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Chicken can help keep garden beds tidy.

Health-boosting plants for your chooks

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Jessamy Miller suggests some crops to grow that your chooks will love, but are also good for their health.

If you have a spare garden bed or two, why not grow some beneficial plants for poultry and see if your chooks enjoy them? Fowls learn what is safe and palatable to eat from flock elders, meaning some flocks will eat widely from the garden, while others are conservative. 

Many chooks don’t fancy aromatic, strong-tasting or coarse-leafed plants but prefer mild, tender ones. Mine never eat our rosemary, lavender, parsley or nasturtiums, but love grass and brassica leaves.

Here are some easy to grow plants with health benefits for hens:

Silverbeet (Beta vulgaris subs. cicla) A hardy, leafy green requiring full sun, its leaves are rich in vitamins and antioxidants. Feed lacy or bug-infested leaves to poultry, but not every day as leaves contain moderate amounts of oxalates.

Sweet potato (Ipomea batatas) This trailing vine is a vigorous grower in frost-free areas or those with long seasons of warm days and nights. Chooks will mostly enjoy the leaves, which are said to boost immunity.

Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) A hardy, aromatic perennial shrub to 1.5m. Although reputed to be anti-inflammatory and antiparasitic, don’t believe the myth that a wormwood plant near the henhouse will repel lice. Only direct contact with a powder of dried leaves has any repelling effect, however the silver leaves are a general tonic.

Queensland arrowroot(Canna edulis) A very hardy, clump-forming perennial plant for the tropics and subtropics with leaves that are high in plant protein and are enjoyed by many fowls, as well as providing shade and a windbreak.

Amaranth (Amaranthus hypochondriacus) An annual seed-producing plant grown in full sun in all areas. The burgundy plumes of seeds can be dried and hung in the poultry run; they contain fibre, protein and micronutrients.

Orange jasmine (Murraya paniculata) A medium-to-large shrub that grows in all areas and makes an excellent hedge plant for the poultry run. Chooks enjoy the scented white petals, which contain beneficial coumarins.

Pot Marigold (Calendula officinalis) A self-seeding flowering herb, the orange or yellow petals are said to be anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and to have wound-healing properties. The carotenoids in the petals deepen the yolk colour in eggs.

Although your chooks are likely to enjoy the above plants they also need proper chook food

The ideal diet comprises carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins and minerals, and water.


You’ll find more practical tips in Jessamy’s full feature on chooks and how they can help in the garden in our Early Spring 2023 issue (OG 143). 

Learn how chooks can help out in your garden.