There seems to be an endless supply of scraps that you can look to feed your chickens. You have to be careful, mind, as some can be toxic. Some may not be beneficial altogether. But what about broccoli? Is this okay to feed? Here is what you need to know.
So, can chickens eat broccoli? Chickens can eat broccoli, both cooked and raw. Although broccoli should always be served in manageable-sized pieces. While a healthy scrap, broccoli should only be fed a few times per week and not be fed in place, or too much to displace, your flock’s main poultry feed.
While not all of us enjoy it, broccoli is certainly touted for its health benefits.
In fact, its one of those iconic vegetables that springs to mind when you think of eating your greens.
Your chickens can undoubtedly benefit from it too, but there are a few things to take into account before you start freely feeding this to your birds.
So, let us now take a closer look at how healthy broccoli really is for chickens, before looking how to serve, and how much to serve, if you did want to offer it.
Is Broccoli Healthy For Chickens?
Broccoli is healthy for chickens, when fed in appropriate amounts and frequencies.
Its very nutrient-dense, containing several vitamins and minerals, and it is low in calories, carbohydrate, and fat. It is also high in fiber.
Nutritional Content of Broccoli
|Vitamin K||101 µg|
|Vitamin C||89 mg|
As the table outlines above, broccoli is rich in a number of important vitamins and minerals – all of which can help to serve the health of your flock.
The two macronutrients of note are the fiber and protein.
Fiber is important for promoting healthy digestion and plays an important role in the health of these birds.
In fact, studies have shown it reduces salmonella and other pathogens in a chicken’s digestive tract, along with allowing for better digestion of feed and extraction of nutrients such feed contains.
Further research has also shown that consumption of fiber lowers ammonia emission which reduces issues commonly observed in chicken flocks. The most notable being ascites and respiratory diseases.
Then there is the decent amount of protein in broccoli too.
2.8 grams of protein per 100 grams of broccoli is quite a lot, given that a head of broccoli typically weighs around 400 grams.
And protein is very important for chickens.
It plays a central role in growth, egg production, immunity, stress resilience, and several other bodily functions.
Then looking at the specific vitamins and minerals.
Broccoli is particularly rich in Vitamin K, Vitamin C and potassium.
All of which play a crucial role in a number of different metabolic activities and functions, from heart health all the way through to vision.
So, broccoli is definitely healthy for chickens.
But, is there a limit to the amount you can serve?
There is, I’m afraid.
We will look at why in the next section.
How Much Broccoli Can Chickens Eat?
Broccoli should be fed in moderation, and in addition, to the diet of your chickens.
In total, broccoli should only really make up a total of 5-10% of total energy intake. And consider, that this quota should also be shared with other fruits and vegetables.
So, in terms of specific serving sizes and feeding frequencies – a head of broccoli to your flock 1-2x per week is advised.
And here is why:
- Broccoli is not a complete food, it does not contain sufficient energy to sustain a flock, is low in important fats, and other important minerals such as calcium.
- Broccoli contains Goitrogens, which can be toxic when fed in excess to your birds.
Let’s start off on point one. Vegetables, including Broccoli, should only ever make up 5-10% of the diet.
They do not, on their own or even combined with one another, provide enough sustenance to chickens. Equally, they can provide too much of a good thing too.
For instance, while fiber is great for your birds – too much certainly is not.
This is why pelleted feeds exist and most experts recommend them as the staple of the diet.
Poultry feed is specially formulated; contain everything your chickens need in appropriate quantities. Whether this be specific minerals and vitamins, or macronutrients such as carbohydrates and fat.
The problem is, it is difficult if not impossible to balance the diet on your own – or by feeding your own scraps to your birds.
Plus, you’ll likely find that feeding certain foods, can even prevent your flock from eating their staple feed.
Broccoli is filling; so if overconsumed can start to displace other foods.
Nutrient deficiencies and malnutrition can develop.
While they are eating they are not getting what they are need.
Now onto Goitrogens.
Broccoli is part of the family of vegetables that naturally contain a compound known as goitrogens. This family also includes the likes of cabbage and cauliflower too.
You may be familiar with them already,.
If not, all you need to know is that they can prove problematic in excess.
Research has shown that if they are over-consumed, by human or by poultry birds, it can result in metabolic issues.
For chickens specifically, it can even result in lethargy and feather issues.
But, this is when consumed in excess.
And there are many chicken keepers whom feed broccoli to their birds, perhaps more than advised, without reporting any issues.
But nonetheless, its generally not worth taking a chance here.
Less is definitely more in the case of broccoli, and other goitrogenic vegetables.
How Do You Feed Chickens Broccoli?
Feeding your flock broccoli needn’t be complicated. You also have a couple of different ways to offer it: raw or cooked.
Regardless of how you look to offer it, the most important thing is that you offer fresh, unspoiled broccoli.
Better yet would be an organic option.
One that is much less likely to carry pesticides and other potentially harmful chemicals used during farming.
Whether you do or you can, thoroughly washing broccoli in lukewarm water comes advised.
A gentle scrub can help to remove any dirt or debris that may be present, and in the case of non-organic options, will definitely help to remove any herbicides or pesticides that may be present.
In fact, leaving a broccoli head to soak in a bowl of water for 10-15 minutes, before disposing of the water is a good approach to take here.
At this juncture, you can do one of two things.
- Gently boil the broccoli in plain, unsalted water.
- Cut up the raw broccoli into much more manageable pieces.
Boiled broccoli is certainly easier for your birds to peck at and digest, so taking the additional step of cooking it will be worth your while.
Although, some of the nutrients may leach into the boiled water when offered in this way.
Raw, on the other hand, can be problematic for your birds. So be sure to cut it up fine.
You may realize that your chickens will only eat broccoli when provided either cooked, or raw, or both.
Its something you will need to test and assess.
But, once the broccoli is all ready and prepared, all you need to do is throw it down on the ground for your birds to peck at.
Another great, clean option, is to purchase this Veggie Ball from Amazon, and hang it up!
With this option, you simply just add your pre-prepared broccoli (and/or other vegetable), and hang it up from the coop.
This is a great way to offer scraps to your bird as it promotes natural foraging and pecking behaviors. Plus it’s easier to clean up top!
Its certainly more practical.
Either way, be sure to remove any uneaten broccoli, or other scraps, that are left at the end of each day.
You do not want to entice any predators to your flock.
Broccoli can make a great addition to the diet of your flock.
Its nutrient dense, and its relatively cheap, widely available and practical to store and feed.
However, broccoli is not the only food that you should look to feed.
Besides, it will not sustain your flock for long, even with all those nutrients available.
And, there are goitrogens to consider too.
So, broccoli is best served infrequently. 1-2x per week, varied up with other vegetables, comes advised.
And you’re not going to want to provide too much at each serving either.
A head for every 3-4 birds tends to work quite well.
This should provide your chickens with benefits while minimizing any risk.
Sourcing organic, properly preparing, ensuring your birds can safely consume by cutting it up, and removing any left uneaten are your other considerations.
But, give this green vegetable to your birds and see how they respond.
They may love it, after all.
Wondering what else chickens can eat? Check out my other chicken feeding guides below!
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.