So, Can Chickens Eat Sauerkraut?

Chickens are notoriously adventurous, curious eaters. As omnivores, they like to eat all kinds of things and every keeper knows they are more than willing to try just about anything. They can even safely eat quite a few things considered people food.

flock of New Hampshire chickens
flock of New Hampshire chickens

But how about something weird, something like sauerkraut? It’s a fair question.

After all, sauerkraut is nothing more than fermented cabbage, and we all know that chickens love to eat fresh cabbage. So what’s the deal? Can chickens eat sauerkraut or not?

Yes, chickens can eat sauerkraut in limited quantities; they seem attracted to its tangy, sour taste. Sauerkraut is a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C. However, they should only get sauerkraut in strict moderation due to the salt content.

Well, color me surprised. I would never have thought that chickens would like sauerkraut, but I guess they really do eat just about everything.

If your chickens are feeling adventurous, go ahead and give them a little sauerkraut, just don’t let them eat too much of it. There is a lot more to know about this subject, so keep reading.

What is Sauerkraut?

Sauerkraut is simply fine-cut cabbage that has been heavily salted and then fermented by various lactic acid bacteria, including Leuconostoc, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus.

This process allows for room temperature, long-term safe storage, and most notably gives it a sour, tangy taste and a distinctive, pungent smell.

It is often used as a condiment or side dish and is greatly beloved in much of Europe, particularly Germany.

Is Sauerkraut Safe for Chickens?

Yes. Even though it is fermented, sauerkraut is perfectly safe for chickens to eat in limited quantities.

Sauerkraut is a High Salt Food

Again, sauerkraut should only be fed to chickens in limited quantities. This is due to the high quantity of salt it contains.

Too much salt is especially bad for chickens and can lead to serious health problems, particularly sodium poisoning which can be fatal.

Do Chickens Like Sauerkraut?

Generally, yes. Chickens are attracted to the sour, tangy taste of sauerkraut. They also seem to like the shredded texture. However, every chicken is different and some may not be as fond of it as others.

Nutritional Profile of Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B6, C, and K. It also contains iron and, as mentioned, a ton of sodium.

Vitamin B6 is important for chicken health, as it helps to metabolize proteins.

Vitamin C is an important antioxidant and can help to boost the immune system, though chickens don’t need much in their diet as they make their own internally.

Vitamin K is necessary for proper blood clotting and the utilization of minerals like calcium.

Sauerkraut also contains a number of probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that help with digestion. Probiotics can also help to prevent disease and promote a healthy gut flora.

Chickens can safely eat small amounts of sauerkraut as a treat. Just be sure to limit their intake due to the high salt content. Now go out and enjoy some delicious sauerkraut!

Can Chickens Eat Sauerkraut Raw?

Yes, and this is the best way to give it to them. It is safe this way and contains the maximum amount of nutrition.

If you do choose to give your chickens cooked sauerkraut, be sure to cook it thoroughly to kill any harmful bacteria.

Can Chickens Eat Sauerkraut Cooked?

Yes. However, you definitely don’t need to feed them cooked sauerkraut: it is safe when fed to them raw, and cooking will deplete what few nutrients sauerkraut has to offer.

Never Feed Sauerkraut to Chickens that Has Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients

On the subject of preparation, you should never feed sauerkraut to chickens that have any other harmful ingredients in it.

It already has tons of salt, but things like oil, sugar and other spices can be dangerous for your birds.

At best, those additional calories and other ingredients could lead to serious indigestion or weight gain.

At worst, your chickens could suffer from peritonitis, hypertension, sodium poisoning, or worse. Any such conditions might result in fatal complications.

If you want to feed your chickens sauerkraut, make sure it is plain and simple, and only give them a little!

What about Other Fermented Foods?

While we’re on the subject of fermentation, you might be wondering if other fermented foods are safe for chickens.

The answer is yes: Chickens can eat most types of fermented foods, including yogurt, kefir, and sourdough bread.

Sauerkraut Is a Treat, Not a Staple

While sauerkraut is safe for chickens to eat and even has some genuine benefits for chickens, it should not be considered a staple food in any regard. This is due to its high salt content.

It is best used as an occasional, limited treat or as a way to add some variety to their diet.

As always, consult with your veterinarian if you have any concerns about feeding sauerkraut or any other food to your chickens.

What Kind of Sauerkraut Can Feed to Chickens?

The best kind of sauerkraut to give your chickens is plain, unseasoned sauerkraut that has been fermented with only salt. This type of sauerkraut will have the fewest additives and the highest nutrient content.

Avoid any sauerkraut that has been sweetened, as sugar can be harmful to chickens. You should also avoid any sauerkraut that has been canned with other ingredients.

How Often Can Chickens Have Sauerkraut?

Chickens can eat a small amount of sauerkraut a couple of times a week as part of a balanced diet.

As mentioned several times, sauerkraut is extremely high in salt, so it’s important not to overdo it. A good rule of thumb is to give them no more than 1 tablespoon per chicken per day.

Preparing Sauerkraut for Your Flock

If you’re going to feed your chickens sauerkraut, it’s important to do so safely. This means preparing the sauerkraut properly and ensuring that it is free of any harmful bacteria.

The best way to do this is to buy sauerkraut that has been refrigerated or canned, as this will help ensure that harmful bacteria has not grown. You can also make your own sauerkraut at home, which is not difficult to do.

Once you have your sauerkraut, simply squeeze it out with clean paper towel or by pressing it before giving it to your chickens. This will help to remove any residual salt that your birds don’t need.

After squeezing it out, you can either give it to them mixed in with other, dry foods or by itself.

Can Baby Chicks Have Sauerkraut, Too?

No, baby chicks should not have sauerkraut. Sauerkraut is so high in salt it can easily be harmful to their young and delicate systems.

In addition, baby chicks have not yet developed the beneficial gut bacteria that they need to properly digest sauerkraut.

As a general rule, it’s best to wait until your chicks are at least 8 weeks old before giving them any type of fermented food like sauerkraut.

Make Sure to Clean Up any Uneaten Sauerkraut!

Last thing: always be sure to clean up any leftover scraps of sauerkraut or other food that your chickens don’t eat.

Fermented foods can quickly go bad and become harmful if they’re left out in the open. Aside from reeking like hell, it might make your chickens ill if they come around for another bite later.

The post So, Can Chickens Eat Sauerkraut? appeared first on The Homesteading Hippy.