Can chickens eat purslane? Yes, most chickens love purslane and will eat any variety. Purslane is an excellent source of omega-3 and vitamin C.
There are a couple of things to remember when preparing purslane and feeding it to your chickens. Read on to find out everything you need to know about feeding purslane to your chickens.
What is Purslane?
Purslane is a weed that grows in most climates of the world. It is an annual plant with thick, fleshy leaves and stalks.
It can grow up to three feet tall though it does not usually get this big except for in hot climates where it really thrives. However, even if your chickens are kept mostly indoors, they will still devour purslane because it is very low maintenance and easy to grow.
Not only do chickens love eating purslane but cows do too. Cows seem to prefer the taste of purslane over grass when grazing which is why cow pastures often contain purslane growing wild within them.
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Can Chickens Eat Purslane?
Yes, chickens love purslane and will eat any variety. Chickens do not have a taste preference for one type of purslane over another. They seem to prefer it no matter what part of the plant they are eating.
Though many people feed their chickens fresh greens, they often forget about feeding them purslane because there is a common misconception that all weeds are poisonous to animals. This just is not true. Many weeds are actually great for animals.
Though purslane is a weed, it is actually very nutritious and even has medicinal purposes for both humans and chickens. Chickens will eat purslane cooked or raw so prepare it for them however you would like though keep in mind that cooking it might reduce the nutritional content slightly.
Is Purslane Safe for Chickens?
Yes, purslane is completely safe and in fact quite healthy for your chickens. It contains omega-3 fatty acids which help with their growth and health in addition to vitamin A, C, and E. Vitamin A helps them maintain good vision while the antiviral properties of vitamin C work with vitamin B6 to fight chicken illnesses such as the infamous Marek’s disease.
Vitamin E provides a boost of energy to keep them active. Chickens can’t produce their own vitamin E so it is essential that they get enough of it from food sources like purslane which also contain thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, folate, betaine, choline, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and copper.
All of these minerals and vitamins work together in purslane to provide a well-rounded source of nutrition for your chickens.
Health Benefits of Purslane for Chickens
As mentioned previously, purslane contains omega-3 fatty acids which help with your chicken’s growth and overall health. Omega-3 fatty acids also make egg yolks taste better. In addition, egg yolks from chickens fed purslane contain a higher nutritional value of vitamins A, B2, B5, and E as well as all essential amino acids.
The high content of vitamin C in purslane helps boost their immune system to fight off illness while the iron found in purslane helps build red blood cells which increase the oxygen-carrying capacity of their blood cells.
This is beneficial because it makes them stronger for longer periods of time so they can play or exercise more before being tired out.
Purslane contains beta carotene which is great for helping them maintain good vision and preventing blindness in older chickens.
Beta carotene is also a powerful antioxidant that helps keep their cells healthy and active which in turn keeps their skin smooth, feathers soft and shiny, and comb bright red.
In addition to the numerous vitamins and minerals found in purslane, there is also a compound called carotenoids. Carotenoids help with feather development which helps your hens stay warm during winter when little light reaches them.
Are there any Risks in Feeding Purslane to Chickens?
There are no risks in feeding purslane to chickens. There are only benefits which means it is completely safe for them to eat and they will benefit from eating it.
In addition, there have been no reports of side effects when feeding purslane to chickens. In fact, studies show that it may provide a protective effect against cancer. In one study, researchers found that animals with cancer had lower concentrations of carotenoids in their tissues if they were not consuming plants like purslane regularly.
Purslane has also been found to help prevent obesity and high blood pressure which can be an issue in some cases for people who feed their chickens too much chicken scratch grain instead of fresh greens like purslane on a regular basis.
How to Prepare Purslane for Chickens?
Purslane doesn’t require any special preparation before feeding it to chickens. It can be eaten fresh or cooked though some say that cooking purslane can remove some of its nutritional content so many people choose to feed it raw if possible.
It can be fed whole or chopped into smaller pieces depending on what your chickens prefer. There are no seeds in purslane (at least none that will hurt your birds) so you don’t have to worry about them choking on it or getting any stuck in their crop.
