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Growing Plants in Your Chicken Run: A Practical Guide

Growing Plants in Your Chicken Run: A Practical Guide

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Incorporating plants into your chicken run or chicken tractor can enrich the environment and create a more visually appealing space. Understanding which plants are best suited for a chicken run and their specific purposes is crucial for a thriving and harmonious ecosystem.

By choosing the right chicken-friendly plants and avoiding toxic varieties, you can provide your flock with a diverse and stimulating habitat. Proper planning and management, such as selecting suitable fencing options and designing garden layouts, will ensure long-term success in integrating flora into your chicken run.

Key Takeaways

  • Select chicken-friendly plants to enhance the environment and aesthetic of your chicken run.
  • Avoid toxic plants and consider the specific purposes of each plant for a thriving ecosystem.
  • Proper planning and management are crucial in successfully integrating plants into your chicken habitat.
Growing Plants in Your Chicken Run

Why Should You Grow Plants In Chicken Runs?

Growing plants in your chicken run offers multiple benefits for your chickens and the surrounding environment. One major advantage is ensuring that your chickens have ample foraging opportunities.

Foraging is crucial to a chicken’s well-being, contributing to its overall nutrition and leading to better egg and meat production. Chickens have a natural instinct for foraging, and without adequate opportunities, they can become stressed, ultimately affecting egg production.

Incorporating plants in your chicken run also helps attract insects, which are essential for a balanced chicken diet. Insects serve as an important source of protein for your chickens.

Without plants, chickens have limited chances to find insects in their run, leading you to find other ways to supplement their diet with bugs.

A more fragrant advantage of growing plants in your chicken run is masking the farm smell from your home and neighbors.

Chicken coops produce strong odors, and planting fragrant flowers or cover crops can serve a dual purpose: providing food for your chickens and emitting pleasant aromas to cover any unpleasant scents.

During hot summer months, plants offer a cooling effect on the ground, providing relief for your chickens from the warm soil.

This benefit is particularly important for those living in warmer climates. Chickens appreciate spending time in the fresh grass and shaded areas, and taller grass varieties or small trees and bushes can provide the necessary shade.

Some plants can help repel pests and parasites, contributing to a healthier environment for your chickens. These plants can help keep mosquitoes, mice, and rats at bay while offering a safe food source for your chickens to consume.

Adding plants and shrubs to your chicken run also increases shelter for your chickens, making them less visible to predators. More coverage ensures better security for your chickens, as predators are less likely to spot them from the outside. Planting small trees can even help protect your chickens from aerial threats such as hawks and owls.

Lastly, an aesthetically pleasing chicken run can bring balance and serenity to your garden. Growing plants in your chicken run not only keeps your chickens happy but also provides a visually appealing view for you and your neighbors. By planting flowers and ivy, you can transform your chicken run into a beautiful backyard oasis.

Growing Plants in Your Chicken Run

How To Grow Plants In Chicken Runs

Growing plants within your chicken run can be challenging, but with the right approach and some trial and error, you can find the perfect balance. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. Choose suitable plants: Select plants that serve your purposes, such as repelling bugs, and ensure they are not toxic to chickens.
  2. Pick sturdy and fast-growing plants: Your chickens may peck at their favorite treats, so opt for hardy plants that can withstand their attention.
  3. Embrace variety: Providing your chickens with a diverse diet results in better eggs and meat. A mix of plants also creates an appealing environment.
  4. Start small: Since you’re experimenting with what will survive in your run, purchase a few plants at a time. After understanding which plants thrive, you can add more.
  5. Protect young plants: Use chicken wire mesh or hardware cloth to safeguard your plants until they are large and established. Aim to keep them protected until they reach at least 2 feet in height.

By following these steps, you can create a flourishing environment in your chicken run that provides your flock with valuable nutrition while also maintaining an attractive appearance. Remember, patience and experimentation are key to achieving success with growing plants in chicken runs.

Types of Plants

Selecting the ideal plants for your garden is an exciting task! Consider adding these beginner-friendly plants that are both easy to maintain and enjoyed by chickens. Remember to choose some herbs for added variety.


As a chicken owner, you’ll appreciate the bright and fragrant sunflowers, which are not only visually stunning but offer multiple benefits to your chicken run. Chickens enjoy munching on sunflower seeds, which can be an economical way to supplement their diet with healthy fats and proteins. Moreover, the tall sunflower stems provide your birds with ample shade and safeguard them from potential predators.

White Clover

White clover is highly favored by those who raise chickens, as it grows rapidly and can endure various weather conditions.

