Can Chickens Eat Brussel Sprouts? Is It Safe?

By Paul Smart •  Updated: 08/24/22 •  6 min read

Brussel sprouts have been a controversial vegetable since they first appeared on the market over 100 years ago. Many people dread them, while others can’t get enough. They may look intimidating, but these little cabbages are actually quite delicious when prepared with care and moderation. However, if you have too many of them in your garden can you feed them to your chickens?

Chickens will quite happily eat Brussels sprouts whether they are cooked or raw and they are generally quite nutritious for them as they have a wide range of vitamins and minerals. However, chickens may have difficulty eating the raw ones because the foliage of the Brussels sprouts is relatively tightly packed and can be difficult for the birds to access. They, therefore, need to be cut up relatively finely.

However, a quick and easy way to do this is to simply run them through a food processor on the grater setting which will produce very small bits making it very easy for the birds to eat. 

Will Chickens Eat Other Members Of The Brassica Family?

In addition to Brussels sprouts, chickens will also be quite happy to eat the other members of the brassica family which includes things like broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, and cabbage to name a few.  The reason that these plants are also ok for the chickens is that they are actually just different varieties of the same species even though we think of them as being distinct and different vegetables.

All of these vegetables originated from wild cabbage and can be happily interbred which is the definition of plants from the same species. This means that their chemical make-up is extremely similar to all of these other plants and therefore can be treated as being essentially the same as Brussel sprouts from the point of view of whether you give them the chickens or not. 

Can You Feed Chickens The Foliage Of Brussels Spout Plants?

While Brussels sprouts themselves are quite safe for chickens you may also be wondering whether you can feed the foliage of the Brussel Sprout plant to them without a problem. The answer to this is yes you can give them any part of the Brussel Sprout plant and they will happily eat them provided that it is still relatively fresh.

It is even quite safe to feed the chickens plants that have set seed at the end of the season and they will be quite happy to munch on the flowers, seeds, and foliage without any problems provided that they are chopped up into bite-size pieces for them. 

Can You Feed Chickens Too Many Brussel Sprouts?

Chickens can relatively large amounts of Brussel sprouts without too many problems, however, the main thing to be wary of is that they cannot live on Brussel sprouts alone as it will have long-term effects on their health. So it is best to feed them Brussel sprouts with a range of other things to ensure that they get a wide range of nutrients.

Additionally, giving them the same type of food continually can also affect their digestion as their bodies can have a hard time digesting the large quantities of the same plant materials which can result in them having long-term health issues. 

What Types Of Plants Should Chickens Be Eating?

There is a wide range of plants are considered safe for chickens to consume. However, as a general rule, it is best to feed them a mixture of vegetables, fruit, and commercial chicken food which typically contains a range of different grains.

When selecting vegetables to give to the chickens is important to ensure that you only give them things that you would otherwise eat yourself as some parts of the plants we use for food can actually be toxic.  

For example, plants from the Solanaceae family, such as tomatoes Peppers, and potatoes, contain toxins that can cause problems with chickens. Additionally, potatoes that have turned green are also poisonous to chickens along with green tomatoes. However, the leaves of other edible plants such as Swiss Chard, Kale, and Collard Greens are absolutely fine for the chickens to eat. 

The other thing that you should be wary of is any clippings or cuttings taken from our ornamental gardens because many of the plants that we grow in our gardens commonly are extremely toxic. For example foxgloves, Lily of the valley, and snowdrops are all poisonous plants that should not be given to chickens. So unless you are 100% certain that the plants are not toxic or a willing to spend the time to research it it is generally a good idea to avoid ornamental plants altogether to ensure that your chickens remain healthy. 

Can You Feed Chickens Stale Or Mouldy Food?

No, it is not recommended to feed moldy or stale food to your chickens. This can be a potential health risk for you and your flock. This is because you cannot be certain about what types of pathogens or bacteria have developed on the fruit or vegetables and what effect they may have upon the birds in general.

As a general rule, it is best to feed the chickens relatively fresh food as even food that is started to go stale but it’s not yet developing mold is somewhat risky. The reason for this is that if the chickens do not eat it immediately it is likely to good moldy quickly. Having food that is going off in the pen represents a potential risk that is really not worth taking and it is also likely to cause other problems such as attracting unwanted pests such as rodents.


Chickens will eat other members of the Brassica family which includes Brussel Sprouts. It is safe to feed chickens the foliage of Brussel Sprouts, but it is best to feed them fresh leaves. Chickens should be given fresh food on a regular basis to help supplement the chickens’ diet which should include grain and commercial chicken feed.

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Paul Smart