Like other omnivores, chickens enjoy nibbling various food types, including leafy greens. So, the answer to the question can chickens eat spinach is – YES, they happily consume it. It helps chickens get balanced, healthy meals full of dietary fiber and required minerals and vitamins.
Spinach benefits chickens’ health, improves their growth, egg laying, and feathering, and prevents digestive issues. However, be careful with this greenery because of oxalic acid content, and always serve it with legumes and grains.
Nutrition content of 3.50 ounces (100 g) of raw spinach
What is Spinach?
Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is a leafy green veggie from the Amaranth family native to Persia. This hardy leafy annual plant is common in Europe and the US nowadays.
It is typically 12 inches (30.5 cm) tall with triangular 1 to 12 inches (2.5 – 30.5 cm) long and 0.4 to 6 inches (1 – 15.2 cm) broad leaves. It comes in several types, including flat-leaf, curly, less wrinkly, dark green, and semi-savoy spinach.
You can offer it to your chickens fresh (raw), cooked, and frozen, while it is better to avoid a canned option. There is also a possibility to buy so-called baby spinach, containing only young leaves.
Since this greenery has a high level of oxalates, you should serve it only in moderation to prevent calcium deficiency, particularly in laying hens.
Can Chickens Eat Spinach?
Chickens can eat spinach as a healthy food when offered in moderate amounts. This leafy vegetable contains water and beneficial vitamins, fiber, and minerals necessary for fowl growth and reproduction.
Unfortunately, ingested spinach in large quantities can be harmful because of oxalic acid that inhibits calcium absorption, leading to problems in egg production. So, you should offer it to laying hens only occasionally as a treat.
1. Raw spinach
Chickens like raw spinach and always choose raw veggies over prepared. Besides, fresh leaves provide more nutritional benefits than cooked ones.
Studies show that adding spinach leaves to the laying hen diet improves egg yolk color without affecting their quality. However, be careful with stems and chop thicker and harder pieces to make them easier to digest.
Be careful with vegetables from the store since they are often treated with pesticides harmful to poultry. Even though leaves are washed before packing, pesticide residues often remain and may jeopardize your flock’s health.
2. Cooked spinach
Your chickens can eat cooked spinach, but some birds don’t like such prepared vegetable and don’t enjoy it like raw ones. Since cooking reduces the veggie nutrient level, you should prepare it half-cooked as a better and healthier option.
If you prepare spinach for chickens this way, cook it without seasoning. Besides, never offer leftovers with added oil, butter, salt, sugar, and bacon.
On the other hand, cooked spinach is beneficial for hens because this process reduces the oxalic acid amount. Once you decide to offer this veggie cooked, ensure it is not too hot or cold when serving.
3. Blanched spinach
Such prepared spinach is the best option for chicks. This quick preparation makes this veggie softer but keeps flavors and nutrients intact.
4. Frozen spinach
If your flock enjoys spinach, you can freeze it for later. Typically, chickens don’t make a difference between fresh and thawed veggies, so you can offer them as a treat throughout the year. If you buy finished product packaging, always check ingredients and avoid those containing salt and preservatives.
Can chicks eat spinach?
Never offer leafy greens to chicks without proper previous preparations. Fresh leaves and stalks can be too hard for them and quickly disturb their sensitive digestive tract.
On the other hand, over three weeks old chicks enjoy consuming moderate amounts of soft baby spinach foliage or blanched leaves. Interestingly, you can expect them to nibble wilted spinach because it is soft and easier to swallow.
Can Chickens Eat All Spinach Parts?
Spinach is a superfood for humans, but it can be only a treat for chickens, and you should offer it moderately. It is also an inexpensive and excellent water source during hot days. Let’s check whether fowl can consume all parts of this leafy vegetable.
Chickens like nibbling spinach stalks but avoid offering them to those suffering from gizzard problems. Besides, fibrous stalk fragments can get stuck in the crops, making swallowing difficult.
