Chickens don’t like Brussels Sprouts

November 19, 2010

The first of September, I planted a dozen or more Brussels sprout seedlings. Although it would be 90 days before harvest, I made room in the freezer for a sizable yield that would compliment many meals, hopefully for a few months. Every week the stocks grew a little taller and the foliage grew bigger and wider. But as it sometimes happens with farmers, this week I had to take a loss and pull every plant out of the earth.

Unable to check on the vegetable garden during the three weeks that I was sick, hundreds of aphids attacked my beautiful Brussels sprout plants. The Brussels had just started to develop, but the number of aphids was so severe it would have taken a chemical pesticide to get rid of them. The idea of growing my own vegetables is to avoid harmful chemicals. If caught early, I could have washed the aphids off with the water hose, pruned off the infected parts, or used an insecticidal soap.

Thinking my hens would love the Brussels sprout foliage and the aphids I filled up the wheelbarrow and dumped the half-grown plants in the chicken pasture. Little did I know that chickens don’t like aphids or Brussels sprout plants, at least my hens don’t.

Usually, when I take raw vegetable scraps to the chickens, they attack the greens as if they haven’t eaten for days. But this time, they just looked at the foliage, the aphids, the turned-up wheelbarrow, and at me. Some of the hens didn’t even stick around to try a tiny bite.

“What?” I shouted at the chickens, throwing my arms in the air. “You don’t like Brussels sprout plants? Don’t you know they’re good for you?”

Yes, I know, there’s something wrong with a person who scolds chickens for not eating their greens.

When I returned that evening to put the chickens to bed, the pile of Brussels sprout plants, even the aphids, remained untouched. At that moment, as I looked down disgusted at the leafy greens, I decided to stick with winter vegetables that aren’t susceptible to aphids, to grow crops that the hens will eat if I ever have to take another loss. Copyright © 2010 Dianne Marie Andre



  1. I wasn’t aware of how brussel sprouts grew until recently I saw a local chef on a cooking segment on TV. Little did I realize the sprouts were on a stalk. I thought they just grew in the ground like little tiny cabbages, which I think they are related to somehow.

    Then last week I was at Marina Market in Stockton going through the produce section, and there they were, full stalks of brussel sprouts stacked in a wooden apple basket. I was amazed.

    Didn’t know about the chickens, but that’s a whole other story – I have a phobia when it comes to anything with feathers. Bernadine


  2. Well, Bernadine, don’t go to Bodega Bay. Remember Alfred Hitchcock and his movie THE BIRDS? We were staying in a home above Wrights Beach and I went out in the garden and looked up and there in a row sitting on the telephone wires was a whole lineup of BIRDS.

    Funny, in that house that we rented, they had a (stuffed) black crow up by the ceiling. Also they had the movie on a shelf available for us to watch.


  3. Dianne, I finally got all the brussels sprouts eaten that I had bought at Apple Hill that were on a long stalk. Jim doesn’t like them. There sure were a LOT of sprouts on that stalk. I didn’t have to throw any away. I got therm eaten before their time was up.


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