Last weekend a neighbour was surprised to learn that chickens eat foods other than grain. OK, fair enough. Except that he grew up on a farm. With chickens. It is a good reminder of the general ignorance in our industrial society about what it takes to grow food, including what our food eats!
Since our chickens are (mostly) kept out of the main yard, their access to greens has significantly declined. They have access to the compost bin, and we bring them kitchen treats as they are produced (ranging from fresh carrot peels and broccoli ends to lasagna pans and restaurant leftovers), but fresh greens have been elusive since they ate their way through what naturally grew in their (800 sqft) pen.
Instead, we bring them fresh treats from the yard. Dandelion leaves. Chickweed. Fresh cut grass. Bugs. And spent plants, including the flowering kale. They don’t have teeth, and they aren’t as smart as crows who will step on their food while they tear off pieces. Instead they grab a leaf and shake it around until a piece breaks off. Smaller leaves they are able to ratchet in. But a bouquet of dandelion leaves or kale flowers is best served by holding on to the plant and letting them quickly pick it apart.