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8 Common Weeds Your Chickens Will Love (& 8 Poisonous Plants To Avoid!)

8 Common Weeds Your Chickens Will Love (& 8 Poisonous Plants To Avoid!)

Did you know you no longer have to grumble and groan when you find weeds popping out of the lawn?

You can feed those very pests to your chickens for a nutritious and delicious treat. It’s a win for the chickens and a win for you!

Feed Your Chickens For Free

The most obvious benefit to feeding weeds to chickens is to save precious cash on chicken feed. The more your chickens can fill up on the free plants growing on your property, the less they’re eating of that expensive feed. Plain and simple! 

Another great benefit to feeding weeds to chickens is it gives you an excuse to maintain your garden and landscaping, so it’s never left looking neglected and scraggly.

While it’s easy to put off weeding for weeks on end, it’s much more motivating to get the task done when you know it’s going to do double duty, making your property look great, and feed your chickens.

Weeds Are Nutrient Rich

The best benefit of feeding weeds to chickens is to give them a huge boost in health.

Chickens in the wild naturally eat plenty of fresh greens as well as minerals and insects they find in the soil and on plants. When you feed weeds to your backyard chickens, you’re giving them all of these great nutrients they desperately need to be happy and healthy. 

Free Ranging Your Chickens

If you’re interested in feeding weeds to your chickens for all the wonderful benefits, the easiest way to do that is to let them free range on your property. Chickens will naturally seek out weeds while they wander, and eat them to their heart’s content. 

When free ranging your chickens, be aware that they’ll likely take tastes of absolutely everything on your property, whether it’s a weed you’d like to get rid of or not!

If you’d like to be more selective about what plants your chickens eat, you’ll need to pick them yourself. 

Another fun idea for free range time is to plant a garden just for your chickens, full of their favorite weeds and plants!

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8 Common Weeds Your Chickens Will Love (& 8 Poisonous Plants To Avoid!)

8 Common Weeds Your Chickens Will Love

1. Nettles


Nettles get a bad rap for their harsh sting, but they’re edible for humans and animals alike, and quite nutritious! You usually find nettles growing on the edge of woodlands.

2. Purslane


This succulent-looking weed is tasty and great for your flock. Purslane is usually found growing out of sidewalk cracks and patios.

3. Bee Balm

Bee Balm

This lovely plant is well loved by chickens and while usually not considered a weed, it certainly grows like one!

Bee Balm can be found in most gardens and is prized for its beautiful purple-pink flowers.

If you don’t already grow it, ask some friends if they’d be willing to share. One small bunch of Bee Balm will spread like crazy in your garden.

4. Wood Sorrel/ Oxalis

Wood Sorrel

This one is a huge favorite in our flock.

The tender leaves of young Oxalis are devoured by chickens and they always come back for more! Oxalis is one of those weeds you certainly don’t want popping up in your lawn, so if you find it, give it to the chickens instead.

5. Clover


Clover is often mistaken for Oxalis, but is a very different plant. Either way, it’s another one that chickens just can’t get enough of! 

6. Plantain


No, not the banana-looking fruit you find at the grocery. This type of plantain comes in leaf form and pops up in sandy soil.

Plantain has big, glossy heart shaped leaves and is well loved by chickens. Plantain is also good for people to eat, and is famously used for its healing properties. It’s truly one of the best weeds to find on your property. 

7. Dandelion


Take a sharp pause before you spray herbicide on your lawn this year! That dandelion is completely edible, for people and chickens alike. Pull dandelions out by their roots and toss them in the chicken coop to get rid of the ‘weed’ from your lawn and feed your chickens all at once!

8. Chickweed


The chickens love of this weed is right there in the name! Chickweed is one of the most common weeds and grows well in lawns, pastures, and forests. 

8 Poisonous Plants To Avoid Feeding Your Flock

While most chickens will naturally avoid plants that aren’t good for them, it can’t hurt to take some extra caution and keep your birds away from these plants.

If you’re growing any of these plants in your garden, be sure to put up a fence around it, or keep your chickens enclosed to their coop and run during the growing season.

While many of the plants on this list aren’t considered weeds, they may be naturally growing on your property anyway. Our chickens naturally don’t touch any of these plants, but it doesn’t hurt to keep an eye on them!

  • Azalea
  • Buttercup
  • English Ivy
  • Daffodils
  • Ferns
  • Foxglove
  • Creeping Myrtle
  • Burdock

Once you discover that you can feed weeds to your chickens, you’ll be excited to see them cropping up in your yard every year!

Free and nutritious chicken feed is no longer hard to come by!

And if you still have excess weeds, why not add them to your own homemade chicken dust bath.

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8 Common Weeds Your Chickens Will Love (& 8 Poisonous Plants To Avoid!)

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Meredith Skyer

Meredith Skyer is a writer, artist, and homesteader residing in Western New York with her husband and menagerie of farm critters.

She has spent the last 12 years learning and implementing a myriad of homesteading skills, specializing in growing food and animal husbandry. Her biggest passion is working in conjunction with the natural world to harvest healthy, organic food from her own backyard.

Meredith is a freelance writer and founder of Backyard Chicken Project, a place for crazy chicken people to gather, learn, and share in their love of chickens. She also contributes articles to Mother Earth News Online, From Scratch Magazine, and Grit.

Meredith works from her woodland homestead where she spends her days writing, creating animal-inspired art, and chasing after her flock of chickens.

You can visit her at