People often give their chickens bits of their leftover food, especially vegetables but is it safe to give them everything that you might eat? While chickens are omnivores and many breeds will eat anything you give them, not all foods we eat are safe for them.
In this article, we focus on the question of whether can chickens eat green beans. You will learn if it is safe to give your chicken green beans, how to best feed them to your chickens, and what nutrients they contain. We have also included a section on foods that you should not feed your chickens.
So continue reading to find out all about feeding green beans to your flock.
Can Chickens Eat Green Beans?
The short answer is yes, chickens can eat green beans. However, you should only give them fresh, cooked green beans. We will focus on how you should feed the green beans to your chickens and why they should be fresh and cooked a little later in the article. First, let’s look at all the good nutrients your chickens can get from green beans.
There are 37 milligrams of calcium in a cup of green beans. Calcium is vital for your chickens’ well-being and egg production. Chickens need calcium to maintain strong bones and to support their nervous, cardiac, circulatory, and digestive systems. They also need it for eggshells. Chickens that lack calcium will produce eggs with soft shells.
Green beans are a good source of carbohydrates, which are a primary source of energy so your hens need carbs to stay active. Carbohydrates also help chickens to maintain a healthy gut microbiota, which is used in the digestion of food and for absorbing nutrients from it.
Green beans are a great source of fiber, which helps the small intestine to absorb nutrients. It prevents overeating as it helps the chicken feel full. In addition, it prevents constipation and helps to keep your chickens regular.
4. Folic Acid
Folic acid or folates, will help your chickens to produce eggs. It can also help them produce more fertilized eggs and improve hatching rates. Chickens also need folates to support the production of red blood cells and to prevent anemia.
Another key nutrient your chickens can get from eating green beans is magnesium. It will support a healthy metabolism and nerve functioning. Magnesium is also helpful when trying to maintain a healthy weight. So if you notice your chickens looking too heavy, give them green beans for extra magnesium to support weight loss.
While calcium supports a healthy skeleton and ensures the eggs come out with hard shells, it would be no good without phosphorus. Phosphorus is a type of mineral and works as a binding agent. This means that it binds the calcium to the chicken’s bones to make them stronger.
Chickens need potassium in the egg-laying process: it makes it easier to pass the egg out through the cloaca (the opening where the eggs come out). Potassium is also a key nutrient to help chickens regulate their body temperature and to stay hydrated, especially when the weather gets hot.
Your chickens need protein to stay strong and healthy and compared to many other vegetables, green beans have a high protein content. Giving your chickens green beans can be an easy way to increase their protein intake. You will also benefit from the extra protein because the digested protein will be transferred into the eggs.
9. Vitamin C
Just like people, chickens require vitamin C to stay healthy. Vitamin C is a key ingredient in strengthening the immune system. It also helps them to be more resistant to stress because chickens can get stressed and anxious, too. If your chickens appear weak, try giving them an extra dose of vitamin C to see if they perk up.
10. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is one of the vitamins with multiple functions. It is a critical component in the healthy growth of your chickens as well as in their immunological and physiological development and maintenance. Your chickens need it from keeping their skin healthy to having shiny feathers and producing healthy eggs.
11. Vitamin K
Green beans can give your chickens a high dose of vitamin K which is essential for the health of their bones as well as healing. It helps to release proteins to strengthen bones and improve blood clotting. If your chickens tend to bleed a lot when wounded, it could be a sign of vitamin K deficiency.
How to Give Green Beans to Chickens
If you want to give your chickens green beans, it is best to give them cooked green beans because uncooked green beans contain lectin which is toxic to chickens. You should also note that chickens will not need seasoning on their green beans so avoid adding salt to the beans you are giving your flock.
Uncooked, Frozen, and Tinned Green Beans
As we mentioned earlier, uncooked green beans contain lectin, which is known to be toxic to chickens. Lectin is a protein, which can be found in many raw plants, such as beans, peas, lentils, soybeans, peanuts, and several types of whole grains, such as wheat. Whole grains and legumes have the highest lectin content.
If you are thinking of giving your chickens raw green beans, only give them a tiny amount. That way their intake of lectin will be too small to harm them. However, since some of your chickens may not like the beans, others could end up eating more. To be on the safe side, it is best to stick to cooked green beans and avoid raw beans.
The same applies to frozen green beans. Since most of them will have been frozen raw, the lectin in them can be poisonous. You also should avoid canned green beans. While they have been cooked to break down lectin, they will contain preservatives that can be harmful to your flock and the high sodium content is likely to damage their kidneys.
Can You Give Green Beans to Chicks?