Spinach foliage is a delicious treat for chickens, and you can offer it in moderate amounts throughout the growing season. Never consider leaves a food despite their nutritious value but rather mix them with commercial fowl feed.
Chickens like eating baby spinach. Therefore, you can offer it once to twice weekly as a yummy treat. There is no distinct difference between spinach and baby spinach except in fiber content since it is the same veggie. Baby spinach is harvested earlier, while mature spinach is fully grown.
Ways to Feed Your Chickens With Spinach
Never toss a bunch of spinach leaves to your flock, but give each bird a few leaves. Remember that only 10% of chickens meal should be supplemental food, like veggies, fruit, and grass, limiting the amount of allowed spinach in meals.
The best option is to offer it fresh and mixed with other herbs and veggies once or twice a week. Chop foliage and make a salad to provide approximately the same amount for each chicken.
If you want to offer this veggie to hens, you can do it in moderate amounts. However, always add a few drops of apple cider vinegar to their water to prevent possible adverse effects.
Spinach Nutritional Value
Spinach is beneficial for chickens and offers numerous nutrients crucial for their growth, health, and egg laying. For instance, this veggie is well-known for its low-calorie properties and has enough valuable fibers to promote digestion.
Besides, spinach contains carotenoids responsible for the beautiful egg yolk orange color. Since it contains a high amount of this pigment, it is enough to add it to hens’ diet once to twice weekly.
Vitamin A from spinach is vital for chickens’ digestive, respiratory, and reproductive health. It also protects their mucosa and skin. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that boosts neurological functions, speeds healing and recovery, and helps fowl fight various diseases.
Spinach also contains vitamin K, which allows the clotting process, and vitamin C, crucial for boosting collective flock immunity and relieving stress.
This veggie contains most B complex vitamins vital for glucose and amino acid metabolism and proper egg development. Besides, there is also a decent amount of choline necessary for DNA synthesis.
Content of vitamins and minerals in 3.50 ounces (100 g) of raw spinach
|Vitamin A||469 µg|
|Vitamin E||2 mg|
|Vitamin C||28.1 mg|
|Vitamin K||483 µg|
|Pantothenic acid||0.065 mg|
|Lutein and zeaxanthin||12,200 µg|
Spinach is packed with iron necessary for oxygenating blood tissue and preventing anemia. It also contains potassium which reduces muscular pain and prevents dehydration.
Zinc and calcium benefit hens and help improve the eggshell quality. Calcium additionally increases egg production, maintains healthy bones, and boosts the immune system.
Chickens need magnesium for improving bone health and efficient nutrient absorption. Luckily, spinach contains plenty of this mineral. Besides, manganese aids in food absorption and eggshell formation and prevents perosis.
Spinach also contains low amounts of sodium responsible for water-electrolyte metabolism regulation. Even though phosphorus is vital for laying hens, be careful with dosage since the required value depends on production stages.
Is Spinach Safe for Chickens?
Spinach is an entirely safe plant for your chickens when offered in moderate amounts. The primary problem is oxalic acid which prevents calcium absorption, making this veggie problematic for laying hens.
However, you can solve this problem by increasing calcium intake during the spinach season. The simplest way is to offer them more crushed eggshells or oyster shells than usual. That way, your fowl can eat spinach without any negative effects.
Results of overfeeding
Excessive spinach consumption often leads to a lack of calcium in the chickens’ diet. When you fail to compensate for that deficiency with other food types adequately, your fowl may show signs of impaired health followed by symptoms like:
- Reduced egg laying and poor egg quality
- Weak eggshells
- Swollen joints and rigid legs
- Body paralysis and possible death
Chickens should consume spinach because it contains fibers and minerals crucial for their growth, egg production, and overall health. On the other hand, be careful not to overdo it because of high levels of oxalic acid. A handful of this leafy veggie once or two times a week is the right measure.