Gardening for chickens

Every year I grow a garden for my chickens, but it didn't start out that way! Let me explain. I learned a long time ago that when I plant my garden every year I need to plant what we will eat, not just what I want to grow. It sounds so logical, but all those pretty plants and seed packets tend to suck me in and next thing I know I have things planted that look great and grow great but I just can't use them all! Luckily I can feed any garden extras to the chickens and they absolutely love fresh fruits and veggies. 

Gardening for chickens

It started out quite by accident. I had way overplanted a certain vegetable. So, the first garden plant that went to the chickens was kohlrabi. Yes, it actually is good and we do like it, but we cant eat more than a little bit so when I bought a few packs of 4 seedlings it was way too many. Especially since they were all the same age and therefore all ready for harvest at the same time. It's just so much kohlrabi! (read the summer of kohlrabi story here) Same with pumpkins, hot peppers and a few other things that tend to be ready to harvest all at once. 

Gardening for chickens


Some of these vegetables I can pass on to the chickens which is great for cutting the feed bill. I talk about that in the post Free Feed: Garden Rejects. I also grow many plants just for the chickens. Some of it we don't use like Amaranth (though we could eat the leaves). Others are just an overabundance of something we like. Here are a list of easy to grow, high producing crops that I grow just for the chickens...

In no particular order: zucchini, corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, amaranth, millet, pumpkins, melons, broccoli, lettuce, sunflowers, sweet peppers & berries. Many of these I consider cost free since it's very easy to save seeds for next year's planting. One seed can turn into several pounds of free feed! 

I don't know about your chickens, but mine eat over 3 tons of feed a year so the more free feed I can get, the happier it makes me. Plus the chickens love fresh veggies!

Most of these require very little prep work, they can be thrown to the chickens fresh from the garden or simply split open and set on the ground for the chickens to enjoy. While the chickens can eat things like carrots & kohlrabi, they are quite hard and require too much prep work before feeding them to the chickens. 

Garden vegetables for the chickens

A zucchini can be split in half and the chickens will eat it down to nothing. Tomatoes or cucumbers can be sliced into large chunks. Carrots need chopped up into smaller pieces though and in my opinion just take too much effort. If I'm chopping carrots I might as well can or freeze the extras for our use. Things like melons and cucumbers don't preserve very well, so all the extras get fed to the chickens.   

Of course the chickens need kept out of the garden (at least in the beginning) or there will be nothing for you to harvest and share with them! My chickens can usually be kept out of the garden with a simple 3 foot tall plastic fence. Also, don't be deceived by plants that you think are 'too tall' or too big for the chickens to eat. My chickens will jump up to eat the corn right off the stalk or take a bite out of each and every pumpkin. 

Chickens on the other side of garden fence

You'll want to pull that fence down and let the chickens in to the garden in fall. Chickens are great help at cleaning up the garden and getting rid of small weed seeds that have dropped or any bugs that shouldn't be there.

All in all the chickens love the fresh produce and I love seeing the feed bill go down! Plus, all those healthy snacks keeps them healthy and not overweight! What about you....do you grow any specific plants for your chickens? 

Want to learn more about using chickens in the garden, and using the garden for the chickens? Check out all my posts on gardening for chickens.

~L

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5 comments:

  1. My chickens love kale. It is easy to grow even in our cold climate.

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    1. I tried growing kale this year and didn't have any luck at all! I'll have to try again. thanks for the tip!

      ~L

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  2. Never thought of chard! I'll have to try that in my fall planting. Thanks!

    ~L

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  3. My chickens eat any leafy greens! They adore spinach and mustard greens.

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