I’ve never seen a fruit cause such a divided opinion as okra – you either love it or you hate it!
Let’s be honest, chickens are usually pretty open to foods. But, I’ve found they seem to share the same mixed opinion about okra. Some chickens love it, some chickens avoid it entirely.
If you’ve got yourself some spare okra you may be thinking: can chickens eat okra?
If you grow it yourself you may have even seen some of your chickens going at your okra plant, leaves and all!
Here’s whether chickens can eat okra, if they can eat the pods, skin, seeds, and plant, and what the health benefits really are.
Can Chickens Eat Okra?
Okra, or “lady fingers”, depending on where you’re from, is an incredibly versatile fruit. Have it crisp and juicy, or have it rich and creamy, raw or cooked.
I’ve found that some of my chickens seem to be fussy when it comes to okra. But, most of my flock literally go wild and devour the whole fruit, from the seed inside to the skin around it.
So, not only CAN chickens eat okra, but most of your flock will absolutely love it!
The other good news? The health benefits of okra also extend to chickens too. Okra is also completely non-toxic, and your chickens can enjoy every single part of it. Plus their digestive tracts will be thanking you too.
Although okra has a compound in it called solanine, which is known to be toxic to chickens, it’s in such a small dose they would have to go through pounds and pounds of okra to get any negative effects.
Overall, chickens can eat okra, and it’s considered healthy for chickens. Add it to your repertoire of healthy table scraps and treats for chickens!
Can Chicken Eat Okra Pods?
The pod of the okra is the external casing holding the seeds and insides and is completely edible. For humans and for chickens.
Its long tube-like shape is where it gets its nickname “lady’s finger” — although I’ve never seen a woman’s finger look quite like okra – and I’m glad about that!
Chickens can eat okra pods, and although they can be quite tough when they are raw, your chickens will persist through it, and happily eat the whole okra.
Can Chickens Eat Okra Seeds?
It’s a fair question to ask if chickens can eat okra seeds, as some seeds of fruits are known to be toxic – which is why chickens shouldn’t eat apple cores!
However, chickens can eat okra seeds and they are completely harmless. In fact, okra seeds contain up to 20% protein levels which is meeting a chicken’s recommended protein intake per day, being 16-18%.
Aside from protein, they are also rich in vitamins and minerals, and your chickens will chow down on them without a second thought.
Can Chickens Eat Okra Leaves & Stems?
Unlike with some fruits and vegetables, you can literally feed your chickens every part of okra, including the leaves and stems.
I’ll admit, they certainly prefer the actual fruit and seeds, but it’s great to know that leaves and stems aren’t harmful.
You’ll know what I mean here if you grow your own okra, as you can’t exactly keep your chickens off the plants all the time!
Is It OK For Chickens To Eat Okra Plants?
If you own chickens you know how much they love plant life. From chickens eating geraniums to wildflowers, even bamboo plants, some plants just don’t live to tell the tale!
There are even some plants that are toxic to chickens, such as those from the nightshade family, like eggplant.
It’s said that the plant of okra too can be toxic, containing trace amounts of solanine, a toxic compound. But, it’s in such small doses there’s virtually no risk to your chickens.
That’s good news for chickens, bad news for your okra plants!
What Are the Nutritional Benefits Of Okra For Chickens?
So, with all this talk about chickens eating okra, what are the actual benefits they are going to get?
This is especially important, as whenever you feed your chickens table scraps, fruits, or vegetables, they forgo eating their normal feed mix which accounts for all their optimal dietary requirements.
Luckily, your chickens won’t be missing out on their nutrition having okra, so long as it’s in moderation of course.
This is because okra is packed full of goodies, having several benefits for your chicken’s health and well-being including:
High Macronutritional Value
You wouldn’t think much of it just by looking at the fruit of okra, but it’s incredibly rich in protein, fiber, and carbohydrates.
It’s not just empty calories, your chickens will be able to use the protein for muscle, feather, and bone development, egg production, and general wellbeing.
Full Of Vitamins
Vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin B1, B6, and B9, vitamin C, and vitamin K. There are a host of benefits that these vitamins provide, from immunity to organ efficiency.
Aside from vitamins, okra contains countless minerals and antioxidants, helping with blood sugar, digestion, heart and brain function, and more.
Feeding Okra To Chickens
Okra is highly beneficial for your flock. But, there are still some guidelines you should follow so that your chickens can reap the benefits while avoiding any potential downsides.
Here’s what you need to be aware of when feeding okra to your chickens.
Feed Them In Moderation
Although okra is rich in many macro and micronutrients, it contains very low amounts of solanine, which is a relatively toxic ingredient for chickens.
Moreover, the more okra you feed your chickens, the less they will eat their formulated layer pellets or layer seed mix. This means the less optimal nutrients they will be receiving.
You should ensure your chicken’s diet is made up of at least 90% formulated feed. The rest can be a fruit and vegetable mix, safe table scraps for your chickens, or from foraging in the backyard!
I like to feed my chickens scrambled eggs (with the eggshell for added calcium), or root vegetables like beets or parsnips as they are incredibly healthy for chickens.
Wash Them First
Organic okra in your backyard is likely to be free of pesticides, parasites, or anything nasty.
But, if you buy it from the grocery you have no idea what it’s been treated with.
To avoid any potential contamination, it’s always best to wash your okra before consuming it yourself or giving it to your chickens!
Raw Okra Is Better Than Cooked Okra
Just like with most vegetables and fruits, okra has a much higher nutritional value when it’s raw.
This is because during the cooking process many nutrients either “leak” out of fruit or vegetable, or are “burned off” during the cooking process.
The same goes when feeding your chickens other vegetables, for example, raw broccoli is better than cooked broccoli for chickens.
Okra Contains Solanine
Because of the presence of solanine, you shouldn’t feed your chickens ok in excess. However, even a small amount a day wouldn’t generally see your chickens get sick from okra.
Nonetheless, it’s important to understand there any inherent risks that come from the presence of this toxic compound.
The Bottom Line
So, if you see your chickens going crazy for your okra plant, don’t panic. Okra in all forms is completely safe for chickens and is even considered to be healthy for them.
Still, everything in moderation, right?
Feeding your chickens a handful of okra by itself or within a fruit and vegetable mix is the perfect way to add nutritional value to your chicken’s diet, all while keeping them from overindulging.
They can enjoy the benefits without any downsides!
If you’ve got a recipe that you make for your chickens including okra, let us know below — we would love to try it!