Chicken safety in the veggie garden?


Jun 17, 2020
I'm planning to start my first flock in the spring! I've been doing my homework on food crops that can make chickens sick, and I realized a lot of plants I have during the growing season are potentially harmful to chickens, such as dry beans and members of the nightshade family. I'd like to take advantage of the chickens' grasshopper eating services by allowing them around the garden but not in the beds. I have 24" tall raised beds with hoops and loose bird netting over them, is this enough to deter my future chickens? Does anyone know if they'll actively seek out those plants? I'd love to hear anyone's personal experiences with balancing a variety of crops and chickens in the same yard!

* As a side note, the chickens are unlikely to be roaming around the yard/garden without supervision anyway, due to the number of predators in my area.


Fishin' for Chickens
Nov 9, 2019
Rim Country, Az
They'll eat it anyway and be fine, I have no toxic plants in my yard since they buggers ate them.
Chickens love tomatoes, which ate nightshades.
Edit to correct auto correct.
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Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
Southeast Louisiana
I have 24" tall raised beds with hoops and loose bird netting over them, is this enough to deter my future chickens?

It should be. Bird netting or deer netting is a pain to deal with, it seems to go out of its way to get hung up on anything and everything, but it should work for what you propose.

Does anyone know if they'll actively seek out those plants?

Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and potatoes are members of the nightshade family that contain toxins that can harm chickens. The toxins are in the greens, not the fruits. But that threat is extremely overrated for different reasons.

One is dosage. One bite won't kill them. They have to eat a certain amount of tomato leaves or potato leaves to eat enough to harm themselves. The bigger the chicken the more they have to eat. One reason they are highly unlikely to eat enough to harm themselves is that the leaves taste bitter. They simply will not like them. If they have anything else they can eat they will eat something else. So no, they will not actively seek out those plants. They will actively try to avoid them if they have other options.

Like many things there is a kernel of truth in the rumor, but the treat is not nearly as great as some would have you believe. One thing I'd avoid, if the chickens are kept in a bare run with no other green stuff, do not throw a potato plant or tomato plant in there. If it is the only green thing available they might eat it. There is a warning there, but in your circumstances I do not see a problem at all.

Dried uncooked beans do contain something that can harm them. Red Kidney beans are the worst but the others have it too. Green beans are OK and if they are well cooked dried beans aren't too bad. I grow a lot of beans for seeds and avoid leaving piles of dried beans where chickens can get at them.

Another warning you might see is fruit seeds, like apple. Many fruit seeds do have a poison in them, but dosage again. If a chicken were to eat a huge pile of apple seeds they might eat enough to harm themselves but a few seeds are not a problem.

In most of this stuff, moderation is the key. There is a tiny bit of truth behind these warnings but unless something really strange is going on there is no credible threat.

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