This post was most recently updated on November 17th, 2020
Raising your own chickens can be a great source of regular eggs, and maybe even chicken meat. However, before you can eat anything the chickens give you, it’s necessary for you to keep them well-fed. There’s feed for them for sale at the store of course, but there are also many plants you can grow as chicken food so you save money on feed.
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For that matter, your chickens will also enjoy tremendous health benefits from feeding on fresh produce grown right on your own property.
That’s a great advantage to have on top of fewer trips to the feed store. Keep reading to learn what some of them are, but just remember you have to prevent your chickens out of the garden to stop them from nibbling or scratching out on new plants until they’re firmly established.
Easy Plants You Can Grow As Chicken Food
These are definitely decorative flowers for the garden, but they also come packed with seeds that chickens love. They range in size from 2 up to 6 feet or more and come in colors of red, orange, and yellow.
Find a variety you like and plant them in rows about 12 inches apart. Cut the seed heads down in early fall before local birds eat them. Dry them before feeding them to your chickens.
This is one is easy to grow most of the time, and you’re probably not eating as much of it as you should. Keep your chickens happy with leaves or heads.
This is healthy for humans, and it’s also a good treat for your chickens too. They won’t eat too much of the stems, but they’re likely to eat leaves and any green parts very fast!
This is a useful ‘bee friendly plant’ to grow in a chicken garden. Chickens tend to like both the seeds and the greens.
Watermelon And Cucumbers
Either one of these is going to get gobbled up by chickens. These can be grown trellised or even on a hillside for good use of space.
These can double up as a source of food and entertainment. Consider making a cabbage pinata for chickens to play with by stringing up a cabbage head and letting them peck at it as it swings.
Speaking of playing games with chicken food, sweet corn tetherball is a great way to bust up boredom in your coop.
These are often a ‘waste’ product in human kitchens. Yet, chickens love them. So, don’t throw them away. Use them to save a few pennies and add great nutrition to the hens diet.
Chickens love these, to the point that if you have free-range chickens, you have to prevent them from pecking holes in them while they are growing.
These start out looking like quite a few other greens, in terms of having lots of leaves. However, as you start harvesting the outer/lower leaves, your plant should grow ever taller.
Just one kale plant might produce leaves for many months, giving you great value for the bag of seeds you buy.
This yellow or orange edible herb and flower has edible soft leaves. When dried, its scent is pleasant, like hay.
This edible herb has a great scent. Some farmers swear that the aromatic scent actually repels insects. It grows about a foot in height, loves the sun, and proves to be a hardy perennial that returns each year.
Some people actually think this is a weed. However, chickens love eating it. Also, it’s even human-edible too, so consider trying it at your own dinner table one night.
You can guess the scent this plant has. Feed it to chickens fresh or dry it like mint. It grows over a foot tall and should return every year, giving you great cost-effectiveness.
Perennial Peanut Grass
If your climate is warm enough for this, think about planting some where your chickens can roam. They’re not likely to chow down on the green leaves, they are going to love all the yellow flowers.
Growing your own chicken garden spares you rushing to the feed store to restock on things. It also lets your chickens enjoy fresh, local, organic eating, which you should easily taste in their eggs.
You’ll also tremendously minimize your feed costs. A packet of seeds that only costs $2 might have 20-200 seeds. At 1-10 cents per seed, you’re getting multiple pounds of produce grown right there on your land, some of which you can even put right on your own table.
Know your local climate and soil, as not all of these plants will grow easily in all places. While it’s great to save money feeding your chickens plants you grow organically right on your own land, the savings disappear if you have to put too much work into these plants or the yields just aren’t worth it.
Protect plants from your chickens with temporary chicken wire until you’re ready to harvest the plants or they’re mature enough for the chickens to be given access to them.
Also remember that many of these are common plants. You might not have to shop for seeds, as you might have friends or neighbors with these already growing on their own patches. Just ask them for some seeds or batches that you can grow from.