Can Chickens Eat Iceberg Lettuce? Is It Safe?

By Paul Smart •  Updated: 08/27/22 •  6 min read

Can Chickens Eat Iceberg Lettuce? Is It Safe? Iceberg lettuce is one of the most popular commercial varieties of lettuce that are sold in the supermarket which means that it is common to have plenty of scraps of iceberg lettuce available which can either go into the compost or to your backyard chickens.  However, one of the most common questions asked is, is it safe to feed iceberg lettuce to chickens? 

Iceberg lettuce can be fed to chickens without a problem and they will be more than happy to eat the lettuce even if it’s become a little droopy as it ages and is looking a little bit worse for wear. Additionally, you can also feed them the core of the lettuce and they will also have a bit of a nipple but they may not eat all of this part of the lettuce.

The iceberg lettuce is an excellent source of nutrition for the chickens and will provide them with many valuable nutrients that supplement the grain feeds or palletized food that is sold commercially. It is a good idea to dump lettuce scraps into the chickens’ pen regularly to ensure that the chickens remain healthy.

If you want to make these lettuce leaves last longer some people that keep chickens will also hang them above the ground using a piece of string. This reduces the chances of the lettuce leaves rotting before your chickens can get to them.

Will Chickens Eat Other Types Of Lettuces?

Chickens will eat pretty much any of the greens you put in front of them which can include a range of commercially available lettuces such as romaine and other loose leaf varieties such as oakleaf. They will even eat the more bitter red varieties of lettuce which some people can find a little bit unpalatable.

The main thing to consider when feeding the chickens greens is to ensure that you wash them if they have been bought commercially because they can still contain traces of pesticides which can have a negative effect on your chickens.

Can You Feed Lettuce That Has Bolted To Chickens?

If you grow your own lettuce at home you may find that you have large amounts of lettuce running to seed and becoming bitter. This means that you pretty much can’t eat it yourself but you can feed it to your chickens and I will quite happily eat it without any complaints.

Again the only thing you’ll probably need to be wary of is ensuring that you do not feed them plants that have been sprayed with fungicides as that has the potential to make them sick.

Can You Feed Chickens Too Much Iceberg Lettuce?

Iceberg lettuce is generally ok to feed to the chickens on a regular basis because it contains approximately 95% water which means that it can help to get your chickens hydrated particularly in hot weather.

However, you cannot feed them an unlimited amount of iceberg lettuce because it contains relatively little nutritional value. This means that the chickens can potentially develop diarrhoea if they do each really large amounts of iceberg lettuce which is generally not good for the health of the chicken.

In extreme circumstances, too much iceberg lettuce can cause a drop in the sodium levels within the chickens’ blood which can create a host of other problems.

Can Chickens Eat Any Type Of Leafy Green Plant?

Chickens can eat a wide range of the vegetables that we eat at home, however, you should be extremely careful in feeding them ornamental plants that are grown in your garden because there are a number of plants that we grow in the garden are toxic. Examples of commonly grown plants that are toxic include things like foxgloves, delphiniums, rhubarb leaves, Lily of the valley, and snowdrops.

To avoid these problems it is advisable to stick to feeding the chickens only the scraps from plants that you would be happy to eat yourself as this is usually a pretty good guide that it is unlikely to cause a problem with the chickens.

However, if you do want to feed them things from your ornamental garden is it advisable to visit the  University of California website which has a detailed list of which plants are toxic and which are not. This will ensure that you do not cause any significant problems with your chickens.

What Types Of Plants Should Chickens Be Eating?

As mentioned earlier in the article it is advisable to feed chickens a wide range of different vegetables along with commercially purchased chicken feed. As mentioned earlier in the article it is highly recommended that you feed the chickens things like silverbeet or chard, spinach, herbs such as coriander and parsley.

In addition to this, you can also feed chickens fruiting plants such as zucchini, pumpkin, eggplant, and capsicum. However, I would generally avoid feeding them green tomatoes or potatoes as they have toxins within them that can cause problems with chickens.

Additionally, I would not assume that the leaves of edible fruiting plants are necessarily ok for chickens to eat. The reason for this is because some of these plants such as tomato plants do have similar chemicals in them to green tomatoes and potatoes.

However, one of the absolute favourites that my chickens love that I would highly recommend that you give to them periodically is the heads of sunflowers. These heads contain a huge number of seeds which are a fantastic treat for chickens to vary their diet somewhat.

Can You Feed Chickens Stale Or Mouldy Food?

In general, it is not advisable to feed chickens food that is past its best and it’s beginning to turn which can include things like stale bread. The reason for this is because the bacteria and mold within the foods will be building up rapidly so unless the chickens eat the food relatively quickly the mold and bacteria will reach dangerous levels which can kill your chickens in some cases.

Additionally, when the relatively old food is placed into the chicken pen there is also a reasonable chance that it will turn rancid very quickly and produce a possible source of disease and infection so it is generally not recommended.


So in conclusion, I would recommend that you feed your chicken’s a variety of food which you would be happy to eat yourself which can include iceberg lettuce leaves. Be careful I feeding them leaves from ornamental plants as there is some risk that they may be toxic.

I hope you found this article useful and have great success looking after your chickens at home. If you have any additional comments or questions please leave them in the section below.

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Paul Smart