Chickens and Weeds... how safe?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by southphoenixchick, Sep 12, 2012.

  1. southphoenixchick

    southphoenixchick In the Brooder

    Sep 16, 2010
    I wasn't sure if this went here or not so I apologize but I just couldn't find a better place to post it.

    I want to start letting my girls out to free range a little each day, but I have a HUGE weed problem in my yard. I know that the chickens will enjoy the weeds and the bugs hiding in the weeds, but I'm worried the weeds might make them sick. I have two unknown weeds that are very common in our yard, and I have green amaranth and silver leafed nightshade. I'm mostly worried about the silver leafed nightshade since I know it is a toxic plant. How toxic, I don't know, but I wouldn't eat it myself, for sure. So the heart of this question is, can I free range my chickens with mystery and one known to people toxic weed, or must I eradicate the weeds first? (Which pretty much means they will never be free range because the silver leafed nightshade has been a five year long battle and we are losing).

  2. Judy

    Judy Crowing Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    I would wager they will eat little if any of it. I'd let them out and watch a while. Mine leave certain weeds and bushes, and eat others. One that they leave alone I know gives cows trouble. Also, tomatoes are in the nightshade family. Mine have been fenced in our garden with several living tomato plants for a couple of months. They eat the tomatoes but not the tomato plants -- and I've given my chickens tomatoes off and on for years.
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    x2 They do have years of survival instincts telling them what not to eat. I don't worry about what's "bad" for them to eat--I even put *gasp* raw potato peels in the coop! And avocado! And they ignore it!

    Then again, just when I think they're smarter than I thought, they devour a block of styrafoam [​IMG]
  4. janinepeters

    janinepeters Songster

    Jun 9, 2009
    x3. I never worry about what they eat while free ranging. They eat what tastes good to them, and those are the foods that are not toxic to chickens.

  5. chfite

    chfite Songster

    Jun 7, 2011
    Taylors, SC
    Mine eat all manner of things when they are out. I rely upon the developments of evolution to take care of what they eat. It seems to be working so far.

  6. mstricer

    mstricer Crowing

    Feb 12, 2009
    I grew these weed trees in my run for shade and cover all summer now they are in seed I have been cutting them down and giving the the seeds.
  7. southphoenixchick

    southphoenixchick In the Brooder

    Sep 16, 2010
    Sounds like everyone thinks I should try it. I worry a little since I know how toxic the nightshade is and it's currently in berries... but I know that if we don't let them eat them, then they'll never get to free range.


    NYREDS Crowing

    Jan 14, 2008
    I have never known of chickens eating toxic plants. We have Nightshade all over our property & I've never seen the chickens eat the plant or the berries. As someone else pointed out they have instinct that tells them what to eat & what not to.
  9. TurtlePowerTrav

    TurtlePowerTrav T.K.'s Farm

    Jul 29, 2012
    Oregon City, OR
    My Coop
    I have more weeds than I do grass. My kids eat some and leave others. You would be fine free ranging them.

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