If you’ve caught yourself thinking “Can chickens eat bamboo?” I assure you you’re not the only one. This is a question asked by more people than you’d think, so you’re not alone on this one.
The answer is not that easy to give. It purely depends on which part of bamboo you are talking about. Leaves are perfectly safe! Some farmers have conducted experiments that revolved around feeding their chicken some bamboo, and the results were quite surprising.
In order to better understand these experiments and what results they’ve shown, or to learn a thing or two about bamboo and how to feed it to your chickens, I suggest you keep scrolling.
Bamboo – More Than Just Chicken Food?
There were a few studies showing that chickens that were fed bamboo leaves were showing more growth during the feeding period. It’s speculated that this is not only due to fibers found in bamboo leaves but to another function that bamboo has on your chicken’s digestive tract.
Namely, this experiment suggests that the fibers that I’m talking about enlarges the digestive tract (mainly the stomach) of the chickens that consume it, thus making more space to ingest more food.
This allows for a faster growth due to a larger amount of food that’s being consumed by the chickens. Bamboo leaves are known to be meaty and fibery in texture, so this doesn’t seem impossible.
I’d recommend trying this with a small amount of bamboo, and avoid any other part of the plant that aren’t leaves.
Bamboo leaves don’t contain anything bad for chickens and can be safely consumed by them. There are some bad substances in bamboo such as cyanide, but they are found in other parts of this plant.
If you implement bamboo leaves in your chicken’s diet, and it actually contributes to how much they can eat, it can seriously influence the speed of their growth.
By doing this you can speed up the process of your chickens reaching a weight goal, making it extremely profitable.
If you see that your chickens aren’t reacting well to the addition of the bamboo in their regular diet, I suggest you stop feeding them with it as soon as you notice this. I’m not talking about if your chickens ignore the bamboo the first few times you give it to them, but if they consistently refuse to eat it or have a bad reaction to it.
Nutritional Values Of Bamboo
As you all know, bamboo has been used as a food for a very long time, not only for animals but in the human diet as well. The only difference between animal and human diet is the part of the bamboo which is consumed. While animals primarily eat leaves or chew and nibble on the tree itself, humans tend to consume the bamboo shoot.
It’s not recommended for animals to consume the shoot of the bamboo because it contains a small portion of cyanide, which can be harmful to smaller animals. Even before human consumption, the shoot needs to be boiled in order to prevent potential poisoning.
Other than this, bamboo has some great nutritional values:
- Potassium (12,17 mg per gram)
- Calcium (5,37 mg per gram)
- Iron (123,19 mcg per gram)
- Zinc (28,56 mcg per gram)
All of these are highly desired in the chicken diet. Calcium is the most valuable ingredient here because it keeps the chicken’s bones and beak healthy and strong.
Another thing that can benefit from calcium is the eggshell. Calcium is a key ingredient in eggshells that is responsible for making them impenetrable and durable.
If the chickens don’t ingest enough calcium, it can pose a problem when it’s time for laying eggs. Bamboo leaves are a fantastic source of calcium, which is exactly why it’s recommended as an addition to your chicken’s diet.
Zinc and Iron are also crucial to your chicken’s health. These two are essential to the immune system and can prevent many diseases that can cause problems for these animals. Bamboo leaves (as you can see) are very rich in iron, making them absolutely desirable.
Potassium is also very important (as well for the chickens as for the roosters). Chickens can often experience potassium deficiency which is not a serious problem, but it can impact their overall health. Potassium found in bamboo leaves is just enough to prevent this from happening.
Pay Close Attention To These
Whether you’ve made up your mind or not about bamboo and chickens, there are some things you absolutely need to know before feeding your chickens bamboo.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, bamboo shoots do contain cyanide. This chemical is not only dangerous to small animals like chickens, but in some doses is lethal to humans as well.
This shouldn’t pose a problem, because it’s not recommended to feed your chickens with shoots, but rather with the meaty leaves of the plant.
You should also be informed that too much fiber can cause constipation and some other problems with the digestive tract of your animal.
To prevent this I suggest you ease your way in with the bamboo leaves in your chicken’s everyday diet. This will give them enough time to adjust to the newly added food, and it’ll give you time to see how they react to it.
Another thing to keep in mind is that there are different species of bamboo. The majority of them are safe for animal consumption, but there are some decorative kinds that should be avoided at all costs.
- The biggest one is the heavenly bamboo (or nandina domestica) bush. This is a strictly decorative plant that has a red-ish color to it and it shouldn’t be fed to any kind of animal, especially chickens.
- Another one to keep in mind is Chilean bamboo (or chusquea culeou). This is another bushy type of bamboo that is also strictly for decorative purposes. It should also not be fed to the chickens.
These types of bamboo are quite bitter, and aren’t high in any of the nutrients that are recommended for the chickens.
Bamboo stems are not recommended as well, but can be left near the chickens because they’ll sometimes nibble on it, making their beak not as sharp as it used to be. If you notice they start eating it, you should get rid of it, as some sharp parts can rip through their stomach having some serious consequences.
How To Prepare Bamboo Leaves For Your Chickens?
What I like to do is first tear the leaves from the stem. Then I wash them thoroughly from any dirt or insects that may be found on the leaves. Depending on the size of the leaves, I like to tear them up in smaller pieces that will be easier for the chickens to eat and mix them with the rest of the food.
You can also leave the leaves as they are and let your chickens play with them, but only if the leaves are not too big. This will make it fun for them, and it’ll also be a slower way of ingesting them, giving their tummy some time to adjust to the new food.
Some people like to grind the leaves down, but I don’t find that very useful because in the process of blending the leaves, they lose the majority of their juices and fiber so I see it as a little bit counterproductive.
When the question of can chickens eat bamboo or not is raised, you need to be very precise with the answer.
The shoot? No. The stem? Occasionally. The leaves? Absolutely. The conclusion is that you should stick to leaves when talking about the chicken diet, and maybe some occasional stem for keeping their beak dull.
Everything else should be avoided, and if you do this your chickens should be perfectly safe.
So, I suggest you go and pick up some bamboo, wash the leaves and start feeding your chickens with them so you can see firsthand how much faster they grow!