Chickens eating bark

K0k0shka

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
Jul 24, 2019
3,371
9,022
487
Boston Area, MA
My Coop
My Coop
I have a forsythia bush in my run. The chickens love its leaves, and over the summer ate all that they could reach, but left the rest of the bush alone - no digging at the roots or anything. It has plenty more leaves to live off of so I wasn’t worried. However, now that the bush doesn’t have leaves anymore, the chickens have started peeling and eating its bark 😫 They have stripped one of the main stems and several branches. I did not expect that! They have crumble available at all times, I give them some sunflower seeds daily, and the occasional treat of scratch or mealworms. They decidedly do not like greens - spinach, lettuce etc. - and are generally very picky with food, so I don’t know what it is that they’re looking for with the bark and how to supplement their diet with it so they don’t need to peel my poor bush. They have a very large run for the number of chickens (20 square feet per bird) and things to climb on and do in it, so I don’t think they’re bored...? They don’t act like it - no pecking or feather pulling, and they always look like they’re busy with something.

I don’t know what to think or do, and I’m worried about the bush. Should I tape something around the stems/branches? There are a lot of them, so that would be quite the project. I don’t want to fence it off either, because it’s a key enrichment item in the run and the chickens love walking under it, using it as cover, or just lying down sunbathing under it.

04FEFBFA-6041-4D7A-BEC5-8420D2770DB0.jpeg
B9C25F54-83B0-4916-A4C1-4DAB40EA6A5C.jpeg
AB3A65EF-B092-4760-AD6B-566082ACB8EB.jpeg
A99ED553-93B5-4F9A-933B-7B6912D93923.jpeg
07D37AA3-7C14-4D02-89A5-078E4376404E.jpeg
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 3, 2016
17,855
35,764
1,062
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
My Coop
My guess is one started it, and the others decided "It's not bad, let's eat it." So fencing it off or covering it with netting are probably the only ways to keep them from snacking on it.

Unfortunately for me, mine have decided that paint and concrete are in that category of things. :hmm
 

NatJ

Free Ranging
Mar 20, 2017
8,166
17,107
706
USA
I don’t know what to think or do, and I’m worried about the bush. Should I tape something around the stems/branches? There are a lot of them, so that would be quite the project. I don’t want to fence it off either, because it’s a key enrichment item in the run and the chickens love walking under it, using it as cover, or just lying down sunbathing under it.

Maybe you could protect parts of the bush, so the chickens won't completely kill it, but not bother with all of them. That would also let the chickens keep having some fun by stripping the ones you don't protect.

It might work to just wrap it with strips of cloth, maybe cut from an old sheet or something similar. You could wrap around the biggest stems/branches, starting from the bottom and working your way up. You would probably want to take the cloth off next spring, so it doesn't get too tight as the bush grows bigger--but once there are leaves, the chickens may no longer be interested in stripping the bark.

Or you could try those spiral plastic tree guards that are meant to protect against things like rabbits, but I think they are not going to be the right size for skinny branches.

Or you could make a cage from a large-size wire mesh, to protect the middle of the bush while letting the branch ends poke out for the chickens to mutilate.

(I don't really know what will work, so I'm just throwing out ideas in case one of them helps.)
 

Weeg

Crossing the Road
Premium Feather Member
Jul 1, 2020
8,188
16,757
786
Small town in Western Washington
My Coop
My Coop
It might work to just wrap it with strips of cloth, maybe cut from an old sheet or something similar. You could wrap around the biggest stems/branches, starting from the bottom and working your way up. You would probably want to take the cloth off next spring, so it doesn't get too tight as the bush grows bigger--but once there are leaves, the chickens may no longer be interested in stripping the bark.
That is a good idea to, loos cloth. Maybe you could add more branches to the run as well for them to strip the bark from? Since its winter, maybe they just need a new thing to do. You can try adding a boredom buster and see if that takes there mind off of it.
Ps. What breed are the hens in the picture? They are so pretty!
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom