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Do Chickens Eat Grass?

When people keep chickens in a garden or back yard, they can worry about what damage they might do to a lawn or grassed area.

Chickens will often choose to forage and graze on a grassy area, but is this because there are morsels of food hiding within the grass or are they actually eating the grass its self?

So, I’ve spent time watching our free-range chickens foraging in the grass and I’ve managed to find out the truth, which I’m going to share with you in this article.

Grass is a common component of a chicken’s diet, as they enjoy grazing on it alongside their regular feed. It provides essential nutrients and adds variety to their diet. However, grass should not be the sole food source, and it’s important to ensure it’s free from pesticides and other chemicals for the safety of the chickens.

Read on to find out more about chickens eating grass along with more answers to chicken keepers’ grass-related questions.

Is grass good for chickens?

I’ve noticed that within our flock some of our chickens eat more grass than others and will happily pick out juicy grass shoots as they graze.

There are nutrients in grasses which are good for chickens when it’s eaten as part of a varied diet. Chickens are omnivores so as well as eating grasses and seeds they’ll also be foraging for live creatures such as worms, insects and slugs as they graze.

Although chickens look like they’re constantly eating if they’re free-range they will still need a complete chicken feed on a daily basis to ensure they’re getting all the energy and nutrients they need to stay healthy.

Chickens will also need access to grit to help them to break down and digest any grass and other foods they’ve eaten throughout the day. You might find the article below helpful if you need to find out more about grit for chickens:

Do chickens need grit and oyster shells and whats the difference?

Other than grass, your chicken can eat these food.

Do chickens need to eat grass?

We know that chickens enjoy eating and scratching in grass, but do they actually need it?

If chickens are fed a quality complete chicken feed which is appropriate for their age then they will get all the nutrients and energy they need. In this case, any other food a chicken finds when grazing is in addition to their food and not essential but it is beneficial.

Although additional foods such as grass and insects are not essential to a chicken who is fed a complete feed, a free-range chicken will be happier and healthier and this will be reflected in the quality of their eggs.

A chicken who eats insects, grasses, seeds and other vegetation will get natural nutrients and benefits that can’t be replicated in a commercial feed.

Allowing chickens to graze in grass also has other benefits, such as preventing boredom and helps to keep their feet cleaner, preventing some issues which can occur when a chicken is always standing in mud.

Do chickens eat grass clippings?

Because chickens are eating machines it can be tempting to get them to clear up food and garden waste, but when it comes to grass clippings is this the right thing to do?

Chickens will pick at grass clippings and they also enjoy scratching through them to see what other morsels of food they can find lurking in the cut grass. Ideally, it’s better to allow chickens to graze for live uncut grass because clippings will quickly start to rot down.

image of grass cuttings

If you do give your chickens grass clippings to scratch through it’s a good idea to do it outside of their run area and to remove the clippings before they start to rot.

Will chickens eat all of my grass?

If you’re planning to let chickens free-range in your garden but you’re worried that they’re going to eat all of your grass, then don’t worry because there should be plenty to go around.

If you have a small flock of chickens then you shouldn’t see much of an impact to your grass if they’re eating it. Grass is only a small part of a chickens daily diet and if a few blades are eaten here and there, it will quickly replenish.

The main reason for grass destruction when it comes to chickens is when they’re constantly grazing on the same patch day in day out.

If a run is placed on a section of grass the grass will quickly die and the patch will turn to mud. This is not through grass-eating but because of the scratching chickens do with their feet along with concentrated chicken muck which is high in nitrogen and can scorch grass.

To preserve your grass it’s a good idea to have a movable run and coop which can be moved regularly to a new patch before the grass dies and to allow recovery.

Do chickens eat grass seed?

If you’re thinking about growing a lawn using grass seed or you’re just filling in some patches and you have free-range chickens then you will need to fence the area off so they can’t get in.

Chickens and in fact most birds will eat enjoy eating grass seed once it’s been scattered on the ground and before it starts to grow. They will also eat fresh grass shoots once they germinate and start to grow.

New grass is particularly appealing to chickens because its fresh, juicy and easy for them to eat.

They will also eat the seed heads of taller grasses which have grown and gone to seed.

image of a chicken grazing for grass shoots

What types of grass do chickens like?

Chickens like almost all types of grasses used in lawns along with those which grow naturally.

They’ll generally avoid ornamental grasses which tend to be taller and tougher, but they will pick the seeds from ornamental grasses if they can reach them.

Our chickens graze in the same area as sheep which keep the grass low and expose the short shoots, this type of grass is one of their favourites because its tender and sweet.

We also have a wild grass section in our lawn which we don’t cut and the chickens always dash over to this area if they get into the garden. Not just because they enjoy picking at the grasses, but also because it holds plenty of their favourite insects and other creatures.

Related articles

I hope this post has helped you to find out more about chickens eating grass, you might also find the following post useful if you keep or are thinking of keeping chickens on grass:

Do chickens need grass in their run?

Along with more information on what chickens should eat as part of their daily diet:

What should chickens eat – a complete guide

Are chickens meat-eating carnivores?

Can Chickens Eat Apples and is it safe?

Do Chickens Eat Snails and is it Safe?

Our recommended coop

Chicken coop for different flock sizes and different weather.

This article and its contents are owned by Pentagon Pets and was first published on November 26, 2020.

Click here to find out more about our recommended coop.