Chickens Gardening Gardening with Chickens Plants

Luck of the Flock: Planting Clover for Chickens

chick in grass
Discovering clover for the first time.

I absolutely love to see lawns filled with clover.  Did you know that not only does it help to support the lawn but their blooms are well loved by bees? It is not uncommon for me to see the plants’ blooms buzzing with my bees. It is also beneficial to the flock, easy to grow and requires no care. It’s one of the easiest way to start gardening for your chickens.

Why Clover?

I know, for years, you have been mislead by companies to eliminate clover from your grass. They were simply giving bad advice for a long time. In fact, since the 1950 when herbicides started to appear. We were taught to not only eliminate clover but also dandelions from our lawn. The rationale behind it? It was thought that they could eliminates bee stings while walking barefoot in the grass. Little did they know, how much bees lean on these two crops for survival. Clover also has a magic ability. It has the ability to absorb nitrogen from the air, (the same nitrogen found in commercial fertilizers) and feed your lawn. Because of this, it was not uncommon for it to be added to grass seed mixtures pre- 195os. Unfortunately, we can help to bring it back.

Types of Clover

Clover is a perennial legume that is high in both protein and fiber. The two most popular varieties are White aka Dutch Clover (Trifolium repens) and Red (Trifolium pretense). Both are native to Europe and Asia and were introduced to the US as a foraging crop for livestock. T. repens has been used in India for years to treat tapeworm, and in 2004  the aerial shoots of the plant were shown to significantly reduce the fecal egg count and worm recovery rates in rats. The blossoms of the red clover plant are often used for medicinal teas. The red variety has many nutrients including Vitamin C, calcium, chromium, potassium, niacin, phosphorus, and thiamine. Of note, all clovers are rich in chemicals that act like estrogen called isoflavones.

clover

How to Grow and Care for Clover

I can’t even begin to tell you how easy it is to grow. You can plant it practically any time and the seeds are super tiny. Clover is sold at most stores that sell lawn seed. You can pick up a bag of thousands of seeds for a few dollars. It is also available online too. Each spring, after a fresh mowing of the lawn, I like to simply walk around the grass and sow the seeds into the lawn directly from my hands. I shake my hand to and fro feeling the seeds slip through my fingers. I love to do this right before we are expecting rain. This way, I don’t even have to water. Within a few weeks, I think you will be pleasantly surprised to discover hundreds of new plants in your lawn. The best part is this plant takes care of itself. Once it takes root all you have to do is enjoy it! Mow the lawn as you would normally. It can even handle close mowings, it’s that hardy!

Chickens and Clover

Chickens can safely graze on a lawn with clover. In the dietary amounts consumed during free ranging it is perfectly safe. The chickens love to spend time in the clover patches and we do too. The kids love to join in with the flock. The kids are looking for 4 leaf clovers and the chickens might be too! It easily recovers from a good munch by the flock and reseeds from the blossoms as well. The entire plant is edible for the girls. If you are feeling up to it, you can also harvest and dry to blooms to add to the nesting boxes.

All photos used under the Creative Commons licensing agreement, credits: chick, chicken in yard, flock
  • Linda

    What a beautiful area for the chickens! I know they love it. Lucky girls. I have tried to grow it for years.

  • What a lovely blog… it’s so nice to se ehns in the garden, my favourite are Silkies they are the absolute best back garden chicken, they follow you around and keep you company whilst yu’re gardening but they don;t scratch up your lawn of flower beds. Love them!