If you’ve owned chickens for a long time, you know how complicated it can be to own them while simultaneously having a garden. You might have noticed by now that they love their veggies, including leafy greens. What is spinach safe for your chickens to eat?
We’d love to answer this question with a resounding absolutely yes. Spinach is an outstanding, nutritious vegetable to add to your chicken’s menu and you can bet they will gobble up every morsel. Let’s take a peek at all the benefits and aspects of chickens eating spinach.
Chickens Can Eat Spinach?
Chickens are omnivorous birds that eat a whole medley of plant and animal sources. Chickens can eat various fruits and vegetables, which are a wonderful addition to any standard grain diet (especially for caged flocks.)
Spinach is among the healthy items they can snack on. Chickens typically enjoy leafy greens, so it will likely be a flock favorite.
Spinach Nutrition Facts
Spinach is full of excellent health benefits not just for us but for our chickens as well. It is super high and insoluble fiber, promoting digestion.
Spinach contains carotenoids that help the body turn it into vitamin A. Vitamin A contributes to maintaining reproductive, digestive, and respiratory health. It promotes optimal cell growth and reproduction.
Vitamin B1 controls glucose metabolism, helping your chickens maintain the proper body weight and feather health. A deficiency in this vitamin can cause muscle issues, dull feathers, and abnormally low weight.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that boosts immunity.
Vitamin E does so many beneficial things for your chickens, including creating healthy skin and feathers. Vitamin E also boosts immunity, meaning you’re a flock at a lesser risk of getting an infectious disease or dietary issues like E coli. Vitamin E also directly relates to healthy cell growth.
Spinach is bursting with vitamin K1. This vitamin is so abundant in spinach, just one leaf contains half of a human body’s daily needs if that helps you put it into perspective. Vitamin K also promotes the production of prothrombin, which prevents coccidiosis.
If your birds lack vitamin K in their diet, it can lead to a whirlwind of blood clotting problems for your chickens. It can also cause hemorrhages in the breast or legs.
Also known as vitamin B9, folic acid promotes healthy cellular function and tissue development. It also plays an absolutely central role in egg development.
Iron is entirely necessary to oxygenate blood tissue. It might become anemic if your chicken lacks iron in their daily diet. Spinach will take care of that.
Calcium is essential for bone health. Poultry birds require calcium in their daily diet in general. Calcium is one of the most critical components to creating solid eggshells without them getting soft or being hard to pass. Having the proper amount of calcium will prevent egg laying difficulty.
Health Benefits of Spinach for Chickens
Spinach is going to be a favorite among your flock. It is rich in many different vitamins and minerals, as discussed above. It has all sorts of wonderful properties that go along with it, such as anti-inflammatory effects.
Spinach also serves as an incredibly healthy snack that does not cause weight gain and regulates blood sugar levels.
Spinach is also super easy to grow; you can even have it on hand just for your chickens. Growing a small patch of leafy greens is always a good way to reward your chickens with a tasty treat that nourishes their body and appetite.
Things to Be Mindful Of
Even though spinach is incredibly healthy for your chickens, the way they break down the food matter in their body is slightly different. Spinach contains a chemical molecule called oxalic acid. If they have too much oxalic acid in their system,
it might interfere with their ability to process calcium in the system. That can, in turn, affect egg production and make egg laying slightly tricky. If your chicken has too much I would like acid for too long, it can also cause an actual calcium deficiency in their system.
If you know much about chickens, you know that calcium is the very nutrient that creates the hardness and formation of the egg. Without the outer shell, it is essentially an A sack of yolk and can be very difficult for your chickens to pass. Soft eggs often get stuck and sometimes even require removal surgery.
If you notice that your chicken’s eggs are not firm on the outside or they keep playing chess or soft-shelled eggs, you might want to cut back on anything that might be contributing, like too much spinach.
Vinegar: How It Helps Counteract Oxalic Acid
Isn’t vinegar just a fix-all for everything? The same is true for your chickens. Add a small amount of apple cider vinegar to your chicken’s daily water supply. It will improve the acidity in the stomach, increase calcium absorption, and they won’t mind the taste.
Integrating Spinach into Your Flock’s Diet
Chickens will eat spinach by the handfuls if you let them. Although, as we just learned, spinach works best in moderation, and it’s not a staple in every diet. While it contains many nutritional benefits to promote healthy egg production and overall immunity, spinach is best in moderation.
The reality is that your chicken needs various fruits, vegetables, grains, and natural foraging fines like bugs and grit. You will have a healthy flock with optimal laying production if you give them a medley without fixating too much on one particular vegetable.
Raw Spinach vs. Cooked Spinach
Even though your chickens can have raw or cooked spinach, it’s always better when it’s fresh. Your chickens will likely prefer it this way and might not even pay it much mind if it’s cooked. They will also reap the most nutritional value from raw spinach.
So now you know that spinach is a great part of any flock’s diet. Although it is just one small fraction of a whole, you should explore all of the fruits and vegetables you can add to your chicken’s daily diet. Spinach contains an incredible laundry list of vitamins and minerals to aid overall health. Just be mindful of the oxalic acid.
If you want an extra layer of protection, don’t be afraid to add some apple cider vinegar to your flock’s water bowl. As long as you offer your flock various foods that cater to every aspect of chicken health, spinach should only enhance those effects, but you should never use it as a standalone diet.
Featured Image Credit: MabelAmber, Pixabay