One of my favorite things about owning chickens is seeing how they react to new foods. People get tired of eating the same thing day in and day out, and you better believe that our chickens do too.
Spicing up their menu with novel proteins or fresh fruits and veggies is a great way to enhance their nutrition, and also give them a break from the mundane.
Vegetables especially can be great for chickens since they eat a lot of plant matter, but not all vegetables are safe. How about celery? Is celery safe for chickens?
Yes, celery is safe for chickens. Celery has a nice assortment of vitamins and minerals, and it can help them stay hydrated, but it’s so stringy that most chickens don’t like it.
You can try to give your chickens celery but be prepared for them to turn it down. There is just something about it that most chickens seem to shun.
Maybe it is that indefinable quality the celery has, being watery and stringy. Whatever the case, if your chickens will eat celery, you can definitely feed it to them without fear.
I’ll tell you more about giving it to your chickens, and ways to increase the chances that they will eat it below.
What Benefits Does Celery Have for Chickens?
Celery is usually thought of as anti-nutritious in a strange way: the legend goes that it takes more calories to eat celery than you actually get from the celery itself, and so it won’t really give you any benefit.
I can clear this up and say that that is just an urban legend. Celery can benefit you, and it can also benefit our chickens.
This is because celery has a decent assortment of vitamins and minerals that can promote proper cellular function, a healthy metabolism, and boosted immune system response.
Celery also contains a few unique antioxidants they can help protect the chickens from various diseases and also stop free radical formation in the body.
Not bad at all for a vegetable that most people would pass on! The only trick is getting your chickens to eat it, but more on that in just a bit.
Celery Nutritional Info
Breaking down the actual nutritional content of celery, we find that it is a surprisingly good source of various vitamins and minerals.
Much to the contrary of what its detractors might have you believe, huh?
Looking at the vitamins first, we see that celery contains a little bit of everything, and a lot of a few things.
All of the B complex vitamins are present with the exception of B12, and we even get some folate in the bargain. Choline is present along with vitamin E and a really stupendous amount of vitamin K.
There’s a lot to like when assessing the mineral content also, with lots of potassium and sodium that can help keep chickens hydrated in conjunction with the water content present in celery, magnesium, iron, copper, calcium and zinc. Manganese is the only major mineral that is missing.
Celery is no mere garnish, that is for sure, and is one of the healthiest vegetables around for you and for chickens.
Is Celery Safe for Chickens when Fresh?
Yes, it sure is. As a matter of fact, fresh celery should be preferred over other preparations since it will contain the most possible vitamins and minerals.
The bad part about fresh celery is that a bunch of chickens don’t seem to like it, at least in my experience. But, there are ways to make it more appealing which we will discuss in a little while.
If your chickens will eat fresh, raw celery, count yourself lucky and let them have it.
Are Celery Leaves Safe for Chickens?
Yes, celery leaves are safe for chickens, and they actually have quite a bit of vitamins and minerals themselves, and in different proportions than the stalks.
The leaves are also much more tender and palatable to chickens when raw, so you can probably count on your birds eating them as-is.
Are Celery Bulbs Safe for Chickens?
Yes, but it is highly unlikely they will eat them raw. If you grow your own celery or buy kinds that have a large, onion-like root (actually a structure called a hypocotyl) you can chop it up and see if your chickens will eat it.
Often it is much too dense and tough for them, though, so you will likely have to cook it in order to soften it.
Can You Cook Celery to Give it To Chickens?
Yes, you can, and you might need to. Cooking is, however, a trade-off: on the one hand, it will make the celery, all parts of it, tender and more palatable to your birds.
This means they are likely to eat it! But the downside is that cooking will severely reduce the vitamins and minerals.
Is cooking worth it? That’s up to you, but if you do decide to cook it, you’ll need to prepare it properly. More on that below.
Is Celery Still Safe for Chicks?
Only for older chicks. Celery, though healthy and safe, is too stringy for chicks to eat while they are young.
Compared to adult chickens, baby chicks are far more likely to choke on their food, and celery is a major offender in this case. Even if they don’t choke, they will still be at greater risk of crop impaction.
If you still want to let chicks try celery, wait until they are at least 4 weeks old and chop the celery into tiny, tiny bits.
And keep an eye on them! If they get into trouble the only thing that will save them is you coming to the rescue!
How Frequently Can Celery be Fed to Chickens?
Celery is definitely a healthy addition to your chickens’ menu assuming they will eat it, but it should never be the main course.
If they will eat it, they will get plenty of vitamins and minerals from it eating it only once or twice a week in moderation.
What’s the Best Way to Serve Celery to Your Flock?
Now we get to the “fun” part: actually getting your chickens to eat celery! It can be quite a challenge, but there are some tricks you can use.
First of all, try slicing it or chopping it into small pieces. This will make it much easier for them to eat and by design manage the length of those weird threads in the celery that seem to trouble the birds.
Another good trick is to chop it then mix it in with other veggies or even their dry feed. The trick here is that they will become used to the celery with repeated feedings and eventually they may even consume it on its own.
Hey, sometimes you have to “hide the medicine,” you know?
Finally, there’s always cooking. Celery is a good candidate for stewing or roasting with other veggies, and you can give them the nutritious broth it produces afterwards.
You can also try a puree, or mash it into a soft paste and mix it with their feed as described above.
Try to Only Feed Celery to Chickens if it is Pesticide-Free
Modern produce is highly problematic when it comes to pesticide contamination. Celery is one of the worst offenders, simply because it has high water content, and therefore a tendency to absorb sprayed chemicals.
To be safe, you should always feed your flock pesticide-free organic celery if you don’t grow it yourself.
This it may cost more but if you can afford it, it will give you peace of mind that your chickens don’t consume potentially harmful chemicals.
Celery Is Safe, But Only Safe By Itself: No People Food!
Celery, whether you like it or not, is an ingredient in all kinds of recipes. Cooked, it is surprisingly tasty and versatile.
However, that does not mean you can feed your chickens any food you make with it.
Chickens should never consume anything that contains added sugar, salt, oils and fats, or artificial colors and flavors. All the stuff we eat on the regular could prove to be dangerous or even deadly for your flock.
I understand you might want to spice up the celery for them, but you can’t do it like that: fresh or plain cooked celery only!
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.