- Avoid feeding rhubarb leaves to chickens, as they are highly toxic and can be fatal if consumed in large quantities.
- Chickens can eat parts rhubarb of, but it should be done in moderation and prepared properly.
- Baby chicks under 16 weeks old should not be fed raw rhubarb or leaves due to their immature digestive systems.
Rhubarb is a common perennial garden plant grown for its tart, edible stalks. Its large leaves and pretty pinkish-red stalks make it a staple in many home gardens.
But is it safe for chickens to eat? Let’s take an in-depth look at whether chickens can eat rhubarb and how to feed it to them safely.
Can You Feed Raw Rhubarb To Chickens?
Raw rhubarb stalks contain oxalic acid, which is toxic to chickens in large quantities. Oxalic acid binds with calcium, preventing chickens from absorbing this essential mineral.
Luckily, chickens can tolerate small amounts of raw rhubarb stalks. The oxalic acid concentration is lower in the stalks compared to the leaves.
Feed chickens raw rhubarb stalks in moderation as an occasional treat. Limit intake to a few bite-sized pieces per chicken 2-3 times a week at most. Too much raw rhubarb can cause health problems over time.
Can Chickens Eat Cooked Rhubarb?
Cooking rhubarb helps remove some of the oxalic acid, making it safer for chickens. You can boil, bake, or roast rhubarb stalks to feed to your flock.
Cooked rhubarb stalks can be fed to chickens more generously than raw. Give chickens a few cooked stalks 2-3 times per week as a healthy treat.
Just be sure to cool the rhubarb to a safe temperature before feeding it to avoid burning your chickens’ beaks and mouths.
Can Chickens Eat Rhubarb Flowers?
The pretty pinkish-red flowers of rhubarb plants are safe for chickens to eat. Rhubarb flowers contain much lower levels of oxalic acid compared to the stalks and leaves.
Feel free to toss some rhubarb flowers into your chickens’ run as edible entertainment. The bright blossoms will attract your chickens’ attention and provide a healthy, natural snack.
Rhubarb flowers can be fed fresh or dried. Dried flowers can be mixed into chicken feed for variety.
Can Chickens Eat Rhubarb Stalks?
As mentioned above, rhubarb stalks are safe for chickens to eat in moderation. The stalks contain less oxalic acid than the leaves, so they can be fed to chickens in small amounts.
Chop raw stalks into bite-sized pieces and limit intake to a few pieces per chicken 2-3 times per week. For a safer option, cook stalks before feeding.
Avoid letting chickens gorge on large quantities of rhubarb stalks, as the oxalic acid can be detrimental to their health over time.
Can Chickens Eat Rhubarb Leaves?
Rhubarb leaves contain high concentrations of oxalic acid and should not be fed to chickens. The leaves are highly toxic and can be fatal if eaten in large quantities.
Even small amounts of rhubarb leaves can cause kidney damage and other health issues in chickens over time. It’s best to keep chickens away from rhubarb leaves entirely.
If chickens happen to take a nibble, promptly remove any remaining leaves from their run. Avoid composting rhubarb leaves or placing them in the chicken run, as chickens may be tempted to eat them.
Can Chickens Eat Cooked Rhubarb?
Yes, cooking rhubarb makes it safer for chickens to eat by reducing the oxalic acid content. You can boil, roast, or bake rhubarb stalks and feed them to chickens once cooled.
Cooked rhubarb can be fed more generously than raw since the oxalic acid has been diminished. Give chickens a few cooked stalk pieces 2-3 times per week for a healthy, tasty treat.
Just remember to cool cooked rhubarb to a safe temperature before feeding to prevent burning your flock. Warm, not hot.
Can Chickens Eat Rhubarb Seeds?
Rhubarb stalks sometimes contain small seeds, which chickens can safely eat. The seeds do not contain high levels of oxalic acid like the leaves.
You can chop up stalks with seeds and feed them to your flock. The seeds provide added protein, fiber, and nutrients.
However, avoid letting chickens eat large quantities of rhubarb seeds, as they may cause crop impaction. For safety, limit intake to a few seeds per chicken per feeding.
Can Chickens Eat Rhubarb Pie?
While rhubarb pie may sound tempting to chickens, it’s best not to share this dessert with your flock. The high sugar content can cause digestive upset.
Even though cooked rhubarb is fine, the added ingredients like sugar, flour, and butter make rhubarb pie inappropriate as chicken feed.
For chickens’ health, avoid sharing sweets like pie, cookies, and cakes even if rhubarb is one of the ingredients. Stick to cooked rhubarb stalks only to be safe.
How Much Rhubarb Can I Feed My Chickens?
When feeding rhubarb, moderation is key. Here are some general guidelines for how much rhubarb chickens can eat safely:
- Raw Rhubarb Stalks: A few bite-sized pieces 2-3 times per week at most
- Cooked Rhubarb Stalks: 1-2 whole stalks, 2-3 times per week
- Rhubarb Leaves: None, avoid entirely
- Rhubarb Flowers: Unlimited
- Rhubarb Seeds: Just a few seeds per chicken each time
Start slowly when introducing rhubarb to observe your chickens’ reaction. Reduce the amount if any chickens show signs of digestive upset.
How Do You Feed Rhubarb to Chickens?
Here are some tips for safely feeding rhubarb to chickens:
- Chop raw stalks into bite-sized pieces to prevent choking
- Cook stalks by boiling, baking, or roasting before feeding
- Cool cooked rhubarb to a safe temperature before feeding
- Introduce raw and cooked rhubarb slowly and in moderation
- Mix dried rhubarb flowers into feed for variety
- Prevent access to toxic leaves, choose leafless stalks when possible
- Remove any uneaten rhubarb promptly to prevent spoiled leftovers
Following these guidelines will allow your chickens to enjoy rhubarb as an occasional treat without risking their health and safety.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can chickens eat Rhubarb?
Chickens can eat the stalks of rhubarb but should not eat the leaves, which contain oxalic acid and are poisonous to chickens.
Why is rhubarb poisonous to chickens?
The leaves of rhubarb contain high levels of oxalic acid, which is toxic to chickens. Oxalic acid binds with calcium, causing a calcium deficiency which can lead to weak bones, eggshell issues, and even death in severe cases.
What to do if chickens eat rhubarb?
If chickens eat rhubarb leaves, monitor them closely for signs of oxalate poisoning including lethargy, decreased appetite, weakness, and soft or misshapen eggs. Provide extra calcium supplements and remove any remaining rhubarb leaves they could access. Call a vet if symptoms persist or worsen.
How much rhubarb can chickens eat?
Chickens can eat 1-2 stalks of rhubarb 2-3 times per week. Introduce it slowly and avoid feeding rhubarb daily or in large amounts as excess oxalates could still cause problems.
What part of rhubarb can chickens eat?
Chickens can safely eat the stalks of rhubarb in moderation. The leaves contain too much oxalic acid and should always be removed and kept away from chickens entirely. Only the red and green colored stalks are edible for chickens.