- Chickens can safely eat all parts of the cabbage plant, including leaves, stalks, roots, and flowers.
- Cabbage is a nutritious treat for chickens, providing vitamins C and K, potassium, fiber, and phytonutrients.
- Feeding cabbage should be done gradually, in bite-sized pieces, and as an occasional treat to avoid digestive issues.
Cabbage is a common vegetable found in many kitchens and gardens. As a leafy green full of vitamins and minerals, it’s popular for its nutritional value. But what about feeding cabbage scraps or whole heads to backyard chickens? Is cabbage safe and healthy for chickens to eat?
Let’s explore the pros and cons of chickens eating cabbage and find out what parts of the cabbage plant are safest. We’ll also look at how much cabbage chickens can eat, which types are best, and the best ways to feed chickens cabbage.
Is Cabbage A Crunchy Chicken Treat?
Cabbage is perfectly fine for chickens to eat. All the parts of a cabbage plant, including the leaves, stalk, roots and flowers are edible for chickens. Both domesticated and wild chickens will naturally forage for and eat cabbage as part of their diet.
Cabbage provides vitamins C and K, potassium, fiber and phytonutrients. The vegetable supports antioxidant health, detoxification, heart health and immune systems in chickens. It’s also a hydrating food with high water content.
In moderation, cabbage is beneficial for chickens as a supplemental treat. It adds variety to their diet and gives them something fun to peck at.
Can Chickens Safely Eat All Parts Of The Cabbage Plant?
Chickens can eat all parts of the cabbage plant, but some parts are healthier than others. Here’s a breakdown of which parts of the cabbage plant are best for chickens:
The leaves of cabbage are the safest part for chickens to eat. Both domesticated chickens and wild fowl naturally forage on leafy greens. Cabbage leaves provide moisture along with vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Chickens can eat both raw and cooked cabbage leaves. Cooked leaves may be easier for chickens to digest. But raw leaves provide the most nutrients.
The stalks or stems of cabbages are edible for chickens but not as nutritious as the leaves. They are very fibrous.
Chicken’s digestive systems may have a hard time breaking down and absorbing nutrients from the tough stalks. It’s best to chop or shred stalks into smaller pieces for easier eating and digestion.
Cabbage roots are the least nutritious part of the plant for chickens. They lack the vitamin and mineral content of the leaves and contain less moisture.
It’s fine for chickens to eat small amounts of cabbage roots. But the roots should make up only a minimal part of their cabbage intake.
The flowers or flowering heads developing into cabbages are also edible for chickens. They contain nutrients and chickens will enjoy pecking at them.
However, it’s best to remove flowering heads to allow the cabbages to fully form. Chickens can eat the flowers as treats, but the leaves and mature heads have greater nutritional value.
Can Chickens Enjoy Cabbage Scraps As Tasty Treats?
Chickens love cabbage scraps! Raw or cooked cabbage bits and pieces make great supplemental treats for chickens.
Cabbage leaves leftover from preparing salads or slaws are perfect to toss directly into the chicken run. Chickens will excitedly peck away at the crunchy, moist scraps.
Even the small tough inner cores of cabbages that are often discarded provide chickens with something fun to pick at. Their strong beaks will break down the fibrous cores much better than human teeth.
The more cabbage scraps you can provide, the happier your chickens will be. Just avoid spoiled, moldy or rotten cabbage, and remove any large woody stems.
Which Types Of Cabbage Can Chickens Enjoy Eating?
All cabbage varieties in the Brassica family are safe for chickens to eat. The most common types of cabbage that can be fed as treats include:
- Green cabbage – Most common. Contains the most vitamins & minerals. Moderate moisture.
- Red cabbage – Has extra antioxidants. Deeper color, stronger flavor.
- Savoy cabbage – More ruffled texture. High moisture content.
- Napa cabbage – Light green, tender leaves. Sweeter flavor. Lots of moisture.
- Bok choy – Leafy greens with tender crunchy stalks. Nutrient rich.
- Brussels sprouts – Mini compact heads. Higher in nutrients than regular cabbage.
The flavor, texture and nutrition of different cabbages vary somewhat. But chickens can eat all varieties. Mixing up the types adds diversity to their diet.
What Are Safe And Healthy Ways To Feed Chickens Cabbage?
Follow these tips for safely feeding chickens cabbage:
- Introduce cabbage slowly – Start with just a few small pieces to avoid digestive upset.
- Chop or shred – Cut any large, tough leaves or stalks into smaller, bite-sized pieces for easier eating.
- Feed in moderation – Cabbage should be an occasional treat, not a daily vegetable. Too much can cause bloating.
- Mix with other foods – Combine cabbage with grains and other vegetables for balanced nutrition.
- Remove spoiled cabbage – Check for mold, slime or rotten bits and discard any that appear off. Don’t risk illness.
- Prevent choking – Chop up cabbage into small enough pieces that chickens can safely swallow without obstruction.
What Are The Best Ways To Prepare Cabbage For Chickens?
Cabbage heads don’t need much preparation before feeding to chickens. But here are some serving suggestions:
- Hang whole heads from strings in the run – Chickens will happily peck away at dangling heads. Great for enrichment.
- Put whole leaves, cores or chopped cabbage in a treat ball or toy – Keeps chickens engaged and mentally stimulated.
- Toss scraps into leaf litter – Chickens will forage and scratch through cabbage pieces hidden in bedding.
- Mix chopped cabbage into a warm mash – For winter months when something moist and nourishing is appealing.
- Stuff cabbage pieces into suet feeders – Keeps chickens busy trying to extract the tasty treats.
- Scatter small pieces around the run – This encourages natural foraging behavior rather than bowl feeding.
Are There Any Potential Downsides Of Feeding Chickens Cabbage?
Cabbage is quite safe for chickens and provides nutritional benefits. However, a few potential downsides of feeding chickens cabbage include:
- Can cause loose droppings if fed in excess. Cabbage has high water content.
- May lead to bloating or flatulence if chickens eat too much cabbage at one time. Introduce slowly.
- Raw cabbage may be hard for baby chicks to digest. Chop finely or lightly cook.
- Contains compounds that suppress thyroid function if over-consumed for extended periods. Feed cabbage in moderation.
- May contribute to off flavors in eggs if chickens eat a lot of cabbage regularly. Use cabbage as an occasional treat.
- The high fiber content can decrease absorption of calcium and other minerals if fed as a huge proportion of diet. Keep cabbage supplementary.
As long as cabbage is fed in moderation as part of a balanced diet, chickens will benefit from the added nutrition. Just be aware of potential adverse effects from overdoing cabbage. Variety and rotation in chicken diets is key.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can chickens eat cabbage scraps?
Yes, chickens can safely eat cabbage scraps. Cabbage leaves and stalks are nutritious treats that provide chickens with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Chickens enjoy both raw and cooked cabbage. Feed chickens cabbage scraps in moderation along with their regular feed.
What age can chickens eat cabbage?
Chickens of any age can eat cabbage. Baby chicks can begin eating finely chopped cabbage leaves within their first week after hatching. The cabbage provides moisture as well as nutrients. Older chicks, pullets, and mature chickens can all eat cabbage scraps and whole leaves as treats.
Can chickens eat cabbage raw?
Chickens can eat raw cabbage leaves and scraps. The raw cabbage provides moisture and crunch along with vitamins C, K, folate, and antioxidants. Feed chickens cabbage raw or lightly cooked. Avoid feeding chickens moldy, rotten, or soggy cabbage.