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What are some crops that chickens won't eat?

 
Travis Philp
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I've seen chickens pass up beans and spinach, though there were a lot of wild plants that they could munch on instead. I've heard that they'll leave melons, squash, and most herbs alone but I've never seen this with my own eyes. Has anyone found this to be so, or not? What are some other common vegetables/fruits that chickens won't eat?
 
Leila Rich
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I've never met a plant that a chicken won't eat! They're not that keen on solanum leaves IME, but fruit is another story.
 
Jordan Lowery
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our chickens ( not everyones chickens ) dont eat our tomatillos, peppers, tomato, squash, older amaranth, asparagus to name a few.

there will always be some weird chicken somewhere that will eat what most of the others wont, it just happens.
 
Marissa Little
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Our chickens destroyed a new asparagus bed!

Whether or not they actually eat a plant doesn't always matter if they decide the soil around your plant is good hunting ground.  Our beds are nice loose fertile soil with lots of life.  So the chickens love nothing more than to root around in there, not giving one toot if they uproot a new plant, disturbed seedlings or expose the roots of an established plant.  So the garden has a fence...
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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Same here - I tried the chickens-in-the-garden twice.  Won't happen again.  They scratched up every thing leaving only bare ground.

Even when they are in the tractors they just scratch up the grass and weeds - eating less than they uproot.

The turkeys, on the other hand, actually mow the weeds.  Each time I move them they get to work stripping the seed heads and eating the leaves.  So far, they seem to have only dug enough to take a dirt bath; one little hole here and there.
 
Joe Skeletor
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Location: Blue Island, Illinois - Zone 6a - (Lake Effect) - surrounded by zone 5b
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Well, i guess its possible that everyone's chickens are different, because I just read spinach and tomatoes listed as things they wouldn't eat, and we can dump hundreds of pounds of either in their fenceline and the chickens will go crazy for them.

Crops off the top of my head that our chickens don't seem to eat -

potatoes
anything in the onion family
carrots (not very interested)

Also saw that somebody mentioned squash. If we threw in winter squash whole, it would just sit there, but if you smash it or slice it up, they'll eat everything except the skins. Especially fond of the seeds.

My new favorite chicken treat is japanese beetles from the multiple traps near our apple orchard that was being ravaged. A few pounds a day. I dump the live beetles into hot water, then feed to the ladies. They love poached beetles - Joe

 
                              
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Great idea Joe.  Both our hops and our grapes have born the brunt of Japanese beetles this year.  Some revenge would be nice .... and I'm pretty sure our chickens will be happy to oblige 
 
Jordan Lowery
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Also saw that somebody mentioned squash. If we threw in winter squash whole, it would just sit there, but if you smash it or slice it up, they'll eat everything except the skins. Especially fond of the seeds.


oh yea for sure, i was talking about in the garden system though. whole and on the plant.

im with Marissa Little too, even if they dont eat the plants, chances are they will scratch them up to hell. destructive little critters.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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my chickens eat the tomatoes and spinach and melons, the stinkers, but they make nice eggs.

They leave the amaranth alone, mostly....

I've had a huge problem iwth grasshoppers the last three years.  This year they are at plague levels, and in addition to everything else, the are eating the cambium off fruit tree branches and lilacs, SO,  I've been looking into guinea hens.  It is said that the guineas have such a huge protein need that they don't eat muc plant material, and dont scratch very deep.

I don't know if this is helpful, just thought I would mention it
 
                                
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Location: Western Pennsylvania
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It's not even what they will or won't eat, sometimes it's just the taste they take that will wreck your garden.  One or two pecks on a almost ready to pick squash destroys it's ability to store.  I had a few get out this year and they "tasted" the cucumbers, making them rot before they were ripe. 

Mine will eat tomatoes and lettuce and spinach.  They will eat baby broccoli, kale, cabbage and cauliflower plants to the ground.  They will peck at the flowers and baby bush beans, and take just enough bites from squash and cukes to ruin them.  Also, just the scratching around a fresh bed will ruin it if you have just seeded etc. 

When I let the girls into the garden in the fall and spring my garlic beds are always off limits, and I fence them out.  When I plant the garlic I cover the bed with chopped leaves and then lay a plastic mesh fencing over the top, held down with bricks.  In the spring the garlic grows up through the mesh, but I fence the chickens and remove the mesh before it's very big.  They don't eat the garlic, but they scratch and pull the cloves out and toss them to the side.  They do the same with onion sets in the spring.  They see one, Oh!!  pull it out, not what they thought it was, and move on, over and over.  I learned that the hard way.

Tami 
 
Travis Philp
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Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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Thanks for the input all.

Sounds like I should go with a double row perimeter fence, around the garden, or switch strategies and aim for crops that the grasshoppers won't eat, and keep the chickens out of the equation.
 
Leila Rich
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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I think people often have a bit of a fantasy view of chooks.
They are usually wildly destructive  in a confined space and will destroy a garden very fast.
 
