grass nutrients?


9 Years
May 25, 2010
I let my hens free range now since they are old enough too now. They have been eating a lot of grass and not there feed. Are there enough nutrient in glass to keep them healthy? What sort of nutrient are in glass?


15 Years
Dec 12, 2007
ID/WA border
Chickens are not ruminants; they do not have an adequate digestive system to gain all the nutrients needed for maintenance and production from grass.

Chickens that forage for their entire diet often cover a large area. Their diet is far more than just grass and this area is much, much larger than most anyone's backyard.

The strongest proponent of pasturing poultry, Joel Salatin, says that you can reduce your feed costs by about 30% on good grass and legume forage, if I remember correctly. Animal nutritionists usually make more modest claims of around 10 or 15%. "So, while poultry managed in pasture systems appear to be eating grass, and they do eat some, they get almost no nutrition from the grass itself. These foraging chickens are looking for seeds and insects that are found in the pastures." Oregon State University, Small Farms

Chickens are good at finding lots of things to eat outdoors and, individually, they don't eat a whole lot of food, anyway (1/4 to 1/2 pound each day). Probably, they will soon go thru the "best pickings" in a backyard but they are likely to be enthusiastic about what they can find at first. What I am fairly confident of is that, if their regular feed is available to them, they will return to it as required.


A.T. Hagan

Don't Panic
12 Years
Aug 13, 2007
North/Central Florida
Keep a good balanced ration freely available to your birds then let them forage for whatever they can find. For non-meat bird hybrids on good range they can often find a pretty good bit. It won't be all grass, but a combination of grass, other kinds of tender plants, and whatever insects and small life they can find. This typically can supply a fair amount of protein, vitamins, minerals, and some fats, but is usually short on carbohydrates. When range is good their consumption of complete ration may go down though they'll often eat a fair amount of grain if you provide it. When range is poor they'll eat more of the complete ration. Meat bird hybrids have such voracious appetites they will gobble up everything.

Chickens can only eat and digest just so much grass, but if they are free ranging they are never eating just grass anyway. Be sure to keep a good ration freely available to them though so they can still get what they need should they not be able to forage it for themselves.
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