Yes, chickens can eat collard greens. Collard greens, along with various other leafy greens like kale and lettuce, vegetables, and some fruits are great treats for chickens and helps add some variety into their diets.
Are Collard Greens Good for Chickens?
First of all, it's important to check that any plants, vegetables, and so on are safe for chickens before feeding them.
Collard greens are perfectly safe. Better than that, from a nutritional standpoint, collard greens are great for the chickens and provide some decent nutritional content.
This leafy vegetable is an excellent source of various vitamins and minerals, it also provides a small amount of calcium.
Calcium is key to helping laying hens produce healthy eggshells, and the other minerals and antioxidants are great too.
So, yes collard greens are good for chickens. You should only feed this green to them in moderation, but doing so only enhances their diet.
How to Feed Collard Greens to Chickens
Feeding collard greens to chickens is pretty easy. Anyone who has owned backyard chickens will know - if they want to eat something, they will.
The main thing to remember is to give your greens a quick wash before giving them to chickens.
If you have store-bought greens, they may have some pesticides on them. If you're growing them yourself, it's not as big an issue but I still always wash foods.
It's up to you if you chop up the greens or not, what chickens are more than capable of pecking foods into smaller pieces and eating them.
You may have noticed that chickens do not have teeth. This is because they do not need teeth, chickens have strong beaks, and an internal organ called a gizzard that chews up food so they can digest it.
Can Chickens Eat Raw Collard Green Stems?
Yes, chickens can eat raw collard green stems. We typically don't eat the stems, at least not raw, but the good news is that chickens do.
This makes collard greens one of the best table scraps or leftovers to give to chickens and it helps reduce waste while providing a nutritious snack for chickens.
It’s a win-win!
Can You Feed Chickens Too Many Greens?
You've probably heard the saying that 'too much of a good thing is bad', this is certainly the case with greens.
While most greens provide an excellent range of nutrition, they're still lacking some of the key nutritional elements that chickens - and laying hens in particular - require to maintain optimal health, and lay regular eggs at their best.
To provide backyard chickens with a well-balanced diet that will meet all their nutritional needs, you should feed them primarily a quality commercial feed.
Chickens require high protein diets, laying hens require a lot of calcium, and there are some other nutritional elements the commercial feeds provide that leafy greens cannot.
Most chicken owners feed and chickens according to the "90/10 Rule".
This rule basically means that 90% of a chicken's diet should come from chicken feed, and the other 10% can be made up of other foods like collard greens.
Doing this ensures that your chickens are getting all of their dietary needs met, and they have some treat foods and variety added into their diet to keep them happy.
Other Greens, Leftovers, and Table Scraps Chickens Love!
If you want to feed your flock other foods and table scraps (or recycle leftovers), the good news is that most foods we eat are fine for chickens.
Some of the most popular foods people share with their feathered friends are:
Vegetables and greens – There are a few vegetables that are potentially harmful as I’ll cover below, but generally speaking, vegetables are as awesome for chickens as they are for us.
Try giving your flock some green beans, mustard greens, swiss chard, beets, sweet potatoes, split peas, etc. and you’ll see how happy they are to finish off any leftovers.
Fruits – Most fruits are also fine as they are typically nutrient-dense and packed with antioxidants and other good minerals.
Try giving your flock some bananas (fun to hang these up), lemons, cherries, apples, aubergine, etc.
Grains – I love feeding my chickens grains as it gives them something to scratch around for. You can feed your flock wheat, quinoa, corn, oatmeal, alfalfa, etc.
Potentially Toxic Foods You Should Avoid Giving to Chickens
It’s important you know which foods are potentially harmful to your chickens and should be avoided.
There aren’t many, but the foods you should absolutely avoid letting your chickens consume as confirmed by the RSPCA are:
Avocado skins and pits – The skin and stones of avocados contain a fungicidal toxin, the flesh is fine though.
Parts of nightshade plants – Plants belonging to the nightshade family contain a harmful toxic called solanine - but only in certain parts of the plants.
It’s a topic worth reading up on. You can find out more about how to safely feed your chickens potatoes, tomatoes, tomatillos, and eggplants here.
Chocolate – There are compounds in chocolate that are harmful to most animals, keep the choc to yourself!
Tea and coffee – There are some harmful compounds in tea and coffee. Some people compost their used grounds and bags, so be aware if you do so in your backyard.
Raw beans – Most beans contain toxins known as lectins when they’re raw or undercooked. Lectins are harmful to chickens, only feed them beans that are prepared how you would eat them yourself.
Candy and other sugary treats, this includes soda – Foods with high sugar content and preservatives are bad for chickens (and us).
Any moldy or spoiled foods – Mold spores are toxic and can potentially cause some health issues to chickens, keep an eye on foods left out and feed them fresh stuff.
Collard greens and a lot of other greens and vegetables are great for chickens, you should absolutely give some to your chickens if you can.
As long as you provide a well-balanced diet that meets all of the nutritional requirements for chickens, collard and other greens are awesome treat foods.
Image credits - Image taken from Canva free image bank.