Travis Philp
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I was just going by my 'one-season' experience with bantam chickens and muskovy ducks. I was farming on bartered land, with the birds running completely free. They commonly browsed in my veggie patch and I hardly lost a thing to either trampling or grazing. I guess all are not created equal in this case.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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you know, I think there are factors to consider such as: what else is available to eat, and in what quantities.  How many chickens and how big a garden.  But, isn't this why we choose the model of diversity?  The chickens are individuals, the flock has traditions same as any isolated population of social animals.  There is eating behavior that is learned, it is only the peck response that is innate.  As breeds can have different temperaments, so can different flocks in different conditions.


We can only observe what's going on, try to gather some idea why, try to get some idea how to guide the process towards something more beneficial to us, the farmers and caretakers of the whole mix.  Give it a try, then see where we have arrived, and what adjustments we want to make.

Farming is not like a factory with all variables under firm and direct control.  We hire the chickens to be chickens and the tomato plants to be tomato plants, and the soil to be soil, and try to manage it so everything feeds everything else, and it all comes out good in the end.

Personally, I love it!

Thekla
 
                        
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No one here seems to live in Florida.  The things I have that grow well and naturally in this soil are oak and pine trees.  It is near season for the acorns and I know they have tannin but will it hurt a chicken?  What about oranges grapefruits or lemons?
 
Ken Peavey
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I'm in north Florida.  Due to the drought this year the oaks are putting out tiny acorns.  The chickens have been scrathcing around the oak trees lately, gobbling up whatever they come across.  Last year I gathered about a gallon of acorns, crushed them with a hammer on a brick, tossed the acorn remains to the chickens.  In a few days they were all gone.

I've not found a plant the chickens will eat.  I've experimented with an array of items.  Rutabaga skins are not favored, but if I chop them up eventually they will make good work of them. 

I've got American Black Nightshade growing beside the barn.  They leave the green berries alone.  As soon as they turn black, they are gone in a day.  If I find black berries, I scatter them around hoping to get more plants next year.  Do your homework before you eat these berries.  I've tried them, found them unappealing, but the hens gobble em up.

Chickens will eat citrus, but in small amounts.  If you chop the rinds finely, they hens will eat them, slowly perhaps, so dont go giving them a bucketload of diced grapefruit. 

We've had a bit of rain up here in the last few weeks, the pasture is green again.  I shot the lock off the wallet, bought a new mower.  The electric mower crapped out.  Must have had a 2 year warranty.  The new mower is gas (THE HORROR).  The bagger lets me gather clippings which I add to the nearest compost heap.  Being the heaps are getting better moisture, they are more taking on new life.  The bugs are right into the heap, with the chickens right into the bugs.

When I lived in town, I'd let my hens out of their fence when I could keep them out of the garden beds.  The first thing they went for was the compost heap.  They'd tear it up.  I think chickens and compost heaps should be considered a guild.
 
                        
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Thanks Ken! 
I know acorns are great food (with calories like corn or potatoes) after the time consuming tannin rinse but if the chickens eat them they will be worth the trouble.
I am going to try a vacuum with a long long cord
and they store well
I am not getting a whole lot of citrus so one grapefruit a day for the five chickens will exhaust my stock yet provide for a few months
I too just bought a gas mower with a grass bag (never used one before) to provide mulch for the chickens and do they love it - after rotting for a few weeks in the ground mulcher so it is chock full of bugs of every sort
I hate those big fat black hissing cockroaches and it is pure joy to see the quickest chicken spear it and run off closely followed by the competition
They actually let out a whoop of joy when they spot one of those fat treats
In all the old cowboy movies those Mexican haciendas always had chickens running across the dirt floor and now I know why! Heh!
Thanks again until I have some stories to post
 
 
                                  
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our hens will not eat green melon rind (all the pink, yellow, or orange, but no green), citrus, or potatoes.
 
Ivan Weiss
Posts: 172
Location: Vashon WA, near Seattle and Tacoma
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My chickens won't eat raw potatoes, but they make quick work of boiled potatoes. According to G. F. Heuser in "Feeding Poultry," there are few better feed supplements than boiled potatoes.

I get a lot of cull potatoes from my local supermarket, and they go right into the pressure cooker for my two flocks of layers.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
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Wow, you are lucky the grocery store will still give you culled potatoes. Our grocery stores all swear it is against the law for them to give away the food they remove from the shelf, even if it is for livestock.

Thekla
 
Ivan Weiss
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Location: Vashon WA, near Seattle and Tacoma
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I live in a farm community. The store is independently owned and operated and does not answer to "corporate." If they have to take cull vegetables to the dump, they get charged by weight. So the farmers who get it first are saving the store money. Much of the stuff is trimmed off before it gets put on the shelf, or rejected for cosmetic considerations. So by and large it is as fresh as the stuff humans eat.
 
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