It is one of the first plants to bloom in early spring, providing an excellent foraging opportunity for your chickens. The clover supplies them with essential vitamins and nutrients while also attracting insects, adding diversity to their diet.


Sage is an excellent herb for your chickens, providing a delightful aroma and acting as a natural deodorizer in the chicken run. Its high antioxidant content helps in warding off salmonella outbreaks. Your chickens will enjoy grazing on sage and benefit from its numerous properties.


Roses not only enhance your garden’s appearance and fragrance but also offer practical benefits. Rose bushes supply shade and act as a barrier against curious animals.

They serve as an excellent winter cover crop for your chickens. Packed with vitamin C, rose petals contribute to boosting your chickens’ immunity.

During fall, roses bear rose hips, which make a delicious snack for your chickens. You can even harvest and dry these rose hips for winter treats.


Calendula is a delightful addition to your chicken run. Chickens enjoy snacking on these flowers, which provide vibrant colors and a pleasant aroma. Additionally, the bright petals can enhance the hue of your egg yolks, resulting in bold and visually appealing colors.


Thyme is a favorite herb among chickens, offering a delightful aroma and flavor. Besides its scent masking benefits, thyme also possesses natural antibacterial properties, contributing to a healthier environment for your flock.


Comfrey is a fast-growing, resilient plant that your chickens will love. These tall flowers, reaching up to 5 feet in height, provide essential vitamins and antioxidants for a balanced diet. Additionally, their size can serve as a natural barrier, shielding your chickens from the prying eyes of predators.


Amaranth, often compared to cereal grains, offers numerous health benefits and adds a unique, vibrant touch to your backyard chicken garden.


Mint provides a refreshing effect when your chickens consume it, making it a pleasant addition during hot summers. Moreover, mint acts as a natural insect repellent and helps in masking any unpleasant coop odors.


Dandelions may not be a typical plant choice, but you should consider them for your chickens. Rich in calcium, your chickens can enjoy them throughout spring and summer. Don’t forget to harvest and dry some dandelions for the winter months.

Berry Bushes

Berry bushes, such as raspberries and blackberries, and small fruit trees, like grapes, serve various benefits in your chicken run. These shrubs and small trees offer shade and protection and attract insects for your chickens to enjoy—all while providing them with a delicious treat.


Nasturtiums are an effortless, rapidly-growing natural dewormer. Requiring minimal maintenance and reproducing quickly, they have garnered the praise of chicken owners worldwide for their sturdiness and benefits.

What Will You Grow?

Enhance your backyard and delight your chickens by growing diverse plants in their run. With time and experimentation, you’ll achieve the perfect balance of practicality and aesthetics. Here are some plants to consider growing in your chicken run:

  • Herbs: Lavender, rosemary, oregano, lemon balm, dill, basil, and parsley
  • Leafy greens: Chard, kale, lettuce
  • Vines: Fig, climbing roses, grapevines, pumpkin
  • Others: Fennel, nettles, watermelons

These plants will not only add beauty to your yard but will also provide a natural habitat for insects and bugs, keeping your chickens entertained and well-fed.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are The Best Plants for My Chicken Run?

There are several plants that can thrive in a chicken run, providing both shade and forage for your chickens. Some of the best plants to grow include clover, comfrey, and kale. You can also consider planting berry-producing plants, like blackberries or other climbing plants, such as grapes.

What Are Chicken-Safe Plants?

There are numerous plants that are safe for chickens to eat, such as lettuce, spinach, parsley, and cucumber. However, make sure to avoid plants that can be toxic to chickens, like rhubarb, tomato, and elderberry.

Is Landscaping Your Chicken Run Needed?

To landscape your chicken run with plants, start by choosing chicken-safe plants that will thrive in your climate. Make sure to provide plenty of shade and shelter for the chickens by using tall plants, vines, or bushes. Plant in small areas to create foraging opportunities.

Are Hardy Winter Plants for Chicken Runs Necessary?

Some hardy winter plants that can withstand colder temperatures include kale, Swiss chard, and collard greens. These plants can provide your chickens with an ongoing source of forage during the colder months.

What Should I Know About Pest-Repelling Plants for Chicken Coops?

Planting certain plants around your chicken run can help repel pests, such as marigolds, lavender, and mint. These plants are known to deter insects and rodents, providing an extra layer of protection for your chickens.

What Are Some Plants That Can Survive Chicken Foraging?

While chickens are notorious for pecking at and destroying various plants, some plants have a better chance of survival. Consider planting hardy, fast-growing vines and bushes, such as grapes and blackberries, as well as tougher plants like comfrey or nasturtiums, which can withstand some pecking and scratching.

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