I was cooking some plain green beans the other day and upon serving, soon realized I’d done too many. It got me thinking. Could I provide the surplus to my chickens? Could they benefit my flock and is this something I could look to introduce to their diet going forward? Knowing that not all plants and foods are suitable for these birds, I spent some time researching whether or not it was generally, a good idea.
So, can chickens eat green beans? Chickens can eat green beans, so long as they are offered fresh and plain. It is also advised that they are well cooked and not served raw. Raw green beans contain antinutrients, such as lectins, which can cause digestive issues in your birds if they are consumed in excess.
The immediate reaction may be to worry. Or to avoid this food altogether.
But, the same recommendations are given to us humans too. It is always advisable to cook green beans before eating them.
Besides, who wants to eat raw green beans anyway? There’s just something instinctively which tells us not to.
And the same can be said of our birds to some extent.
Chickens generally do a good job at avoiding the plants that are toxic and dangerous to them; showing preference for those that are safe to consume.
However, we can never truly rely on their instincts, they can make mistakes. This is especially true in those birds who do not spend much time free ranging.
So, its best to be safe than to be sorry and always look to offer cooked green beans!
Whether you know them as French beans, string beans, snap beans or snaps, they’ll all the same.
So, let us know take a closer look at whether they can provide any benefits to your flock, in what kind of quantity and frequency should you look to offer them and how to safely do so.
Are Green Beans Healthy For Chickens?
Green beans can be a very treat for your birds, but it is recommended that you cook them first.
This resource, from the Centre for Food Safety (a government branch based in Hong Kong), explains that green beans carry a “natural toxin” (lectins), which “often cause” poisoning if they are not thoroughly cooked before consumption.
And this is advice for humans.
So, its reasonable to assume that the same should be said for our flock too.
That being said, lectins can be virtually be eliminated through cooking – with boiling in water being one of the most effective approaches.
Back on the menu.
Of course, there are plenty of reports from chickens keepers who have stated that their chickens have been able to consume raw beans without an issue.
But its all about managing risk here, its best avoided.
And with a little bit of boiling ahead of time, you can ensure your chickens only get the good stuff.
And, this green vegetable does have quite a few important vitamins and minerals to offer, while also being low in energy (calories, carbohydrates (including sugars) and fat.
They also provide a decent amount of water per serving, and beneficial fiber.
The following table clearly demonstrates the nutrition available:
Nutritional Content Of Green Beans
|of which sugars||3.4 g|
|Vitamin K||44 µg|
|Vitamin C||10.8 mg|
As you can seen, there is quite a range on offer.
But those to pay particular attention to are, the decent amounts of: Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Vitamin K and Choline.
Calcium is crucial for egg laying hens and ensuring healthy and strong eggs. But it is also important for bone development, strength and formation along with heart health.
Vitamin K is another to cite here, which plays a key role in blood clotting, while also having a protective effect against coccidiosis [source]. Not many foods provide this key vitamin.
So, this is definitely the kind of treat you do want to look to offer from time to time.
How Many Green Beans Should Chickens Eat?
Cooked green beans can be offered to your chickens frequently, but 2-3x per week tends to work best. You’ll also want to consider the serving size, where a handful or two (100-200 grams is given at a time).
Despite their decent nutrition, green beans should be considered a treat.
While this may not sound like a treat to you or me, they are essentially a ‘table scrap’ and do not offer complete nutrition to meet all of your birds needs.
So, they should be offered in addition to your chickens primary pelleted or mashed feed and diet.
Remember, this has been carefully formulated to ensure your chickens obtain the full spectrum of requirements; from specific vitamins through to protein and healthy fats.
The issue with foods like green beans, is that due to the water and fiber, they can essentially fill your birds up.
In this way, they can start to displace other foods.
They can begin to reduce their intake of their formulated feed.
So, you do need to strike a balance.
And this can be a challenge if your birds are free range or have access to a vegetable plot/bushes on your property.
While birds should be actively encouraged to forage for worms, bugs and grubs, it is important to consider any vegetable patches.
Besides, something raw and potentially toxic could be growing there.
Fencing may therefore be required.
How To Offer Green Beans To Your Chickens
While they are considered ‘mildly toxic when raw‘, it still comes recommended to cook your green beans first.
Not only for your own consumption but for your birds too.
Thankfully, it is pretty straight forward but does require some preperation.
Firstly, you will want to ensure you are sourcing fresh beans, never canned or preserved in salt or other additives.
It is also not generally advised to offer your birds green beans that are starting to go off, which is usually when they start to go slimey or discolor.
Organic is also preferable, if possible. Otherwise extra emphasis should be placed on washing them.
Either way, you should look to wash the to ensure all of the dirt and debris has been removed.
Then, you should cut the tips off (as these provide little benefit and can be a choking risk).
From there, it is advised to cut the beans into thirds, which will help them to cook quicker and also be easier for your birds to consume.
Then, you want to boil the beans in plain water for around 10 minutes. At 100 degrees C, this should be enough to destroy the toxic compounds.
Once the time is up carefully take them out of the water, drain them, and give them sufficient time to cool down.
Then, you can look to serve:
- Toss them onto the floor, so that your birds can forage, peck at and eat them as and when,
- Put them into a separate bowl from their main feed, this will enable your birds to eat sufficient feed, while also enabling you to observe how many beans your birds have eaten.
- Mix in with other treats, such as other vegetables to create a medley.
Chickens can eat green beans, and there are benefits of them from being able to do so.
Although this does come with a caveat.
They should be boiled first.
In doing so you are really just minimizing the risk that they can bring.
The odd raw bean is usually not going to cause any significant issues, but in excess can result in digestive issues in your flock, ranging from malabsorption of vitamins and minerals to bloating and discomfort.
Nevertheless, this tends to be a vegetable and a treat that chickens enjoy; with many keepers offering them fairly regularly due to the positive reaction they have received from their birds.
Just remember that pelleted feed is priority.
And if you did want to learn more about feeding chickens, or raising them in general, be sure to take a look at our eBook.