Can Chickens Eat Spinach? Benefits & Nutrition Facts
Yes, your chickens can eat spinach. Just like other vegetables, spinach is rich in nutrients that chickens need to stay healthy and productive. Even though spinach is nutritious and loaded with a variety of minerals and vitamins, it also has relatively high quantities of oxalic acid.
Naturally, too much oxalic can inhibit the absorption of calcium. Subsequently, this leads to problems of egg production among the layers. Spinach, just like other treats, should be fed to chickens in moderation and in limited quantities. Here is everything you need to know about feeding spinach to your backyard chickens.
Is Spinach Safe for Chickens?
Since spinach is safe for human consumption, it is also safe for chickens to eat. However, you should not give your birds too much spinach as it may negatively impact their health.
As stated above, spinach has high quantities of oxalic acid. This is an organic compound capable of interfering with other minerals inside the body. Oxalic may prevent calcium absorption, thus negatively affecting the production of eggs.
Keep in mind that calcium plays a significant role in the formation of healthy and high-quality eggs, so when it is not absorbed, the probability of your hens laying poor-quality eggs is high. Sufficient calcium is necessary for your layers to produce the much-needed contractions that normally thrust the eggs down and out of the oviduct.
Calcium is also helpful in the creation of eggshells. So, a little addition of oyster shells to your chickens’ diet can help supplement calcium. With increased calcium in their diet, chickens can eat kale and spinach in relatively large quantities without any negative effects thereafter.
Low stomach acid is yet another problem that prevents chickens from absorbing calcium, vitamins, and other nutrients. You may counteract this problem by adding some apple cider vinegar to your chickens’ drinking water.
Apple cider vinegar boosts their immune systems as well as promoting the absorption of calcium. So, the addition of apple cider vinegar to your flock’s water makes feeding your chickens spinach less problematic.
Some chickens may find spinach tasty while others may not. It is all about individual chicken’s preference.
Benefits of Chickens Eating Spinach
Just like other treats, spinach is considered a nutrient-rich snack for backyard chickens. That being said, spinach comes with the following benefits:
- Vitamin A: Suitable for healthy growth and reproduction in chickens. Vitamin A in spinach also helps in the preservation of epithelial cells that keep the skin or linings of the digestive, respiratory, and reproductive tract healthy.
- Vitamin K: Helps synthesize prothrombin that supports clotting mechanisms. This vitamin also helps in the protection against coccidiosis.
- Manganese: It is one of the essential nutrients for chickens because it supports reproduction, healing of wounds, eggshell formation, development of healthy bones/cartilage, and absorption of nutrients.
- Folate: This comes in the form of folic acid and it promotes healthy feathering in chickens. It also prevents perosis.
- Vitamin B1: This type of vitamin plays a crucial role in carbohydrate metabolism. The deficiency of vitamin B1 can cause dull feathers, loss of weight, dropping wings, and muscle paralysis.
- Vitamin B2:Ideal for promoting metabolism. Lack of it can lead to diarrhea, low egg production, dead chicks, and embryonic mortality.
- Vitamin B6:Promotes metabolism of amino acids. Lack of it may cause jerky movements and cases of convulsions.
- Calcium: Suitable for poultry birds. Calcium plays a significant role in the development of healthy bones and the formation of strong eggshells.
- Zinc: Helps in improving the quality of eggs in backyard chickens and other types of poultry.
- Choline: Plays an active role in synthesizing DNA in addition to supporting a healthy nervous system. Also, it is important in muscle development, improving memory, and regulating heartbeat.
How to Feed Spinach to Chickens?
It is advisable to feed your chickens spinach in small amounts. In this case, give your birds a few leaves of spinach at least once a week. Chop up a few leaves of spinach and add to their commercial feed to make everything easy for them.
Alternatively, you may toss a few leaves into their run when the weather condition is conducive. You can as well combine spinach leaves with a few other vegetables or herbs. This mixture is a healthier treat for your chickens. Make sure to feed them responsibly with regards to their nutrition needs and wellbeing. Apart from that, don’t give them too old or rotten leaves of spinach.
Do Chickens Eat Spinach Stalk?
Yes. Spinach stalks and stems can be eaten by your chickens. Make sure that the stalk is digestible by your flock since it is a very rare treat. If your birds have gizzard problems, feeding them the spinach stalk can make things worse. This is because fibrous fragments of the stalk can get lodged in the crops, making it difficult for your chickens to swallow.
Is Too Much Spinach Bad for Chickens?
Absolutely yes. Feeding your chickens on large amounts of spinach can lead to the depletion of their calcium.
Plus, too much spinach may cause the following problems:
- Rigid legs
- Poor quality of eggs
- Thin and weak eggshells
- Swollen joints
- Paralysis or death
To avoid the above-listed problems, make sure to feed your chickens the right amount of spinach. Only a few leaves given to your birds sparingly can help meet their dietary needs.
Can Baby Chicks Eat Blanched Spinach?
Yes. Baby chicks can eat blanched spinach as part of their tasty treats. Blanched spinach is only cooked quickly just to preserve its nutrients and flavors. In this sense, your baby chicks will find it easy to pick up and swallow a few pieces of blanched spinach leaves.
So, can chickens eat spinach? Absolutely yes! But you should give it in moderation and small quantities. Spinach is not only nutritious and healthy but also wholesome. Despite its nutritional value, spinach should only be fed to chickens at least once or twice a week.
You may still offer more provided that you balance it out using oyster shell calcium or apple cider vinegar. These are valuable and affordable additions that you should always include in your chickens’ diet to improve their health.