Gardens for chickens

It’s springtime! Time to take your trowel and spade out of the shed, and plant your garden! While selecting new ornamental and edible plants to add to your backyard, think about your chickens as well. They love all sorts of fruits and vegetables, which make wonderful healthy treats. They will devour tomatoes, melon, cucumbers, and all types of squash in the summer. So make sure you plant enough for you and your girls. And be careful to give them only the fruits, most of the other plant parts (leaves, stems...) are toxic to chickens. Ours also feast on chards, kale, and lettuce so we always have plenty growing year-round. Carrot tops and beet leaves are other greens you can offer. A warning when it comes to your veggie garden: don’t give your chickens direct access to it! Otherwise there won’t be anything growing :) Plant also some herbs and flowers. Lots of them have beneficial properties. Marigold, garlic, and rosemary repel insects. Sage, thyme, and lavender can be used as aromatherapy in the nestbox. And some others like nasturtium, chamomile, and lemon verbena are deliciously edible to the chickens. For a list of beneficial herbs and plants, click on the image below.

This is also the time to seed some pasture in the chicken yard. Our girls love a forage blend composed of alfalfa, clover, and flax. Of course, you need to keep the area you sowed protected until the plants are big enough for the chickens to enjoy. Otherwise they will just feast on the seeds :) If you don’t have much space, you could grow the forage in plant flats or pots, and bring them into the coop when ready. If your chicken area looks more like an open pasture than a forest, add some bushes and trees for shade and protection. Your birds will be very grateful for it. Chickens descend from jungle fowls and not prairie chickens :) Our girls always hang out under the canopy of the big xylosma trees or nap under the branches of the cape honeysuckle shrubs. One word of caution before planting anything in the chicken yard: check it isn’t poisonous to your birds. Click on the image below for a list of toxic plants.

And remember that the chickens are wonderful garden helpers, see our “Gardening with chickens” newsletter. May you and your chickens enjoy your garden!

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