When you are building a backyard paradise, you might feel that chickens and plants are made for one another. And they are! Chickens can be your best friend when you are trying to raise fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Plus, those very plants that you are growing can help nourish the flock. To begin building a chicken-friendly garden, you need to know which plants are the best (and safest). Here are 15 chicken-friendly plants to grow around your coop and backyard.
Chicken-Friendly Plants List
Having a coop surrounded with herbs is smart, because your chickens will not only love to eat them, but they will get added benefits too. Here is a list of all the herbs that chickens will happily gobble up:
- Sage: Promotes overall health and wards off salmonella.
- Thyme: Known for antibacterial and antibiotic abilities, thyme is an excellent way to bolster the immune and respiratory systems of your flock.
- Oregano: Sometimes called a miracle herb, oregano can fight salmonella, e.coli, avian flu, and coccidiosis as well as act as a broad spectrum antibiotic.
- Comfrey: A perennial herb that is rich in nutrients, including protein, potassium, and calcium. Great for egg-laying hens.
- Rosemary: Strong smell that keeps insects away.
- Fennel: Can be used to support your chickens’ health. The long flower pods can also be used to attract pollinators that your chickens will use as food.
- Wormwood: A plant that assists with repelling external parasites and insects from your flock.
- Mint: Keeps rodents (including skunks) away.
- Lavender: Pleasant scent repels insects naturally and calms your chickens.
- Lemon balm: Helps keeps rodents away and also works like lavender to reduce stress.
- Dill: Boosts the immune system against respiratory illness.
- Parsley: Contains a load of vitamins and minerals that chickens need.
- Basil: Has antibacterial properties.
A lovely plant that comes in a variety of colors. The brightly colored flowers are edible, so they not only look nice, they can be used as food too. Nasturtium has both antibiotic and antiseptic properties. You can use the seeds as a natural de-wormer, as well. Nasturtium can also repel insects.
When you see amaranth for the first time, you will probably be amazed. This gorgeous plant produces magenta colored spires of flowers that can be up to 10 inches tall. The leaves are edible and colored with either green or purple. Furthermore, the grain produced by amaranth is filled with nutrients your chickens need to stay healthy and strong.
This is one plant to consider if you want your garden to be both functional and beautiful.
Chickens go nuts for sunflowers. The seeds produced by sunflowers are a tasty treat for both human and chicken alike. You can grow the sunflowers alongside the coop or the fence, just out of reach of your chickens. When the seeds start to drop, they will fall inside the pen. Keeping the flowers out of reach ensures that they have time to develop. Otherwise, your chickens won’t be able to help themselves to the delicious heads and petals. The heads are an excellent source of protein and healthy fats.
5. White Clover
Looking for a ground cover plant that your chickens will love to have around the coop? Few plants are as good at that as white clover. Not only is white clover hardy enough to withstand foot traffic, it is high in protein. Your chickens will love pecking at the white flowers.
The fact that white clover is so low maintenance makes it an easy way to add some green to the chicken’s run while supplementing their diet.
6. Plantain Weed
Not to be confused by the fruit with the same name, the plantain weed, also known as broadleaf plantain, white man’s footprint, or waybread, is a marvelous plant for your chickens. The leaves, when young, can be added to salads, for example. Of course, your chickens are going to prefer the long spikes of seeds or flowers that grow. Those seeds are chock-full of protein and essential minerals for your flock.
Did you know that garlic is a superfood for chickens? It’s true. Garlic is loaded with immune boosting antioxidants. The nutrients in garlic also provide protection against internal and external insects and parasites. If you are worried about worms, consider giving your chickens access to fresh garlic.
Garlic can be grown around the coop, where the chickens will dig for the bulbs and eat the leaves. Optionally, you can grow the garlic out of reach of your birds then mince up the garlic bulbs for them to snack on.
