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Can Chickens Eat Kale? (Tips to Make Chickens Eat Kale)

can chickens eat kale

Chickens eat almost anything that you feed them, but can chickens eat kale?

Finding something to feed chickens is easy. However, finding the right diet with the right nutrition for chickens is hard.

Thus, livestock owners will always be in search of a proper diet for their beloved poultry animals. They will always want the best food to support their chicken’s growth.

So if your chicken’s food concerns you, then this article is for you. This blog post answers the health benefits of kale for chickens!

Read more and find out how to feed kale to chickens. You’ll also learn how much kale to feed to chickens.

redbor kale for chickens

Can Chickens Eat Kale?

Can chickens eat kale? Absolutely!

Kale is a superfood and delicious addition to your chicken’s diet. Just as how we easily munch on this green leaf, chickens will surely love kale once you introduce it to their diet.

But your kale vegetable is not just a tasty snack to your chicken’s diet. In fact, kale houses some of the best nutritional content that your chickens will need in their diet.

Fortunately, your chicken can absorb these nutrients and would benefit from eating kale.

Is Kale Safe for Chickens?

You can rest assured knowing that your chickens are safe to peck their kale treat.

As with other green leaves, kale doesn’t have any substance or components that are toxic to chickens and humans. It also doesn’t have any substance that specifically harms chickens.

Because kale lacks any toxicity, chickens can enjoy eating kale as much as humans do. It’s also the reason why other avian creatures on your farm, like ducks, can eat kale.

You should, however, look out for cases where kale leaves have dirt or residual pesticides on them.

Commercially-produced kales have one of the heaviest applications of pesticides on them, which are toxic for your chickens.

Washing your kale leaves thoroughly helps remove all of these inedible things on them.

Alternatively, you can also grow your own kale farm near your poultry birds. In this way, your kale farm can supplement not only your chicken’s everyday dietary needs but yours as well.

Another thing that you should be wary of is overfeeding your chickens with kale.

While it’s a safe vegetable for chickens, purely feeding them with just kale can result in micronutrient deficiency. Kale also contains oxalic acid, which can cause high calcium oxalate levels, kidney problems, and stones.

Can Chickens Eat Stalks?

Another question that most livestock owners have in mind is, “can chickens eat kale stalks?”

If you thought that kale’s leaves are the only edible part of the plant, think again.

All of the kale’s parts are completely edible, and you can feed the kale to your poultry birds with no waste. Farmers may only prefer feeding the leaf part to their poultry birds, but chickens can eat even the stalks of kale.

That being said, different types of kale will have different stalks and stem. Some kale will have woody stems that you may deem inedible for chickens to eat.

While you can still feed the woody stem to chickens, chicks will definitely have a harder time pecking it. You can always cook these woody stalks before you include the stalks in your baby chicken’s diet.

Is Kale Healthy for Chickens?

Chickens can eat kale as it’s a safe-to-eat edible vegetable for them. But more than that, kale can offer nutritional benefits that can boost the growth of your poultry birds.

So it’s not a matter of whether is kale healthy for chickens but how nutritious kale can be for them.

Below are some of the nutrients that chickens get from eating kale.

Vitamin K

Kale is rich in Vitamin K, a nutrient that is responsible for healthy and normal blood clotting for chickens.

A deficiency in Vitamin K could lead to problems with proper wound healing.

Additionally, Vitamin K also improves growth, metabolism, and healthy bone development.

Vitamin C

Another major vitamin that you can find in kale is Vitamin C.

You mostly know Vitamin C for boosting your body’s immune system, but it strengthens your chickens’ as well.

Aside from improving your chicken’s immune system, Vitamin C is also an antioxidant. This means Vitamin C is an active compound in combatting your chicken’s free radicals.

Vitamin C also plays a large role in maintaining your chickens’ collagen. This collagen network comes in the form of skin, wings, beaks, and feathers.

Eye Support and Health

Kale for chickens is abundant in Vitamin A, which is the needed nutrient to curb macular degeneration risks.

These particular nutrients are also great support for your chicken’s eye health and minimize the risk of blindness.

Apart from Vitamin A, kale contains trace compounds such as beta-carotene, Vitamin E, zeaxanthin, and lutein. These compounds further reduce the risk of any eye ailments for chickens.

