Asparagus. It’s a bit of a strange vegetable isn’t it. Strange in shape and strange in name. But does it have a place in the diet of chickens? Can they safely eat it and is this something that you may want to proactively provide them? I spent some time researching the suitability of these green spears for these birds and will be sharing all that I found here today.
So, can chickens eat asparagus? Chickens can eat asparagus, both in raw and cooked form, and these birds generally enjoy consuming it. However, asparagus should be only be offered as a treat; with the majority of the diet coming from a balanced and high quality feed.
Found in every region, and celebrated for its distinct flavor. Asparagus has been widely enjoyed since the Ancient Egyptians in 3000 B.C!
Why not let your chickens do the same?
And while asparagus is not the cheapest of vegetables that you could look to offer your flock, it is certainly one of the easiest to prepare and to provide.
Unlike many other vegetables and treats, asparagus requires minimal preparation, and you can look to offer the entire stalk (and head) to your birds.
Assuming that the shoots are young of course, and the buds do not begin to flower out!
And don’t be put off by the color. Although you can find asparagus in three different colors; green, white, and purple – all of them can be fed!
Let us now take a closer look at the nutritional content of this spring vegetable, otherwise known as sparrow grass and look at exactly why you would want to and how you can look to offer it.
Is Asparagus Good For Chickens?
Asparagus is considered a very healthy food for chickens, being one of the best vegetables to offer.
Its very nutrient dense, while also being very low in calories, carbohydrates and fat.
It also provides a decent amount of fiber, and a surprising amount of protein too! Which we all know is important for our omnivorous birds.
Let us now see the exact vitamins and minerals that this vegetable can provide, before turning to why these are so beneficial:
Nutritional Content Of Asaparagus
|of which sugars||1.8 g|
|Vitamin K||41.6 µg|
|Vitamin C||5.6 mg|
|Vitamin E||1.13 mg|
When you look at the table above, just look at the water content!
93% of asparagus is water; so it can help keep your flock hydrated, and is especially useful in hot climates or during the summer seasons.
But then there is specific vitamins and minerals.
Those to take particular note of are zinc, vitamin E, vitamin K, selenium and iron.
All of which are more challenging to provide in the diet, but play in an important role in the health of your flock.
From metabolic functions, to the boosting of immunity, and promoting strong bone health and development; asparagus can contribute to them all!
This is why it makes such an excellent treat, and why you may want to feed it more regularly than other types and kinds of scraps.
Besides, chickens require at least 38 nutrients in appropriate concentrations and balance [source], to truly thrive.
How Much Asparagus Should You Feed Chickens?
You can look to offer asparagus to your birds 3-4x per week, giving each bird a spear or two at each serving.
While there are certainly many benefits to offering your birds this vegetable, there are two main reasons behind this recommendation.
- It gives you the ability to offer more variety, and other fruits and vegetables
- Asparagus is naturally high in water and fiber, which can displace other foods if given in excess.
In regards to point 1, we must consider that these omnivorous birds do best with variety. They can, and do best with a lot of different foods in the diet. They should not just be limited to one or two.
Equally, asparagus despite providing a lot of nutrients, do not contain enough energy to sustain your birds.
They do not provide enough carbohydrates, nor healthy fats, both of which your birds need.
Beyond this, while there is protein, again this is in too little amounts to be given as a staple.
Then there is the matter of the water and fiber. Over-consuming this vegetable, and many other green vegetables for that matter, can fill your birds up.
Preventing them from foraging, or eating enough of their balanced and nutritionally complete feed.
So, its best to offer in moderation, where the majority of the diet is pellets/mash or crumbles, with the odd healthy table scrap and treat here and there.
How Do You Feed Chickens Asparagus?
You can look to feed your chickens asparagus in a variety of ways. Equally, you can feed it cooked or raw, and you can can offer either the green, white or purple variety.
Asparagus is commonly found at most stores, but if you do have your own vegetable allotment, you may even want to consider growing it.
That way you are in control of how it is grown, what it is sprayed with and so on and so forth.
Besides, it can be grown from seed, it grows quickly and you only need access to a limited amount of soil. Its considered easy to grow by many.
Nevertheless, if you did have some spare from your recent shop, or if you want to buy it specifically for your chickens then that is fine too.
Just ensure that when purchasing you seek out fresh and strong stalks. You do not want them to feel limp, or notice the ends beginning to emerge.
From there, you will want to thoroughly wash them; to remove any dirt and any chemicals that may have been sprayed onto them (such as pesticides and herbicides).
Then, the choice is yours.
You can either boil them in plain water, or you can offer them to your birds raw.
If you do boil them, just make sure they are not cooked in any salt, and that you give sufficient time for them to cool down prior to serving.
You’ll also want to ensure that the asparagus is made a little softer, but not overdone to the extent that it is mushy.
Cooked asparagus is generally easier for your birds to consume, but cutting asparagus into smaller pieces is still advised.
You can also look for any particularly fibrous parts, or discard any of the bottoms that my be a challenge to eat.
Remember, chickens do not have teeth and need to peck instead!
When it comes to serving you can throw them on the floor, or even provide them in a separate bowl to their main feed.
Just be sure come the end of the day you take away any uneaten asparagus. You do not want it to begin to rot or to entice visitors such as predators (like rats).]
It is best to try offering any treat to your birds in a variety of different ways; see what they like and what they prefer.
Some flocks may be a lot more willing to eat raw, whereas others may have a preference for cooked.
Test and assess.
Just be sure not to add any condiments, salt or seasoning as this does not provide any benefit and can be harmful to your birds.
Asparagus generally makes a fantastic treat for chickens; being one of the best vegetables you could look to serve.
When we look at the nutritional breakdown of it, its not really a surprise.
And better yet, they re very easy to prepare, versatile and chickens typically love them when they are offered!
But like most table scraps and treats; we do need to limit how often and how much we serve. Even though it can be tempting.
Chickens do need to consume a sufficient amount of their pelleted or mashed/crumbled feed.
Its been designed to be complete; with everything a chicken needs to live optimally.
Treats offer benefit, but as the name implies they are exactly that.
But do look to offer this vegetable from time to time.
See how your birds enjoy it. Offer it in several ways.
Just make sure you make it easy for your birds to consume, and keep it plain.
And if you did want to learn more about feeding your chickens, or raising them in general, be sure to take a look at our eBook.