My love for gardening was first stoked when I would visit my great aunt’s farm. Not only was my aunt an avid gardener, but she also had a wide array of livestock that she would tend to on a daily basis. It was through my visits that I got to know the chicken, and to this day, I have a few roaming around my property. The chief problem with chickens is that they love to wander, and while they love to nosh on insects, sometimes, they will go straight for the garden, and if you’re not careful, some plants can make them really sick.
For this reason, I thought it’d be a great idea to compile a list of some of the plants that I grow in my garden that are not just safe for our fine-feathered friends but may actually benefit their health. This can save you some cash because a feed bag can be somewhat expensive, and if you’re growing these plants, your chickens will love the treats that they generate.
Not only will the seeds of this plant provide you with a delicious treat, but your chickens will love them as well. These flowers look great in a garden and are very hardy; in fact, these plants grow well between zones five through nine. To make a chicken-friendly treat out of your sunflowers, in August or September, cut the seed heads down and dry them in a place where birds can’t get them. Feed the dried seeds to your little roamers.
Not only will fennel produce some delicious seeds for your chickens, but the lacy pods attract insect pollinators, which will provide a treat that your chickens can snack on. The seeds also improve the reproductive health of chickens, and the plant itself will thrive when you grow them in a sunny area of your garden. Your hens will eat the leaves from the fennel, and you will reap the benefits in daily eggs! The plant can survive in winter conditions outdoors and does well in zones six through 10.
3) Swiss Chard
The leafiest varieties of Swiss chard almost always work the best for satisfying the appetites of your bird buddies. While the stem may often be overlooked by the chickens, the leaves are a treat that they seem to love. Zones five through nine are the best place to grow this plant.
Cucumbers are a major favorite of chickens, and they can feed off of one of the gourds for days. To feed your chickens cucumbers, you can simply slice off a few pieces and leave it for them to eat. Additionally, the seeds seem to do a great job at getting rid of nasty intestinal worms. The plants like it warm and humid and thrive in most zones throughout the country.
If you’re growing watermelon in your garden, your chickens will devour the entire melon – seeds, rind, and the flesh. They really seem to love this massive fruit, and watermelon can be grown in most growing zones throughout the U.S. – just remember that these melons need about 80 days to grow.
Corn is one of the more common feeds for chickens on the farm, which is why growing it can be very advantageous. As a rule, these birds seem to love corn that’s on the sweeter side of things, so grow a row or two to feed your chickens. You can opt to dry out the kernels or feed your chicks straight from the ear. Sweet corn grows well in zones four through eight.
Not only does fresh oregano make for a delicious food additive, but chickens love it too. Additionally, oregano seems to provide a healthy boost to chicken immune systems since it works as an antibiotic. Just be sure to water your oregano plant regularly and set it in light, well-drained soil. It grows best in zones five through nine.
Unlike humans, chickens seem to love this particular breed of weed. Dandelions seem to flourish in just about every region of the country and can be cultivated or let grow freely. This plant tends to love wet soil and areas with at least partial shade. In most states, they will grow just about all summer.
9) Carrot Greens
When you’re growing carrots, don’t toss the greens once you’ve pulled them out of the ground. This is due to the fact that chickens seem to love this leafy part of the plant. Carrots are fairly easy to grow in most zones due to the fact that they are biennial.
10) Beet and Beet Greens
One of the best features of beets is that your chickens can eat both the greens and the vegetables as well. Beets do a great job at cleansing the blood of your birds, and chickens will simply peck them apart until they are fully consumed. Just remember, even though they can grow across the country, beets don’t grow as well in the hotter zones.
The chief problem with growing strawberries is that your chickens may want to eat them all up before you have a chance to enjoy them! Chickens love a wide array of berries, and you can even feed them your berries that have gone soft. Strawberries tend to grow during the spring, but some produce berries in the summer as well in zones four through nine.
This leafy green has become popular with humans, but don’t be surprised if your chicken friends decide to munch on the leaves as well. These leaves are high in vitamin A, and have a high amount of other nutrients. Kale flourishes in zones eight through ten and grows best in full sun.
13) Mustard Greens
Another leafy green that chickens seem to cherish, mustard greens are nutrient-packed and can help your bird’s overall health. These greens grow best in zones eight through 11, and since these greens tend to be attractive to pests, you’ll also provide your chickens with insects to munch on as well.