Can Chickens Eat Sauerkraut (Read This First!)

You see, I always end up with copious amounts of sauerkraut. 

Although it lasts a while in the fridge, I constantly think about adding it to my flock’s weekly feed mix or even giving it to them as a treat.

For those that love sauerkraut and that own chickens, you’ll know exactly where I’m coming from. 

So, if the thoughts ever crossed your mind, well, you’re in the right place.

Here’s whether chickens can eat sauerkraut, what benefits it actually has for your flock, and what you need to know before feeding it to your chooks!

Can Chickens Eat Sauerkraut?

There’s not one quick and easy answer here.

Just to be clear, cabbage, which is the base of sauerkraut, is completely safe and healthy for chickens to eat.

But, sauerkraut is not exactly the same. Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage, produced in a very salty and acidic brine.

The bottom line is sauerkraut is safe for chickens to eat ONLY when fed in small amounts, without its brining liquid, and without additives like lime, chili, garlic, etc.

If chickens eat too much sauerkraut the high salt content can upset their stomach and dehydrate them.  

But, when chickens consume small amounts of sauerkraut, about one teaspoon per chicken, they’re able to reap the benefits without any downsides. 

Benefits Of Sauerkraut For Chickens

When fed in moderation sauerkraut can provide several digestive and micro nutritional benefits for chickens.

This is because as sauerkraut undergoes fermentation, the microorganisms in the cabbage convert its compounds and sugars into organic acids.

These organic acids promote the development of probiotics, similar to those found in yogurt.

These probiotics do wonders for gut health, even for chickens

Not only do probiotics help with digestion but they’re great for stimulating a chicken’s immune system too!

Aside from the probiotic benefits, sauerkraut also contains Vitamins A, B6, and C, as well as a handful of healthy minerals essential for a chicken’s health and wellbeing! 

What You Need To Be Careful About Feeding Sauerkraut To Chickens

So, although there are a good handful of benefits of feeding sauerkraut to your chickens, there are also a few things to be wary of.

Firstly, because of the naturally high salt content and acidity of sauerkraut, it’s essential that it’s only fed to your chickens in moderation. This means it shouldn’t be fed to them daily, or in large quantities.

I’ve found that roughly one teaspoon of sauerkraut per chicken is sufficient, without causing any issues to their general wellbeing.

Secondly, only feed your chickens normal or organic sauerkraut. None of these spicy, zesty, garlicky options you can find. The plainer the better.

Lastly, never feed sauerkraut to baby chicks, they simply can’t handle the salt content and acidity. Generally, you should wait roughly 3 months before introducing table scraps to your baby chicks.

Types Of Sauerkraut To Avoid Feeding Chickens

Most natural or organic sauerkrauts are completely safe and healthy for chickens to eat. But, the same can’t be said for sauerkraut that has additives or other flavors within them.

Avoid feeding your chickens these types of sauerkraut:

  • Spicy sauerkraut (although chickens can have chili, spicy sauerkraut can have other additives in it too!).
  • Garlic sauerkraut
  • Ginger sauerkraut
  • Any highly processed sauerkraut

Do Chickens Even Like Sauerkraut?

Chickens aren’t fussy. As chicken owners, we should all know this by now.

However, this doesn’t mean that every chicken has to love sauerkraut. Naturally, there will be some in your flock that absolutely love it, some that will have a nibble here and there, and some that will avoid it entirely.

For those chickens that love it, well, they REALLY love it.

If you’re feeding your flock sauerkraut for the first time, take a look at which chickens can’t get enough and which don’t want to even try it so that you can manage the quantities of sauerkraut accordingly.

Best Ways To Feed Sauerkraut To Chickens

There are two effective and safe ways to feed sauerkraut to your flock. 

My favorite method is to add roughly a teaspoon of sauerkraut per chicken or two to a healthy weekly table scrap mix. Mixing it with other vegetables, seeds, and fruits is a great way to incorporate it into their diets without going overboard. 

I like to add root vegetables like beets or parsnips, non-citrus fruits, and high protein seeds like chia seeds or flax seeds.

The second way to feed sauerkraut to your chickens is simply as an alternative treat. Bring a small handful out to your flock at treat time and watch them devour it without a second thought. 

Just make sure you share it with your whole flock and one of your chooks doesn’t just wharf it down themselves!

Wrap Up

The main takeaway here is that sauerkraut has surprisingly healthy benefits to chickens, but only when fed in small amounts.

Sauerkraut is a natural source of probiotics. Excellent for immunity and digestive health. It’s also rich in vitamins and minerals, making it perfect for a treat or part of the biweekly table scrap mix.

It is naturally high in salt and acidity, which is why you shouldn’t feed your chickens sauerkraut daily, and no more than about one teaspoon per chicken.

When fed in these small moderate amounts your chickens will be able to enjoy all the flavors and all the benefits that sauerkraut has to offer!

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