My Top Twelve Plants to Grow for Chickens

June 12, 2018


This year when you're planning your garden, why not plant some extras for your chickens? Planting from seed is extremely economical and a great way to reduce both your family's and your chickens' feed bill a bit.



Supplementing layer feed with a varied diet of healthy produce is beneficial to your flock. Here are my top twelve choices for garden plants our chickens love:

Berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries) 

Our chickens love all kinds of berries. Too expensive to buy on a regular basis, berry bushes are super easy to grow. You might even have some wild berry bushes on your property, which is a bonus!


Broccoli 

Broccoli is a nutrition powerhouse that your chickens will love and a wonderful spring and late fall cold crop. They will love the crowns, leaves, stems and roots.


Cucumbers 

Our chickens love cukes sliced in half or into rings. They eat the seeds, flesh and skins. Cucumbers are a great summer treat because of their high water content.


Garlic 

Garlic is a great immune system booster with overall health benefits that can be added fresh minced into water or fed free-choice. If you're like me, you also love to cook with it, so be sure to plant extra! Garlic is really easy to grow and is generally planted in the fall.


Greens (Kale, Cabbage, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Romaine, Collards)

Leafy greens of all kinds are super healthy and a flock favorite. One nice thing about them is that you can continue to harvest all through the growing season.


Herbs (various types of culinary herbs) 

Herbs are also very easy to grow - in fact many are perennials depending on where you live - and they all offer lots of health benefits. Herbs also benefit from regular pruning, so you can plan on harvesting all through the growing season. My chickens seem to especially enjoy nibbling on dill, basil, parsley, oregano and cilantro.


Melons (Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Honeydew) 

Melons are a great source of hydration especially in summer but, like berries, can be too expensive to buy on a regular basis, so growing your own makes a lot of sense. Slice the melon in half and your chickens will eat the seeds, flesh and skin.


Nasturtium 

Nasturtium are really easy to grow from seed. They're pretty and the seeds and flowers are believed to be a natural wormer for poultry and other livestock.


Peas 

Peas are another early spring crop that make a fun bite-sized treat for your flock. And if you raise ducks, peas floating in their water tub is an especially fun treat which also provides them the niacin they need to grow strong bones.


Pumpkins 

Like nasturtium, pumpkin seeds are thought to work as a natural wormer. Your chickens will happily eat the seeds, flesh and rind.



Sweet Potatoes 

Unlike the white potato which can be toxic, sweet potatoes are perfectly safe for your chickens: leaves, vines, skins and flesh. Although normally considered a warm climate crop, there are some varieties of sweet potatoes that can be grown even here in Maine.


Sunflowers 

Sunflowers are so cheerful and pretty and the seeds are a great protein source and favorite treat of chickens and wild birds. Sunflowers come in lots of different varieties and are easy to grow from seed.


So there you have it, a dozen of my favorite suggestions of fruits, veggies, herbs and flowers to plant for your chickens. They will thank you!


And don't forget to pick up a copy of my book Gardening with Chickens (Voyageur, 2016) for all kinds of ideas of other things to plant for your flock.

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14 comments

  1. Do you give all of the above to the ducks also? And what about goats? Just wondering. Thanks!

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    1. Yes ducks too - no idea about goats but I understand they will eat pretty much everything...

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    2. Thanks! What kind of ducks do you have? I am considering getting ducks also.

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    3. Oh you so should! We love our ducks. We have Pekins, Saxonies, a Silver Appleyard and Magpies. Love them all.

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  2. Great list! My turkeys love kale...the chickens aren't so crazy about it. But they adore tomatoes!

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  3. We've had chickens less than a year and I just wanted to tell you I am learning so much from your blog. I love all the herbal stuff too. I ordered your book this morning!

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  4. I give my chickens garlic and have not noticed any garlic or off-taste in the eggs. They are just as delicious as always. In fact, ever since we started our own chicken flock a few years ago, I no longer am able to eat store bought eggs without getting a nauseous stomach. I've gotten that comment from other people I know who switched over to homegrown, free range hen eggs. You have a great blog, Lisa. It learns me a lot! : )

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Jean! And I agree garlic does NOT taint the taste of the eggs. Not in the least bit.

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  6. Hi Lisa, I love your blog and wander around it all the time! Our girls are 8 wks. old; wondering at what age I can feed them the 12 top plants for chickens that you mention? Thanks for all of the fabulous info you supply your readers!

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  7. those seed packets look familiar ... hmmm ;)

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  8. Shaelynne FringerMay 31, 2015 at 5:58 PM

    DUCKS ARE NOOOO for any and all immune boosters. Ducks have a very strong immune system with no help. If you do give them boosters, it will make them sick. They can even die if given a lot. Garlic and broccoli are no no's for ducks. Goat yes, they can have everything listed here. Hope this help's. Even thought you did it a year ago. :D

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