Garden Greens for Chickens and Goats – a Full Guide

Introduction to garden greens for goats and chickens

Several garden greens are good for both goats and chickens. But some garden greens are better for them than others and some must be avoided altogether because they contain substances that are toxic to livestock. Chickens are straight omnivores and this means they eat both plant material and meat. In the wild, chickens eat grains, seeds, fruit, vegetables, and vegetation but also all kinds of insects, small rodents, or frogs.

This mainly identifies common garden plants that are safe for goats or chickens, those are safe if used with caution, and those plants that should not be fed to them. By knowing what excess you could safely feed on the garden, you can cut down on the feed bill a bit. Or, you can plant extra greens in the garden just for the goats and chickens. In this article we also discussed below topics;

  • List of vegetables can Goats eat
  • Plants are safe for goats and chickens
  • Important plants are poisonous to goats and chickens
  • What vegetables can Goats not eat
  • What plants shouldn’t give to chickens

A step by step guide to Garden greens for goats and chickens

Garden Greens for Livestock.
Garden Greens for Livestock.

Chicken-Safe Herbs and Vegetables

All of the below plants are entirely edible and also safe for your flock.

Herbs and vegetables that are safe for chickens are Basil, Oregano, Wormwood, Lavender, Mint, Catnip, Bay leaves, Chamomile, Fennel, Parsley, Rosemary, Tarragon, Marjoram, Cilantro, Asparagus, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Carrots, Cucumbers, Peas, Bell peppers, Pumpkins, and Squash.

Plants to grow for chicken feed

Sweet corn – Sweet corn is a delicacy your chicken will love and you can give them the ears right from the garden or the leftovers after canning. Chickens will love those ears that might be overripe.  In the summer, tossing a few kernels of corn into a muffin tray, filling with water and freezing before giving to the chickens will give them a cool treat.

Sunflower seeds – Growing sunflowers will give you large heads with tasty seeds. You can dry them out for you and your family, or give them to chickens. Some chicken owners simply break the sunflower heads apart and also give them to the chickens fresh.

PumpkinsGrowing pumpkins in your garden makes for some tasty treats for the family and chickens will also enjoy the seeds. As a bonus, the pumpkin seeds can provide natural de-worming and parasite control for the chickens. When planting pumpkins, you will want to grow them in hills and space the hills at least 3 feet apart in rows 3 feet apart. Plant 5 to 6 seeds in each hill and cover with 1 inch of soil. Thin seedlings to 2 to 3 per hill when they are 2 inches high.

Storage Vegetables – Both pumpkins and winter squash give an excellent source of delicious, nutritious food for chickens all through the winter. Plus, eating pumpkin or squash will help chickens produce exceptionally deep orange yolks. You can grow these on the side of a compost pile or a corner of the yard covered with cardboard for an easy, low-budget method to grow a lot of chicken food. Just be sure to cure your crop properly before storing it in a cool place with moderate humidity for the winter season.

Leafy Greens – Chickens love leafy greens especially tender ones like chard, frost-bitten kale, spinach, and the leaves of many specialty greens such as amaranth, spreen, and orach. Some of these plants can harvest greens for the chickens during summer, then allow annuals like amaranth and orach to produce their hefty seed heads in the fall, and save the seeds for a winter feed supplement.

Good garden greens for goats and chickens

This list identifies greens from the garden that is good for chickens and goats and greens that you shouldn’t feed them. The list is organized by plant family because plants within the same family tend to have similar characteristics that make them suitable or unsuitable for livestock consumption. So, even if a particular plant is not listed, if you can identify the plant family it’s from, you can get a general idea about whether to consider feeding it to goats or chickens.

It’s never a good idea to change the diet of any livestock suddenly, so many of these plants must be introduced into the goat and chicken diets a little bit at a time. Goats can be susceptible to sudden changes so introduce new plants slowly and observe. In general, goats love to eat pasture, raisins, greens, sunflower seeds, carrots, pumpkin seeds.

In case if you miss this: Chicken Manure Composting Process, Benefits.

Good Garden Greens for Goats and Chicken.
Good Garden Greens for Goats and Chicken.

