Look, Brussel sprouts DO get a bad wrap, and they aren’t everybody’s favorite vegetable. But, as we know chickens aren’t fussy – so it’s not like they are going to complain.
But, as chicken owners, it’s our responsibility to be sure our chooks are getting a balanced, and nutrient-rich diet, and are only eating food that actually benefits them. After all, what goes into their diet comes out in their eggs, right?
So, if you couldn’t quite finish your Brussel sprouts on your plate and you’re considering letting your chickens have a go at them, then we are here to help!
Here we go through if chickens can eat Brussel sprouts, from raw to cooked, what health benefits Brussel sprouts actually have for chickens, and how you can best serve it to your flock!
Can Chickens Eat Brussel Sprouts?
Despite their appearance and their long history of being hated by children, Brussel sprouts are actually incredibly nutritious.
Brussel sprouts come from the family Brassicaceae, similar to cabbage, but Brussel sprouts of course are much smaller and are often eaten when they are still young buds.
This family of plants is non-toxic to chickens, unlike some others such as Nightshade, which is why you have to be careful feeding parts of eggplant to chickens.
So, we’ve established that Brussel sprouts are both rich in nutrients, and also non-toxic to chickens, but will chickens actually eat them?
Well, knowing chickens you might have guessed it, but yes, chickens can and will eat Brussel sprouts, and they are highly beneficial to your chicken’s diet.
Chickens aren’t fussy, and if they are served in small pieces then chickens will eat raw and cooked Brussel sprouts, including all their leaves and even their stalks.
Can Chickens Eat Raw Brussel Sprouts
If you’ve felt a raw brussel sprout you’ll know it’s not the softest vegetable, so you might be thinking that it’s simply too tough for your chickens to eat.
Well, you may be underestimating them, as chickens will in fact eat raw Brussel sprouts. Sure, it won’t be the easiest treat for them, but it will give them a bit of activity, as it takes some effort for them to peck it and rip it apart.
After they rip off all the outer leaves of the sprout and consume them, you may be left with small ‘bulbs’, but this is absolutely fine as your chickens have still consumed enough to get the desired nutrients from the vegetable.
Plus, it’s often the case where raw vegetables contain more nutrients than cooked ones, simply because over the cooking process, a lot of moisture is drawn out, including some nutrients.
The same can be said with Brussel sprouts, so serving it raw to your chickens will give them the full-whack of nutrition.
Can Chickens Eat Cooked Brussel Sprouts
If your kids won’t eat your cooked Brussel sprouts, then your chooks will!
Hah- but really, chickens can eat cooked Brussel sprouts. In fact, because they are much softer your chickens will find things a little bit easier to pick apart and eat.
Just be aware though, if you’re feeding your chickens cooked Brussel sprouts, make sure all the other ingredients you have cooked them with are also safe for chickens.
For example, you may have roasted your Brussel sprouts in the oven, with sauces or other condiments. Chickens won’t do good with too much sugar, salt, or fats, so be sure what you are feeding your chickens is actually safe.
Can Chickens Eat Frozen Brussel Sprouts
Because Brussel sprouts are normally flash-frozen, much of their nutritional content is kept whilst they remain frozen.
Frozen Brussel sprouts are difficult for your chickens to eat, and they visually have trouble getting any leaves off until they’ve defrosted a bit. But, especially in those warm summer months, giving your chickens frozen Brussel sprouts can help keep them cool if your chickens are too hot.
So the bottom line is, frozen Brussel sprouts aren’t as nutrient-dense as their fresh counterparts and your chickens will have a bit more trouble eating them until they’ve defrosted a bit, but they are still completely safe and OK to feed to your chickens.
Can Chickens Eat Brussel Sprout Stalks?
Though brussel sprout stalks are completely safe for chickens to eat, if they are raw then they are often much too tough for your chickens to peck through.
However, there’s no real use in cooking the stalks first anyway, unless it’s specifically for your chickens to eat. Even then, there are much more beneficial nutrients from the actual vegetable itself.
Nonetheless, if you grow your own Brussel sprouts and you see your chickens getting close then it’s good to know that chickens can eat brussel sprout stalks and they are completely safe.
Nutritional Benefit Of Brussel Sprouts For Chickens
Brussel sprouts are jam-packed with nutrients that are highly beneficial for a chicken’s health and wellbeing. So, they are the perfect treat or temporary supplement on top of a chicken’s normal healthy diet.
