Can Chickens Eat Garden Soil? Explained

My wife and I love to garden. We have a large vegetable garden, but lately, we’ve been letting our chickens roam free in it. So I asked her what exactly chickens eat. And she said “everything!” At first, that sounded like a good idea. 

Then she told me about all the time and effort she spent growing those veggies for us humans only for them to be wasted by our feathered friends! But then I started thinking about it more and realized that having chickens in the garden could be beneficial for both parties involved.

Chickens can provide natural fertilizer, pest control, and weed management for your garden.
Chickens can help improve soil fertility in the garden through their manure and scratching behavior.
Integrating chickens into your garden design requires creating designated areas for them to forage and roam.
Protecting your garden from chicken damage can be done through physical barriers and providing alternative food sources for your chickens.
Keeping backyard chickens requires regular care and maintenance.

Can Chickens Eat Garden Soil?

Chickens can eat garden soil, but it’s not ideal. Garden soil contains bacteria and fungi that are harmful to chickens’ digestive systems. 

Chickens can also ingest other items such as seeds or plant debris that have been in the garden, which may cause them to get sick (for example, if there is a toxic plant in your garden).

However, chickens will eat certain types of soils (such as some types of clay) when they’re hungry enough and in nature-friendly gardens that don’t contain any toxic plants or chemicals. 

It’s important not to let your chickens roam around unsupervised while they’re eating dirt because they can easily ingest things like glass shards and metal pieces that could cause damage their bodies or even kill them outright!

So if you want your hens around your yard but don’t want them eating any nasty stuff like pesticides or herbicides from nearby gardens then make sure there’s plenty of forage available for them elsewhere before letting them roam free again after their meal time session 🙂

“Eggshells are a great source of calcium and other minerals that can benefit your garden soil. They can also help deter pests and improve soil drainage. Check out our guide on how to use eggshells in your garden soil to learn more.” – How to Use Eggshells in Your Garden Soil

What Types Of Veggies Can Chickens Eat?

You can feed your chickens vegetable scraps and garden extras like broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, kale, brussels sprouts, chard (beet greens), collard greens, and dandelion greens. 

But don’t go overboard with feeding them fresh veggies from the garden because vegetables have a lot of water content that chickens need to drink regularly for proper hydration. 

The other side effect is that it will make their poop runny which will attract flies to lay eggs in it if left uneaten long enough on the ground

Can Chickens Be Picky Eaters?

Chickens are omnivores, so they can eat a wide range of foods. However, chickens can be picky eaters and will often turn their noses up at certain types of food. 

Chickens are opportunistic and will eat anything available to them. Chickens aren’t like cats or dogs in that they don’t have a specific preference for one type of food over another.

There are many things that you should not feed your chickens (for example, chocolate). But there are also lots of foods that chickens love to eat!

“Leaves are a valuable source of organic matter that can help improve soil structure, increase soil fertility, and promote healthy plant growth. Learn more about the benefits of using leaves in your garden soil with our guide.” – The Benefits of Using Leaves in Your Garden Soil

Can I Feed My Chickens Kale And Cabbage?

Chickens love greens and veggies! They’re omnivores and can eat a wide variety of foods, including kale and cabbage. Chickens are excellent foragers, so you don’t have to worry about them eating your garden plants. 

However, if you want chickens in your yard or garden but want to keep the plants out of their reach, there are some things you can do.

You could make a chicken run around the perimeter of your garden where they won’t be able to access it at all. You could also plant thorny bushes around the edges or put a fence up so they don’t venture into dangerous territory like flowerbeds full of tulips (which would hurt them). 

Or consider planting more vegetables that chickens love like lettuce and spinach over ones that might tempt them into an early grave by eating too many sunflower seeds (like broccoli).

What Are The Benefits Of Feeding Your Hens Greens?

Garden soil is a great addition to the diet of your hens for several reasons. It’s full of nutrients that help promote their overall health and well-being. 

It can also increase egg production, cause them to grow bigger than they would otherwise, and even make their feathers more colorful! 

The most important thing you have to keep in mind when feeding your hens greens is that it needs to be balanced with other elements for them to get all the vitamins they need.

“Worms are a natural source of fertilizer and can help improve soil structure, increase soil fertility, and promote healthy plant growth. Check out our guide on how to attract worms to your garden to learn more about the benefits of these helpful creatures.” – How to Attract Worms to Your Garden

How Much Space Do I Need To Grow Vegetables For My Chickens?

How much space you need to grow vegetables for your chickens depends on a few factors.

How many chickens do you have? If you have only a few hens, it won’t be very hard to find enough room to roam. But if you have a flock of twenty or more, it could get tricky. 

You’ll want enough yard space for the birds themselves (which can take up quite a bit of real estate) and also enough garden space for all their food and remember that they may eat other plants besides what’s grown in the garden!

