Do chickens "plant" seeds?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by deniboardman, Jun 19, 2011.

  1. deniboardman

    deniboardman Hatching

    Jun 19, 2011
    This is a very strange question, but thought I'd ask the "pros" since I can't find anything else about it on the internet. We have a large dirt yard where we keep the chickens, my husband does all the weed abatement and is very familiar with most things that grow there. Recently we've been findng small round patches of some different kind of grass, and when he pulls it up it is a bunch of sprouted seeds. Never seen this before and wondering if the chickens (they're only 3 months old) can "plant" seeds? They seem to know where they are located and scratch them up to eat and cover them back up! The seeds do seem to look a little like some that are in the scratch we feed them. Anyway my husband is amazed and we are very curious to see your posts. Thanks! [​IMG]

  2. janinepeters

    janinepeters Songster

    Jun 9, 2009
    Interesting question. I would say that any animal that scratches around in the soil can potentially impact the vegetation which emerges. For example, small wind-blown seeds need to be pretty much on the soil surface to germinate, while larger seeds need to be buried. I suppose, then, that any animal that scratches around in the soil could give larger seeded plant species the advantage over smaller seeded species, but I would not call this conscious or deliberate planting on the part of the animal.

    I don't think there is any intentional burying of specific seeds by chickens, as there is with other birds, such as jays, which cache certain seeds for future consumption. In the latter case, the seeds they fail to retrieve can germinate, resulting in more of the plants which produce the preferred seeds. A nice example of mutualism in nature: both the plant and the bird benefit. However, I don't think the jays are aware of how they ultimately benefit by "forgetting"about some of their cached seeds, and I would be astounded to learn that chickens actually "know" that burying a certain seed results in a plant they like to eat (if in fact it does).

    As for scratch grain, I would imagine that whole grains such as wheat could be viable and germinate, but cracked corn is not viable, since the seeds are broken up. Certain seeds in birdseed mixes, such as intact sunflower seeds (those which still have the hulls) can germinate, but other seeds such as niger thistle, have been irradiated to make them non-viable.
  3. SunnyCalifornia

    SunnyCalifornia Songster

    Oct 8, 2010
    Escondido CA
    I have a beautiful Black Oil Sunflower about to bloom in my back yard!! LOL. Right in the middle of my roses. [​IMG]

  4. tclegg

    tclegg Chirping

    May 15, 2011
    Quote:I remember this cartoon when I was growing up---I couldn't resist watching it again (TWICE) my 15 yo son thought I was nuts...LOL [​IMG]
  5. einhard

    einhard In the Brooder

    Jun 15, 2011
    Quote:That is hilarious! Thanks a lot...I'll be singing that little song all night. Who'll help her eat her corn? Who'll help her eat her corn? [​IMG]

  6. deniboardman

    deniboardman Hatching

    Jun 19, 2011
    Thanks RareFeathers! I didn't find THAT one on the those old cartoons and don't remember seeing this one. I'm really hoping to find out how these seeds are being planted, it's almost like the chickens didn't digest those particular seeds from the scratch and just disgorged their crops in certain places where the seeds germinated and sprouted! I didn't know if they did those kinds of things or hopefully I can solve the mystery soon! [​IMG]
  7. ima57boomer

    ima57boomer In the Brooder

    Mar 23, 2011
    I don't know if chickens are like other birds in that respect, but having a female mulberry tree in our yard all these years has been very aggravating. The birds (sparrows, etc.), eat the berries, fly away, roost in other trees, poop, and first thing you know, we have tons of volunteer mulberry trees coming up in and around our yard. In the pine tree windbreak, especially. I was also wondering if chicken droppings would "plant" things where I would rather they not be in my yard.

  8. flowergirl60

    flowergirl60 Songster

    Feb 13, 2011
    Austin Tx

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