Cucurbitaceae family

Pumpkins – Pumpkins have high levels of vitamins A and E as well as folate and fiber. Although they are mostly water (roughly 85 percent moisture content), they can make a reasonable supplemental protein source for many livestock, such as horses, cattle, sheep, and goats find them palatable. The other Cucurbitaceae family vegetables are Squash, Zucchini, Cucumbers, and Melons

These vegetables are all great sources of nutrition for the herd or flock and are considered to be natural dewormers. We always grow too many pumpkins and winter squash, but they can be stored and fed through the winter season. The vegetables from this family summer and winter squashes, cucumbers, cantaloupes, watermelons, and gourds are all excellent sources of nutrition and hydration, and a natural intestinal dewormer for your flock. Pumpkins and winter squashes can be cured and stored so that they can be fed to the flock throughout the winter months.

Leguminosae family

  • Beans
  • Peas

Fresh green beans (avoid uncooked dried beans) and peas, as well as the plants themselves, can make a nutritious, high protein treat for goats and chickens. These vegetables rank second only to grains as our most important food source. As such, fresh green beans and peas are nutritious and fun treats for chickens and the entire plant can be fed to them. However, uncooked dry beans must be avoided as they contain hemagglutinin, a toxin poisonous to chickens.

Gramineae family

  • Corn

The original scratch, corn can be mainly used to feed chickens on the farm. It’s high in carbohydrates, but it’s also low in protein and nutritional value, then it’s best to feed in moderation. The whole corncob with fresh or dried kernels attached can be fed to chickens, whereas the plants themselves are better as additions to the compost pile.

Corn is a great way to tame your chickens and mixed corn is high in fat so it should only be given as a treat, as an overweight chicken won’t lay as many tasty eggs. A handful of corn per hen scattered on the ground is plenty and chickens will eat most things that you give them (within reason). Corn is safe for goats in small amounts and it is relatively low in protein (8% CP), it does contain a certain amount of calcium, which, in excess, can contribute to the onset of urinary calculi in bucks.

Compositae family

  • Lettuce
  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • Sunflowers

All plants make great additions to their diets and sunflowers can be dried to feed during the winter.

Sunflower seeds are a good treat for chickens. They’re widely obtainable, chickens typically love them, and for a treat, they’re quite nutritious. They have methionine, for example, an important amino acid for birds. Sunflower seeds have vitamin E, zinc, iron, and selenium and also add fiber and fat to the diet. They make goats’ coats shinier and also increase the butterfat in their milk.

Jerusalem artichokes are a good source of minerals and electrolytes, especially potassium, iron, and copper. They can also be used as animal feed. You can feed the leaves, stems, and blossoms to sheep, goats, pigs, and cattle. The plant leaves and stems contain 28 percent protein.

Umbelliferae family

  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Fennel
  • Parsnips

Chickens and goats tend to love the plants from this family which also includes herbs such as dill and parsley. Both the tops and roots can be fed and good for them. Planting Carrots in Pots is a good way of growing for your backyard chickens.

List of greens can flavor Goats milk

Some greens can add flavors to the goat milk. This is something we haven’t experienced ourselves, despite all the different things we have fed out over the years. In fairness, we rarely drink our milk straight, turning it all into cheese, yogurt, and also other products, which seems to eliminate any flavors our feeding practices might introduce.

Those with sensitive taste buds could want to experiment before feeding large quantities of an item to a dairy goat. That said, we’ve made a point of never feeding any alliums to goats, despite a goat named Garlic being our herd matriarch for years. We’ve also avoided feeding any plants from the solonaceous family like tomato, pepper, potato, etc due to the potential toxicity of some members of that family, and a lack of definitive answers in that regard.

You may also check this: Microgreens Farming, Cost, and Profit.

Beyond milking treats, a goat herd of any functions as a great destination for large-scale vegetable matter. There are times when we want to clear lots of produce vegetation at once, particularly in the fall as frost looms, and feeding out cartloads of vegetable greenery saves moving fences to new paddocks as frequently.

