A neighbor of mine grows cabbages, red cabbages no less. He often sends some my way, which I always appreciate, and so does my backyard flock!
Can chickens eat red cabbage? Yes, red cabbage is one of the best vegetables you can give to your flock. Chickens will benefit from this nutrient-dense vegetable and it’ll complement their overall diet.
How Healthy Is Red Cabbage for Chickens?
All cabbage is good. Cabbage is low in calories, high in fiber and nutrients, and packed with minerals, vitamins, and other good nutrition.
Red cabbage, however, compared to its more popular cousin the green cabbage had more than 10 times the vitamin A content. It also contains some additional minerals, all of which are great – although not necessary for chickens eating a good feed.
Feeding cabbage to your chooks is more so a good way to ensure they’re getting good food, as opposed to bad food and adding some variety to their diet.
How Do You Feed Chickens Cabbage?
This is the fun part, and one of the reasons why we give backyard chickens foods other than their pelleted feed.
There are a few ways you can give them cabbage:
- Scatter the leaves around and give them something to forage for and run around with
- Shred it up into smaller pieces and add it to their feeder (ideal for lazy chickens)
- Or, you can drill a hole through a whole cabbage, thread some rope or thick string through and hang it for them
I do this with some foods, like bananas in particular, as my chickens love having something to peck at and play with.
Other Vegetables Chickens Can Eat
If your flock love cabbage, which I’m sure they do, here are some other vegetables that are great for chickens you should consider giving them:
Spinach – A superfood that delivers loads of great nutrition. Chickens love spinach in my experience, it’s one of the better leafy greens to give them.
Broccoli – Another green that is just as good for chooks as it is for us.
Radish and Cucumber – I group these as they are two vegetables that are high in water content. A good choice in the summer, and nice and easy for them to digest.
Spaghetti Squash – This is pretty rare in some parts. I like picking up squash because it’s easy to cook it, just slice it in half, and let them peck from the flesh inside the skin.
Pumpkins – Don’t throw away the pumpkin flesh next Halloween, your flock will thank you for it.
Most herbs, greens, and healthy veg – You can share most table scraps, vegetable tops, and other leftovers. It’s always good to double-check first though.
It’s more important to be aware of what chickens can’t eat, as that list is a lot shorter and can cause them some issues.
Here are some of the most common foods most of us have around the home that are potentially toxic or harmful to chickens:
Foods Chickens Shouldn’t Eat
This isn’t an exhaustive list, so please keep that in mind. Here are some foods you should never give chickens though:
Raw beans – they contain a very toxic compound when raw. This is neutralized when cooked properly though.
Processed foods – hard to digest, no good nutritional value, keep the junk food for yourself.
Green potatoes – raw potatoes are often debated. It’s when they turn green from sun exposure they contain harmful toxins, however.
Chocolate – how can something so addictive to us be so bad for most animals…well there are a couple of compounds in chocolate that are toxic to pets.
Coffee – caffeine and some other compounds in coffee potentially cause health issues.
Avocado skin and pits – these are both harmful, while the flesh is fine.
Some plant leaves – always check if the leaves are ok for plants you have in your yard. For example, mulberry trees and rhubarb leaves contain mild toxins and should be avoided.
Moldy foods – I know you wouldn’t give your precious flock moldy food. Just keep an eye out for their feed or other foods spoiling because they’ve been left out. Mold spores are toxic to chicks.
Related – Can chickens eat potato peels and skins? Yes, if you follow this rule.
In Summary – Can Chickens Eat Red Cabbage?
Chickens can eat red cabbage, yes, and green cabbage if that’s your preference.
Cabbage, like most vegetables, provides lots of good nutrition that helps balance out a chicken’s diet.
Do keep in mind, however, that no matter how healthy vegetables, fruits, and other table scraps are, your flock should be getting at least 90% of their diet from a good pelleted feed.
It’s fun throwing them scraps to scratch and forage for, and they certainly appreciate just about any handouts. But keep it to no more than 10% of their diet overall.
Health benefits of red cabbage vs green cabbage – Healthyeating.sfgte.com
Header image by Zosia Korcz, in-body image by Heather Ford on Unsplash