I recently learned that Brussels sprouts have become tastier and tastier over time!
Farmers have worked hard to grow Brussels sprouts that are less bitter than their predecessors. Perhaps that explains why birds seem to enjoy them so much!
Birds can eat brussels sprouts in just about any way you prepare them: raw, whole, chopped, broiled, boiled, and the list goes on. Even though they are safe, are they a good option for your backyard birds?
What Are Brussels Sprouts?
Brussels sprouts are part of the cabbage family.
They are small and round, usually with a diameter between 1.5 and 4 inches. The ones I buy in the grocery store are usually no larger than 2 inches wide.
They earned their name because of their popularity in Brussels, Belgium. They grow well in a variety of climates. Today, the biggest producers of Brussels Sprouts are California, New York, the Netherlands, and Mexico.
Brussels sprouts are the butt of many jokes related to foods that kids and picky eaters won’t eat. But because of that selective growing of less bitter varieties, they have been gaining popularity for several years now.
Health Benefits of Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts are very nutritious for people and birds alike.
They are especially rich in Vitamin C and Vitamin K. They also contain some B vitamins and fiber. They have some carbohydrates and protein, but minimal fat. Vitamin C is the big deal here!
The health benefits of Vitamin C are plentiful. It is associated with potentially positive outcomes in the following areas:
- Reducing stress
- Reducing cold symptoms
- Reducing stroke risk
- Helping skin stay healthy with aging
Without Vitamin C, people are at risk of developing a weaker immune system, a higher risk of infection, or even a very serious condition called scurvy.
Do Birds Need Vitamin C?
Not all birds need Vitamin C. Yet those that do need it can’t be healthy without it!
When pet parrots have a Vitamin C deficiency, they may begin to exhibit troubling behaviors like chewing their feathers or ripping out their feathers. Many parrot owners give their birds Vitamin C in the form of broccoli, bell peppers, cherries, and kiwi.
Brussels sprouts can be another great option for adding Vitamin C to a pet bird’s diet! As long as the bird isn’t too picky about bitter foods, raw Brussels sprouts will be a welcome snack.
Do Wild Birds Need Vitamin C?
According to Veterinarian Key, a resource for vets, wild birds don’t generally need Vitamin C in their diets. Red-vented bulbuls and willow ptarmigan are two of the species that cannot produce Vitamin C on their own.
Because birds produce Vitamin C in the liver, a wild bird with liver disease will quickly develop a deficiency.
Vitamin C deficiency in birds has the potential to lead to:
- Poor recovery from wounds
- Increased bleeding
- Bone weakness
- Unhealthy feathers and appearance
Can Birds Eat Brussel Sprouts?
Birds can absolutely eat Brussels sprouts! There is nothing risky or unhealthy in offering Brussels sprouts to backyard wild birds.
Which Is Better for Birds: Raw or Cooked Brussels Sprouts?
Brussels sprouts only lose a small amount of nutritional value when cooked. It is fine to feed both cooked and raw Brussels sprouts to birds. Defrosted frozen vegetables are also fine.
I recommend going with raw Brussels sprouts, though, because cooked Brussels sprouts are usually accompanied by other ingredients that could cause digestive problems.
Brussels sprouts are often cooked with fats like oil or butter, and recipes may add onions, garlic, and other risky additions.
Can Birds Eat Brussels Sprout Leaves?
Birds can eat all parts of the Brussels sprout plant! That includes the stalk and leaves.
In fact, birds often cause problems for Brussels sprout farmers and gardeners because they like to consume the plant and the growing sprout buds!
If you grow Brussels sprouts, you can protect your crop with bird netting. Bird netting is harmless and safe to use, especially compared to strategies that can injure or sicken birds.
Can Chickens Have Brussels Sprouts?
Chickens are hearty eaters!
They can eat cooked or raw Brussels sprouts. Some chicken experts recommend cutting them into small pieces because chickens may not be interested in very firm vegetables.
Chickens can safely eat Brussels sprouts, leaves, and stalks. If they leave behind parts of the vegetable, you can discard what they don’t eat to avoid spoilage or attracting nuisance animals like raccoons.
The same is true for ducks. Backyard poultry of all varieties tends to like cabbages and leafy vegetables.
How to Prepare Brussels Sprouts for Backyard Birds
There are countless recipes to try if you want to add more Brussels sprouts to your diet. Birds, however, don’t need anything fancy.
Because raw Brussels sprouts are quite firm, songbirds may struggle to eat them if you don’t chop them up into tiny pieces.
I recommend dicing raw Brussels sprouts and putting them on a platter or scattering them on the ground. Sometimes it takes a while for birds to recognize a new food. It is better to offer just a small amount of new foods at a time. That way, you don’t end up wasting a bunch of good food.
Want to make things easier? Chop a bunch of raw Brussels sprouts at once, but keep most of them in a covered container in the fridge. Then, once you determine that the birds do want to eat the Brussels sprouts you’ve offered, put out the rest.
Have Fun Feeding Brussels Sprouts to the Birds!
As long as you remember that birds can’t be given moldy food, there is no wrong way to feed Brussels sprouts to the birds that visit your feeders!