What kind of vegetable-eating habits do your chickens have? Some breeds are known as “foragers,” meaning that they love digging around in the dirt looking for tasty morsels. 

These birds will need more space than those who prefer sticking close by the coop and laying eggs during daylight hours instead of venturing into the wild unknowns outside their doors.

How much time do I want to spend tending my chicken garden? It seems like this should go without saying but: The bigger your garden plot is, naturally, the longer it will take to maintain and harvest its bounty (and vice versa).

Can I Grow All Kinds Of Vegetables For My Hens To Eat?

Yes, chickens can eat most vegetables. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.

Do not feed your hens cabbage or cauliflower. These vegetables are toxic to chickens and should not be fed to them.

Feed your chickens a variety of greens and root vegetables such as carrots, turnips, and parsnips, but only feed them the tops of these plants, not the roots themselves (since they’re tough). 

You don’t have to worry about feeding these foods in moderation; as long as you keep them away from other vegetable groups such as lettuces (which contain high amounts of oxalic acid), they won’t cause any harm whatsoever!

“Pecan shells can be a valuable addition to your garden soil. They can help improve soil structure, increase soil fertility, and provide a natural source of mulch. Learn more about the benefits of using pecan shells in your garden with our guide.” – The Benefits of Using Pecan Shells in Your Garden Soil

If A Plant Is Toxic For Humans, Will It Be Poisonous For Hens Too?

The answer is: sometimes. There are many plants that are poisonous to chickens, but they’re not all equally dangerous. Some plants can make your chickens sick if they eat enough of them but other plants may cause no problems at all.

That’s because different types of chickens eat different things! When you’re choosing what seeds to buy or where to put your new garden patch, don’t forget about this important fact! 

If you want your hens to live healthily in their new home, look into which species they belong to before making any big decisions.

Does The Size, Type, Or Brand Of A Chicken Coop Matter?

The size of your coop depends on how many chickens you want to keep, and it’s important to consider what type of coop will best suit your flock. 

If you have only a few birds, then a small pen or even an enclosed backyard may be fine. However, if you’re keeping more than 10 hens, then investing in larger structures is likely wise.

Several things can make a chicken coop more comfortable for its inhabitants:

  • Heating elements (such as infrared heaters) or fans may help keep chickens warm during the winter months
  • A perch at the top of the door makes it easy for hens to enter and exit their home without getting stuck inside
  • Nest boxes give chickens somewhere comfortable and private where they can lay their eggs

“Burnt leaves can be a helpful soil amendment for your garden soil. They can provide a source of nutrients and help improve soil texture. Check out our guide on how to use burnt leaves in your garden to learn more.” – How to Use Burnt Leaves in Your Garden Soil

The Answer Is YES. Sometimes We Just Let Them Out In Our Vegetable Garden

Chickens can eat garden soil. Sometimes we just let them out in our vegetable garden. They love to scratch around and eat bugs, even though they’re not supposed to. 

If you want to make sure your chickens aren’t eating too much soil from your garden, just make sure that you have enough vegetables for them to munch on so they don’t become bored with just eating dirt.

It is important to note that this is an example of a “chicken problem” and not a “human problem,” as some people might think at first glance when seeing this question!


Chickens are smart, fun animals that make great pets. They can also be your garden’s best friend by eating pests and weeds. Plus, they produce eggs that taste delicious! If you want to give your birds a treat, try adding some homegrown greens into their diet. 

Just remember to keep them safe from harmful chemicals and make sure there are no toxic plants in the area where they roam around outside as well.

Further Reading

Backyard Chickens: Benefits and Challenges for Gardeners with Lisa Steele: A podcast episode discussing the benefits and challenges of keeping backyard chickens for gardeners.

How Chickens Help Your Garden Thrive: An article explaining how chickens can benefit your garden by providing natural fertilizer, pest control, and weed management.

And here’s the FAQs section:


What are the benefits of keeping backyard chickens for gardeners?

Backyard chickens can provide natural fertilizer, pest control, and weed management for your garden, as well as entertainment and a sense of connection to your food source.

How can chickens help improve soil fertility in the garden?

Chickens produce manure, which is a valuable source of nitrogen and other nutrients for your garden soil. Their scratching and pecking behavior can also help aerate and mix the soil.

What are some challenges of keeping backyard chickens for gardeners?

Chickens can damage garden plants if they are allowed to roam freely, and their manure can be too strong for some plants if not properly composted. They also require regular care and maintenance.

How can I integrate chickens into my existing garden design?

You can incorporate chickens into your garden design by creating designated areas for them to forage and roam, as well as incorporating their manure into your composting system.

How can I protect my garden from chicken damage?

You can protect your garden from chicken damage by creating physical barriers such as fencing, using chicken wire or netting to protect plants, and providing alternative sources of food and entertainment for your chickens.