Do you like cilantro? Either you do, and quite a bit, or you absolutely detest it…It seems there is no in-between, and a significant portion of the population has a legitimate genetic hatred of the stuff.
Really! Some people swear up and down it tastes just like a bar of soap.
I’ll tell you one thing though, chickens don’t hate it. Quite the opposite, they seem to love the stuff! But considering how contentious it is, should we let our chickens eat cilantro? Is it even safe for chickens to eat cilantro?
Yes, it is completely safe for chickens to eat cilantro, as it is packed with essential nutrients that can help them stay healthy, along with proven germ-fighting properties.
I don’t want to get into a brawl over cilantro being on any food or not: I’m just here to tell you that cilantro is a tremendous nutritional supplement for your chickens, one that you won’t have to work at getting them to eat.
If you’ve been thinking about rounding out the diet of your chickens with more whole foods, cilantro is a great one, and one that is easy for you to grow yourself. I have a lot more information for you below.
What Benefits Does Cilantro Have for Chickens?
I’m happy to report that cilantro is borderline miraculous for chickens:
- It improves all facets of circulatory health, from the production of red blood cells to the oxygenation of blood;
- It helps to stabilize a healthy metabolic rate; it can improve the condition and healing of a chicken’s skin;
- It improves a wide variety of cellular processes and organ function;
- It can even increase the rate of feathering when a chicken is molting or, if they have lost feathers, in a fight or due to predator attack.
But even more than that, cilantro promotes skeletal health by increasing growth and healing rate and it is also a massive benefit for laying hands since it greatly increases eggshell density and promotes proper formation.
This can mean more and higher quality eggs, of course, but can also help save hens from distress by reducing the likelihood that an egg will break during laying or that she will become egg-bound.
Truly, pretty amazing stuff!
Cilantro Can Help Eliminate Harmful Gut Bacteria!
But that’s not all, and here’s the really awesome thing about cilantro: it has been shown in multiple scientific studies to eliminate and reduce the profusion of harmful microorganisms living in the gut of your chicken.
And it does it without killing off the helpful! It is genuinely hard to wrap your mind around, but it’s true.
This is a major benefit for all chickens, young and old, male or female, because it will improve digestive health all around, both by reducing the likelihood of illness and also by increasing the efficiency of nutrient absorption.
Cilantro Nutritional Info
You know cilantro is going to be jam-packed with vitamins and minerals if it offers all of the health benefits described above, and that is a correct assumption!
Even though we think of it as a garnish or accent for our dishes, cilantro has a shocking amount of minerals, with lots of manganese, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, and zinc.
The vitamin content is nothing to write off, either, with every B vitamin being present except before, tons of vitamin K, vitamin A, folate, and beta-carotene.
Cilantro also has a great amount of vitamin C, and though not truly wasted on chickens this is less important for them compared to mammals because chickens can make their own vitamin C internally.
All in all, cilantro gets an A+ for its nutritional profile!
Is Cilantro Safe for Chickens Raw?
Yes, completely. Aside from being ready to serve to chickens just as it is, fresh cilantro offers the most benefits since it will retain all of its nutrients; cilantro is tasty cooked, but it loses both vitamins and minerals during cooking.
Can You Cook Cilantro to Give it To Chickens?
You can, although there is truly no reason to do so: chickens will eat it raw all day long, and cooking will only reduce the nutrient levels as mentioned just above.
Is Dried Cilantro Safe for Chickens?
Yes. But, much like cooked cilantro, dried cilantro also loses out on lots of good nutrients.
It is totally safe for your chickens if you want to sprinkle it over their food or mix it into something else, but you will not get all of the same benefits as with fresh cilantro.
Is Cilantro Still Safe for Chicks, Too?
Yes, with the only recommendation being to let them get a tad older before letting them try it for the first time. Once they’re 6 weeks old, let them at it!
How Frequently Can Cilantro be Fed to Chickens?
A few times a week, in small amounts. Cilantro is super healthy for chickens, and they really do love the stuff, but they can’t live on it.
Use cilantro as a supplemental item to an otherwise complete diet of feed that is rounded out by some choice whole food inclusions and some free-ranging.
Provide them a complete diet, and then use cilantro to give it that extra something special. Your flock will love you for it, and you won’t regret it when you see what it can do for their overall health.
What’s the Best Way to Serve Cilantro to Your Flock?
In my experience, there is only one way that is even required, and that is live and fresh.
Whether you toss them the whole stalk or cut it down into smaller stems you can scatter is mostly dependent on the size and eating habits of the flock. But either way, you are good to go.
Try to Only Feed Cilantro to Chickens if it is Pesticide Free
Cilantro is a popular “live herb” sold at grocery stores and nurseries, and this makes it very convenient to get.
However, these small plants are always heavily treated with pesticide unless you seek out an organic variety, and even then there is no guarantee.
So, because of this, it’s best to either grow your own or get some from a friend, neighbor or other seller that doesn’t use pesticides – and get it from one you trust!
Even trace pesticide residues have a tendency to build up inside a chicken’s body, and that can be dangerous in time. Avoid the store- and nursery-bought plants because of this.
Cilantro Is Safe, But Only By Itself
I really shouldn’t have to go into this, but after what I’ve seen, it is for the best. Don’t give your chickens any human food that is prepared with cilantro. Just don’t.
Yes, cilantro is great for chickens, but the salt, sugar, oil, butter and all that is typical of our food will mess them up.
Why do I bring this up? I was visiting a good friend one time, and he kept a bunch of chickens as a sort of large “hobby” flock.
We went out to eat at a Mexican joint and when we returned to his place he tossed half a burrito to the chickens and let them dig in.
Yep; seasoned beef, rice, beans, cheese, salsa and, of course, cilantro. His reasoning? Everything in there was okay for the chickens. All I could think about was the likely salt poisoning those birds would face.
Don’t be like my pal: Stick to the fresh stuff, and only that.
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.