Chickens will love what your growing in your garden, just as much as you do!
You may be wondering what is good (and maybe not so good) to be feeding your chickens from the garden and kitchen compost.
Do I feed my chickens pumpkins all year round?
Should I avoid onions and avocados?
Are there some greens that are better than others?
The answers are actually very easy to find. NATURE PROVIDES! Each season, there are a variety of different vegetables that are able to be grown and they differ based on temperature, climate, sunlight, and precipitation. In the Summer, the garden is full of fruiting vegetables and juicy berries. In the Fall, summer squash, corn and beans begin to grow. During Winter, there are pumpkins and root vegetables. And in the Spring, greens, celeriac, and avocados! During these seasons, it is a fantastic idea to plant a little more for your chickens, feed them all scraps, and make sure they are getting an abundant amount of leftovers from your garden. Whether it be just the weeds and vines, or the seeds of your squash, or the tops of your root vegetables. If you’r not using them, your chickens will love the treat!
-Lettuce and Leafy Greens – All are excellent to feed to your chickens and are full of nutrients and water, creating a great treat for the dark orange egg yolk!
-Flowers – Nasturtium and rose are excellent for Vitamin C, Chrysanthemum helps boost immunity, and Marigolds have the ability to heal skin.
-Asparagus – This dainty vegetable has a cleansing effect to maintain good health and immunity as well as properties to raise serotonin and dopamine which can improve mood and overall well being!
-Herbs – Oregano can be used as a natural antibiotic; Bee Balm can aid in respiratory and digestive health; Mint can help repel mice and bugs in the coop; Thyme acts as a natural bug repellent; and Parsley is high in nutrients and can boost blood vessel health.
-Avocados – These delicious tree fruits will be enjoyed by chickens! It is best to avoid feeding chickens too many though, because the flesh is high in fat and can then pose health problems. Skins and pits are fine in moderation; they will be avoided if not enjoyed.
-Beans – Best if feeding only as a kitchen scrap after being thoroughly cooked and a good source of protein for eggs and healthy feathering.
-Tomatoes – With so many varieties available, it is safe to feed chickens the fruit of a tomato plant. They are an excellent source of Vitamin C, especially picked right from the garden.
– Bell Peppers – Peppers contain a high amount of Vitamin C and some Vitamin B that is great for chicken skin and system functions. Hot Peppers can alter the flavor of your chickens eggs and should be fed in moderation.
-Strawberries – It may be hard to share these with your girls, but they are a good source of Vitamin C and sugar, boosting energy and happiness!
-Melons – High in antioxidants and great for a hot summer treat during the long days in the sun, melons are a treat and also a great source of sugars for happiness and energy. Cucumbers are similarly beneficial for chickens!
-Carrots and Beets – Along with many root vegetables, both contain anti carcinogen properties and are so loaded with Vitamin C! They will turn your egg yolks that dark orange, indicating a nutrient rich egg.
-Zucchini – Zucchini flesh and seeds act as a natural dewormer, a great way to assist in preparing for the winter deworming treatment. Worms can tend to be more of a problem in the Fall and Winter. Feeding zucchini, onions, garlic, and pumpkin insides is a great way to naturally treat any load of worms.
-Sunflower Seeds – When the sunflowers start falling over and drying up, feeding chickens the seeds and shells is good for egg production and healthy feathers, preparing for a winter molt.
– Green Beans & Peas – Great to feed cooked or raw. Can be fatty and should not be fed in too much excess or as the only treat from the garden.
-Onions and Garlic – Although they may alter the taste of your eggs, both onions and garlic will work as a natural dewormer. If they are changing the egg flavor too much to your liking, just lighten the amount your giving them.
-Cabbage – A great “toy” to hang from the roof with a string, chickens will peck at it until it’s gone. Cabbage also provides a good source of nutrients when the summer veggies are out for the season.
-Broccoli – One of the favorites, broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium, which acts as a natural disinfectant for chickens and can aid in fighting off winter illnesses.
-Pumpkins – Also full of delicious seeds and flesh, you can bet that the only thing left will be the outer shell. The seeds are a great dewormer for your chicken during the winter and a good source of protein for hardy eggs and feather production when coming out of a molt.
-Kale – Like most dark leafy greens, Kale is an excellent source of nutrients needed in the winter months. Just like its dark dense color, kale is dense in nutrients making great eggs.
-Celery – This vegetable is fine to feed your chickens, as long as it is not the only thing they will be eating. It is super fibrous and should not be fed without chicken feed or other garden treats.
This is just a touch of items that you can grow in your garden to supplement your flock. It is very important to feed your chickens the correct feed, first and foremost. If they are getting the runs from eating too much of the supplemental garden goodies, you can give them milk or some dairy, which will help harden up their poops and keep things from getting too messy.
You can plant a portion of your garden just for your chickens and they may just come some excellent garden helpers!
Written by: Kelsie Crane