Can Chickens Eat Plants? Discover the Best Chicken-Safe Options

Article Summary

  • When feeding plants to chickens, it’s important to remember that while some plants like irises, lilacs, and Virginia creepers are safe, others like lilies and azaleas should be avoided, and herbicides should never be used in areas where they forage, while grass, hay, and certain herbs and weeds can provide essential nutrients and support natural foraging behaviors.
  • To ensure optimal nutrition and health, chicken owners should focus on fresh forage supplementation alongside commercial feed.
  • It’s crucial to avoid plants known to be poisonous and introduce new foods gradually to monitor for adverse reactions.

Chickens are omnivores, meaning they enjoy eating both plant and animal matter. While the bulk of a chicken’s diet consists of grains and protein-rich foods like worms or bugs, chickens also relish many types of plants. Understanding which plants chickens can and cannot consume helps chicken owners provide their flock with optimal nutrition.

Can Chickens Eat Plants That Bloom With Flowers?

Chickens can safely snack on certain flower varieties, though some popular garden flowers are toxic to these fowls. When in doubt, check if the plant is safe before offering flowers to chickens.


The iris flower and plant are non-toxic for chickens. Both the blooms and leaves of irises make excellent chicken treats.

Can Chickens Eat Plants Like Lilacs
A Close-up View of The Lilac Flowers


Lilac’s fragrant blooms and bushy leaves pose no risk to these fowls. Feel free to toss lilac trimmings into the chicken run for foraging.


Unfortunately, lilies are highly toxic to these fowls. Ingesting any part of the lily plant can cause kidney failure in these fowls. Never let chickens near lilies.


The bright, bountiful blooms of zinnias are completely chicken-safe. Scatter zinnia flowers in the coop or run to encourage natural chicken foraging behaviors and provide enrichment for hens.

Can Chickens Eat Plants Like Weeds?

Backyard weeds often contain more nutrients than store-bought chicken feed. They happily gobble down most weeds, with a few exceptions.


Also called pigweed, this prolific weed packs a nutritional punch. Both the leaves and seeds of lambsquarters provide protein, minerals, and vitamins essential for chicken health.

Can Chickens Eat Plants Like Knotweed
A Close-up View of Knotweed


Knotweed grows quickly, and these fowls relish the hollow stems and tart leaves. This weed has natural anti-parasitic compounds to boost chicken immunity.


Stinging nettle lives up to its name with tiny hairs that irritate human skin. However, they easily consume nettles without issue. Nettle delivers a powerhouse of nutrition for chickens.

Generic Weeds

Most weeds populating yards or gardens pose no threat to these fowls. Allow chickens to nibble generic weeds. However, refrain from using herbicides or other chemicals where these fowls forage.

Can Chickens Eat Trees and Shrubs?

They enjoy pecking at foliage, trees, and shrubs for leaves, seeds, and buds. Select plants are chicken-safe, but some popular landscaping plants are toxic.


All parts of azaleas contain toxins that can be lethal, even in small doses. Never allow your flock access to azaleas.

English Ivy

English ivy leaves, berries, and stems can be eaten by chickens. Let your fowls nibble this ivy but in moderation due to some trace amounts of toxin.

Can Chickens Eat Plants Like Virginia Creeper
Virginia Creeper Leaves And Berries

Virginia Creeper

Both the berries and leaves of Virginia creeper are safe for chickens to consume. This perennial plant’s fast growth makes it a sustainable forage option.


Willow leaves, bark, and twigs provide excellent bioavailable nutrition for these fowls with no concerns of toxicity. Consider planting a willow on the edge of the chicken run.

Can Chickens Eat Herbs?

Culinary herbs that delight human taste buds also entice these fowls. Most fresh herbs from the garden are perfectly fine for your flock.

Aloe Vera

Both the gel and leaves of aloe vera plants are edible for chickens but in tiny quantities. Aloe vera boasts anti-parasitic, immune-boosting properties to support chicken health.


The peppery zip of arugula leaves makes a nutritious chicken treat. These fowls enjoy the entire arugula plant.

Can Chickens Eat Plants Like Comfrey
Comfrey Leaves And Flowers


Comfrey leaves contain protein and minerals, but the roots are toxic. Allow your flock to eat only comfrey leaves but in small amounts.


Both the greens and yellow flowers of dandelions are nutritious chicken treats. These fowls relish all parts of the dandelion.


Bright goldenrod flowers give way to fluffy seed heads loaded with protein and fat. Chickens eagerly devour every part of goldenrod.


Chickens thrive when offered fresh kale leaves or trimmings right from the garden. Kale provides healthy nutrition for these fowls.

Can Chickens Eat Grass?

Grass and hay make up the bulk of a chicken’s natural diet. These fowls glean essential vitamins, minerals, and protein from fresh pasture grasses.


Can Chickens Eat Plants Like Dried Hay?
Dried Hay on The Field

Dried hay provides the necessary fiber for chicken digestion and manure production. Feed grass hay freely as part of a balanced diet.


Fresh grass satisfies a chicken’s natural foraging instinct. Allow free-range access to lawns or pastures so your flock can graze at will.

Tips for Growing a Garden That Benefits Your Chickens’ Health

Creating a garden that benefits your chickens’ health is not only a great way to enhance their well-being, but it can also provide you with fresh and nutritious produce. In this post, we’ll provide some helpful tips (and a list) for growing a garden that will not only be enjoyable for you but also contribute to the overall health and vitality of your fowls.

Creating a garden benefits your chickens’ health…

Include a variety of herbs like oregano, thyme, and basil in your garden for your feathery companions. These herbs taste good and can help keep your chickens healthy. Grow nutrient-rich greens like spinach, kale, and lettuce, and give them to your chickens regularly.

Add beauty, the floral plants like marigolds, nasturtiums, and calendula to your garden. These flowers are pretty and can also help your fowls stay healthy. Plant lavender, rosemary, and mint to keep bugs away from your flock.

Be careful not to plant toxic plants like nightshade or daffodils, as they can make your fowl sick. Make sure your garden has shaded areas or structures for your chickens to hide from the sun or bad weather. Rotate your crops each year to keep your garden healthy and give your chickens different nutrients.


Incorporating specific plants and herbs into your garden may ensure that your feathered friends have access to a variety of beneficial nutrients and natural remedies.

In summary, chickens can safely eat a wide variety of plant material, especially herbs, weeds, and grasses. Avoid plants known to be poisonous to these fowls, like lilies or azaleas.

Focus on providing chickens with fresh forage to supplement commercial feed for optimal nutrition and health. And gradually introduce new foods to your fowls. With some basic guidelines, you can turn your garden and lawn into an all-you-can-eat chicken buffet!

Frequently Asked Questions

What plants are good for chickens?

Chickens benefit from a variety of plants, especially those that provide essential nutrients and can be beneficial for their overall health. Some beneficial plants include clover, alfalfa, and dandelions. These plants not only offer nutritional value but also encourage natural foraging behavior in these fowls. Additionally, planting certain herbs like mint and oregano can act as natural insect repellents, promoting a healthier environment for the birds.

What leaves can chickens eat?

Chickens can consume a range of leaves, but it’s essential to ensure that they are safe and free from pesticides or chemicals. Some suitable leaves for these fowls include spinach, kale, and lettuce. These leafy greens provide vitamins and minerals that support chicken health. However, always introduce new types of leaves gradually to monitor any adverse reactions or digestive issues in the flock.

What are 5 herbs your chickens will love?

Chickens gravitate towards specific herbs that boost their diet and health. Five standout herbs for these fowls include basil, abundant in antioxidants and flavor-enhancing properties; parsley, packed with vitamins that aid digestion; thyme, known for its natural antiseptic traits and immunity-boosting capabilities; rosemary, a potent pest repellent with antioxidant benefits; and mint, which serves as a natural insect deterrent while soothing digestive concerns. Incorporating these herbs not only enriches the chicken’s nutritional intake but also elevates their overall health and well-being.

What plant is high in protein for chickens?

For chickens requiring a protein boost, certain plants stand out for their protein content. One such plant is the soybean. Soybeans are rich in protein, making them a valuable addition to a chicken’s diet, especially for those who need additional protein, such as growing chicks or laying hens. However, it’s essential to provide soybeans in moderation and preferably in processed forms like soybean meal to avoid potential digestive issues.

Can chickens eat plants in the garden?

They can consume plants from the garden, but precautions are necessary. While many garden plants are safe for these fowls, but some plants can be toxic to chickens. Always research specific plant types and ensure they are non-toxic before allowing these fowls to forage. Additionally, avoid plants that have been treated with pesticides or chemicals. Creating designated areas or supervised foraging times can help ensure that chickens safely enjoy the garden without harming themselves or the plants.