Friday, May 30, 2014

Free Feed: Weeds! Yes...really!

I’m back with more ideas on cutting your flock’s feed bill by using free feed sources. Layer feed can get expensive so I try to cut costs as much as possible by finding various feed sources for my chickens. This time we’re looking at weeds. Yes, really! 
                                                
Not only are many weeds highly nutritious and completely edible, but it’s an awesome motivation to start weeding that garden! There are literally dozens of weeds that you could be feeding your chickens and they will love you for it. Here are a few that I feed to my chickens on a regular basis and they grow just about everywhere.

free chicken feed

Smartweed: This one is pretty easy to spot because of it’s pretty pink seed like flowers. I’ve always called it Lady’s thumb, but its actually called smartweed and the chickens go nuts for it. This is another one that is extremely easy to pull, it comes out by the handfuls with very little effort. (upper left corner)

Bittercress: This one is a favorite from chickens and foraging humans alike! It has a mild radish like flavor and is very easy to pull. I get tons of it growing wild in the garden and all across my lawn. (upper right corner)

Dandelion: Chickens enjoy all parts of the dandelion plant, from root to stem and on to the flower. They love it all. It’s easy to pick the Dandelion leaves, but the root is a bit tougher to harvest. You’ll have to pull a little dirt back and grab hold of the root itself to yank it all out. Dandelion loves to grow in the craziest places so take a look around, you probably have some growing somewhere! (center bottom) 

Feeding chickens for free: Weeds!

Clover: This is another of my chickens favorite treats. I just yank a few handfuls out of the ground and toss them into  the run and the chickens go nuts!

Two more favorites but not pictured are: fat hen (lambsquarters) and chickweed. That should be easy to remember, right? If you’re lucky enough to have wild carrot or wild strawberry growing, they love that too. You can also grab a few handfuls of grass out of the bag next time you mow the lawn and throw that to the chickens. Of course if something is unfamiliar to you, take a minute to look it up before you toss it in the run. Just in case. Also, if anything has been sprayed with pesticides then it’s best to just skip it. Why take chances?

I have no better motivation for weeding the garden then those cute little fuzzy faces begging for treats. However, if you’re weeding to remove the weed from a garden, etc make sure you yank the whole root.  If you’re weeding just to feed the chickens simply pull off the leaves and most grow back shortly for a new treat. That way you’ll have a never ending supply of free treats! Happy weeding!

~L
      

6 comments:

  1. My chickens free-range and I have a backyard full of dandelions that they will not touch with a ten foot pole. Odd.

    In any case, thanks for linking up with the Clever Chicks and have a great week!

    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick

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    1. Ya know, my free range flock wont touch them either but if I throw them into any of the pens they go nuts for them!

      ~L

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    2. Must be a "grass is always greener" thing. LOL!

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  2. Can't beat free! This is a great post for me to keep in mind as we hope to get chickens when we move.
    Thanks for sharing on The Maple Hill Hop!

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  3. I've recently learned about poisonous hemlock which can be confused with wild carrot and is all over my yard. Yikes! And miner's lettuce that's edible for humans too. A weed I've seen all my life and just found out about. Chicken's love it and clover. Oh and nasturtium which we have a lot of as well, and the chickens get a bit of an entertainment/challenge with because of the big round leaves are kind of tough. Love this site. -Prunedale, CA

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  4. oh that's great info i never would have guessed thanks

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