What is bok choy?
For those who have never heard of bok choy, you are not alone.
Unless you are familiar with Chinese cuisine you may have never known this cabbage relative.
Bok Choy is also commonly referred to as Pok Choi or Pak Choi.
This leafy green vegetable has been a part of Chinese cuisine for more than two thousand years.
It is also known as Chinese Cabbage and is in the same family of vegetables as kale, cabbage, turnip, and broccoli.
The bok choy plant has two parts, the leafy tops, and lower stalk and all parts are edible.
The bok choy has a pleasing taste and its stalk is crunchy much like celery.
The leaves have a soft texture and yet still have a bit of crispness at the same time.
It has a grassy taste with a hint of pepper.
What is the nutrition in bok choy?
Like most vegetables, the bok choy plant has several nutrients to offer.
This is one of the primary reasons why the Chinese people have been including it in many different foods for more than two millennia.
Bok choy contains high levels of several vitamins including vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K.
Each of the vitamins offers a different benefit such as an improved immune system from vitamin C, improved eyesight from vitamin A, and improved bone and heart health from vitamin K.
Along with all the vitamins it contains, bok choy is also a source of potassium.
Getting the right amount of potassium can help to lower blood pressure and improve overall heart health.
What is even more impressive is that it packs all of the nutrients, but it is very low in calories.
A single cup of bok choy only has 9 calories.
How might this nutrition help your chicken?
When you include bok choy in the diet that you created for your chickens they will benefit highly from many of the nutrients found inside. Just like with humans, your chicken’s immune system is very important when it comes to its overall health. Fortunately, the high level of vitamin C in bok choy is a good way to boost your chicken’s immune system.
Along with being high in vitamin C, there is also a good amount of minerals such as calcium, folate, and iron, as well. There is also a rich source of dietary fiber in bok choy. Leafy green vegetables like the tops of bok choy contain large amounts of vitamin A. Beta Carotene (vitamin A) helps to promote improved eyesight.
Can your chickens eat too much bok choy?
Unfortunately, as with humans, too much of a good thing can be bad even for chickens. Despite bok choy having the above-mentioned nutrients, there is a downside and if you feed your chickens too much bok choy it can be harmful to them. There are several reasons why you should limit the amount and frequency of bok choy you feed them.
There are compounds found in bok choy called glucosinolates and these compounds can be beneficial to chickens in tiny amounts. However, these cancer preventative compounds can be toxic in larger amounts. So, to be on the safe side, you should add bok choy only as a treat instead of a staple of their diet. There is also a potentially harmful enzyme called myrosinase found in bok choy that can lead to another health concern if consumed in higher quantities. Glucosinolates in high concentrations can lead to suppressed iodine levels and can even lead to hypothyroidism. Cooking bok choy before putting it out for your flock ban help to neutralize the harmful effects of the myrosinase enzyme.
Can chickens eat raw and cooked bok choy?
As it turns out, leafy green veggies are just as good for chickens as they are for humans. They benefit from all of the same nutrients that are packed inside. The whole bok choy is also edible for the chicken, they can eat the leafy top portion and the more crunchy lower stalk part. Just as humans can prepare and eat bok choy fresh and raw as in a salad, you can feed it the same way to your flock of chickens.
Now, when it comes to cooked bok choy, this is when it can get dicey. Most people cook bok choy in soups or boil it to go into other recipes. The problem is salt and most spices are toxic to chickens and most animals alike. So, if you plan to cook the bok choy before you feed it to your flock be sure that you use only plain water with no salt or seasonings.
Is there any part of the bok choy plant that chickens shouldn’t eat?
Now that you know that you can feed your flock of chickens bok choy the next thing you should know is that all parts of the plant are edible. That means you can feed them the leafy greens at the top and the more crunchy stalk at the bottom end. The only two things to remember, too much of a good thing, is not a good thing.
The other very important thing to remember, the earlier in your chicken’s development the better it is to introduce them to it. With that said, it is equally important to know that you want to be extremely careful to provide your chickens with a diverse, but a balanced diet of “fresh” fruits, grains, veggies, and meats.
How much bok choy should you feed your chickens?
Chickens, just like humans should not consume too much bok choy since it contains a compound called glucosinolates. Too high of a level the glucosinolates can be toxic for chickens. It is recommended that you only give bok choy a couple of times a week and mix it in with other vegetables like kale or mustard greens as a treat.
The amount you mix in will depend on the overall number of chickens in your flock. Assume each will eat about the same amount and that way you don’t end up overfeeding them. The added nutrients will help them to continue laying eggs and help improve their overall health.
Should you feed bok choy to baby and young chickens?
While we have previously discussed that leafy green vegetables are very good for your chickens. However, when it comes to your baby chickens and young chickens you want to avoid feeding them vegetables of any kind. It is highly recommended that you start them off with a starter mix.
The reason why you don’t want to feed greens to babies or young chickens is that it can cause them to have diarrhea or loose stool. As your chickens have grown, you can begin adding bok choy or other veggies to their diet. This is the best way to introduce them to new foods and to be sure that it doesn’t adversely affect them.
What other Asian vegetables are healthy for a chicken to eat?
bok choy is not the only kind of Asian vegetable that is good for chickens to eat. As we discussed earlier a well-balanced diet is very important for your flock of chickens. Part of that balanced diet should be vegetables and they should always be fresh. When it comes to Asian vegetables there are several varieties that chickens like.
- Daikon Radish
- Lotus Root
- Chinese Cabbage
- Opo Squash
All of the above-mentioned vegetables are packed with nutrients that are very beneficial to your chickens. They are very high in potassium, fiber, vitamins A, D, and K. Radishes and roots are high in vitamins, minerals, and water, which helps to keep them hydrated.
What other dark green vegetables are healthy for a chicken to eat?
Most leafy green vegetables are packed with nutrients that are extremely healthy for your flock of chickens. So, with that said, there are many other varieties of dark leafy greens that are also good choices besides bok choy to feed your chickens. Greens are naturally high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
If you are interested in other dark green vegetables that you can look into like spinach, mustard greens, and collard greens. Chickens are quite well suited for eating leafy greens, especially mustard greens and they can eat them without having any special preparation. Just put it out for them and they can use their powerful beak to eat the greens.
We hope that by now you have a really good understanding that feeding your chickens the right balance of food is very important and that bok choy can and should be a part of it. We also hope that you also know that you want to be sure that you don’t overdo it and that too much of a good thing is not always a good thing. So, go ahead and feed them it in moderation as long as they will eat it and by all means, make sure that you only feed them fresh bok choy.
¹ Chicken photo by Photo by Monika Kubala on Unsplash
² Bok choy photo by Photo by Jasmine Waheed on Unsplash