New and veteran owners of chicken flock need to consider the diet of their chickens. Chickens eat a variety of food apart from the type of feed they are currently taking. I always consider a variety of healthy natural additions to my flock’s diet. You need additions that boost their health, if possible, save on cost, or treat them. Some of the appropriate diet additions include fruits, table scraps, grains, and vegetables like kale.
Chicken can eat kale. It is one of the most nutrient-dense, healthy, and affordable additions to their diet. Kale is easy to grow in your backyard garden and can thrive in any weather. It has been used in human diets since 600 B.C., which is over 2,000 years ago. You can easily prepare kale for your chicken by hanging the leaves in the coop or chopping them.
You need to know the different types of kales, how to prepare the kale, why you should give your chicken kale, the health benefits of kale, and common concerns on feeding your chicken kale.
How Safe Is It to Feed Your Chicken Kale?
Kale is perfectly safe for your chicken. It does not pose any health risks to your chicken. However, it may contain dirt and some pesticides, so I always make sure I wash it before I feed the chicken.
Pesticides may be unsafe for your chicken because their goal is to kill bugs and insects. Some pesticides may make your chicken sick, and others may pose more severe conditions. To avoid risks associated with pesticides, you can either wash the kale or buy organic kale. Alternatively, you can grow the kale yourself to ensure it is entirely organic and safe.
What Are the Different Types of Kale?
I have come across various types of kale, depending on color, size, and form. Originally, I thought there was only one type of kale, the green ones. The different kinds of kale include:
1. Curly Kale
Curly kale has a curly and wavy appearance. It is easy to chop small pieces of curly kale when it is fresh. The leaves will get tough with time and make it harder to chop. Curly kale has a mild peppery bitterness and a savory flavor. However, it is still less bitter than other types of kale.
2. Dinosaur Kale
Dinosaur kale is usually bluish-green. Its leaves are long and slightly wrinkled. Dinosaur kales have a firm texture, which they maintain even when you cook them. It is one of the sweetest types of kales.
3. Red Russian Kale
The Red Russian Kale is a vegetable with purplish stems, flat and reddish leaves. Many people think the Red Russian Kale is one of the tastiest kales available. It has a mild peppery flavor, but your chickens will love it. However, the Red Russian Kale stems are fibrous, tough, and woody, not ideal for the chicken. Remove them before you feed the chicken.
4. Redbor Kale
Redbor Kale is a beautiful vegetable both in your garden and on your plate. It has a beautiful red color and wavy fringes similar to cresting waves towards the leaves’ edge.
What Is the Nutritional Profile of Kale?
A cup (21g) of kale has a high nutritional profile. The nutritional profile of kale consists of:
What Are the Health Benefits of Kale to Your Chicken?
Kale is a very healthy addition to your chicken’s diet. It offers a variety of nutrients for your chicken. Moreover, it has low amounts of carbohydrates, calories, and fat. Thus, there are no issues of weight gain or any other health issues associated with diet additions.
The health benefits of kale include:
1. High Levels of Antioxidants
Leafy vegetables like kale usually have high amounts of antioxidants. Some of these antioxidants include vitamin c, flavonoids, polyphenols, and beta-carotene. Free radicals in an animal’s body cause oxidative damage, which causes aging and some health complications. Antioxidants help to combat oxidative damage both in chicken and humans.
Kales have antioxidants like flavonoids and kaempferol, which help lower blood pressure, protect the heart, and act as anti-inflammatory agents.
2. It Helps to Lower Cholesterol
High cholesterol increases the risks of heart disease. Kale reduces the level of cholesterol. On the other hand, cholesterol helps to make bile acids, which help to digest fats. The transformation of cholesterol to bile acid takes place in the liver. The acid then gets into the chicken’s digestive system to break down the fat.
Your body will then absorb the digested cholesterol back into your bloodstream to use later for digestion. However, it does not reabsorb the bile acid back because of bile acid sequestrants. These sequestrants minimize the reabsorption of cholesterol as well.
Kale helps to reduce the levels of cholesterol because it contains high amounts of bile acid sequestrants.
