It seems like Cauliflower is EVERYWHERE these days, from riced cauliflower and cauliflower pizza, to good old steamed cauliflower.
With all of these different options, you’re bound to end up with at least a LITTLE left over once in awhile, which made me wonder…can chickens eat cauliflower?
As it turns out, like many cruciferous vegetables, Chickens CAN eat cauliflower as a part of a most balanced diet. However, while it’s a vegetable rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals that are crucial for the health and wellbeing of your chickens, it should not be given as a diet staple, but rather as a supplement or occasional treat.
Can Chickens Eat Every Part of Cauliflower?
If you’ve ever seen cauliflower in it’s “natural form”, you know it’s a tough plant to get into.
From the leaves that surround it, to the tough stems, you might be wondering which parts of the plant are edible by your feathered friends.
Can Chickens Eat Whole Cauliflower?
Some foods are best to chop up fine for your hens to eat. And then others need no prep at all, and cauliflower is one of them. You could give your hens a whole cauliflower, and they will have no problems pecking off small pieces.
That is a part of the fun for them.
Believe it or not, most chickens like to work for their food. It’s excellent mental stimulation, problem-solving, and downright tasty. So, giving them a chunk of cauliflower will keep them busy for a while.
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Can You Feed Chickens Cauliflower Stems and Leaves?
Cauliflower grows in small florets surrounded by large leaves. These leaves resemble cabbage, and most people don’t eat it. If you grow your own cauliflower, you might see these leaves as a waste come harvest time. But you don’t have to toss those pieces or put them into the compost. Instead, chop them up and give them to your hens. They love the change of texture and taste.
However, you can eat these leaves too. Many people love to make cauliflower greens by steaming or boiling the leaves with a bit of seasoning. If you have never tried it, it is delicious. Inevitably, you might have leftovers of this as well.
Just like with the leaves, your flock will have no trouble eating the stems. While this is the part of cauliflower most often ignored by us “picky humans”, your chickens will absolutely love if you give them the cauliflower stems as a treat (and it’s a great way to avoid throwing good food away!).
Do Chickens Eat Raw Cauliflower?
Can chickens eat cauliflower? You bet they can! Now we can talk about their favorite way to prep it. Your chickens will love raw cauliflower more than anything else. Raw vegetables are often the healthiest way to feed them since they are the most nutritious. Cooking often destroys the essential nutrients inside the vegetable, so providing raw will give them the most intake.
Many chicken owners like to hang cauliflower and cabbage heads onto ropes as chicken entertainment. The raw vegetables are cooling in the summer months and cure winter boredom. There is never a wrong time to give cauliflower as a snack.
Will Chickens Eat Cooked Cauliflower?
While raw vegetables have more vitamins, your chickens will eat cooked cauliflower all the same. So if you have a few leftovers, go ahead and toss them in a salad. As long as the cauliflower isn’t seasoned and not spoiled, your chickens won’t mind. Plus, it’s an excellent way to prevent waste and fill your hen’s bellies.
How Often Can Chickens Eat Cauliflower?
We all worry about keeping our hens on a balanced diet. So the question isn’t just can backyard chickens eat cauliflower, but how much. The answer to this relies solely on what you feed your hens already.
90% of your hen’s dietary nutrition comes from their feed and foraging. Anything more than that is considered a treat, including fresh fruits and vegetables that are still healthy. Treats in your flock’s diet should never be more than 10% of what they eat in a given day. That means you could give your hens a variety of snacks throughout the week in moderation.
Many people like to switch up what types of treats they feed for variety. If you follow this method, you could give cauliflower to your chickens at most twice a week. Cauliflower is just low enough in calories and fats that you won’t have to worry about it becoming your chicken’s only dietary source. But anything over twice a week could upset their stomachs just a tad.
Is Cauliflower Good For Chickens?
Your chickens would love you if you gave them a cauliflower snack. It can’t be a chicken’s main diet. But since cauliflower is packed with nutrients and low calories, your chickens can eat it without compromising their nutritional balance. Let’s take a look at why this vegetable is a superfood for your flock.