Useful Minerals

There are a lot of trace minerals in kale that add a lot of beneficial elements to the nutrition profile.

For instance, calcium is ever-present in kale, which encourages healthy bone development. Kale also has trace minerals of potassium, which also reduces the risk of heart disease.

Lastly, this leaf diet also contains magnesium and manganese. These are minerals that improve your chicken’s immune system.


Apart from the vitamins, kale houses antioxidant compounds such as flavonoids, polyphenols, and beta-carotene.

Antioxidants counter and repel free radicals in the chicken’s body. These free radicals are elements that cause aging and oxidative damage to the body.

In turn, these antioxidants lower the risk of cancer, muscle inflammation, and heart-related diseases.

Additionally, they also improve metabolism for the chicken’s faster growth and development.


Fiber is the second most abundant nutrient in kale, aside from water. They are beneficial when chickens eat kale because they regulate bowel movements.

On top of that, fiber also reduces water retention. This is important for poultry animals that rely on excreta as their means of body waste.

What Are the Types of Kale for Chickens?

As mentioned, there are different types of kale that you should be aware of.

The type of kale that you’ll feed to your chickens will depend on the availability of each kale in your area.

Kale exists in different types, each varying in form, shape, size, thickness, and color. These kale types may vary in appearance, but they are all the same when it comes to nutritional value.

What you need to consider, however, is the size of your kale. When a kale type is considerably big, its stem can be tough to eat for chickens.

So what are these types of kale? Below are some of the most common kales that humans and chickens can eat.

chopped curly kale for chickens

Curly Kale

Curly kale is the type that we most associate with when we see kale. That is because it’s also the plant that’s been widely produced among other types of kale.

You can recognize this particular kale with its large bok choy appearance and curls on the edge of its leaves. Stems of young curly kale have tolerable toughness where chickens can still peck at it.

This kale is also the easiest to grow and farm, which is suitable if you are planning to grow a kale farm nearby.

redbor kale for chickens

Redbor Kale

Despite its name, Redbor kale has reddish-purple leaves and veiny deep purplish-green stems that run straight across the leaf.

From afar, you can mistake its distinct fringes on the leaves’ edge for an actual stemming branch of a tree.

Redbor kale has a neutral cabbage-like taste which the chickens can eat without worries.

Do take note, however, that Redbor kale has woody stalks that are not suited to raw diets for chickens.

baby kale for chickens

Baby Kale

Another common type of kale, baby kales are also widely available in the market, primarily for human consumption.

Compared to curled kale, baby kale has little to no curls around the edge of its leaves. They’re also noticeably smaller than the common kale.

This is why most people have mistaken baby kale for spinach or other leafy greens.

Baby kale has delicate leaves and soft stems that your chickens can easily peck and eat. Because of this, baby kale is easily the best food when served raw.

dinosaur kale for chickens

Dinosaur Kale

Dinosaur kale is a deep green type of kale that has spear-shaped leaves rather than looking like a bok choy.

They have a rough and wrinkly leaf shape and texture instead of having fringes around their leaves. It also lacks the distinct veiny stems that we know from other kale types.

Dinosaur kales are sweet and earthy and are safe for chickens. Their stems, however, are wood-tough, like tree twigs and branches.

red russian kale for chickens

Red Russian Kale

Often called “ragged jack kale,” Red Russian Kale has leaves that resemble oak leaves. Despite its name, Red Russian kale has a deep purplish-green color.

Ragged Jack Kale is a larger variation of kale that has a matching tough base stem. Chickens won’t be able to peck their way on the stems.

how to feed chickens kale

How to Feed Kale to Chickens

With the nutrient profile laid out, it’s now clear that kale is undeniably a great addition to the chicken’s diet.

The next question that you should ask yourself is how you should feed kale to chickens.

Understanding how to feed your chickens is also important because you need to determine how you would deliver the nutrients to your chicken.

Here are two ways of feeding kale to your chickens:

Raw Kale for Chickens

Raw kale is the most nutritious way to serve it to your poultry animals.

The problem, however, is that kale can be a tough plant for your chickens. Some of its parts, like the stem, can be extremely tough and inedible.

You can chop your kale into small bite-size pieces first before giving it to your chickens.