List of plants for goat farming to maximize efficiency

List of some of the plants for goat farming to maximize efficiency;

  • Pasture Mix Plants are Grasses, Clover, Vetch, Chicory, Plantain, Curly Dock, Pigweed, Horseweed, and Lambs Quarter.
  • Bushes are Star Thistle, Blackberry, Juniper, Poison Oak, Kudzu, Rosemary, Peppermint, Grapevines, Bamboo, Comfrey, Catnip, Ivy, Knotweed, Raspberry, and Roses.
  • Garden plants are Mediavine, Mangel Beets, Turnips, Kale, Carrots, Radishes, Winter Squash, Bolted Lettuce, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cantalope, Celery, Fava beans, and Sunflowers.
  • Some of the trees are Willows, Black Locust, Sweet Gum, Bay Tree, Cedar, Cottonwood, Fir, Dogwood, Elm, Ash, Mulberry, Oak leaves, and Pine.

Garden greens to avoid for goats and chickens

Amaryllidaceae family

  • Onions

Onions have a substance called thiosulphate, which can cause anemia in livestock. Onions can negatively impact the flavor of both chicken eggs and goat milk.

Polygonaceae family

  • Rhubarb

Rhubarb contains high levels of oxalic acid and should be avoided. Rhubarb plant leaves are considered to be highly toxic to goats, chickens, and humans. Rhubarb plant should be avoid feeding to goats & chickens

Solonaceae family (also known as nightshade family)

  • Eggplants
  • Peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes

The vegetables from this family have solanine which is considered toxic to chickens and goats. It is best to avoid feeding the members of this family altogether.

Avoid toxic plants for chickens

Plants that are poisonous for chickens occur in different varieties. While it can be obvious that some ornamental plantings would be dangerous, some garden plants toxic to chickens may exist in your vegetable garden. Plants chickens can’t eat may be found growing wild throughout your property, as many native flowers and foliage plants could cause harm.

Toxins in certain plants could cause serious harm to birds within the flock. These symptoms contain lowered blood pressure, seizures, and even death. Though there is no exhaustive list of what plants are bad for chickens, owners can help avoid their consumption by providing well-managed places in which the birds are allowed to roam.

Providing an ample supply of high-quality food for the chickens will help reduce the likelihood they will nibble on plants they shouldn’t. When in doubt, the removal of the plant is the best option.

Naturally, some plants are poisonous to chickens, just as there are plants that are poisonous to other pets such as cats and dogs. It’s problematic to come up with an absolute list of what not to have in the yard, though. In many, if not most, cases, just having a plant in the yard that is poisonous won’t necessarily cause problems. For instance, daffodils are poisonous to many animals, including chickens.

Plants that are poisonous to chickens consist of daffodils, foxglove, morning glory, yew, tulips, lily of the valley, azaleas, rhododendron, mountain laurel, monkshood, amaryllis, castor bean, trumpet vine, nightshade, and tansy. Again, that list is incomplete, and you can be able to keep many of these plants in your yard, even though they’re poisonous.

Apple seeds – The seeds have cyanide which can kill your chickens. Any other part of the apple is fine, thus when giving them apple ensure they are seed free.

Citrus fruit – Citrus fruits probably won’t kill your chickens, though they do cause a drop in egg production. Fed in moderation is ok.

Dried, raw beans – Uncooked beans have hemagglutinin which can be toxic to your chickens. Cooked beans are fine.

Some important plants are poisonous to goats

Many plants can be poisonous to goats. Though, the severity of plant poisoning depends on the quantity of the plant that was eaten, the amount of ground moisture, the health of the animal before consuming the toxic plant, and the size and age of the animal that consumed the plant.

Under normal circumstances, animals do not consume poisonous plants. Though, some factors might cause goats to eat poisonous plants. Those factors contain starvation, unbalanced rations, overgrazing, and drought, allowing animals to have access to yard waste or newly plowed areas where roots from toxic plants are exposed, allowing the herd to have access to dry or partially dry water hoses, incidental ingestion of toxic plants, and just plain curiosity.

Some examples of poisonous plants for goats include azaleas, China berries, sumac, dog fennel, bracken fern, curly dock, eastern baccharis, honeysuckle, nightshade, pokeweed, redroot pigweed, black cherry, Virginia creeper, and crotalaria.



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