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Our Top 5 plants for Chickens

Spring is the perfect time of year to plant some tasty treats for your chickens. This is a list of Our Top 5 plants for chickens. They are easy to grow and also have few insect problems. They are suitable for Spring sowing in most parts of Australia.

What's more, they offer a range of health benefits for your feathered friends. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get planting.

Nasturtium

Nasturtiums are beautiful flowers to have around the yard or chicken coop. Once established, a large patch of Nasturtiums plants will be very hardy. They can even stand up to chickens free-ranging in it. 
 
Benefits: Nasturtium leaves and flowers are a great source of vitamin C as well as iron. They are said to stimulate laying and also have natural deworming properties. 
 
Planting advice: Spring is the time to plant these pretty flowers. Sow 40-60cm apart to allow the trailing plants to spread. Keep the plants well-watered. Also, try to protect Nasturtiums until they are established. Our nasturtiums seem to self-seed readily but the hot sun can cause burning. Keep moist or plant in part-shade for lusher growth. It is for their hardy nature and their beautiful lush look we put them in Our Top 5 plants for chickens.

Parsley

This all-rounder is a family favourite as a culinary herb. It is also one of the most nutritious. Chickens love to eat the leaves as well as the stems. With this kept in mind, plant more than you think you need.
 
Benefits: Parsley is a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C and K, plus calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and also zinc.
 
Planting advice: Once established, parsley will flourish for 2 years before it goes to seed. Sow in Spring. Seeds can take up to 6 weeks to germinate and need to be kept moist. Another option is to purchase seedlings. Two punnets of parsley seedlings should supply the kitchen and also the chooks for 2 years. Not bad for around ten dollars. The nutritional value for chickens and the appeal of parsley to chickens places humble parsley in Our Top 5 plants for chickens.

Fennel

Fennel is a fantastic plant to grow for your chickens – it has a range of health benefits and the strong smell is also supposed to deter pests. Adding dried fennel fronds to your nesting box may deter lice, mites and other parasites.
 
Benefits: Fennel is an excellent source of vitamin C as well as a range of phytonutrients and antioxidants. It is supposed to be good for a chicken’s reproductive health, and prevent parasites. There is also a really interesting study linking fennel consumption with improved resistance to heat stress, so get planting before summer! 
 
Planting advice: Fennel is really more of an autumn and winter vegetable. That said, if you plant in Spring, you should get a good crop before the height of summer. Our fennel seems indestructible – the bulbs might be more robust over summer and it goes to seed frequently, but it just keeps re-sprouting more and more bulbs from the roots. It’s been in for 2 years and we can get fennel fronds, and usually bulbs, any time of year! 

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Borage

Chickens love borage, and once planted this herb will self-seed readily, some might say too readily! 

Benefits: Borage contains high amounts of vitamins A and C, beta-carotene for gorgeous yellow egg yolks and a range of minerals and trace elements. It is said to support the immune system and contribute to mucus-membrane health, making it the perfect boost for chickens who’ve suffered from respiratory problems over the winter.

Planting advice: You can plant borage from spring through to autumn in warmer areas, but we find it does best in springtime and for summer plantings a bit of shade will lead to better growth.

Chicory

Chicory is another one of those plants that you only need to plant once – when grazed, chicory will re-sprout from the roots and, depending on the variety, it will also self-seed. 

Benefits: Chicory contains a range of vitamins and minerals almost as good as parsley! It is said to help with laying and stimulate the immune system. There are also studies linking chicory consumption to improved digestive health in broiler chickens.

Planting advice: Spring is the time to plant chicory in temperate areas. If you live in the tropics, you’ll have to wait until autumn, but at least once it’s in, you won’t have to plant it again!

And… Don’t forget the greens!

Chickens love greens, and will eat almost anything you can plant (and things you don’t plant, like weeds!). Easy-to-grow garden greens include lettuce, silver beet and rocket, while herbs such as sage, oregano, mint and catmint have fantastic health benefits for your birds. If you have a bit of space and want to really spoil your girls, they’ll go nuts for watermelon and corn too (or you could just get some from the greengrocer!). 

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