You can eat them raw, but picking weeds and eating them isn’t the most appealing option. • Echinacea - My chickens absolutely love picking at echinacea/cone flower leaves. It's in season generally between April and October. Reply. Simply mix everything together and serve in a bowl, separate from their usual feed. But if they're getting a balanced diet, and have calcium from other sources - oyster shell, for example - you have nothing to worry about. The entire plant is edible, including the flowers when they blossom around early June. I use the following amounts, together with some other ingredients I know my flock like. Chickweed is also known to have high amounts of gamma-linoleic acid - better known as Omega 6(1). If you look closely at the leaves, you'll see a waxy substance which can make the leaves appear to have a silvery sheen. Chickens typically only eat the tops of the grass, but if the grass is too tough, they will over-eat. In the summer it has yellow or pink flowers which open for just a short time, usually in the morning. (This is an "affiliate link", which means that if you click and buy something, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you). You may see information online saying that clover is poisonous for poultry. If we did, we'd have a yellow shadow on our chin. Fat hen or pigweed is a member of the spinach family, and both the leaves and seeds are edible. A hardy annual plant which can survive the coldest winter, you'll find it spreading quickly from February onwards. Vitamin intake is increased by around 70% when nettles are used as a supplement to chicken feed.(3). Free ranging isn't always possible, though - I've lost chickens to predators that way. The chances are you have at least one of these weeds growing on or near your property. Chickens love the entire plant: leaves, stem, flowers and root. Both leaves and stem are hairy, and it's those tiny hairs or barbs which penetrate the skin and inject venom. Pub. Its characteristic features are small, green, succulent leaves on a bright red stem which spread across the ground. Plain and simple! It's not called chickweed for nothing - chickens love this common garden weed! So, don't feed sweet clover to your flock, and avoid any feed getting wet. If you can choose a spot in your yard to let the weeds grow untreated and unmolested, your chickens will love you for it. My chickens also seem to avoid this plant when they come across it. The front lawn is his to mow, pamper and keep weed-free. So, the question isn’t really what chickens eat, but what the right diet is for them. This is probably my favourite "weed", but for gardeners who love a pristine lawn it can be a nuisance - hence it's known generally as a weed. Omega 6, along with Omega 3, not only provides essential fatty acid for hen health, it adds nutritional benefit to their eggs which, in turn, improves our own and our family's health as we eat them(2). What to Plant For Free Chicken Food – weeds, Berries and Plants Chickens are great, not only because they eat unwanted insects and negate the need to use pesticides but because they’re a good source of food and can help keep your yard clean. I hope this article has given you a clearer understanding of the weeds, herbs and flowers best used for chicken health. Clover is one of the most nutritiously complete weeds you could feed your chickens and other livestock. Here are a few that you’ll see at most farm stores. Weeds. And importantly, the leaves contain a high level of protein, so they're excellent as a non-fatty, high protein treat for your hens when the need arises. Hjalmarsdottir, F: 7 science-based benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. Recognised by the Greeks and Romans as an early "super food" for its nutritional and medicinal value, chickweed is particularly high in minerals, particularly potassium, without which chickens will fail to thrive. As long as it is fresh and it is prepared properly, chicken scraps can be a tasty addition to your flock’s food plan. I tend to rip (not chop) the larger leaves. This mix without the garlic will keep in a cool, dark place for a couple of months. There are long lists of toxic plants and weeds to avoid, but for the most part, chickens will know what they can eat and what they can't. And it's easy to sow, grow and maintain, even in hot climates. – – #chickens … Chickens generally know what plants they can and can’t eat but we still need to be aware of what they are eating. If your chickens try to eat pieces that are too tough or too long, this could cause crop impaction. Scientific studies using purslane have fed by drying in a very cool oven for several hours. Add to Favorites by Doug Ottinger If you are a poultry