Cabbage leaves toxic?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Ridgerunner, Sep 22, 2009.

  1. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    In another thread, someone posted that cabbage leaves are toxic to your chickens. The link they gave to back up the comment (the link is very appreciated, by the way) is:

    The comment on the link is:

    CABBAGE (Brassica sp.); leaves; plant is goitrogenic.

    And a definition I got for goitrogenic is:

    Goitrogens are substances that suppress the function of the thyroid gland by interfering with iodine uptake, which can, as a result, cause an enlargement of the thyroid, i.e., a goitre.

    I noticed on the link that broccoli and cauliflower leaves are not mentioned.

    I realize that most toxic plants act over time and the results are usualy not immediately apparent. I'm also aware that things eaten to excess can cause problems where things in moderation do not. I see a lot of postings where people hang a head of cabbage as a special treat for their chickens. In the link, the leaves are called out as toxic, not the head.

    I'd appreciate comments from knowledgeable people on this please. Should the treats chart be modified to caution against cabbage leaves. Have I missed something?
  2. ozark hen

    ozark hen Living My Dream

    Apr 4, 2007
    Mansfield, MO
    I can only speak from personal experience here....I hang a head of cabbage every week during the winter months inside the chicken coop. They devour it in a couple days! They love it and I have yet to lose a chicken from eating cabbage!!
  3. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

    Sep 25, 2007
    I'm confused on "cabbage leaves" versus "cabbage head" - isn't a head of cabbage a big bunch of leaves?

    I feed mine cabbage weekly, and haven't had any issues, so I'm curious to find more info. on this! Thanks for bringing it up - excellent question!
  4. 1shelby1

    1shelby1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 11, 2008
    whine cntry,ca.
    There may be a difference in the cabbage 'head'and the leaves on the cabbage plant.But unless you are growing your own cabbage,you would not have cabbage 'leaves' from the plant.I give my chickens cabbage,no problemo.
  5. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

    Jun 1, 2009
    I'm confused on "cabbage leaves" versus "cabbage head" - isn't a head of cabbage a big bunch of leaves?

    Your right...
    A head of cabbage is just a bunch of leaves that form a 'head' like 'head' lettuce....

    I feed cabbage to my chickens never had a problem with it...

  6. Andora

    Andora Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 26, 2008
    Lexington, Kentucky
    My neighbor tosses my chickens cabbage leaves that aren't the outer leaves. He grows it in his garden right on the other side of the fence. I've never had any sick birds. I'm also curious to know more about this?
  7. Tad

    Tad Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 16, 2008
    South TX on the border
    my chickens run thru 2 heads a day almost never had any ill side effects during fall season and early spring, neighbor plants his field in cabbage and winter greens and we get all the unused stuff we want
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2009
  8. blckbrnfamly

    blckbrnfamly Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 20, 2009
    Southeast, Arizona
    My chickens LOVE cabbage. They have never had a problem, They eat it over apples! [​IMG]
  9. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    I think that the question on whether cabbage is toxic or not would first require some information on how much cabbage are they eating and for how long a time.

    "Food plants species in the Cruciferae (Brassicaceae) family contain substances called glucosinolates . . . " Oregon State University

    Plants Poisonous to Livestock, Glucosinolates, Cornell University

    My guess is that there is very little danger in feeding cabbage.

  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Digits. I was hoping you would be one of the responders to this. You are one of the ones I trust on this topic.

    My original thoughts when I saw that was that if you feed any one treat to excess, yes, it can cause problems. Either they get too much of one thing or, by eating one to excess, they are not getting enough of something else. The more difficult part is knowing what is excess. And I was kind of surprised to see cabbage leaves specifically called out but broccoli and cauliflower absent. Maybe there was something in the outside greener cabbage leaves versus the paler leaves in the head, similar to green potato skins versus those not sunburned. I did not see any harm in posting the question.

    I'll keep doing what I have been doing, giving them the stuff from the garden as it is available but not a consistent diet of any one thing or one type of thing, like cabbage and broccoli leaves.


    I do grow my own cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, kale, squash, cucumbers, chard, kale, cauliflower, corn, tomatoes and such. I eat what I can and the chickens get the scraps or or excess. For example, when I eat corn, I normally cut the corn off the cob for me and give the cob, plus any corn ear worms found, to the chickens. They pick it clean. Or I'll eat the head of cabbage and feed them the leaves. They get the ripe tomatoes that split on the vine. They get the Japanese beetles I pick off the crops. I try to vary it so they don't get too much of any one thing and not give them so much they neglect their regular feed.

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