Making sure they have greens?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by dulcimer lady, Sep 11, 2010.

  1. dulcimer lady

    dulcimer lady Songster

    Apr 22, 2010
    Our chickens are not free range and have to stay confined to the run. It only took them 2-3 weeks to deplete any and all grass in their run. Now, I try to remember to pick handfulls of grass and clover and put in the run for them in addition to their food and the table scraps they get. Is it bad for them to not get a lot of grass in their diet?
  2. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    Hello there!

    It won't hurt them at all, as long as you're feeding them a good chicken food, like a layer feed or chick grower--depending on their age. You don't have to supply them with any greens, but they will LOVE it if you do. I like to throw in some fresh lawn clippings after I mow. They love to eat some and scratch around in it.
  3. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    I have read on some website (I forget which one) that grass should be about 10% of the diet, but I don't have any way of knowing whether to believe it.

    I can tell you what I've noticed with my birds, though. I have just started (the past two days) cutting out a 2 foot x 2 foot square of sod with wonderful grass growth on it and laying it down in the run for my older girls, who don't have grass left in their section of the garden and side yard. The younger flock are in a large garden with lots of grass.

    They go CRAZY over it!!! They act like they were waiting for it all day long, why did it take you so long, etc.!!

    Then the next day, I take the dirt that's left (it still holds its shape) and put it back in the hole from whence it came. Of course we live in the country, so I'm not worried about someone falling in the hole that it left or maintaining a beautiful lawn.

    Some people grow flats of grass for the chickens. Some even put chicken wire over it suspended so that when it grows tall the chickens eat it.
  4. dulcimer lady

    dulcimer lady Songster

    Apr 22, 2010
    Yes! Mine even know what I'm doing now when they see me pulling grass up and they get all excited. I gave them some mustard greens last week too and they really enjoyed that. [​IMG]
  5. Tropical Chook

    Tropical Chook Songster

    Jul 5, 2010
    I'm sure they will be fine with only commercial feed because after all, millions of birds are raised that way all around the world. With that said, I also think people underestimate the importance of greens. The reason I say this is because of experience with my own flock. Withing a week of starting "all day" free ranging, my birds stopped eating their pellets, and have since only been eating grass, weeds, and whatever else they find. I still have feed available to them, but they don't touch it, so once I throw this lot out I won't bother buying anymore, at least not for the chickens. The two ducks nibble on some every now and then, but again, they don't eat much of it. While some may argue, I have found my birds to be in an all round better condition, and the orange yolks in the eggs are awesome.

    Not everyone is able to let their birds free range, but if that's the case, just give them some grass clippings, or else you can buy some greens from the grocery store. Chickens really are so easy to keep, and they're very forgiving, so don't beat yourself up if you forget to give them some greens [​IMG]
  6. GardenerGal

    GardenerGal Songster

    Dec 20, 2008
    If you can give them greens, it's great for them. I sometimes collect dandelions and other edible weeds from the garden and out in the neighborhood too. Chickweed, lambsquarters, pigweed (what is it with all the weeds named after farm animals?!), purslane, dandelions and chickory, and so many other weeds are good eating (edible for humans too!) along with grass.

    BUT, make sure they haven't been treated with pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertlizers. I rinse everything under the garden hose before feeding to the chooks and waterfowl.
  7. dldolan

    dldolan WineNChooks

    Aug 11, 2010
    Sonoma County, CA
    If my gals can't go out for some reason (usually I let them out 2-6 hours/day in the orchard, but not if i'm planting or whatever...) I stick big kale leaves through the wire of their run and they go nutso.

    Just today I planted a "garden" for them in a wooden fish box I found at the recylce section of the dump. I took this wooden box with slats, about 3ft x 2 ft wide and 8 inches deep and made basically a raised bed with fall greens: chard, kale, lettuces, spinach....covered it with wire on top (make sure to leave about a 2" space between the top of the dirt and the wire covering) and will water it well until our rains start again. When I can't let the gals out for the day this Fall, I'll just roll their new greens garden into their run! (I bought wheels at Home Depot and put them on the end of the box opposite the pull rope.) Voila! Easy chicken happiness!! And with (any kind of) wire across the top (i'm using old horse fencing, but would use poultry wire if i had any more!), they can't scratch all the way into the dirt, so the plants don't mind a little pecking and will just keep growing!!

    One idea, anyway...!
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2010
  8. I weed while I'm watering and with the 100's I water ALL the time [​IMG] When I have a handful of grass/weeds, I head to the run...the girls see me coming and race to get to the door before me. They greet me with "What ya got Mama!...I want it!" By this time I have the door open and they are coming out of the run...they are jumping and I'm getting nipped so I toss it as far as I can and they take off after it...I take a head count to be sure no one slipped away and close the door. [​IMG]
  9. Mine can turn a pile of weeds into fertilizer in less than a day.
  10. verity

    verity Songster

    Sep 8, 2008
    Our grocery store's produce manager lets me 'pick thru' the greens that are pulled off the veggies each day --
    I also buy a bunch of kale every week -- it's really inexpensive --

    Greens are a 'treat' for our girls in addition to their regular food ---

    Last year we were able to buy squares of 'sod' but that's not been available this year --

    And, like many others on here, we pull grass, dandelion greens, chickweed, etc. ---

    I think this just offers some variety in their diet --- and they love it -- :)

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by