owner, there is a good chance you might also have a garden. No need to chop or prepare it - they love it just as it comes. If you don't have purslane growing naturally in your garden, why not grow some? If your garden is … Pull some up by the roots and throw into the run, or hang a bunch and leave them to it. It's a perennial plant that's easy to grow either as a lawn or part of a lawn. They scratch the ground and find bugs and specks of things that we can’t see. Some people feed them as is to their flock; I prefer to allow them to wilt, which takes the sting out, by simply leaving them in the sun after picking. Weeds provide cover for insects, and pollinators like bees use many of them to produce the tastiest honey. 4. White clover flowers - bees use them to make delicious clover honey. var year=today.getFullYear() If your chickens free range, they'll find weeds for themselves as they forage for edible grasses, bugs and seeds. When the nettles are flowering, or if you see these clusters of seeds, stop picking. Goats, sheep, cows and horses can eat it. But if you use garlic, don't keep it - the moisture form the garlic can create mould amongst the weeds. As a rule of thumb, you want to keep them out of each other’s food as much as possible, especially when it comes to the goats. If you break it open in late autumn (fall), you'll see a milky ooze - it's full of protein, at just the time of year when your chickens most need it as they moult and wind down for autumn and winter. Chickens can eat chicken! Low in fat, enriched with iron and high in vitamins B and C, a study specific to chickens demonstrated that including purslane in poultry diets saw eggs enriched with omega-3 oils(4). The purslane plant is one of those that you have probably seen in your garden but thought anything other than that it's a highly invasive weed. Wetheril, H: Nutritional evaluation of the Urtica species. Chickens generally will not eat it, but if they do, make sure they don’t eat too much as it can taint the taste of the eggs! Can Chickens Eat Weeds in Your Garden? Given that food is a delicate issue, in general, since it’s vital in an animal’s life, this is the first aspect you will need to consider when keeping goats and chickenstogether. It's more natural (we live in the country after all) and the bunnies love the clover. ), it's an annual plant which, if you don't already have, you can sow from seed as early as March and harvest a couple of months later. A good quality commercial poultry feed should be the main component of your hens’ diet to make sure they get all the nutrients they need. As mentioned earlier, papaya is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and other antioxidants, and this works extremely well on the chickens, provided they are … This is enough for a one-off treat for a flock of about 24. That's true - but it only prevents calcium absorption from plants which themselves contain oxalic acid. So feeding additional calcium as a treat is to be avoided. Aydin, R and Doogan, I: Fatty acid profile and cholesterol content of egg yolk from chickens fed diets supplemented with purslane. I love the fact that chickens can eat weeds, including dandelions, as part of a balanced diet that includes other green forages, seeds, fruits and animal feeds.. Isn’t it ironic that many of the weeds that are so hated by so many suburban home owners can replace some of the purchased chicken feed in a … Feeding your chickens is one of, if not, the most important task when it comes to raising backyard chickens. They eat grains and seeds. I am a bit different. Snip the flowers off as soon as they blossom, and toss them into the coop. CRC Press, 2003. ... And some of these are technically weeds or flowers, but chickens love them all the same. But for our chickens, they can be an important source of healthy food. There are photos of every one in this article so you can be sure. It grows freely round the edge of cultivated land, so if you're picking it from there be careful to check that pesticides haven't been used. They prefer dandelion leaves and flowers when they're young, during the spring and summer. The edges of the young leaf are serrated or "toothed", but not as sharply defined as the nettle. Supply a free-feed source of shells and grit that the chickens can eat while grazing. This winter has been so mild that the weeds are growing like crazy....much to my husband's consternation, but to my and the girls' delight! They are beautiful, attract pollinators and can be an excellent source of nutrition for your chickens. Known also as red root or pursley (not parsley! It will do well on any type of soil, including the poor soil often found around new houses. To me, if it's green, its fine. It