If you’ve been keeping chickens any length of time, you probably already know that our feathered friends can eat a lot of the same vegetables that we can.
If it’s good for us, a lot of the time it will be good for our chickens. But not every vegetable is good for chickens, including a few that are quite surprising.
Let’s look at green beans, for instance… Can chickens eat green beans, and are they safe?
Yes, green beans are safe for chickens but only if they are cooked. Green beans are highly nutritious with a great assortment of vitamins and minerals, but uncooked they contain hemagglutinin, a compound that can prevent oxygenation of the blood.
I know that sounds dreadfully scary, but you don’t have to worry. Green beans are highly nutritious and a great addition to the diet of your chickens, but you must be sure that they are cooked before you hand them over.
As long as you can do that, your chickens won’t have any problems. There’s more to know, and I’ll tell you everything you need to know about feeding green beans to your flock below.
What Benefits Do Green Beans Have for Chickens?
Green beans have a wide assortment of macro and micronutrients that are beneficial for your flock.
Green beans have been proven to promote good immune system function, the production and oxygenation of red blood cells, nervous system health, vision, and organ function.
Other nutrients are critical for everything from bone growth and repair to a host of cellular operations including the regulation of metabolism.
Green beans also have compounds that are beneficial for chickens’ reproductive health and egg quality.
That is a laundry list of benefits if you ask me! I think it’s a no-brainer feeding green beans to your chickens, and definitely worth the minor trouble of cooking them beforehand.
Green Bean Nutritional Info
Green beans have an excellent lineup of vitamins and minerals, and also a respectable macronutrient profile, with a little bit of protein and carbohydrates for energy, and a tiny bit of fat.
That alone can give your chickens some energy when they need it, but the real benefits come from the micronutrients…
Starting with the vitamins, we see a great amount of vitamin K and a respectable amount of vitamin A.
Most of the B complex vitamins are here, including solid amounts of thymine, riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid.
Notably, green beans also contain a surprisingly good amount of vitamin C, but this isn’t something chickens have to have in their diet as they can make their own.
Looking at the minerals, it’s not quite as impressive as the lineup of vitamins, but still very good: lots of manganese and magnesium, iron, phosphorus and calcium, along with a little bit of zinc and potassium.
All told, you can do a whole lot worse when it comes to produce, and considering how easy it is to prepare green beans for chickens it’s a great way to improve their overall health, and round out their diet. Just make sure you cook them first, as I said!
Are Green Beans Safe for Chickens Raw?
No. Green beans aren’t safe for chickens when raw, or at least safe in any significant quantity.
This is because they contain hemagglutinin, a compound that binds to the red blood cells and then sticks them together, ultimately preventing oxygen from being taken up and carried by the cells.
It’s harmless in small amounts, but if your chickens consume too much of it, they can suffer from serious circulatory problems and potentially die.
Even if that does not happen, raw green beans have a reputation for causing some pretty gnarly stomach troubles in chickens: loose stools and diarrhea, poor digestion, the works.
Should You Cook Green Beans to Give Them to Chickens?
Yes, definitely. Cooking green beans is the only way to feed them to your flock safely over time, with no worries about the risks associated with raw beans.
The cooking process breaks down and neutralizes the hemagglutinin, which will completely eliminate the risks associated with it.
Cooking also makes it easier for chickens to digest the otherwise tough green beans, speeding up digestion, and making sure they’re getting all the nutrition they need from the beans without any issues.
Normally, raw veggies are best from a nutritional standpoint, but not these. Cooking the green beans makes them safe and helps make the nutrients more available.
Are Canned Green Beans Okay for Chickens?
Not usually, but possibly. Though canned beans are already cooked, they often come with a lot of additives and preservatives that you don’t want in your chickens’ diet.
It is possible to find canned green beans with no added anything, but this is more difficult than it sounds. Don’t give your birds any canned food that has added salt, sugar, or other ingredients!
Are Green Beans Safe for Baby Chicks?
Yes, but only if they are cooked. You will also want to wait until the chicks are at least 6 weeks old before introducing them to green beans in any form.
This is because their digestive systems haven’t had enough time to fully mature, and they usually have a harder time digesting anything other than starter feed.
After they hit 6 weeks of age, however, you can introduce cooked green beans as an occasional treat.
Also, make sure you cook them well: chicks are much more vulnerable to the effects of hemagglutinin than adult chickens, so you want to make sure the beans are fully cooked then cooled before serving.
How Frequently Can Green Beans be Fed to Chickens?
Assuming they are cooked, green beans are healthy and safe for your flock, certainly, but they are still a supplemental food that should augment, not replace, their usual diet of pellets.
When feeding green beans to your flock, the general guideline is around ¼ cup per full sized adult chicken no more than twice a week.
This will help ensure they get maximum benefit while maintaining a properly well-rounded diet. Even if the beans are cooked, they are not nutritionally complete for chickens, as good as they are.
Your flock will not prosper eating green beans as a majority part of their diet.
What’s the Best Way to Serve Green Beans to Your Flock?
There’s really only one way, and that is to cook them. Once the beans are cooked, you can serve them however you like: chopped up and mixed with other veggies, whole, or even with their feed as a little surprise.
Whichever way you decide to serve them after cooking, it’s important to make sure they’re not too hot for your birds. Let them cool down before you hand them out.
Try to Only Feed Green Beans to Chickens if they are Pesticide-Free
There’s another issue associated with green beans that is far more difficult to deal with compared to hemagglutinin: pesticides.
Pesticides are found in many commercial green beans and can be highly toxic to chickens, even if the beans are cooked.
It’s important to make sure you only feed your flock pesticide-free green beans if you have any choice, and if you aren’t growing your own or getting them from a trusted grower that means you should be buying organic.
It’s more expensive, but it’s worth the price for your chickens’ safety.
Green Beans are Safe, But Only Safe By Themselves: No People Food!
Green beans are among the most popular veggies around, and prepared in all kinds of ways with every kind of ingredient, and even used as an ingredient themselves in dishes like stews, casseroles, and salads.
But however you prefer your green beans, your chickens shouldn’t be getting any of it: things like salt, sugar, mayonnaise, bacon, oils, butter, and more are all very bad for chickens, and can cause substantial health issues on their own, cooked or not.
The only way your chickens should be getting green beans is cooked plain- no added anything!
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.