Gardening for chickens

Not all the fruit and vegetables that I grow in our garden are destined for human consumption. Some we share with the hens, some unwanted plants (weeds or excess production) are fed to the hens, some infested plants (brassica leaves with caterpillars or insect eggs on them) are also given to the hens and one plant in particular was planted specifically to provide chicken treats. This plant is a chokeberry.

Years ago I read somewhere how much hens like chokeberries and so, when I planted up the fruit cage, I planted a chokeberry. It started fruiting after a year or two and now it produces a crop each year which the hens do, indeed, adore. I’m careful to ration them, as I suspect, given the chance, they would eat all the chokeberries in one go, and who knows what effect that would have on their digestive systems?

Today I picked the first batch for them – beautiful black berries, to which I added a few red currants (as we have so many of those, I don’t mind sharing).

They go straight from the bush to the hens and you can judge for yourself how much they enjoy them (please excuse slightly odd orientation of this little film – I was juggling camera and berries whilst trying not to get mugged by hens before starting my recording):

If you search on the internet, you will discover lots about how wonderful chokeberries are: a “super-food” (I HATE that term), full of antioxidants. However, they aren’t particularly tasty and so I don’t mind the hens getting all the benefits!

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  1. Bless ’em. I give mine all the physalis berries but I have to ‘peel’ them first otherwise they don’t seem to realise what’s inside.

  2. Murtagh's Meadow

     /  August 5, 2017

    We grow chokeberries too but without a fruitcage which is unfortunate, as after the first year we’ve been unable to harvest any berries because the blackbirds eat them before they are even ripe! I still have a few in the freezer and our favourite recipe is banana and chokeberries icecream – the sharpness of the berry is prefect with the sweetness of the banana.

  3. Laurie Graves

     /  August 5, 2017

    Such fun watching those hens gobble the chokeberries! What a lovely, productive place you have.

  4. That’s lovely! Our chickens benefit from all sorts from our allotment bless them. They love it when we throw slugs in too!

  5. I love that you grow food for the chickens. They look very pleased with the berries. Not to mention greedy.

  6. WOW, they really went for them! I take the chickens treats sometimes, but a lot of our vegetable peelings, etc. go right out into the back yard. I found out the opossums also enjoy tomatoes. I caught one in the rooster’s coop yesterday eating a tomato. I never would have thought that! GREAT POST!

  7. I’ve never tried them, but it’s a pity their name is so unenticing. Still, the Girls don’t care. I haven’t seen hens behave like that since I used to give mine bacon rinds to fight over!

    • They don’t have an unpleasant taste, but they do make your tongue feel dry. I’m so much less excited by them than the chickens that it seems a waste for me to eat them!

  8. Those are some happy chooks! And maybe you get some of the health benefits passed on to you when your eat their eggs, which probably taste a lot better 😉

  9. What happy hens! Who doesn’t like a special treat? It’s so nice that you’ve grown them their own treat.


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