If there is one food that chickens love, it’s corn. Growing fresh corn for your chickens has many advantages. First, a row or two of corn can provide your chickens with enough corn for an occasional treat. You can also harvest the ears of corn then provide the dried kernels throughout the winter, when your chickens are going to want the extra calories and warm.
Here is a fun fact about cucumbers: they are hard to kill. This means that your chickens can consume the vines, flowers, and vegetable without any worry of harming the plant itself.
During the warmer months, cucumbers can provide much needed hydration. Plus, the seeds are excellent for protecting your chickens against intestinal vermin.
One of the best chicken-friendly out there is the humble beet. Quick to grow, beets are easy to care for and harvest. You will have a crop in just a few weeks. For your chickens, they are indispensable. Both the root and the leaves are edible and healthy. Some nutritional benefits include cleansing of the digestive tract and blood.
11. Leafy Greens
Kale, romaine, spinach, collard greens, Swiss card, and cabbage are all excellent examples of leafy greens that chickens love to munch. It’s a widely known fact that leafy greens are super beneficial to your health. Consider growing kale and lettuces around the perimeter of the chicken run, just close enough for the leaves of the plants to be fair game but not close enough for your chickens to ruin them.
Mustard greens and kale do best under shade and can attract bugs. However, the benefit to that is giving your chickens even more tasty treats to love.
A word of caution if you plan on planting spinach and chard: make sure they do not eat too much. Both plants contain small amounts of oxalic acid, which can start to deplete calcium levels in your chickens. Feed your flock Swiss chard and spinach in only moderate amounts.
There are few birds out there that will turn their beaks up at berries. Chickens happen to love all kinds of berries — raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and mulberries. And while strawberries are technically a berry, chickens love them too. Consider planting some berry bushes around the coop and let them grow along lattice or up to the roof of the coop. Not only will your chickens get some shade, but the berries produced can be foraged in the spring.
Slice open a pumpkin and watch your chickens whip into a frenzy. Pumpkins are a favorite among chickens — and for good reason. The flesh of a pumpkin is rich with antioxidants and vitamins. Pumpkin can also be used as a natural dewormer. When fresh, the fruit is also ideal for hydration.
Since peas are one of the few legumes that mature during the early spring, they can become a tasty snack for your birds when little else has blossomed. Peas are also and excellent source of niacin, which is required for healthy bone development. Cooked beans are another options for your chickens, if you have them growing. Just keep uncooked, raw beans out of reach, as they contain a potential toxin called hemagglutinin.
Fruits are popular among chickens, but melons are a consistent favorite. Cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon are all equally delicious and nutritious. In the summer, melons are an ideal way to ensure your flock is getting enough water to stay cool.
Among the melons out there, watermelon is a perfect choice. Every part of it is edible, and so your chickens will waste very little of it. Simply cut the melon in half and let the chickens get to work.
Plants to Avoid Growing Near Your Chicken Coop
Being a chicken owner is a responsibility. Before you go and release your chickens into the yard, there are some plants you want to remove or fence off. Chickens generally have good sense when it comes to choosing which plants to nibble on, but there are a few that are toxic that they will want to eat.
When setting up a coop, there are a couple of plants you do not want anywhere near your chickens, such as:
- Nightshades, including eggplant/aubergine, potatoes, and tomatoes
- Oak trees (acorns are poisonous to chickens)
- Poison ivy
Any of these could cause toxicity, so make sure your chickens cannot reach them.
Final Thoughts on Chicken-Friendly Plants
Growing plants around the coop is a wonderful idea, especially when you want a bountiful yard to provide for you and your family. You now know about 15 chicken-friendly plants to grow around your coop, as well as plants to avoid. By growing such plants, you not only ensure your free-ranging chickens are getting decent nutrition, you also get a garden the gives as it grows.
Valerie has been content writing since 2016 for websites and companies all around the world. A traveler, dancer, martial artist, Valerie loves gathering experiences and wisdom. Her travels have taken her to over 20 countries, and she hopes to see more of the world soon.