Can chickens eat salad, lettuce and spinach leaves?
Is it OK to feed chickens lettuce?
Chickens can and will eat lettuce and salad as they do like green foods in their diet and it is fine to feed chickens small amounts of lettuce and leafy salads. As with all treats the amount of leaves and salad fed to chickens should be limited to less than 5% of their whole diet to avoid digestive problems.
You should never feed chickens salad leaves that have been dressed with oils or salad dressing as these often contain massive amounts of salt and sugar.
Below: Here is my chickens completely ignoring baby leaf salad.
I have a backyard garden and grow my own salad leaves so my chickens get it when it has gone to seed at the end of the growing season. I also grow the heritage type which re coloured and more strongly flavoured as opposed to watery and sweet like iceberg.
Sweet cultivars of lettuce can be as much as 4% sugar. Iceberg lettuce is a good example that is too watery and sugary to be good for chickens.
Is salad good for chickens?
Salad, lettuce and leaves are not a good food for chickens, they contain very little nutrients and are mostly water. Some salad leaves, like spinach, contain Oxalic acid which can cause digestive problems in chickens. Lettuce only contains trace amounts of minerals and vitamins.
Salad leaves are almost completely devoid of protein making them a poor food for chickens and the fibre content could cause dirty bottoms and digestive issues in birds.
You should limit the amount of lettuce and salad leaves you feed to your chickens.
Can chickens eat all types of lettuce?
Chickens can eat all types of lettuce including iceberg, romaine, lollo rosso and oak-leaf varieties.
Watercress, rocket and mizuna are nutrient rich and good for chickens in small amounts.
Below: Some of my egg flock eating baby leaf salad.
All salad leaves suffer the same problem in that there is very little nutrition for chickens in salad.
Can you feed baby chicks salad and lettuce?
No. You should not give salad leaves to baby chicks until they are at least 4 or 6 weeks old.
Chicks and growing chickens need time for their systems to be able to cope with other foods and you are best served feeding them the proper diet.
How to feed lettuce to chickens:
You can feed chickens green leaves and lettuce as is. There is no need to chop up or process at all. It is best to let them peck at the leaves and lettuce over time.
What about mixed salads?
Feeding chickens mixed salad is better for them as there is more nutrition in other salad ingredients.
Peppers: Peppers of all types and colours are fine for chickens as are the seeds inside. Never feed the green leaves and stems of the pepper plants.
Tomatoes: Tomatoes are good for chickens, especially the seeds.
Cucumber: Cucumber is fine for chickens, they particularly like the seeds.
Leaf beet: Leaf beet is fine for chickens in small amounts.
Radishes: Chickens can eat radishes and the radish leaves
Onions and spring onion: You should not feed any onions or garlic to chickens.
Spinach: Spinach is rich in Oxalic acid and is not particularly good for chickens.