Do you garden? Why not plant some veggies that have a bigger bang for their buck this year, especially for the chickens? Chickens love fresh treats from the vegetable garden. Many times they happily eat leaves, stems and roots. They also don’t mind bug chewed leaves that normally would find their way into the composter.Typically around this time, we start our seeds off indoors in seed trays. Once the seeds have germinated and are a few weeks old, we begin to “harden them off”. On warmer sunny days, we bring the trays full of seedlings outside to the picnic table, so that they can acclimate to outside temperatures. We bring them back indoors in the evening. We do this for about a week. After a week or so, we then plant them in the garden.
Soon enough, it’s harvest time. When sharing fresh vegetables with your flock, always be sure they have access to chicken grit and fresh drinking water. Also, if you have applied any garden chemicals, be sure to give them a good washing prior to sharing. Here are seven great plants that tolerate the chilly evenings of early spring, are easy to grow and perfect for you and the flock to enjoy.
Mixed salad greens grow quickly and can be harvested sooner than most vegetables. They are rich in Vitamins A, B, and also full of antioxidants. The entire plant is edible. I always plant extra and toss the entire plant, roots and all, into the chicken run.
Kale is low in calories but packed with many vitamins and minerals including Vitamins A, K, C, B complex, iron, calcium, potassium, Vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids and folate. The entire plant is edible. Kale can grow the entire season and is simple to grow. You could even grow it in a container with mixed greens.
This vegetable is a relative to broccoli and chickens will not only eat the flowering white portion but also enjoy dining on the leaves and stems as well. Full of potassium, Vitamins A, D, B12, B6, C, iron and magnesium, the chickens get a healthy dose of nutrients.Swiss Chard
I love growing Swiss Chard and in the Northeast, it can grow like a weed. Once in the ground, our plants produce all season long until the first hard frost in fall. Swiss chard is rich in Vitamins A, K, C, E, B12, calcium, iron, folate and fiber.Carrots
To chickens, this entire plant is edible including the leafy greens. Carrots are a great boredom buster and keep the flock busy as it takes a bit of work to eat them. Carrots of course are known for beta-carotene, but they also are a great source of vitamins A, C, B6, and potassium, Try growing heirloom varieties that come in many gorgeous shades of yellow, orange, purples and pinks. Next time for a little fun, try tossing an entire carrot plant into the run as a treat.