We don’t have to tell you that chickens need calcium. They need it for bone development as they grow. And once your pullets become laying age, they need it for healthy eggs.
However, it doesn’t stop there. Hens that don’t get enough calcium are also prone to egg binding, bone density problems, and beak issues.
While cauliflower isn’t high in calcium, it does have enough for a boost. It makes it the perfect treat that contributes to good eggs. But it doesn’t stop there. Keep reading for more great vitamins found in cauliflower.
Folic acid is a must for any laying hen. It helps with keeping the reproductive system strong and eggs healthy. If you breed your hens, it’s also essential to keep the growing chicks viable.
But folic acid is good for other things too. Folates are also crucial for red blood cell formulation. With healthy blood cells, your chickens will regulate body temperature and keep the oxygen flowing well. Are you looking for another vegetable high in folates? Check out lettuce for a pleasant surprise!
Speaking of maintaining good blood, cauliflower also has plenty of iron. Many laying hens are prone to developing anemia. To combat this, your layer feed always has all of the iron your hens need. But it doesn’t hurt to give them an occasional treat with iron in it. You just want to be sure that you aren’t giving too many of these treats.
When it comes to vitamin absorption, you often need other vitamins to help. Magnesium is one of those minerals that you need to make vitamin D useful. And all animals need vitamin D3 to absorb calcium. Magnesium helps this by turning vitamin D into a form that the body can metabolize. If your chickens don’t have enough of it, they will soon become calcium deficient.
And it doesn’t stop there. The same rules apply if you want good strong eggs. If you are ever worried about your chicken’s calcium intake, you should give them a nice cauliflower treat. It has calcium in it, but it also has other nutrients that make them strong.
You might not know it, but calcium alone isn’t enough to make bones strong. Phosphorus is just as important as calcium in creating strong bones and eggshells. And cauliflower has a lot of phosphorus. You might even consider cauliflower a superfood since it contains everything your chickens need for solid eggs. This might be why so many people have jumped onto the cauliflower bandwagon.
Another reason cauliflower is so amazing is that it contains potassium. Potassium is the perfect mineral to prevent dehydration, keep your hens cool, and support muscle health. So in the hottest summers, give your hens a few cauliflower treats. It will be refreshing and help them retain the water they need to keep their body temperatures low. These cauliflower treats are handy for overweight or larger chicken breeds.
Can you feed chicken cauliflower? We don’t know why you aren’t doing it already, especially since it’s high in vitamin B6. Foraging hens consume a lot of protein. Some of their favorite meals consist of spiders, beetles, worms, and even slugs. These foods might not look very appetizing, but they are high in protein, which your hens need to keep them full and healthy. But eating all of the protein in the world means nothing if you don’t have vitamin B6.
B6 is vital to our hens because it helps them process and break down all of this protein. Without enough vitamin B6, our bodies can’t absorb and metabolize protein. Most chicken feed has enough B6 for your flock, and no extra supplementation is needed. But the occasional treat high in vitamin B6 makes you feel good knowing that you are giving them a healthy snack.
A lot of the vitamins and supplements that we take also have the same benefits for our hens. Vitamin C is perfect for boosting the immune system and curing depression. So it’s no surprise that your chickens will need the same thing.
Giving fruits and veggies high in vitamin C can boost their immunities high enough to stave off disease. And you can feed it to sick chickens to provide them with a boost when they aren’t feeling well. Vitamin C is also great to use during the winter when your chickens aren’t getting enough exercise and sunlight to cure seasonal depression. Not to mention foods high in vitamin C are also usually fun to eat.
And the last reason your chickens should eat more cauliflower is vitamin K. Chickens inevitably get hurt and bleed at some point. Vitamin K helps wounds heal and blood clot. Without it, we would all bleed continuously after a small cut. And for a little extra vitamin K, add a few Brussel sprouts for good measure. You can’t ever have enough!
So, Can Chickens Eat Cauliflower?
Indeed, they can! You don’t want them to go full-on Keto like you. But they can surely benefit from your diet. With new textures, smells, and entertainment, they might decide it’s their favorite snack.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Backyard Chicken Board!!