When it comes to vegetables, broccoli is a powerhouse that can’t be ignored. It’s also extremely popular around the world…
Since our chickens can eat many of the same vegetables that we can, it is worth investigating if broccoli is a safe and worthwhile addition to their diet.
But we’ve got to be sure that it won’t hurt them. Is it safe for chickens to eat broccoli?
Yes, broccoli is safe for chickens to eat. Broccoli is packed with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, E and K, along with potassium, calcium and phosphorus.
This is good to know because broccoli is a terrific supplement to the usual diet of chickens, and it has many health benefits when fed to them regularly as a part of a balanced food plan.
But as good as broccoli is, you can’t give it to them all the time, and chickens shouldn’t be allowed to eat as much as they want. I’ll tell you more on the topic just below, so keep reading.
What Benefits Does Broccoli Have for Chickens?
Broccoli has many and varied benefits for chickens. It is a known immune system booster, and it has lots of antioxidants, specifically carotenoids, which can help fight off diseases, and prevent cellular degradation.
The minerals found in broccoli help with everything from:
- growth of muscles and bones to the repair of injuries,
- promoting egg laying and improving eggshell health,
- maintenance of the nervous system and the production of feathers,
- particularly when a chicken is first starting to feather out.
Broccoli is also excellent for a chicken’s digestive system, and will promote regular, solid stools along with a better absorption of nutrients.
Plus, most chickens really seem to enjoy the stuff, especially the soft florets on broccoli crowns. This can make it a great snack to reward your chickens with or just a great supplemental menu item as usual.
Broccoli Nutritional Info
Broccoli has one of the very best reputations as a health food for a good reason. It is much, much shorter to list what nutrients it doesn’t have as opposed to the ones it does!
First and foremost, broccoli contains a stellar lineup of vitamins, with beta-carotene and lutein zeaxanthin both being present along with vitamin A, plenty of thiamine and riboflavin, a little bit of niacin, lots of pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, folate, choline, vitamin E, and tons of vitamin K.
Broccoli also contains puns of vitamin c, although this is less important (though not wasted) on chickens since they can make their own vitamin C inside their body.
Whew! That’s a lot of vitamins! What does the mineral content look like? Although not as spectacular as the lineup of vitamins, it is hardly less impressive: you’ll find lots of manganese, potassium, magnesium and iron on with plenty of calcium and zinc.
Also, broccoli curiously contains a fair bit of sodium although this will not be a problem for chickens if you feed it to them according to the schedule I’ll recommend later.
Make no mistake about it; broccoli is one of the original superfoods, and one that your flock will surely benefit from!
Is Broccoli Safe for Chickens When Raw?
Yes, completely. Raw is also the best way to serve broccoli up to the flock since it will maintain the best possible nutritional profile.
Cooking it will reduce the amount of vitamins and minerals in this cruciferous veggie. On the other hand, cooking might make it more appetizing to some chickens…
Are Broccoli Stalks Safe for Chickens?
Yes, though many chickens won’t mess with the tough, woody stalks at all. If you have larger, stronger chickens that like it, let them go to town with no worries.
If you want to try and get your reluctant birds to eat it, consider cooking it thoroughly and then chopping it up into small pieces; smaller chickens will struggle to peck bites out of it otherwise.
Are Broccoli Florets Safe for Chickens?
Yes, and these tiny buds are the choicest bits for your chickens. They are softer and tastier to them, and highly nutritious, making them more likely to be eaten by the whole flock.
Can You Cook Broccoli to Give it To Chickens?
Yes, you sure can. Even though it will reduce the nutritional value as mentioned above, it will be more palatable to many chickens, particularly those who aren’t enthusiastic eaters of tougher stuff.
If you do cook your broccoli, just remember not to give it with any seasoning or sauces that could harm your birds, and let it cool to a safe temperature before you give it to them.
I will tell you more about proper broccoli prep, cooked or not, in just a few minutes.
Is Broccoli Still Safe for Chicks?
Broccoli is safe for chicks as with adults, but with a few caveats.
First, make sure you cut it into small enough pieces that they won’t choke on it. Tiny florets that they can nibble on are ideal.
Second, cooked broccoli will be easier for them to eat if they are still very small.
Finally, consider allowing the chicks to reach at least 4 weeks of age before introducing them to broccoli or any other veggie.
Though broccoli is an incredibly nutritious food, chicks are very delicate, vulnerable creatures and they will do best on a diet of starter feed alone much of the time.
Once they mature just a little, though, you can start giving them some choice, tiny portions of novel foods to see if they like them.
How Frequently Can Broccoli Be Fed to Chickens?
You may think that broccoli, being the nutritional powerhouse that it is, is a great food to give your chickens every day. This is not the case!
Your chickens should be eating mostly chicken feed, and even super healthy produce like broccoli here should only be a small part of their diet from week to week.
Feed broccoli to your chickens once or twice per week, at most, as a part of a well rounded diet.
What’s the Best Way to Serve Broccoli to Your Flock?
Since broccoli is so loved by chickens and so versatile, you have several options for giving it to your chickens.
One of the best and easiest ways is to serve it raw. You can chop whole stalks into small pieces, or cut off the florets and serve them alone, and then just let your chickens go wild on it.
One fun thing I like to do for mine sometimes is to hang whole stalks upside down with twine at about eye level for the chickens and let them peck the buds off of the head. This can entertain them while they are eating.
If your birds seem uninterested in the raw stuff, you can also cook broccoli if you want to make it more appealing.
I prefer boiling or steaming, but you can cook it however you like. Just remember to let it cool down and also remember to avoid seasoning sauces that could harm your chickens.
Try to Only Feed Broccoli to Chickens if It Is Pesticide-free
Sad to say, but broccoli is one of the most heavily pesticide sprayed crops being grown today.
This means that any broccoli you buy from the store should be organic, or you should find a local grower who does not use pesticides on their crops if you don’t grow your own.
Though some of these chemicals will wash off in water, residual amounts are still likely to build up in, and harm your chickens over time. Be sure to source your broccoli with care for your flock’s sake.
Broccoli Is Safe, But Only By Itself: No People Food!
Some folks love broccoli, and some folks hate it. For those that hate it, it can be made tastier by combining it with other ingredients, like cheese, spices, seasonings, or sauces.
No matter how tasty this combo might be for you, it’s absolutely not safe to feed your chickens any kind of people food.
All the flavors and seasonings that we enjoy can poison your flock, so just stick to simple broccoli only when feeding them anything from your dinner table.
If you don’t want your chickens to have heart issues, high blood pressure, sour crop, or salt poisoning, stick to fresh and plain broccoli only.
Don’t Leave Broccoli Scraps Around the Run or Coop
One last tip from me: if you feed your chickens broccoli, clean up after them. Not only will rotting broccoli reek to high heaven, but the stench will draw in the locals.
The locals, of course, being pests and predators that might come for the broccoli, but stay for the chicken dinner!
So, while broccoli is a nutritious and tasty treat for your chickens, always clean up immediately after they have eaten.
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.