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If you have not seen chickens eat grass, that may be because they are kept in a cage or grass is not available to them. Did you know that fresh grass provides about a quarter of a chicken’s nutritional needs?
Chickens eat grass because it’s high in iron, protein, and vitamins C and E. Hens who consume grass have darker and healthier egg yolks. Moreover, their hatch rate improves, and their eggs taste better.
In addition, grass meets the protein needs of a chicken. One example is ryegrass, which has 11 to 16% of protein, an excellent choice for chickens lacking in protein. It is common to all that most farm animals consume grass, but do chickens eat grass? If you let your chicken free on your lawn, you will see that they do eat grass. To know more about chickens and what happens when they eat grass, read further.
Do Chickens Eat Grass
As mentioned, chickens do eat grass. However, also keep in mind that they do not thrive on feeding pasture alone. Chickens are omnivores, which means they also need a balanced diet, just like humans. To expect them to consume only grass would be similar to committing yourself to eat leafy greens alone.
Note that animals with single stomachs, like chicken and pigs, cannot digest fibrous food and must have a balance of protein, energy, and fats to survive. These dried crickets (Amazon link) are a great high protein insect treat for your chickens.
If you are looking for other suitable suggestions of what to feed a chicken, check out my article on how much to feed chickens where i give some healthy options.
Why Do Chickens Eat Grass?
If your chickens are free to explore your lawn, then you may already know the reason why they eat grass. So, why do chickens eat grass? Chickens naturally feed on pasture. That is because they are biologically foragers. They will look for green foliage and berries to consume for sustenance, and you will notice that it will become their routine over time. They will graze on pasture during daylight and go back to their enclosures during sunset.
You will know that a chicken is made for feeding on pasture when you see them easily telescoping their necks downward on the ground. Also, you will notice their beaks can bite small pieces of leaves for consumption. If that is the case, note that even their organs are made for consuming grass.
What is the Benefit of Feeding Grass?
Did you know that there is a secret benefit your chicken gets when they graze on your lawn? You will not even notice it with your naked eye. That is because we are talking about insects! Chickens also eat bugs by feeding on grass, thereby getting nutrients and protein from their leafy meal. Also, note that chickens love bugs!
Can Chickens Live Without Grass?
Can chickens live without grass? Technically, chickens can still live even without eating grass. However, as mentioned earlier, grass is beneficial to your flock because it supplies them with various micronutrients and promotes their natural foraging skills.
When you provide them grass, make sure that it does not have chemicals, such as insecticides and herbicides. Remember that chickens also get protein from bugs.
If you are looking for an alternative, then this Manna Pro 7-Grain ultimate chicken scratch (Amazon link) is a great source of all the nutrients your chickens need.
Will Chickens Ruin Grass?
With a big backyard, you should not worry about chickens ruining your grass as long as you let it rest and keep it free during winter or rainy days. On the opposite note, chickens can help improve your lawn and supply you with tasty and fresh eggs. Moreover, instead of spraying chemicals on your property, your chickens can help kill them naturally.
If you are keeping chickens in your backyard then you may also want to know how to keep chickens off the porch, if so then that article is a must-read with 10 actionable solutions.
However, chickens can also ruin your grass if your space is not enough for them or if you keep them only in one spot. Note that they have a behavior of creating hard ground in areas they stand on. Also, they can kill your grass quickly if you reside in an extremely wet or dry region.
Grounds that are not suitable for chickens to feed on are the following:
- Parched ground. Keep in mind that grass in dry areas will not grow quickly.
- Extremely wet ground. Chickens like to make mud baths out of the damp ground.
- Clay type of soil. Water does not drain on clay soil, and it easily compacts; therefore, nothing grows.
- Grounds without rest. The standard practice allows grounds to rest for at least nine months before letting your chickens graze again.
Whether your chickens will kill or enhance your lawn depends on the size of your area and the number of chickens you have, and how long you allow them to graze. Also, it will depend on how long you keep them in a particular spot. They will eat grass and scratch for insects. When chickens scratch holes to bathe in dust, it will also help improve your lawn. However, keep them off from your green grass because they can also destroy it if given the opportunity.
How Do You Keep Chicken from Destroying Your Grass?
Do chickens eat grass? Yes, that was your first concern. Now that you know the answer, there is also a disadvantage of allowing your chickens to feed off your lawn. Nevertheless, there are some methods you can use to keep your flock from destroying your grass:
- Use a variety of sturdy grass.
- Grow wheat sprouts or barley in preparation for days they have to keep off from your grass.
- Provide them with enough dust baths for their number in the proper location, so they do not create their own.
- Use chicken tractors (Amazon link). Keep them in tractors for at least a week to allow the grass to rest.
- Allow your grass to grow longer because short ones may quickly dry out. Longer grass can last longer with chickens around.
- Don’t keep many chickens in a small spot or space. Your space should fit the number of chickens you have.
- Divide your garden by using an electric fence.
Allowing your chickens to eat grass does benefit not only your flock but also you and your lawn. You will have better quality eggs, a property free from chemicals, and you do not need to mow every time because you have chickens! Moreover, you do not have to spend more on feed because grass is free!
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