Can Chickens Eat Cooked Purslane?
No, cooked purslane is not good for your chickens. All of the nutrients and vitamins that it provides are completely lost when you cook it so there is no point in feeding them a food source that they don’t need to be eating.
In fact, cooking purslane can actually destroy some of its benefits including beta-carotene which helps with feather development and maintaining good vision as well as potentially lowering the risk of cancer in chickens.
In addition, cooking purslane destroys almost all of the B complex vitamins found in it which is very problematic since these vitamins aid in many different bodily functions from breaking down carbs to producing energy from fat and protein metabolism.
Can Chickens Eat Raw Purslane?
Yes, you can feed your chickens purslane fresh because it is completely safe for them to eat. It contains many nutrients and vitamins, including B complex vitamins which are needed to break down carbs, protein, and fat in order to produce energy.
There are no seeds in purslane so there is nothing that they could choke on or get stuck in their crop when eating it fresh.
As soon as the purslane goes from fresh to wilted, it loses its nutritional value quickly so you want to make sure that you serve it within a few hours of picking it from your garden if possible.
In fact, the longer that purslane sits out after being picked from your garden or bought from the grocery store, the more nutrients it loses.
How Often Should I Feed my Chickens Purslane?
Purslane is a very healthy and nutritious addition to your chicken’s diet and can be fed on a regular basis. The best way to ensure that they get the variety of nutrients that they need is to feed them different things like purslane, leafy greens, or vegetables at least once or twice a week to bi-weekly depending on their availability.
If you do this then it will help prevent them from becoming malnourished which can cause all kinds of issues including decreased egg production, skinny or leggy appearance, feathers that are not shiny or smooth, torn or ragged looking feathers, poor laying eggs with thin shells, low egg weight if they are an older chicken, etc.
Other Plants That Chickens Can Eat Apart from Purslane
While purslane is certainly a healthy and safe option for your chickens, it’s far from the only plant they can eat. Just as with humans, a varied diet can help ensure that your chickens get a broad spectrum of nutrients, contributing to their overall health. Some plants are outright beneficial, while others might not be as advantageous.
Dandelions are safe and even healthy for chickens to eat. Every part of the plant, from the flowers to the roots, is packed with essential vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, and vitamins A, C, and K. Dandelions can also be a good source of fiber. Chickens typically enjoy the taste and will readily consume them if available in their range.
Despite its alarming name and irritating effects on humans, poison ivy is generally safe for chickens to eat. The urushiol oil that causes skin irritation in humans doesn’t affect chickens. Chickens can, in fact, help control the spread of this invasive plant by eating it. However, if humans handle chickens who’ve been in contact with poison ivy, they may still have a reaction to the residual oil on the chickens’ feathers.
Marigolds are not only safe but also advantageous for chickens to eat. They contain antioxidants and have antifungal, antibacterial, and insect-repellant properties. Moreover, the xanthophylls found in marigolds can help deepen the yellow color of egg yolks. They can be fed to chickens either fresh or dried.
Hibiscus is another chicken-friendly plant. It is completely safe for them to consume, and chickens seem to love both the flowers and leaves. Hibiscus is rich in antioxidants and can provide a nutrient boost to your chicken’s diet. Additionally, its bright colors can stimulate chickens’ appetite and make their foraging time more engaging.
Comfrey is a beneficial plant that chickens can eat. The plant is rich in protein and vitamins A, C, and E, as well as essential minerals such as potassium and calcium. Comfrey has been known to support bone and feather growth and overall health. While it’s a great addition to their diet, it should be given in moderation due to its high protein content, which can be hard on a chicken’s kidneys if consumed in large amounts.
Can Chickens Eat Purslane – Final Thoughts
Feeding purslane to your chickens is a great way to give them some extra nutrients. Purslane is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin C, both of which are important for chickens.
In addition, they will benefit from having a steady supply of fresh greens like purslane available at all times which helps keep them active and strong no matter what time of year you’re raising your chickens.
Chickens love to eat purslane, so it’s easy to include in their diet. Just make sure you harvest the purslane from a safe location and clean it thoroughly before feeding it to your chickens.