Chickens are a great addition to a garden but they pose some very real problems as well. If you currently have chickens you know that they can devour an astonishing amount of plants and can be very destructive in the garden digging and scratching for grubs and worms.
I’ve been advocating to growers to add a chicken safe symbol to plant tags similar to the one for deer but until that dream comes to fruition we have been compiling lists of plants that can both withstand the ravages of our tiny backyard dinosaurs as well as the ones that should be avoided as they can be toxic to our feathered friends.
People frequently ask us about poisonous plants that might affect their chickens and while there are many many common poisonous plants out there for both humans and chickens it is important to remember that there are relatively few cases of poisoned chickens in Portland. Some gardeners have reported to us that the supposed toxic plants are the ones that chickens avoid in the garden and so make ideal additions.
An important detail to consider is that a confined chicken with fewer sources of forage will be more likely to nibble toxic plants where a free range chicken with many options would be more likely to avoid the bad ones. Chickens also seem to have individual preferences so where one might like to eat the roses the next turns her beak up and won’t eat them.
Chickens will also sometimes destroy plants while searching for bugs. It looks as if they were eating the plants but they were really just eating aphids and insects on the undersides of leaves and rooting around in the soil for grubs.
No one knows your chickens like you do, careful observation of chicken habits is the best way to make for a heathy flock and a thriving garden.
Common plants toxic to chickens
Death Camas (this one is sort of a no brainer)
Mother of Millions
Poppies (Mexican especially)
Plants that are resistant to Chickens
(note some of these plants are on some toxic lists as well)
St Johns wort
Honeysuckle (sometimes listed as toxic)
Hydrangea (sometimes listed as toxic)
Rose (we have heard of chickens ravaging these)