Ok, let’s discuss the question: can chickens eat kale? Yes! Your chickens can enjoy eating kale, just like other food. Kale is packed with essential nutrients that your chickens need to stay healthy. So, feeding them this green vegetable is the best idea you can possibly implement on your farm.
Chickens can have different types of foods. From vegetables to fruits and grains to table scraps, these birds enjoy a variety of foods. That is why it is easy to raise them in your backyard. As a chicken owner, I save some money by feeding my flock a few treats from my kitchen or leftovers. They seem to like what I give them so much that they tend to ignore their staple food. And one of their favorite treats is kale. Let’s find out why they crave this green, leafy vegetable this much.
Kale is considered to be a superfood that you can easily grow in your garden or buy from the grocery. This tasty vegetable boasts dense nutrient content besides its ability to treat numerous chronic diseases. Most importantly, it can thrive in almost all climatic conditions, including bitter winters. That explains why kale remains one of the most abundant vegetables in most parts of the world.
Many different types of kale exist today. Most of them are available in a wide range of colors. Some are green, while others are red. A few of them have distinctive shapes and different appearances. Regardless of these differences, kale remains one of the most nutritious vegetables that you can feed your flock.
What are the Different Types of Kale?
As a superfood, kale comes in many forms, sizes, and colors, as mentioned above. Due to these differences, kale is classified into several categories.
Below are different popular varieties of kale:
Red Russian Kale: The Red Russian Kale is characterized by flat, reddish leaves and slightly purplish tinge at the stems. Many people consider it to be one of the tastiest kales available today. Although it has a mild peppery flavor, this kale variety is just right for your chickens. Before feeding them make sure to remove stems because they are tough, fibrous, and woody.
Dinosaur Kale: This type of kale has a bluish-green appearance with long, slightly wrinkled leaves. In addition, it comes with a firm texture that generally maintains its structure even after cooking. Dinosaur kale is on the sweeter side of this type of vegetable.
Curly Kale: It comes in purple or green color and is slightly wavy and curly in appearance, hence the name. Sometimes its leaves can be tough and extremely difficult to chop. But when fresh, you can easily tear it into small pieces. Curly kale is known for its pungent flavor with a mild peppery bitterness. Despite all that, this type of kale is less bitter than others.
Redbor Kale: It is a beautiful red kale variety with several wavy fringes towards the end of its leaves. These waves make it look like cresting waves when you observe it closely. Redbor is one of the most beautiful types of vegetables available, and it looks stunning in your garden or when cooked.
Why Should You Feed Kale to Your Chickens?
Kale is both good for you and your feathered friends. Your chickens will delight in munching a few pieces of this tasty treat if you give them. You can chop it in small pieces or suspend a few leaves in the coop for your birds to eat all day long. Apart from that, your chickens will enjoy pecking at these leaves to keep themselves busy, especially in winter.
Here are the nutritional benefits of feeding your chickens kales?
Kale is one of the most popular and nutrient-dense vegetables on the planet. It belongs to a cruciferous group of vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and collard greens.
A single cup of uncooked kale contains the following nutrients:
- Vitamin A: 205 % of the daily value (DV)
- Vitamin C: 135% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 8% of the DV
- Manganese: 35% of the DV
- Copper:11% of the DV
- Vitamin K:685 % of the DV
- Potassium: 10% of the DV
- Magnesium: 7% of the DV
Kale also contains more than 3% of DV for vitamin B1, B3, B3, phosphorus, and iron. On top of that, this vegetable has a total of 33 calories, 4 grams of proteins, and 6 grams of carbohydrates.
Kale has a minimal amount of fat, unlike other treats. This fat is mainly omega-3 fatty acid, commonly known as alpha-linolenic acid. Providing your chickens substantial amounts of kale is one way of dramatically increasing their total nutrient content in their diet.
Health Benefits of Kale
1. Kale is Rich in Antioxidants
Kale, just like other leafy vegetables, contains high amounts of antioxidants. They include vitamin C and beta-carotene, not to mention polyphenols and flavonoids.
As you may know, antioxidants are compounds that help the body counteract oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Oxidative damage is one of the leading causes of aging and several health complications.
Antioxidants are quite helpful when they get into the body. These substances have many vital functions that promote not only your health but also for your chickens.
Examples of helpful antioxidants found in kale include kaempferol and flavonoid quercetin. They have the ability to protect the heart, lower blood pressure, act as anti-inflammatory agents, among other uses.
2. Kale is a Great Source of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant that plays a significant role in the body cells. For instance, it is one of the necessary substances that promote collagen synthesis in the body.
Kale contains large quantities of vitamin C, which is 4.5 times as much as that found in spinach. The truth of the matter is that kale is one of the best sources of vitamin C globally. No wonder it has more vitamin C than an orange fruit.
3. Kale May Lower Cholesterol
Kale can lower the buildup of cholesterol in the body, which in turn reduces the risk of heart disease. On the contrary, cholesterol takes part in the formation of bile acids, which help the body to digest fat. The liver transforms cholesterol into bile acid. This acid is then released into the chicken’s digestive system to digest fatty foods.
The fat is absorbed back into the bloodstream until when the body needs it for digestion. Substances known as bile acid sequestrants bind bile acids in the gut to prevent reabsorption. As a result, the amount of cholesterol is reduced drastically in the body.
Since kale contains a lot of bile acid sequestrants, it can help lower cholesterol levels in the body. This action might reduce the risk of heart diseases in the future.
4. Kale is one of the Best Sources of Vitamin K
Vitamin K is as vital to your birds as other well-known nutrients. It is useful in blood clotting as it activates certain types of proteins to bind calcium.
This helps speed up blood clotting just in case of an injury. So, you can help your chickens enjoy this great benefit of vitamin K by feeding them kale sparingly.
5. Kale Contains Many Useful Minerals For Your Chickens
Kale has plenty of minerals that your chickens need for their well-being. In fact, this is a great plant-based source of minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and many more.
Calcium is essential in maintaining bone health, and it plays a crucial role in cellular functions. Magnesium is incredibly useful in protecting the body against certain chronic diseases.
Potassium helps maintain electrical gradients within the body’s cells. Intake of more potassium can help reduce the risk of heart disease. This means that when your chickens eat kale they will reap more health benefits from this vegetable.
How To Prepare Kale for Your Chickens
Before feeding kale to your birds, you must wash them well to remove dirt and any traces of pesticides. Then chop them into small pieces to help your birds eat them without straining much.
On the other hand, you can simply suspend a handful of kale leaves in the run or coop for your chickens to peck at. This option not only keeps them satisfied but less bored during the day when they are not free-ranging.
Are there risks of feeding kale to my chickens? There are no direct health risks of giving your chickens kale to eat. However, kale can be a source of contaminants and harmful chemicals like pesticides, which may harm your birds if they ingest them. You can prevent such cases by washing kales thoroughly before feeding your flock.
Can I give my chickens cooked kale? You may give your birds cooked kale, although they will not get most of the nutrients mentioned above. Cooking kale destroys some nutrients leaving only a few.
Kale is loaded with many useful nutrients for your chickens. Some of the most common nutrients found in this green, leafy vegetable include vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, and vitamin A. Minerals include calcium, potassium, magnesium, and many more. All these nutrients help your chickens to stay healthy and become more productive. Additionally, kale is safe for your flock to enjoy, and you can give them in moderation alongside their usual feed.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Chicken Board!!