Have you been wondering if it’s safe for your chickens to eat bailed clover hay, clover sprouts, clover seeds, or living clover growing from your lawn?
For the most part, clover is a food that chickens should be able to eat in limited quantities safely.
With that said, it’s not nutritionally complete, and it can be toxic at high levels of ingestion.
We’ll share why that is below.
Will Chickens Want to Eat Clover?
Chickens are drawn to greens, especially those growing in lawns, fields, and pastures.
Clover is no exception; you may see your chickens eating the stems, leaves, flowers, or even roots of clover plants.
Chickens will also pick at clover bailed into hay and will happily gobble up any clover sprouts or seeds you share with them.
The Clover Nutrition Profile
100 grams of clover sprouts (this is not fully mature clover) is:
- 23 calories
- 4 grams of protein
- 2 grams of fiber
- 12.6 milligrams of Vitamin C
- 45.6 milligrams of Vitamin K
- 0.75 milligrams of Iron
- Trace amounts of calcium, phosphorus, zinc, selenium, and magnesium.
The Specific Nutrition Needs of a Chicken
|Nutrition Item||Amount Present in 100 grams of Clover||How Much a Chicken Needs Per Day|
|Protein||4 grams||17 grams for a light breed hen or 23 grams for growing broilers|
|Fat||0.5 grams||6 grams|
|Fiber||2 grams||3 grams|
100 grams of sprouted clover contains two-thirds of the necessary fiber for a chicken’s diet.
With that said, it is not compatible enough to be the only source of nutrition for a chicken and should not be their only food source.
A chicken would not be able to eat enough to fill their daily fat or protein needs.
Is It Safe for Chickens to Eat Clover?
Generally speaking, it is safe for chickens to eat clover while they live on pasture or free-range.
Clover should never be their sole source of nutrition, but it is typically not harmful for them to ingest in limited quantities.
There are a few concerns you may want to consider, which I cover more extensively in the next section.
Why Chickens Shouldn’t Exclusively Eat Clover
Clover contains coumarin, which is a natural blood thinner.
Limited quantities should not be an issue, but if a chicken overeats clover or finds clover with mold in it (for instance, bailed moldy clover hay), then problems could arise.
In absolute worst-case scenarios, your flock could suffer internal hemorrhaging, which is fatal.
However, this is uncommon in grazing situations because living clover shouldn’t be moldy.
Clover also contains a form of estrogen called Isoflavone because clover is a cousin of soy.
Isoflavone in large quantities is deadly, but your chicken would have to eat unnaturally large quantities of clover with no other food sources for this to occur.
FAQs about Chickens Eating Clover
Can chickens eat clover blossoms?
Yes, chickens can eat clover blossoms.
Clover blossoms are safe for chickens to eat and can be a nutritious addition to their diet.
Chickens may enjoy picking at the blossoms and eating them as a treat.
However, as with any new food, it’s important to introduce clover blossoms gradually and in moderation to ensure they don’t cause any digestive issues.
It’s also important to ensure that the clover blossoms are not treated with pesticides or chemicals, as this can harm chickens.
Can chickens eat all types of clover?
While most types of clover are safe for chickens to eat, some varieties may be less palatable or nutritious than others.
White clover and red clover are two common types of clover that are safe for chickens to eat.
Can chickens eat clover hay or silage?
Yes, chickens can eat clover hay or silage.
However, it is important to make sure that the hay or silage is not moldy or spoiled, as this can cause digestive issues for chickens.
Can feeding clover to chickens change the color of their egg yolks?
Feeding clover to chickens is not likely to change the color of their egg yolks.
The chicken’s diet determines the color of egg yolks, but clover is not known to affect the color.
However, certain types of feed, such as those containing marigold petals, can result in darker egg yolks.
Yes, Chickens Can Eat Clover, But…
You should only allow your flock to eat clover moderately.
Remember, clover is not nutritionally complete.
Too much of them might cause more harm than good to your chickens’ health.
Clover contains higher levels of fiber and low amounts of fat, protein, and calories.
Chickens would either have too much fiber or insufficient fat and protein on an all-clover diet.
It’s far better for your chickens to have a diverse and varied diet, especially if they can source good portions of it on their own through free-ranging or on a pasture.
Interested in learning more about proper nutrition and chicken diets? Be sure to read our recommended articles below!