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Top Ten Easiest Plants to Grow for Your Chickens

One of the things I love about living on Cape Cod is that it is full of avid gardeners.  In the Spring, those gardeners love to have plant sales.  I love going to them, because many of the plants you purchase come from other people's backyards.  They are hardy, prolific and grow well in the areas where we live.  The plant sale that I look the most forward to is run each May by the Thornton Burgess Society.

Thornton Burgess's family was one of the first to settle in Sandwich, Massachusetts in 1637. Thornton Burgess grew up in Sandwich, Massachusetts and became a pioneering naturalist and author. Most of his books were for children based upon the native wildlife that lived around his home.  His most famous book, Old Mother West Wind was first published in 1910 which debuted Peter Cottontail.  Today's plant sale was located in the gardens of the Thornton Burgess Society's Green Briar Nature Center.


For this plant and herb sale it is always imperative that you arrive early on Friday morning. Even though the sale runs through Sunday, it is not uncommon for them to be sold out on Saturday by lunch. Their prices are wonderful and their selection is fantastic. I love picking up rare goodies. I arrived just as it opened.  I scooped up a wagon.



I paused for just a moment to admire a new family of swans.


Within forty five minutes or so, my wagon was full.  I always pick up plants for me and for the chickens.


I checked out, loaded my car and came back to admire the gardens.  I always find them so inspiring.  




Later this Summer, I can't wait to be able to make jam in their old fashioned jam kitchen.


But that would be rushing to Summer.

Top Ten Plants for Chickens
These easy plants are hands down my chickens' favorites
Some I make a point of purchasing and some, Mother Nature provides at no cost.
These are crops that anyone can grow, anywhere across this country, no matter your gardening zone.

1.  Nasturtiums~ an annual herb with edible foliage and flowers.  They love to climb.  My chickens enjoy me planting these outside the perimeter of their run. 

2.  Beet Greens~planted as cooler weathers crops, don't let your beet greens go to waste.  My girls love to gobble these up.  As I harvest the beets, I cut off their leafy tops. I toss some into the run for the girls and the rest I store in the refrigerator in a vase of water like cut flowers to save for the upcoming days.

3.  Broccoli Greens~As you eat the flowers, they love to eat the leaves and tougher stems.  Just be sure they have access to grit.

4. Clover~ Let this favorite grow wild throughout your lawn.  It is a favorite of chickens and bees.

5. Dandelions~ Around here these grow from early Spring to late Fall.  Try digging them up roots and all and tossing them into the run with your flock.  They will love you for it!

6. Carrot Greens~ My girls love to eat the greens from the carrots that I pull from the ground.  I treat extras in the same manner as the beet greens.

7.  Greens-Mustard Greens, Kale, Cabbage, Chard~ Chickens love these vitamin packed greens.  Try planting some mustard greens, kale, chard and lettuce in a planter just for your girls.

8. Grass &Chickweed~If you do not chemically treat your grass, try tossing in some of the clippings after you mow the lawn.  Better yet, let the chickens help you mow the lawn by free-ranging with supervision.

9.  Berries-Strawberries, blueberries, Blackberries~Chickens go crazy for berries.  All these berries too can be planted in containers.  Always plant more than you think.  Fresh berries are sometimes so hard to share with our feathered friends when they taste so refreshing on a hot Summer day.

10. Sunflowers~Plant some beautiful sunflowers.  Harvest the flowers in late Summer and then dry the flowers and seeds.  Store them away for a sweet high protein treat perfect for blustery Winter days.


Chickens also love melons, pumpkins and squash but they do require LOTS of room for growing and can be difficult crops to have success with depending on where you live.

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest 

16 comments:

  1. I saved the sunflower heads for the winter, but a cold and hungry mouse found it first. Oh well, I'll try again this year, but I won't leave them in my garage!

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    1. Thanks for sharing that tip. We do get mice sometimes in the garage, so I'll be sure to lock them up tight. I bet those were some happy mice.

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  2. The sale looked great. I really appreciate the list of plants for chickens. I know my hens will love them.

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    1. Thanks Charlotte. What is your hens' favorite treat?

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  3. What a lovely event to attend! And shop! Thanks for a great list for the "girls"!

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  4. Looks like a great sale and a beautiful place. I just put in four more raised beds and can't wait to get planting! Thanks for the list of plants for chickens.

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    1. That is great Maery Rose! I could use four more raised beds. I always want to seem to grow so many things and run out of room! Happy planting my friend!

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  5. Lucky you, and thanks for sharing. I also appreciate the top 10 list.

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    1. Anytime :) How are your little ones doing?

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  6. Wow this list is awesome and I cant wait to start planting this weekend! Aloha and mele kalikimaka!

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  7. they also love the tops of beets as well as the beet once its grown. Another good veggie for them is pumpkin, i grow sugar pumpkins just for my chickens then cook it up & freeze it in quart bags. In the winter I thaw it out & then add it to cooked oatmeal or stone cut oats that I feed them on very cold days up here in Massachusetts.

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    1. Awesome! Yes, these two favorites made it into my book that should be coming out sometime in 2014! Thank you for sharing these on this page. I'm sure they will be helpful to peeps!

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  8. Mown grass is actually exceedingly bad for chickens, not only do electric motors sometimes drip fuel and steam the grass in petrol fumes, grass clippings are also the number one cause of an impacted crop. I have seen this numerous times.

    Just let your chickens eat the grass off the ground, much better for them (and you!)

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    1. Thanks for your comment! Some folks cannot let their chickens free range and giving them grass trimmings makes sense. Yes, grasses longer than a few inches can lead to impacted crops, you are right-even if they eat long grass while free-ranging. Grasses in and near the chickens should be kept trimmed to a maximum of three inches in height or so. I would have to disagree about the mowers. Mowers should always be inspected for fuel leaks (dangerous for you too!) and most exhausts on gas powered lawn mowers is on the top side of the mower, up above the lawn. Lastly, some folks mow with electric mowers which eliminates the gas and exhaust emissions all together.

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  9. Oh, how I'd love to go to one of these with you. I just wanted to add that I always grow Nasturtiums for the chickens. The plants re-seed themselves and come up all over the garden. I leave them till they get big or are looking ratty and then I'll just rip a whole plant out and toss it into their run. They spend the entire day looking for snails and bugs on the plant in addition to eating all it's flowers and leaves. A super easy and great treat for the hens.

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    1. Oh yes! I would love to have you come with me! Too bad you weren't closer. Yes, nasturtiums. My girls just adore them too! I have entire posts dedicated to them. Have you ever tried them? They are delicious for us too. The blooms are delightful on salads. They remind me of capers! Ok, now I'm drooling.

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Thank you so much for your comments. I love hearing from you!