Pretty much every chicken keeper knows that their birds will eat all sorts of green plants and vegetables, including many of the same ones that we eat.
Some of their favorites just so happen to be salad vegetables, including all kinds of lettuce, cabbage, and more.
Today we will look at arugula, at turns loved and hated for its crisp, peppery bite. So, can chickens eat arugula, and is it safe?
Yes, chickens can eat arugula safely. Among leafy vegetables, arugula is one of the most nutritious and has abundant folate, vitamin A, vitamin K, manganese, magnesium, and calcium.
Most chickens seem to truly enjoy arugula, and if you give them a whole stalk of the stuff they will usually eat it right down to the tough parts.
But, as good as arugula is, it’s not something that chickens should be allowed to eat all the time, or eat as much as they want. I’ll tell you more about how to feed arugula to your flock below.
What Benefits Does Arugula Have for Chickens?
Arugula has so many micro and macronutrients, it might be easier just a list what it won’t do for chickens!
Jokes aside, arugula is super when it comes to improving circulatory health since it will promote the absorption of iron in the body while also supplying a considerable amount of that same mineral.
This helps chickens produce more red blood cells and oxygenate the bloodstream so it can serve all of the tissues and organs throughout the chicken’s body.
Beyond this, arugula can promote healing by speeding up blood clotting factors, bone growth, and nervous system repair.
All of the many vitamins play all sorts of roles when it comes to a good metabolism and cellular health, and the calcium present in arugula is as ever critical for a strong skeleton.
Calcium is especially vital for laying hens since they will need it to produce strong egg shells that will keep eggs viable, and also prevent accidents while they are laying.
Arugula has even more to do for chickens since it can enhance electrolyte balance and other energy production factors that will help keep chickens on the go and active.
Speaking of electrolytes, arugula is a surprisingly good choice if you want to help your flock beat heat stress during a heat wave, or just on a particularly hot day.
Considering you aren’t going to work hard at all to get your chickens to eat arugula, it is a tremendous nutritional supplement that definitely deserves a spot in their diet, and it’s made all the better considering how easy it is to grow.
Arugula Nutritional Info
A thorough analysis of the nutritional profile of arugula would be very lengthy indeed, so suffice it to say that this is one super-healthy leafy vegetable!
As mentioned above, arugula contains lots of vitamins and minerals, but also has a respectable macronutrient profile with a little bit of protein and carbohydrates.
Looking at the vitamins themselves, we see tons of vitamin K backed up by a good amount of vitamins A and C along with beta-carotene.
Looking at the B-complex vitamins, we see that most of them are present, starting off with lots of folate, and backed up by lesser amounts of thiamine, riboflavin, B6, and niacin.
The mineral content is also very good, with great amounts of calcium, magnesium, manganese, and iron. Copper and zinc are also present, along with respectable amounts of potassium and phosphorus and a little bit of sodium.
Altogether, many of these minerals play especially important roles as electrolytes for chickens, something to keep in mind when heat stress threatens!
Is Arugula Safe for Chickens Fresh?
Yes, completely, and all parts of the plant are nutritious. However, expect your chickens to only eat the leaves and the thin stalk parts since the thicker, tougher stalks are not as palatable.
Also, try to give your chickens fresh arugula if at all possible: arugula is highly nutritious, but it’s a leafy veggie that gives up most of its nutrients very quickly as soon as it is cooked.
Can You Cook Arugula to Give it To Chickens?
Yes, you can, though this is not needed and is a bad move as far as nutrition is concerned. If you serve your chickens arugula, try to make sure it is always fresh and uncooked.
Don’t cook it to get them to eat the stems only to lose out on the vitamins and minerals it would have had!
Is Arugula Still Safe for Chicks?
Yes, arugula is totally safe for chicks, though you are wise to let them grow up a little bit first before you serve it to them.
Once your chicks are around 4 weeks old they are probably big enough to try a few tiny nibbles of arugula leaves.
Do keep in mind that as good and safe as arugula is it is not nutritionally complete for chicks, and leafy veggies have a tendency to cause crop impaction issues, so keep an eye on them and only serve them the tenderest leaves. As always, if there seem to be problems stop feeding them.
How Frequently Can Arugula be Fed to Chickens?
Arugula is great for chickens but it is a supplement, not a mainstay, in their diet. Chickens should always be living on mostly chicken feed with some choice of whole foods added in.
Arugula is one of those supplemental foods that can be fed to chickens once or twice a week for best results.
Arugula is great, but it isn’t the only way your chickens should be getting all the nutrients they need. Make sure you are offering your flock a well-rounded diet with plenty of other whole foods as well.
Generally, they should be getting about 90% of their calories from chicken feed, and the remaining 10% from whole foods and treats.
What’s the Best Way to Serve Arugula to Your Flock?
The very best way to give arugula to your chickens is fresh and raw, not cooked. This will give them the most nutrients and still be easy for them to eat and digest.
You can roughly chop the leaves and stems before scattering them for them, or just hand over a whole stalk to let your birds take what they want.
Try to Only Feed Arugula to Chickens if it is Pesticide Free
One thing to keep in mind if you are buying arugula from the grocery store for your flock is that it will have likely been treated with pesticides.
Like most produce, arugula is vulnerable to pests and diseases, which is why it’s often pre-treated with these chemicals before harvest and sale.
Though supposedly safe, these chemicals are not entirely removed by washing, and they can build up in chickens’ bodies over time, causing problems.
Organic arugula will be free of these chems or at least have less of them, so if you can get it, it is a better choice for your chickens.
The best option is growing your own arugula in the garden, making sure to use only organic fertilizers and pest controls to ensure that it is safe for them.
Arugula Is Safe, But Only By Itself: No People Food!
As I mentioned above, arugula is a popular salad vegetable and a common ingredient in many dishes.
But it’s important to remember that even if arugula and other vegetables are safe for chickens by themselves, they can become dangerous when combined with certain foods.
For instance, onions, salt, sugar, dressings, oils, and the like are all really bad news for chickens and can make even healthy foods like arugula toxic.
Conditions like salt poisoning, sour crop, fatty liver disease and others can be caused by “people food” in the diet, and many of them can be fatal so make sure to keep all human food far away from your feathered friends. Arugula is safe for chickens but only if it’s served on its own!
Don’t Leave Arugula Scraps Around the Run or Coop
Arugula, like most leafy vegetables, will rot and decompose quickly, especially when left in a warm environment.
Aside from stinking up the place, these spoiled bits could get chickens sick if they come along later and start snacking on them.
So be sure to remove any uneaten arugula left in the coop or around the run as soon as possible, and only give your chickens fresh leaves and stalks. This will not only help keep the environment clean but also ensure your birds stay healthy.
Tim is a farm boy with vast experience on homesteads, and with survival and prepping. He lives a self-reliant lifestyle along with his aging mother in a quiet and very conservative little town in Ohio. He teaches folks about security, prepping and self-sufficiency not just through his witty writing, but also in person.
Find out more about Tim and the rest of the crew here.