because the accumulated fats may shutter their liver during the process of laying eggs leading to excess internal bleeding and eventual death. To reverse the effects of excess feeding, I added cauliflower as a supplemental diet for my stock, and believe me, the results were unbelievable.
First, the chicken really loved the new snack, and after some time, I realized a decrease in their mortality rate as well as an improvement in their productivity and general health.
Cauliflower is also known to contain a significant amount of antioxidants, also known as anthocyanins, which are found especially in the heads and leaves. These compounds contribute significantly to reducing oxidative stress in the bodies of chickens, thus preventing cellular mutations that lead to common cancers and tumors.
Oxidative stress in chicken can be caused by both nutritional and environmental factors. For example, excess heat is a common cause of oxidative stress and can result in immunological challenges and impaired productivity.
For this reason, it is important to implement feeding strategies that counter the effects of oxidative stress among chicken. What most chicken farmers don’t know is that cauliflower has significant amounts of anthocyanins and can improve chickens’ overall health if provided to them occasionally.
As a chicken lover, I always want my chicken to be stress-free and more productive. Since I discovered the benefits of adding cauliflower to my chicken’s daily diet, I have never looked back.
As chicken raisers, choosing the best diet for our chickens is the most important decision we have to make, and it determines whether our birds will be productive or not. We should never get used to the culture of feeding our chickens with anything just because it’s edible.
Recognize the fact that just like humans, chickens need nutrients, and these can only come from the foods that we provide to them. Feeds can be expensive at times, but it shouldn’t be used as an excuse for having malnourished and unproductive chickens. One strategy that I use to lower my chicken feed expenses is by combining the little chicken feed I can afford with other household foods that are significantly nutritious to the chickens, such as vegetables, fruits, and grains.
After the chicken have consumed the feeds and drank water, I give them the supplemental food. With this strategy, chickens become satisfied by eating both the feeds coupled with vegetables, fruits, and grains, thus enabling me to reduce the amount of commercial feed utilized in a day.
Alternatively, if you have a garden like mine, you can grow your cauliflower. The best thing about growing your own cauliflower is because they utilize chicken manure, so you will not incur the expenses of buying fertilizer.
If you feel this is a good idea, here are a few things to note before taking your cauliflower seeds to the garden.
- Cauliflower seeds grow in moist, fertile soil and chicken manure is the best option to consider
- Plant the seeds in a nursery and then transplant the sprouted seedlings
- Plant the seedlings 75cm centimeters apart from each other
Proper management of the supplemental feed is also important in chicken keeping. When we throw the food on the ground, chances are the chickens will step and soil it, thus leading to wastage.
The best way to serve your supplemental foods to chickens is by hanging them in a good way, slightly over the heads of the chicken in such a way that they can peck and play with the food.
This will keep them active and happy as they consume the nutritious goodies. You should see my chicken stretching their necks to peck the cauliflower heads hanging above them. When I have just a few cauliflower heads, my chicken can’t help but fight to get at least a piece of the delicacy.
I know they love the taste of cauliflower, so I never hesitate to give them an occasional treat, and trust me; they never disappoint when it comes to egg quality and quantity. We all want our chicken to be productive and healthy.
However, this goal can’t be achieved if we ignore the basic factors of nutrition. More importantly, we can’t be successful in managing our stock if all we do is give our chicken the table scraps and then set them free to run after bugs, insects, and worms.
Embrace a good feeding program that ensures delivery of a balanced diet and when you want to treat your chicken to an occasional nutritional delicacy, remember cauliflower is chicken’s favorite. However, remember that even the good treats can lead to health complications if they are consumed in excess.
We get excited when we see them running towards us at the sound of the door opening or when they spot a container containing a delicacy. Rather than overfeeding them, proceed moderately to keep the weight in control and ensure their good health.
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