Gardening with Free-Range Chickens For Dummies
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Slowing down your chickens from eating your plants in the garden is hard to do. Chickens love tender succulent greens. You can choose to grow these in your vegetable garden for yourself, and hand-feed them to your chickens, or plant them amongst your various chicken runs or zones for your chickens only to graze on.

What is key here, is to let greens grow to maturity, before letting your chickens graze on them. If you have pasture or large zones, try planting them in greens. Chicory, for instance, is a green suitable for pasture planting.

Here are some great choices for growing greens in your own garden and then hand-feeding to your chickens:

  • Arugula

  • Beet tops and leaves

  • Brussels sprouts

  • Carrot tops and leaves

  • Cauliflower tops and leaves

  • Chicory

  • Collard greens

  • Endive

  • Kale

  • Kohlrabi

  • Lettuce (all types)

  • Mache (corn salad)

  • Mizuna

  • Mustard

  • New Zealand spinach

  • Radicchio

  • Sorrel

  • Spinach

  • Swiss chard

  • Turnip greens

  • Wheatgrass

Hand-feeding these greens to your chickens is a way to keep them from gobbling them up too quickly. If chickens have access to greens, they will most likely eat them all at once. You want to allow the plants to grow to maturity, as some like arugula will self sow. Growing greens in your vegetable garden, allows you to harvest greens for yourself whenever you like, and hand-feed them to your chickens in moderate amounts.

Some greens can be grown in your chicken garden where your chickens are free to roam. These greens are actually weeds and are great foraging plants that chickens count among their favorites.
  • Chickweed: Stellaria media. Common cool-season annual. A favorite forage plant of chickens that’s also a good tonic plant for their general health.

  • Dandelions: Taraxacum officinale. Common weed. A good forage plant for chickens and a plant that people also eat. It can be found in mixed pasture grasses. Its leaves can be used in salads.

  • Lambsquarters: Chenopodium album. Cool-season annual. Also called giant goosefoot. Another good forage plant for chickens that’s also an edible plant for humans. Similar in taste to spinach, with a little more mineral taste.

  • Plantain: Plantago spp. Perennial herb and common weed. A good forage plant for chickens. Although it shares the same name, it’s dissimilar to the type of banana. It can be found in mixed pasture grasses.

  • Purslane: Portulaca oleracea. Warm-season annual and common weed. Also called pigweed. It is high in Omega-3 fatty acids for eggs. A good forage plant for chickens. It’s an edible plant for humans and is eaten as a leaf vegetable.

Although these greens are considered weeds, some are edibles for humans. Properly identify these types of greens before eating them for human consumption.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Bonnie Jo Manion has been featured in national garden magazines with her gardens, organic practices, chickens, and designs. Follow Bonnie at Rob Ludlow is the owner of, a top source on chicken raising, and the coauthor of Raising Chickens For Dummies.

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