Waste not, want not. That’s why we believe in sharing as much with our flock as possible. Leftovers, kitchen scraps, and even produce from the garden all go to our chickens as well. But not everything is safe for our hens. And other things need special precautions to make them safe. Today, we are going to ask, can chickens eat spinach? And is spinach nutritionally ok for them?
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Can Chickens Eat Spinach?
In short, yes! Spinach is a nutrient-rich snack for chickens. It can have a lot of benefits such as:
Potassium is excellent for several things. For instance, potassium can help in hydration to keep your hens from dehydrating in the summer months. It also improves kidney function and relieves sore muscles. While most chickens get their daily potassium intake from feed, it is also a healthy snack.
Everyone needs a little magnesium in their lives, and luckily spinach has it. Magnesium builds strong bones in growing pullets. It also helps your cells become more efficient at metabolizing energy found in food. Adding a bit of spinach can help your flock absorb daily nutrients better.
Vitamin B6 and B9
Both of these vitamins are essential for your chickens to break down amino acids. Why is this breakdown so crucial, you may ask? Well, amino acids are the components that create protein. If your hens have been foraging bugs all day, they have consumed a large amount of protein. They need these vitamins to help break the bugs down and metabolize them efficiently.
Vitamin B9 is also another name for folic acid. Laying hens need lots of folic acids to create healthy eggs. And if your hens are breeding, folic acid is even more essential to develop viable eggs. So spinach is excellent for all walks of life.
Vitamin E is one of those supplements that people consider to be a cure-all. You might not buy into the hype, but vitamin E aids the body a lot. One thing that vitamin E does is help the body fight off disease. Some studies found that chickens given higher amounts of vitamin E recovered faster than others. In these same studies, they also found that vitamin E helps chickens defend themselves against diseases like E. coli.
Your chicken also needs vitamin E for cell growth and reproduction. And while most chicken feeds have plenty of vitamin E added, it doesn’t hurt to give them an extra boost now and then. So is spinach ok for chickens? We sure think so. They will appreciate the snack, and you will benefit from the rewards.
Everyone loves the dark orange found in home-raised chickens. They give you a sense of pride with how deep and flavorful they are. But if you are having a hard time getting your eggs the desired color, you might want to consider feeding spinach. We know what your thinking. How is this even possible?
Well, spinach is high in carotenoids that are proven to make the yolks orange. In fact, lots of dark leafy greens are high in carotenoids. So can chickens eat spinach and kale? And what about other leafy greens? Can chickens eat spinach and arugula? Of course!
Go ahead and make your chickens a unique salad of all their favorites. You can also find carotenoids mangos, zucchini, broccoli, and corn, to name a few. So if you want that dark orange egg, add a few of these foods to your chicken’s diet.
Spinach is also high in another important nutrient, vitamin C. Vitamin C can boost your chicken’s immunities. It is also known to relieve stress in chickens. Giving a bit of spinach to your flock during illness could help them calm down enough to boost their immunities. Once they do this, your chickens will recover in no time.
Can chickens eat spinach? Well, if you are worried about calcium absorption, then spinach is perfect for them. Spinach is incredibly rich in vitamin K. The reason this is important because vitamin K binds calcium to the bones and other muscles. So your flock will always have the best eggshells and never suffer from egg binding.
Animals everywhere need iron for healthy blood and oxygen levels. Without it, our chickens can become anemic. To combat anemia in laying hens, the chicken feed has an added dose of iron. But it doesn’t hurt to give your hens an occasional iron-rich treat.
And finally, we all know how necessary adequate amounts of calcium are for our laying hens. When you give your hens a spinach treat, you can also feel good about contributing to their daily calcium intake. With all of this calcium, your hens will never have problems with laying eggs. And you’ll never know the fear of soft shell eggs.
How Much Spinach Should I Feed?
Now that you know that spinach is a safe and healthy treat for your hens let’s talk about frequency. This is where things get a little tricky with spinach treats. Spinach is packed with great vitamins and nutrients, but it also contains oxalic acid.
Oxalic acid is a nasty mineral that can block calcium absorption if in too high amounts. So, for this reason, you will find all over the internet that you should only feed spinach every few weeks. But this is only half of the truth.
Yes, plain raw spinach is indeed high in oxalic acid. And if you feed this several times a week, it will cause a calcium disruption. However, there is a way to combat this. Apple cider vinegar is a popular water additive for flock owners. There are plenty of great benefits of using it, and one of the best is that it helps raise the ph of stomach acid. Higher stomach acid ph could lead to better absorption of nutrients. So if you feed spinach tossed in ACV, it will reduce the effects of oxalates.
Another way to reduce these effects is to boil the spinach first. In studies, boiling spinach was the most efficient at ridding oxalates from spinach than baking and steaming. So you can feed cooked spinach without too much worry about calcium levels.
But this doesn’t answer how often you can feed spinach to your flock. And the answer here is that there is no magic number. While you can decrease the leaves’ oxalic acids, there is always a chance of nutrient depletion. To be safe, we wouldn’t recommend feeding spinach more than once a week.
Can Chickens Eat Baby Spinach?
So we’ve been talking a lot about spinach, but what about baby spinach? Are there any real differences between the two? Luckily, both baby spinach and regular spinach are perfectly healthy for chickens. They pack the same vitamins and nutrients in their green leaves. The only difference is that baby spinach is harvest before it fully grows.
Can Chickens Eat All Parts Of Spinach?
If you feed fresh spinach, you might have some concerns about which parts they can eat. Can chickens eat spinach stems and stalks? For the most part, your flock should be capable of digesting these pieces. Especially since this is an occasional treat, your girls shouldn’t have a problem eating it.
In some cases, if your chickens are already having gizzard problems, the stems could cause a problem. Sometimes these long fibrous pieces can get stuck in the crop and prompt sour crop. So if your hens are having problems, it’s best not to give them the stems.
Can You Plant Spinach In The Garden?
We love our gardens and don’t usually mind if our hens pick around them. But you do have to be cautious of what produce you grow. You should keep some plants locked away from your birds for their safety. But most are fine and provide a great treat.
Can chickens eat spinach plants? If you have spinach in your garden, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Chickens are surprisingly intuitive about what foods their bodies need. It is rare that a chicken would eat food that would cause them harm. So go ahead and plant some spinach in your garden.
If you see that your hens want to eat your spinach plants too much, you might want to block it. Covering it in chicken wire is a cheap and easy way of stopping your hens from foods they shouldn’t eat.
How To Tell If Your Chickens Have Had Too Much?
Feeding spinach to your flocks comes with a risk of calcium deficiency. So it’s good to know what the signs are before it sets in. The most common symptoms of calcium deficiency are:
- Weak and thin eggshells
- Eggs with no shells
- Hens with swollen joints
- Stiff legs
- And paralysis or death
Keeping an eye on all of these things will let you know when a problem arises. And don’t forget always to have oyster shells available to prevent any further issues.
Our Last Words
Can chickens eat spinach? Yes, they can. So treat your flock to a fun salad that is not only yummy but nutritious. No matter if it’s spinach from your garden, the store, or leftovers, your hens will love it.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Backyard Chicken Board!!