Since chicks can eat pretty much what adult chickens can other than needing more protein, you can give them cooked green beans, too. However, it is best to chop and mash them up before giving the beans to them as larger sizes can be a choking hazard to young birds.
Your chicks should only be given cooked green beans, just like the adults, since cooking breaks down the toxins and make the beans safe to consume. In addition, you should only give them beans as an occasional treat as most of their feed should consist of starter feed.
You also should not give green beans to chicks that are less than four weeks old. Because the fiber contained in green beans will make the chicks feel full for longer, they may not eat enough of their starter feed and become malnourished. After they turn four weeks, a tablespoon per five chicks will be enough.
Do Chickens Like to Eat Green Beans?
This is an important question to ask since you don’t want to waste the beans by giving them to your chickens only for them to ignore them. All chickens will have their food preferences and not all will like green beans. Since there is no harm in giving your chickens green bean scraps, you can try how they react to them.
Is It Safe to Give Chickens Other Parts of Green Beans?
Some people say that it is safe to give chickens the stalks and leaves of green beans. However, these parts can contain lectin, too. Therefore, if you would like to give them to your birds, we recommend cooking them first to break down the toxins.
What about if you grow green beans and have free-ranging chickens? Because some of your chickens may be tempted to eat the green beans and their leaves, it is best to put a fence around the beans. This is an inexpensive measure that could prevent your chickens from digesting potentially poisonous ingredients.
Can You Replace Regular Chicken Feed With Green Beans?
Giving your chicken green beans does not mean you should not give them their regular feed, too. While green beans contain many vitamins and minerals, they do not offer chickens everything they need to be healthy and produce eggs.
Therefore, the main diet of chickens should always consist of proper chicken feed and the green beans should be offered as additional snacks. Only giving them to your chickens occasionally will also ensure they will not get too much lectin in case the cooked beans still contain traces of it.
How to Cook The Green Beans
There is not one right method of cooking green beans when you are feeding them to your chickens. You can boil, steam, or even microwave them because all of these methods will provide the heat to break down the lectin.
Some key things to keep in mind, though. If you are planning to give them your leftovers, remember to go easy on the seasoning. Don’t give them green beans that are going off as they become sticky and can get stuck in their beaks. Trim the tips off the beans as they are pointy and hard and could choke your chickens.
Can Chickens Eat Other Beans?
There are plenty of other beans you can give your chickens besides green beans. Since all beans contain lectin, it is best to cook any beans you are giving your birds to avoid them consuming toxins. Here are other types of beans you can give your chickens:
- Black beans have lots of antioxidants, carbohydrates, fiber, and protein.
- Borlotti beans, sometimes called cranberry beans, are a great source of potassium and protein.
- Cannellini beans contain moderate amounts of calories and are rich in protein and fiber.
- Kidney beans are protein-rich and contain a little less fat than other beans.
- Navy beans are rich in folic acid, potassium, and magnesium and are great for controlling blood sugar levels.
What Other Treats Can You Give Chickens?
If you are thinking of what else you can give your chickens as a treat, they can eat most things that people do provided that they are not too seasoned for the chickens. Healthy treats that you can give your chickens include lettuce, kale, broccoli, cucumbers, turnip, blueberries, and strawberries.
What Not to Give Chickens
There are some foods that you should never give your chickens because they are poisonous to them. These foods include:
- Cherry or apple seeds because they contain cyanide
- Pits and skin of the avocado, which contain highly toxic persin
- Moldy foods can cause food poisoning
- Any stalks or leaves from plants belonging to the nightshade family, which includes eggplant
- Chocolate because chickens cannot digest it and it can cause kidney failure.
- Green tomatoes or potatoes but other potatoes are fine.
- Coffee will cause your chickens problems with their heart
There are also some other foods that your chickens shouldn’t eat. These are not toxic, but they have other effects that are not good for your chickens. Citrus fruits are best avoided because they inhibit the absorption of calcium, while butter, oils, fats, and processed foods can make your chickens obese.
For more information on what not to feed your chickens and some great ideas for treats, you can watch this video.
If you are going to give your chickens green beans, it is best to give the beans to them cooked and in moderation. You should avoid giving them frozen or raw green beans because they contain lectin, which can poison your chickens if they get too much of it. Tinned beans should be avoided too because of all the preservatives.
When giving your chickens leftover green beans, make sure they are not too seasoned, especially watch out for salt and when feeding chicks green beans, a tablespoon of mashed green beans between five chicks is a good amount.
Hopefully, you now have all the answers you were looking for on whether chickens can eat green beans. If you would like to ask us anything about the topic, you can write your questions in the comments section.