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broadleaf dock for chicken feed? and other 'weeds'

 
S Carreg
Posts: 260
Location: De Cymru (West Wales, UK)
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We have lots and lots of broadleaf dock around, it's currently in leaf and will start setting seed over the summer. I'm wondering if it's ok for chickens? They're going to be in a large fenced run with a large area of deep woodchip mulch which i hope will provide lots of tasty bugs and worms. There are currently a few plants in the run - some dock, some dandelion, some rosebay willow herb and some common rush - but I assume they will kill these pretty quick. I want to give them plenty of greens and stuff to play with.

Stuff we have in abundance that would be easy to give them: broadleaf dock, leaves and seeds, rosebay willow herb, common rush, plantain, nettles, some sorrel, some grass (dont currently have a mower but if we get one i'll just throw clippings in the run).

Are any or all of these ok to give to them? Are some ok but only in limited quantity?
 
S Carreg
Posts: 260
Location: De Cymru (West Wales, UK)
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Really, not a single person has anything to say on the subject of feeding 'weeds' to chickens? Would love to hear experiences from anyone. I did see a list of supposedly poisonous plants on another poultry forum, but since it included things like nettles, i didn't trust it all that much.
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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My experience with chickens is that dock's one of few plants they totally ignore. Rushes too.
They definitely like dandelion, plantain, nettles and grass-especially seeding.
rosebay willow herb I'm unfamiliar with, but if online chicken people are to be believed, it's a yes.

Chickens do seem very fond of leaves with high oxalic acid like rhubarb, so while I don't know about sorrel, I wouldn't be surprised.
Do you mean culinary, or a wild one like 'sheep sorrel'?
While it's not a weed as such, but grows like one and also high in oxalates: silverbeet.
The chickens I've met love it above all else, and it's worth growing extra around the place just for them. The best chicken-treat of all is seeding silverbeet.


From your plant list it sounds like the run area's quite wet . If it is and space is limited, I've found that chickens can turn it into a hideous bog impressively fast and you may need to extend your mulching plans...
 
S Carreg
Posts: 260
Location: De Cymru (West Wales, UK)
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Thank you. Our area is indeed wet - 1.8 meters of rainfall annually! However we took this into account when building the run - it is on an area of about 30cm deep slate chippings, so it is well draining and never has puddles and can't really be turned into a mudbath. The deep (30 cm or so) woodchip mulch (on top of the stone chips) covers half of the run area.

No way I'm sharing my silverbeet/chard with the chickens! Haha. I don't know what you mean by sheep sorrel, it's growing wild in the field and already setting seed, i threw them a few stalks but they are untouched, ditto the willowherb (aka fireweed, grows everywhere I think). I'll try them with plantain today.
 
Rick Roman
pollinator
Posts: 442
Location: Pennsylvania Pocono Mt Neutral-Acidic Elv1024ft AYR41in Zone 5b
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Hello S Carreg and welcome to permies.

I recently added pullets to my small flock. I observed them exploring and testing plants for the first time in a free range perennial and annual permie garden. The variety of plants available to them is incalculable. They settled on eating plantain, purple clover, grass, yellow flower sorrel, broadleaf dock, turnip tops, swiss chard. But above all they love bugs, grubs, grasshoppers, meal worms. Consider building a Black Soldier Fly harvesting compost bin. Chickens love BSF and BSF can be frozen for winter fowl fodder. Hope this helps.
 
S Carreg
Posts: 260
Location: De Cymru (West Wales, UK)
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Thank you Rick. I do need to investigate BSF more, thanks for the reminder. The reasoning behind the massive woodchip pile was to hopefully provide worms and woodlice, of which there are lots in there. I know chickens decimate stuff quick but the pile is 30 cm deep, 4.5 m long and 4 m wide and it's only got 5 chickens on it (and that's only about half of their total run size) so I'm hoping it will be an ongoing source of wrigglers for them. They will get some commercial feed as well, and plenty of spent brewing grain (mostly barley), so my main concern is supplementing greens.
 
alex Keenan
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I am currently in Cincinnati ohio and my chickens and turkeys seem to like a number of weeds.
Top one is chick weeds it grows well and poultry love it.
My turkeys seem to very much like wild onion it is similar to shallots. In fact my turkeys ate all my french grey shallots this spring
 
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