Alternatively, you can hang the plant upside down and let the chickens peck the leaves from its stem.

Cooked Kale for Chickens

Cooking vegetables is another way to serve kale to your chickens. With cooked kale, however, some nutrients will be lost during the process of cooking.

Regardless, cooked kale solves the problem of those woody stalks and stems. In this way, you can feed every chicken, even those that have weaker beaks.

To cook kale, boil them in a pot of water until they soften up. You can also quickly blanch your vegetable, just enough to limp the stalks but not as to remove most of the nutrients.

can baby chickens eat kale

Can Baby Chickens Eat Kale?

A baby chicken can eat kale, along with other greens.

Kale is a preferable diet for baby chicks as it is dense with nutrients that support their growth. It also has vitamins, trace minerals, and antioxidants that boost your chick’s immune system.

However, do take note that some types of kale are tough plants, especially their stems and stalks.

Baby chickens, especially the newly hatched ones, have the weakest beak that won’t nip a kale leaf. You must wait for the chicks to grow a stronger beak or feed them cooked kale instead.

Once their beak becomes stronger, you can start feeding them baby kale and work their way until they can eat large ones.


How Much Kale to Feed Chickens?

Kale is a highly nutritious leaf that you can feed to your chickens, but it doesn’t mean you should always feed them with just kale.

Your kale should only be ten to twenty percent of your chickens’ overall diet.

It is still highly recommended to stick with commercial-grade chicken feeds. These chicken feeds come with the proper proportion of nutritional values that better suits the needs of your poultry animals.

Treat your kale like a supplement food instead of replacing their main diet.

Your chickens should also receive a wide variety of other vegetables and fruits, which can help maintain their healthy physique.

Aside from the amount of kale, you should also be aware of how frequently you should feed them with kale.

Experts suggest feeding the chickens kale two to five times a week only. The amount may seem low, but a little goes a long way in providing sufficient nutrition for your chickens.

What Other Vegetables are Good for Chickens?

Variations in your chicken’s diet fill out other lacking nutrients that one food group doesn’t have.

Mixing kale treats with other feeds avoids the risk of having a nutrient deficiency from not adding variations in the food.

Imagine if you fed your chickens with pure kale.

Because kale lacks calories, your chickens won’t get the necessary energy from their foods. Kale is also low in other types of vitamins and minerals, which won’t have a holistic effect on your chickens’ growth.

That’s why feeding kale to chickens should only come as a form of a treat. It also means that there are other chicken treats that you can add to your chicken’s diet.

Below are some vegetables that are good for chickens:

  • Spinach
  • Chards
  • Cooked Beans
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Tomato
  • Zucchini
  • Snap Peas
  • Carrots
  • Arugula
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Rice
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Garlic
  • Lettuce
  • Cabbage
  • Bell Peppers
  • Hot Peppers
  • Cucumber
  • Radish
  • Pumpkin


What Vegetables Cannot be Fed to Chickens

While there are vegetables that have health benefits, some can harm the chickens and can even outright kill them.

For instance, chocolates, cacao pods, and cocoa beans contain theobromine and caffeine. These compounds are safe for humans but are extremely toxic for your poultry birds.

Avocado pits and skins contain persins that damage your chickens’ circulatory and respiratory tissues and organs. Even if the flesh of the avocado is safe for chickens, you may as well avoid feeding them the fruit.

Pickles are bad for chickens even if they come from safe ingredients like garlic, dill, and cucumber. This is because pickles have a high salt content that can be poisonous to your poultry birds.

Can Chickens Eat Kale – Key Insights

So, can chickens eat kale? Yes, kale is a safe-to-eat plant for chickens that is dense with much-needed nutrients for the chicken.

When chickens eat kale, they absorb a myriad of nutrients from the plant that supports growth and boost their immune system.

Some of these nutrients are Vitamins A, C, K, and E, antioxidants, amino acids, and trace minerals.

Unfortunately, stems can sometimes be an inedible part of the plant if you decide to feed kale to chickens.

Feeding raw kale to chickens can deliver all the nutrients to your poultry animals, but cooking it can help soften the thick parts of the vegetables.

Add kale to your chicken’s diet and help them grow healthy and strong.


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