3. Kale Is Rich in Vitamin C
Kale is one of the best vitamin c sources in the whole world. It has more vitamin c than orange fruits. Moreover, it has 4.5 times more vitamin c than spinach. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that is soluble in water and is very useful to your blood cells. For example, Vitamin C is necessary for collagen synthesis in your body.
4. High Amounts of Vitamin K
Vitamin K is a beneficial nutrient to your chicken flock and yourself. It activates the proteins necessary to bind calcium and speeds up the process of blood clotting. A blood clot is essential in the quick recovery of injuries. Kale is rich in Vitamin K, and sparing amounts on your chicken flock can present the desired benefits.
5. Kale Has Many Minerals Useful to Your Chickens’ Health
Kale has a lot of minerals that boost the well being of your chicken. Some of the minerals present in kale include calcium, potassium, magnesium, and more. Magnesium helps to protect the body against chronic diseases. Calcium helps with cellular functions and bone health.
Potassium helps to minimize the risk of heart disease and maintain body cells electrical gradient.
How Much Kale Does Your Chicken Need?
Kale is good for your chicken, but you should use it sparingly. Ideally, you should feed kale to your chicken 2-4 times a week. Regulating the kale consumptions ensures the chicken get more nutritional variety, not becoming too fond of kale or rejecting it altogether.
It would be best to use a variety of protein sources, fruits, and vegetables to give your optimal chicken health. Furthermore, ensure that the chicken has a regular feed diet before you introduce kale and other treats. The standard feed should depend on your chicken’s age, activity level, and weight. In case you let your chicken out, you can use treats like kale to encourage them to get back in their pen.
How Do You Feed Kale to Your Chicken?
The first step is to wash the kale to remove dirt and traces of pesticides. One way to feed kale to your chicken is to chop the leaves into pieces and feed them directly or mix with other vegetables and treats.
Furthermore, you can serve the chicken cooked or raw kales. However, cooking will make the kale lose many nutrients. Additionally, instead of chopping, you can rip the leaves into pieces with your hands.
The last alternative is to suspend the kale leaves in the chicken coop. They will peck at the leaves for hours. It not only feeds them but minimizes the boredom, mostly if they never leave the coop.
What Other Vegetables Can You Feed Your Chicken?
Chicken eat almost every vegetable. Moreover, they take it in any form, such as food scrap from your plate or raw. You can acquire vegetables for your chicken from your garden, the supermarket, farmer’s market, or the greengrocer’s.
Some of the vegetable chicken eat include:
- Sliced cucumbers
- Bok choy
- Cooked turnip
- potatoes( peeled or cooked)
- Corn on the cob
- Butternut squash
- Beet greens
- Swiss chard
- And more
What Foods Should You Avoid Feeding Your Chicken?
You may enjoy giving treats to your chicken and get carried away. However, not all treats are healthy or safe for your chicken. Some of the food you should avoid includes:
- Avocados as they have a toxin deadly to a chicken called persin in their skins, pits, and flesh
- Green tinged potato peels have solanine, which is another toxin.
- Citrus fruits
- High-fat foods
- High salt foods
- Heavily processed foods like pizza, cake, and other pastries
- Under-cooked or dried beans have a toxin known as Hema gluten, which is harmful to birds
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can I Feed My Chicken Cooked Kale?
Yes. However, cooked kale has fewer nutrients as compared to raw kale. Cooking destroys most of the nutrients in raw kale.
2. What Risks Do My Chicken Face If I Feed Them, Kale?
Kale does not pose any immediate health risk to your chicken. However, it may contain harmful chemicals and contaminants like pesticides. You can eliminate these risks if you thoroughly wash your kale.
3. How Often Should I Feed My Chicken Kale?
Kale is simply a treat and not the primary diet for your chicken. Thus, it would help if you fed them kale between 2 to 4 times a week.
4. How Do I Prepare the Kale for My Chicken?
The first thing I always do is to wash the kale to remove dirt and potential pesticides. I then chop the kales and mix them with other vegetables and treats. Alternatively, you can hang the kale in your chicken coop, which keeps them busy.
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