It’s kind of funny when you think about it, that most of the produce that we eat is also safe and healthy for our animals, at least usually.
Especially when it comes to green vegetables, more often than not they are good and healthy rather than harmful for livestock, especially in the case of chickens which are extreme omnivores!
But there are a few things even these hardy birds cannot eat. How about asparagus? Is it safe for chickens to eat asparagus?
Yes, asparagus is totally safe for chickens, but be warned it can negatively impact the taste of their eggs. Asparagus is loaded with vitamins and minerals that chickens need, including iron, manganese, folate, and thiamine.
So, that sounds like a lot of upside with a very significant downside. Should you give your chickens asparagus?
I say go for it if you aren’t eating their eggs, but if you are, maybe give it a second thought. In any case, you never need to worry if your chickens eat asparagus because it’s completely safe, and totally healthy for them.
I’ll tell you more about it and explain the concerns about it changing the taste of their eggs below.
What Benefits Does Asparagus Have for Chickens?
Asparagus is absolutely packed with important nutrients and a variety of vitamins and minerals that chickens need.
Adding asparagus as a supplemental item to their diet can improve circulatory function, oxygenation of the blood and the production of new red blood cells.
Asparagus also has proven benefits when it comes to the growth and repair of bones and also healthy eggshell production in laying hens.
Asparagus can’t likewise improve muscle function and help to properly regulate all sorts of cellular, immune system and metabolic functions.
Asparagus also has antioxidants that have been shown to reduce instances of disease by neutralizing free radicals in the body.
Asparagus is definitely a super nutritious vegetable, and one that is well worth including in your chickens’ diet if the aforementioned issue about their eggs is not a problem for you.
Asparagus Nutritional Info
Asparagus is so packed with various nutrients that a thorough dissertation on everything it contains would make for a very long article.
The short version is that it contains nearly every vitamin and mineral that a chicken needs to thrive, including most of the B complex vitamins, namely thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, niacin and vitamin B6 along with folate.
It also has choline, lots of vitamin K, and a good amount of vitamins E and C. And, last but not least, asparagus contains a good shot of vitamin A and beta carotene.
And that’s all before we get to the minerals, which asparagus has in no short supply: iron is abundant, along with manganese, phosphorus and zinc.
Somewhat lesser amounts of potassium, magnesium, and calcium are also present.
Is Asparagus Safe for Chickens Fresh?
Yes, it is. Asparagus is totally safe for chickens to eat fresh and raw, assuming they will eat it.
Aside from nibbling on the ends of the spears, they will usually avoid the woody parts of the stem since they can be tough and fibrous when raw.
However, raw asparagus contains the maximum amount of the nutrients and vitamins mentioned above, so if you can manage to get your chickens to eat it raw, that is the best option. Don’t worry about it if they won’t eat it: you can always cook it.
Can You Cook Asparagus to Give it To Chickens?
Yes, you can. And this is probably going to be the best way overall to feed it to them. Though cooking will somewhat decrease the amount of nutrients, it does make it more appealing to most chickens, and a bit easier for them to digest.
Just be sure to let it cool prior to serving it to them.
Be Careful: Giving Chickens Asparagus Might Make Their Eggs Taste Weird!
Okay, I trust that I’ve sold you on the notion that asparagus is indeed very healthy for chickens, but in the very next breath I caution you that you might not want to feed it to your chickens.
As mentioned, this is because asparagus can potentially change the taste of your chicken’s eggs, and not for the better!
While this isn’t precisely certain or understood scientifically, all signs seem to point to some compound in the asparagus affecting the formation of the egg, its yolk, and albumin.
Folks who feed asparagus to their laying hens typically report that the eggs have an off-putting or sulfurous taste that is reminiscent of asparagus itself. Not great if you want to enjoy a couple of yolks sunny side up with your toast!
But, aside from the taste this does not negatively impact the quality or safety of the eggs. I want to make that clear: the overall quality and health of the egg is actually improved by asparagus, but the flavor is negatively impacted.
Whether this is a big deal or not for you likely depends entirely on whether or not you are raising your chickens for eggs.
Is Asparagus Still Safe for Chicks?
Yes, nominally safe, but most chicks struggle to eat it unless it is diced very fine. It’s just too tough for them until they grow up.
Speaking of growing up, I recommend letting your chicks reach at least 6 weeks of age before feeding them any asparagus.
Their stomachs are very sensitive when they are little, and it isn’t out of the question that they could suffer some digestive upset if they consume asparagus while their gut bacteria is still immature.
How Frequently Can Asparagus be Fed to Chickens?
As good as asparagus is for your flock, it is only a supplement to their usual feed, not a replacement and it should not be a majority component of their diet.
Asparagus should be considered an occasional item on the menu, so I recommend only feeding it to them once or twice a week max, and even then in small amounts compared to their other foods.
What’s the Best Way to Serve Asparagus to Your Flock?
You have two options: cooked, and raw.
If going for the former, boiling or steaming is usually best, and I prefer steaming since it keeps the overall moisture level a bit lower.
Cook, then chop up the asparagus into small pieces for best results. If you want to try feeding it to your flock raw, then cut the spears into small lengths, no longer than 3-4” or just give them the heads.
Like I said above, only strong or determined chickens are likely to make a meal of raw asparagus since it is so tough.
Try to Only Feed Asparagus to Chickens if it is Pesticide Free
Asparagus, like all of our store-bought produce these days, is constantly sprayed with chemicals and pesticides.
While these do wash off to an extent, there is still a residue left on the vegetables when you buy them. These residues can build up over time, and cause serious health problems down the road.
Therefore always go for the organic versions of asparagus whenever possible (if you aren’t growing it yourself) to ensure that your chickens are not consuming any unwanted toxins. Asparagus Is Safe, But Only Safe By Itself: No People Food!
Love it or hate it, asparagus is popular enough that it is used in all kinds of dishes, and dressed up with cheese and all sorts of other condiments, sauces and seasonings.
While this can make asparagus tolerable or even delicious for humans, none of these other ingredients are things chickens should have.
Things like butter, cheese, salt and any artificial ingredients are all bad news for your flock’s health. Stick with the basics: feed your birds plain asparagus only!
Don’t Leave Asparagus Scraps Around the Run or Coop
When your flock has had their fill of asparagus, clean up any stalks and other bits left behind. If you don’t, the plant will start to decay and, boy, will it stink…
This is not going to do you any favors, and even worse, if it starts to rot your chickens that take another nibble could get sick. You don’t want that, so do take the time to clean up after them.
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.