Flow­ers at risk?

Your Chickens - - Ask Our Experts -

QI am think­ing about get­ting three or four hens in my gar­den. I have heard sto­ries of chick­ens eat­ing flow­ers and shrubs. Can you tell me what they are likely to eat – I don’t want to lose all my lovely flow­ers?

AChar­lotte Popescu says: Hens will eat the sort of flow­ers that we, as hu­mans, can also eat such as prim­roses, marigolds, vi­o­lets, pan­sies and nas­tur­tiums in­clud­ing the seeds. The good news is that they won’t eat daf­fodils, tulips, roses, camel­lias or dahlias. Other flow­ers that they may well tuck into are busy lizzies, lo­belia, sweet peas and hostas. They will eat leaves from young shrubs with light green leaves but cer­tainly won’t touch ever­green shrubs or big­ger bushes such as lau­rel, labur­num or lilac. My hens never touch the laven­der, rose­mary or sage bushes. On the whole hens leave strongly scented or aro­matic leaves but will eat any­thing that tastes sim­i­lar to grass – green stuff is re­ally what they are af­ter so they will eat some of your weeds such as hairy bit­ter­cress, chick­weed and some­times dock and dan­de­lion leaves. Un­for­tu­nately mine don’t eat plan­tain or net­tles! It would prob­a­bly be wise to sec­tion off any pre­cious flowerbeds or grow your flow­ers in hang­ing bas­kets!

A hen tuck­ing into some sor­rel

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