grows best in a poor soil, and it can withstand drought so it's good for hot, sunny climes. As always, make sure your seeds are certified organic and non-GMO. And always leave some. When I was young, we'd hold a buttercup under our chin to see whether we liked butter. The more your chickens can fill up on the free plants growing on your property, the less they’re eating of that expensive feed. The flowers quickly go to seed, and you'll then see clusters of seeds hanging from the stem. As long as, of course, your flock has a balanced feed and dandelions, like the rest of the weeds, are fed as a supplement to their diet. No. It's known by different names in different places: pigweed, fat hen, goosefoot and lambs' quarters. See this article for instructions (clue: it's not difficult!). Our goats don’t mind the thorns. 1. By allowing your chickens outside to free-range, they get some great … All of them are stashed with vitamins and nutrients. Thanks for showing the list of things they can eat and what they can’t eat. So most will go uneaten. It doesn't like heat though, so in hot, dry areas it will quickly die back. Encourage a cluster of nettles in your garden as a wildlife corner and feed your chickens (and your family) at the same time. I’ve got 5 chickens mine is called Annabelle. Most are common and easily recognisable. Things Chickens Can Eat Standard Chicken Feeds. As they get older, both the leaves and the seeds become more bitter. 6. Feeding your hens (or chickens), a complete and balanced diet is essential to making sure they stay happy and healthy. (POULTRY :: WEEDS FOR FEED) by "Countryside & Small Stock Journal"; Home and garden Consumer news, advice, product reviews Chickens Behavior Food and nutrition Foraging Methods Foraging (Animal feeding behavior) Weeds … Not only that, but they're prolific - there are very few gardens that don't have dandelions! Pub. As you can see, the list of things that chickens and ducks can eat is pretty extensive and I’m sure I haven’t even scratched the surface. White Clover Ana Hotaling. Click to see my copyright, privacy and affiliates policies. There are different types of clover: the clover you want for poultry is either white (trifolium repens) or red (trifolium pretense). They also avoid eating tomato plants and marigolds, but have eaten up all the self-seeded silverbeet. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 2010. There are a number of reasons why chickens should be made to eat papaya regularly. What's more, they're one of the first weeds to appear in the early spring, and one of the last to disappear in winter. They're also an immune system boost. We are lucky since we have tons of all of these weeds growing out back in our pasture. Some of the sources I have used are these. A lawn full of dandelions, clover and other weeds is okay by me. So, good for your chickens and good for you and your family! Interested in advertising your company? Usually three-leaved - if you find a four-leaved clover it will supposedly bring you luck - it's bright green and because it's drought tolerant, you'll find it even in the driest summers. X. February 26, 2019 Author : Backyard Poultry Contributor Categories : Feed & Health. Crickets: Yes. They're particularly loved by wild birds including the Greenfinch and Yellowhammer. Between June and October spikes of tiny white-green flowers grow from the junction between the leaf and stem. Feeding weeds to your chickens is a great way to feed chickens for free, but to find even more check our our post: 5 Ways to Feed Chickens … Nettles, particularly in the form of nettle tea, have been used since Roman times (and probably before) as a cure for everything from gout to arthritis. In which case, we have to do a spot of gardening to help our hens get by. It's also high in Vitamins A, B complex, and C, all of which are essential for normal growth. It's another plant high in omega-3, too, so enhances the nutrition of your eggs. And omega-3 in our diets is scientifically proven to have multiple health benefits, including raising good cholesterol levels, helping fight anxiety and depression and maintaining a healthy immune system(5). Like dandelions, it improves the digestive, circulatory and respiratory systems. They're an ideal plant for attracting wildlife to your garden. It's good to feed your flock a mixture of weeds once in a while. They know instinctively which to eat and which to leave alone, and they know how much to eat to get the nutrients they need. Once a part of popular lawn-seed mixes, white clover (Trifolium repens) is a legume that originated in Europe and Asia and is … Not everyone can free range their chickens though. Chickens also eat less exciting foods, like vegetables, fruits, flowers