The main nutritional benefits are:
Low Calorie Content
Let’s be quite clear. Chickens need calories, after all, it’s literally just a measurement for the energy contained within food.
But, the reason it’s a benefit for foods such as Brussel sprouts, is that chickens can consume a good portion of it and receive its health benefits, without getting “full” and going without their normal formulated feed.
This is important so that your chicken is always consuming enough of its crucial requirements in its diet, such as protein content, calcium for a laying hen, and other macro and micronutrients.
High In Fiber
A normal chicken diet of a layer pellet mix or layer seed mix is often quite high in protein, carbohydrates, and fats. But, there is no excess amounts of fiber which is important to keep a chicken’s digestive system on track.
Luckily there’s no shortage of fiber in Brussel sprouts. Even a small amount can bolster a chicken’s digestion, promoting good bacteria and reducing ammonia. This helps the coop and nesting boxes stay fresher and will have fewer foul odors, particularly if you are using absorb bedding like pine needles or hemp bedding.
High In Vitamin A & Vitamin K
You don’t need to be an expert on health to know just how important vitamins are. Particularly if you’re a chicken owner and have experienced your chooks or baby chicks have certain vitamin deficiencies.
From Vitamin B-12 preventing proper joint growth in the feet, knees, and hips, to overall vitamin deficiencies impacting overall health and wellbeing.
So, it’s great to know that Brussel sprouts have an excess of Vitamin A & Vitamin K, for overall organ function, immunity, and reproduction.
Other Important Minerals
Brussel sprouts also contain several other important minerals and compounds which help with a variety of chicken health benefits such as immunity, growth, and healthy egg-laying. These are things such as containing many antioxidants, folate, Vitamin C, and Manganese.
How To Serve Brussel Sprouts To Your Chickens
Whether you’re making use of the excess Brussel sprouts that grow in your garden or giving your little feathery friends some leftovers, there are plenty of ways you can incorporate Brussel sprouts into your chicken’s diets.
That being said, each method to serve them comes with its own benefits.
As A Treat For Chickens
The simplest way to serve Brussel sprouts to your flock is simply to feed it to your chickens raw or cooked, whole or chopped up.
Cutting Brussel sprouts vertically into halves or quarters tears apart the tight leaves which make up the bulb, and provide an easy bite for your chickens.
But, feeding it whole will encourage more activity, and your chickens will have to work to rip small pieces off.
Both ways are equally fine, and it’s perfectly healthy to feed your chickens Brussel sprouts a few times a week in normal amounts.
It’s important to note that not all your chickens will be keen on Brussel sprouts, but you’ll learn which of your chickens can’t get enough of them either!
Within A Fruit & Vegetable Mix
Serving a fruit and vegetable mix to your chickens once a week is an easy way to ensure they are receiving a wide variety of nutrients and minerals, for overall health and wellbeing.
Try preparing vegetables like parsnip, snap peas, or broccoli, as they are all known to be superfoods for chickens.
Choose fruits that aren’t overly sugary or citrusy. Chickens can eat mango, strawberries, melon, etc.
Feel free to throw in some super seeds, like chia seeds or safflower seeds for example, or foods like quinoa or grits.
Hanging Or Placing Brussel Sprouts
Hanging Brussel sprouts on a string, or tying them up to the side of the coop will turn an everyday treat into an activity for your chickens. This promotes movement, which helps if your chicken is overweight.
Simply hang a few Brussel sprouts from the top of the run and watch your chickens reach up, or jump and peck at them for food.
If you can’t hang it from the ceiling, try tying it to the side of the coop. It will last all day tied up before starting to go bad, but at this time you should definitely take it down to discourage other animals from getting curious. This works for many other vegetables too, including when feeding bok choy to your chickens.
So chickens can and will eat Brussel sprouts. I mean, I would be surprised if they didn’t since they eat practically everything else, from creepy crawlies to rocks, dirt, etc.
But, it’s good to know that Brussel sprouts are completely safe for chickens to eat, and they actually pack a whole heap of benefits that a laying hen can use in their busy schedules of laying and foraging.
All parts of the Brussel sprout are safe from the stem to the leaves. Although chickens will find cooked Brussel sprouts easier to eat, they can consume raw or frozen Brussel sprout too!
Because of its low calorie but high nutrient content, chickens can eat Brussel sprouts regularly, so long as it doesn’t prevent them from eating their normal formulated feed as their main daily intake.