You don’t have to live in the boondocks to own chickens. Urbanites and suburbanites across the United States are diving into backyard chicken ownership, which provides not only hours of relaxing fun with animals, but also fresh, delicious, and nutritious eggs for the breakfast table.
Whether you have chickens for the companionship or because you simply enjoy knowing where your food comes from, chicken owners have a special responsibility to their chicken’s health. It’s our responsibility to house our chickens in a clean coop, to provide them with ample space to roam, and to provide them an environment that’s good for their growth and wellbeing.
And often, plants can be just the key to making the chicken run a happy, healthy place for chickens!
Why Grow Plants in the Chicken Run?
Chickens are foragers. They flourish in a rich environment where they’re surrounded by plant life, where they can peck around and explore.
Chickens also need shade so they can avoid overheating during hot summer days. Plant life provides this much-needed shade, while making the chicken’s environment a rich sensory experience. Happy chickens are healthy chickens!
Furthermore, certain plants can contribute to a chicken’s nutritious diet, giving you even more nutritious, delicious eggs!
Plant aromatic herbs and flowers, and you can cut down on that farmy chicken smell. Your neighbors will thank you!
The Best Plants for the Chicken Run
So what plants should you grow in the chicken run?
Sage is heralded as an herb that can combat salmonella and stave off other diseases. Add sage to the chicken feed, or grow it in abundance. They’ll love pecking at the green leaves, which contribute to a chicken’s overall health.
Grow plenty of thyme around the chicken’s nesting boxes, because thyme is known to repel pests and insects. Thyme also aids in a chicken’s respiratory health, and also has antibacterial and antibiotic properties.
Lavender calms down humans and helps us relax. It has the same benefits for your feathered friends! The sweet fragrance can also make the chicken coop and run smell fresh and lovely.
Rosemary, like lavender, smells amazing, but also helps keep bugs away and aids in a chicken’s respiratory health.
Sunflower seeds are excellent chicken snacks, and are basically free chicken feed. They not only help boost your chicken’s nutritional profile, but they provide much-needed shade.
You’ll love having a mulberry tree around for its sweet, summer-bearing fruit. Plant the mulberry tree beside the chicken run, and your chickens will have plenty to snack on all summer long, while leaving plenty of berries for you!
Hardy white clover can withstand a lot of chicken traffic, and makes an excellent ground cover for the chicken area.
Plants That Are Toxic to Chickens
With that said,
there are certainly plants that are toxic to chickens and should be kept away
from the chicken run. While chickens wouldn’t go out of their way to eat
poisonous food, you should know about these common plants that chickens should
- Members of the nightshade family (so remember to keep tomatoes and tomato plants away from chickens!)
- Castor bean
- Morning glory
- Mountain laurel
If you’re not sure about something, be sure to look it up first before allowing your chickens access to it. When it comes to the health and safety of your animals, it’s always better safe than sorry!
How To Protect Young Plants from Chicken Destruction
There’s a reason why most people keep their chickens separate from their garden: chickens will destroy any unprotected plant! They will eat a strawberry, or lettuce plant in nothing flat.
When your plants are young, be sure to keep them protected in a cloche, or cage. This way, the plant can grow big and tall enough to be able to withstand the chickens. Once the plants are about two-feet high, they are safe from chicken destruction. Consider keeping a cloche over shorter herbs until they’re large enough to withstand pecking and scratching.
Visit Stockslagers for Chicken-Friendly Plants and Herbs!
Here at Stockslagers, we always have a healthy variety of vegetables, fruits, and herbs that are perfect for the chicken run. Stop on by today and ask our friendly and knowledgeable staff members which plants are best for your property today!