I have a small garden that is full of kale plants. Yesterday, my backyard chickens wandered into it and ate all their leaves. At that point, I wondered if too much kale is dangerous to chickens and was worried it may affect them. After thorough research on chickens and kale, we collected some facts.
Chickens can eat kale because it is low in calories while rich in vitamins. Kale will also provide them with natural potassium and calcium, which helps in a chicken’s bone development. Laying hens should also eat kale to boost their ability to lay quality eggs.
However, feeding your chickens low quantities of kale leaves after their main meal is important. The main reason is that kale is not rich in carbohydrates; thus, it does not give your chickens enough energy. Therefore, it should not be the main meal and should only be given to them as a supplement snack.
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Benefits of kale for chickens
Kale is good for chickens because it contains several vitamins, including A, C, K, and B6. It is also rich in Potassium, Manganese, Calcium, and copper, among others. Naturally, all those vitamins are vital for healthy chicken growth.
Kale is important for chickens with broken beaks because it helps hydrate them when they cannot drink water. There is 9.4 g of water in every 10.5 grams of kale, enough to rehydrate chickens.
We prepared a table that illustrates how important each of those elements found in kale will benefit your flock.
|Vitamins in Kale||Benefits to Chickens|
|Vitamin K||Aids in fast blood clots if the chickens are injured. This speeds up the healing process of any wound on a chicken’s body.|
|Manganese||Important in boosting the chickens’ general immune and disease resistance|
|Vitamin A||It improves the chicken’s eyesight and ability to heal from the infection. This can potentially help their eyesight even as they age.|
|Vitamin C||It helps chickens to heal fast in case they are hurt. It also increases their ability to resist diseases.|
|Potassium||It provides your birds with a healthy blood flow and reduces heart infections in chickens.|
|Calcium||It helps in improving the strength of an eggshell for laying hens. Calcium also provides chickens with healthy bones and fast growth.|
|Fiber||This helps in protecting your flock from constipation. The fiber in kale increases bowel flow, and this will also prevent chicken stomach pains.|
|Antioxidants||It helps the chickens to manage any skin problems. Antioxidants also improve their feathers’ growth. If the chickens have inflammation, antioxidants can help them in natural management.|
How to give kale leaves to chickens
Before they take it, always wash the leaves with clean water. Washing helps eliminate dangerous pesticides sprayed on the leaves to keep pests away as they grow in the garden. Secondly, There is no need to cut the leaves into pieces as the chickens can always pick or peck the leaves.
Simply clean the leaves and place them in their feeding spots. Alternatively, you may cut, slice, or chop the leaves into pieces and feed them. Cutting the leaves into small pieces, in most cases, encourages them to eat since they will be more curious. The leaves are more interesting and attractive to them when cut compared to whole ones.
Ensuring chickens have had their usual meal before letting them have kale is also important. You don’t want them to overeat the kale just because they are hungry. Too much kale on an empty stomach can cause stomach upsets in chickens. The birds might end up with diarrhea or even possibly mild bloating.
The best way to know how much kale your chickens can have is to compare it with the percentage for their daily nutritional meals. For example, it is okay to let them have 5-10 percent of their main feed after every 2 days.
Note that the amounts can be increased, but you have to lower the number of times they will have it in a week. If you give them 15-20%, let them eat it once or twice weekly.
Can chickens eat cooked kale?
Chickens can eat cooked kale, but this is not commended because many of its natural nutrients, which they can get directly, are lost. Steaming and cooking dissolve and reduce the number of vitamins in natural green leaves. Naturally, chickens can digest and extract vitamins from raw kale leaves, and cooking is not really necessary.
However, this does not mean that it can harm them. In fact, cooking can make kale soft for baby chickens. The stems and leaves can sometimes be too tough for the young, and a little cooking can help them cut and eat without any difficulties.
Here is how to cook kales for chickens:
Use the following simple steps to prepare some kale leaves and stems for your chickens:
- Prepare 10 kale leaves for every 5 adult chickens and 1 leaf for every 10 baby chicks
- Wash them well and chop them into pieces
- Deep them in a small cooking vessel and add 2-4 cups
- Steam them under low heat for 10-15 minutes till they are soft
- Let them cool before serving them to the flock
Chickens will never eat anything too hot or steamy because it can burn them. Once they come close and sense the heat, they will avoid it. Some may not even come back even after it is cool. Therefore, you must let the kale completely cool before feeding them.
Kale is also rich in water that your chickens need for daily activities. Hydrated chickens can resist a lot of infections. During the hot seasons, chickens may need water at night. They will sleep well at night if there is enough water in their body.
Additionally, kale will provide chickens with all those nutrients, but it will not make them gain weight because it is low in fats. You can also boil beans for chickens and throw in some kale leaves to spice things up.