3 Nutritious Backyard Weeds Your Chickens Will Love (and you can eat them too)

Weeding your garden?

Don’t toss the weeds on the compost pile just yet.

IMG_1140After weeding the gardens and walkways I throw the whole pile of uprooted greenery into the chickens’ run. Within an hour it’s difficult to identify what was thrown in there and this is the very reason they have a large fenced-in run and no longer free-range our property. They gobble up every bit of green leaving nothing but skinned stem.

Chickens will devour just about anything but there are 3 backyard weeds in particular that have many beneficial nutrients for our feathered friends. These weeds are very common and easy to identify.

Look for plantain, goosefoot, and dandelion to boost their diet.

Many people eat these plants, but not everyone feels comfortable eating what they consider to be a weed.  I don’t eat them because I am always worried that my dog has peed on them!

Waste not want not, so instead of tossing them give them to your chickens!

Nutrients Found in Plantain, Goosefoot, and Dandelion

Plantain is high in calcium, riboflavin, and vitamin A, B1, and C.

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Plantain

Goosefoot is also referred to as wild spinach or lamb’s quarters. It’s an antioxidant that is high in vitamin A, C,and riboflavin.

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Goosefoot. Image courtesy of woodfired.com

Dandelion may be the most well known and easily identifiable weed. It contains calcium, iron, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin C and B6.

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Dandelion leaves

All these vitamins will make a great addition to their feed.

The Importance of Riboflavin and Vitamin C for Chickens

The common vitamins in these 3 weeds is vitamin C and riboflavin. These 2 vitamins are vital for healthy chickens. Store bought feed should contain all the needed vitamins but it can never hurt to boost their intake with fresh sources.

Riboflavin helps with growth and maintains tissue and nervous system health. If a chick is not getting enough riboflavin they may not be growing as they should even though they still eat regularly. They will stay small and become weak or have curled toes that are paralyzed. They will need to use their wings to help them balance to walk.

Vitamin C helps laying hens with egg production and shell quality. It will also boost a chicken’s immune system.  During the hottest or coldest months it is beneficial to give them some extra vitamin C to help them fight off fatigue and stress.

 

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