and grass. They may have a peck at the flowers, attracted by the bright colour, but they won't carry on eating them. Buttercups: lovely to look at but potentially dangerous for chickens. From there, you can learn about the best diet to provide your chi… Pub. All species of ranunculus are poisonous if they're eaten fresh, but the fact is they taste bitter and in mammals, cause mouth blisters. Not only that, the flowers are a huge attraction for bees and butterflies. The characteristic shape and texture of the common stinging nettle. Out back stays natural and full of weeds. Get it wrong, and it can lead to reduced egg production, deformed eggs, feather … Common garden purslane: the distinctive red stems make it stand out from other weeds. However, we have managed to compromise. The information I provide in this article and others is based not just on my own experience, but on evidenced facts from scientific, peer-reviewed research and evidence from highly respected and experienced poultry keepers such as Gail Dammerow. Updated: March 21, 2020. Some are invasive and need controlling, but many plants we've come to view as weeds are actually beneficial and nutritious. One of the most satisfying things to feed your chickens is the weeds that pop up in your yard and garden! The yellow shadow happens simply because the buttercup's petals reflect light well. Everyone knows the common nettle plant - most of us have been stung by one at some point in our lives! Used as a crop for different types of animals, it's very high in Vitamin A, phosphorous (critical to the egg-laying process) and potassium, and a good source of protein, iron, trace minerals and fibre. And whilst calcium is a must for laying hens, it can be dangerous for chicks and chickens under 18 weeks old. Some annuals can be over-wintered as perennials in warmer climates. He sprays and pulls and cuts, trying to obliterate them all. A Gallery Of Gourmet Weeds. There are no specific studies about chickens and buttercups, but given that they cause dietary problems in other animals, they're best avoided. Healthline, 2018. No. You can identify it through its prolific, small, heart-shaped leaves which tend to be larger at the top than the bottom of the plant. Let them graze on lawns containing clover as soon as it appears in the late spring and early summer. Chickweed - so called because chickens love it! Got a baby chick in trouble? ), Purple Deadnettle (earlier in the season). It's one of the best ways of increasing the amount of omega-3 in your hens' eggs. The following plants are appropriate and worry-free for the areas chickens roam. It’s a known fact that they generally love chicken feed, but you want to do everything you can to keep them from enjoyin… Although it reseeds quickly so in cool climates is available all year round, you'll probably find your chickens love it in the winter but aren't so keen in summer, when there are so many other delicious berries and fruits available. Aydin, R and Doogan, I: Fatty acid profile and cholesterol content of egg yolk from chickens fed diets supplemented with purslane. There are a few instances where you should not feed chicken meat to your backyard chickens, but for the most part, it is very safe and nutritious for chickens to eat. All parts of the purslane plant are edible, including the flowers. The root is best fed later in the year when it's full of nutrients. Plants marked with an asterisk (*) have medicinal properties for chickens… It's not hard to identify them. Most of the common 'yard' weeds are fine, except for this one: the Buttercup (Ranunculus spp). Docks aren’t the only weeds that are good for chickens, here are some of the other common weeds that can provide a nutritious snack: Stinging Nettles – Having been stung more than enough times in my life, I tend to avoid nettles.They are nutrient-rich though and great for chickens to eat though. As with most weeds, feed when they're young. By later spring, nettles will have grown massively - sometimes to 6 feet or more - and they'll start to produce flowers. Or you can just pick bunches and throw into the run - chickens like eating it raw. Fat hen, or pigweed. Email to: ~weed identification provided by the Virginia Extension Service and Chick-Weed Gardening Services~, All About Chicken Poop: Green, Brown, Black and Everything In Between, Five Easy Ways to Keep your Chickens Water from Freezing this Winter. When I weed my garden I put them on the ground of my chicken run. Simple. (Update: since moving to Maine, we leave our entire property pesticide-free and live a far more natural livestyle! Just free feed oyster shell - your layers will instinctively take it while the rest of the flock can safely ignore it.