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Letting your chickens scratch and forage is a great way to provide them with a range of delicious foods and lots of natural nutrition. Sure, we could all eat pre-fabricated meals, like the feed we give our chickens, but we all know that it’s healthier to have a salad than a granola bar! Allowing your chickens to forage and enjoy the variety of weeds chickens can eat in your yard is a great way to give them access to a glorious God-given salad bar.
These are weeds your chickens can eat; they provide lots of nutrition and fun.
Nutrition: Potassium, Vitamin A, B Complex Vitamins, Vitamin C, Omega 6 acids
Other Benefits: Boosts the immune system
Description: Chickweed is characterized by small white flowers that blossom on stalks of heart-shaped leaves. It’s a favorite of chickens and tends to be very common. This is a ‘superfood’ weed that your chickens will benefit greatly from enjoying – though be careful you don’t allow them to overgorge on it as the oxalic acid can cause problems if chickweed is consumed in large quantities. This weed chickens can eat is best enjoyed in the winter months when the more exciting weeds are not around.
Nutrition: Vitamin A, B Complex Vitamins, Niacin, Potassium, Iron, and Protein
Other Benefits: Excellent for digestion, circulation, and respiration
Description: Clover is an excellent treat for chickens and humans. Hens allowed to forage clover have been known to produce eggs with 18% more Omega-3 fatty acids in them! This is a common weed in grass lawns and your chickens can forage and enjoy all parts of it. It is important to note: Sweet clover is poisonous for chickens and if you cut and bale clover and it gets wet it becomes poisonous as well.
Nutrition: Vitamin A, B Complex Vitamins, Vitamin C, Iron, Potassium, Magnesium
Description: An excellent high-protein, no fat treat for chickens, all the nettles are great for them to forage but stinging nettles provide the best benefits. Harvest with gloves and allow them to wilt so the sting is removed. They’re great to harvest early in the year then freeze for later months when your hens might not be able to enjoy them. Even though you want to let your chickens forage as much as possible, nettles spread prolifically and can be a painful plant for pets and children to run into.
Nutrition: Iron, B Complex Vitamins, Vitamin C, high in Omega-3
Other Benefits: Helps fight cholesterol, anxiety, depression, and boosts the immune system
Description: With rose-style blooms and thin waxy leaves, purslane is a great treat for your chickens. It’s a great way to increase the Omega-3 quality of the eggs you get, and it’s easy to grow and maintain for your chickens to enjoy if you don’t have any growing naturally in your yard. It can even be used by people to help alleviate a sore throat!
Oxalis or Wood Sorrel
Nutrition: Vitamin C, Vitamin A
Description: With leaves that look like a clover and small, five-petaled blossoms, oxalis or wood sorrel is a great weed chickens can eat. Don’t let your chickens gorge on it, however, as it does contain oxalic acid which can cause problems when consumed in large portions.
Nutrition: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Calcium, Iron
Other Benefits: Is also antimicrobial
Description: Plantain is a weed that has healing properties and is also a great source of foraged nutrition. Many of the weeds that are good for our livestock are also good for us! Plantain has big, wide leaves and will gather small clusters
Nutrition: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, B Complex Vitamins, Calcium, Potassium, and Iron
Other Benefits: Full of protein
Description: Dandelions are another superfood for chickens and for people. They’re best in the spring when you can pull off the blooms and toss them in for your flock. The greens are also sweetest and tender at this time. The whole plant is edible, even the roots. Roots are a great treat for the fall when they are full of the most protein.