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Chicken tolerant vegetables  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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Location: Upstate SC
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Chickens can be very useful in the garden, eating bugs and scratching up small weeds.  But they can also be very destructive, pecking, nibbling, and scratching up the very plants you are trying to grow unless they are behind protection.  I've been running chickens free range in my garden for 8 years and, from my own experience, the following are lists of vegetables and their susceptibility to chicken damage.

Totally safe with chickens, only occasional trampling or scratching up of new transplants or seedlings:
Asparagus
Sunchokes
Yacon
Sweet potato
Irish potato
Eggplant
Peppers
Winter and summer squash
Lagenaria gourds
Luffa
Cucumbers
Melons (bury seeds well, will eat seeds if they can see them)
Watermelons
Pole and bush beans
Runner beans
Lima beans
Cowpeas
Yard long beans
Peas
Fava beans

Not safe with chickens, like to eat leaves, fruit, or seeds easily scratched up:
Strawberries
Lettuce
Radish
Spinach
Swiss chard
Beets
Carrots
Parsnips
Mustard
Corn salad
Collards, cabbage, all Cole crops
Tomatoes (only the fruit, they don't bother the leaves, trellis to get the fruit above chicken height)
Corn (seedlings, but not large plants)

Usually don't bother:
Chicory
Lambs quarters
 
pollinator
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Location: Denmark 57N
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I didn not have exactly the same experience with you when I had free ranging chickens that could get into the vegetables, Most of it I agree with but to match my experience

I would have to move
To unsafe
Squash (both winter and summer) to unsafe, they love them and leave peck marks in all of it.
Cucumbers mixed results, they didn't go for the small pickles but they love the long slicers

In a sort of semi safe position
Peas/fava beans while neither took any hits to the pods, the leaves of both were loved,

To safe
Carrots and parsnips, my girls had zero interest in the leaves from these, (or the roots unless cooked) and wouldn't even eat them when they were confined to their coop for 6 months due to avian flu

I found oddly that my ducks and to a lesser extent the chickens LOVED rhubarb leaves... not sure that did them too much good.
 
master pollinator
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Location: mountains of Tennessee
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Good list. My chickens don't bother Swiss chard. Sometimes they do peck at a few squash & baby pumpkins so I plant extra for them & other hungry critters. Plenty to go around.
 
Mike Turner
pollinator
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Its likely that the breed of chicken, stocking rate, and the presence of wild edible plants outside the garden has an effect what crops they damage.  Possibly also the cultivar could have an effect.  The only winter squash I'm growing is Seminole.  The problem I had with carrots and parsnips is the chickens would scratch up the seed bed during the 2 weeks it takes for the seeds to germinate. My chickens are welsummer, barred rock, brahma, austrolorp, and favorelles.
 
pollinator
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Mike Barkley wrote:Good list. My chickens don't bother Swiss chard. Sometimes they do peck at a few squash & baby pumpkins so I plant extra for them & other hungry critters. Plenty to go around.



Swiss chard is a bit like comfrey: the girls will attack it if there isn't something better for them to eat.  If there are beets, lettuce, or other tasty greens that they enjoy more, they'll walk right past the chard so they can attack the cabbage.  But in a hard time, they'll settle for chard.

Kind of like me.  I'll eat Swiss Chard if there's nothing else growing.
 
pollinator
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Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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I used small rocks and concrete rubble to keep them from bothering my strawberries. The rocks also served as part of the mulch. If they can’t scratch the ground they don’t do much damage. I usually kept the chickens out when the berries were fruiting. They eat some berries but not a lot. They had a lot of space to roam though.
 
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We’ve raised our chickens like we were raised as kids: can’t leave the table until the plate is clean. As a consequence, the chooks peck and eat EVERYTHING.

They do have their favourites but, if hungry enough, will have a go at anything.

It makes life easy knowing they will attack anything resembling food – we just keep them away from things we don’t want destroyed.


 
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