Do Chickens Eat Grass Clippings? Is It Safe?

If you keep chickens, you might see them getting excited when you mow your lawn. You might have also seen your free-range birds foraging for bugs and worms in the grass and eating the clippings in the process.

But can chickens eat grass clippings? Is grass safe for chickens? What happens if your chickens eat too much grass? Let us find out.

Do Chickens Eat Grass Clippings?

Yes, chickens love eating grass clippings. They may get quite a bit of grass from your lawn when they forage for bugs or scratch the ground for dust baths. Grass provides chickens with vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber. However, grass clippings are not nutritionally complete and chickens should not subsist on them alone.

four chickens pecking at grass

Why Do Chickens Love Grass?

Chickens love grass for a variety of reasons, including:

For Its Fiber Content

Chickens love grass because of its fiber content. Grass provides chickens with roughage that can keep them regular, maintain stool consistency, and boost their digestive health.

For Its Taste

Freshly mowed grass has a sweet taste and smell, which chickens love. Your pets will love pecking and playing in the grass while also enjoying its fresh, sweet taste.

For The Worms and Slugs in It

Chickens love eating the bugs and worms in the grass. They are omnivores and will peck away at everything. Along with worms and bugs, they may eat a few grass clippings as well.

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To Avoid Boredom

Chickens are intelligent creatures that love pecking and playing. If you provide them with freshly cut grass, they will play “mountain queen” with it. They might eat some and then spread the rest around, looking for worms!

To Create Dust Baths

Chickens love dust baths and the soil under the grass is usually moist. In summer, they may scratch the soil under the grass to create dust baths and frolic in them.

Are Grass Clippings Safe for Chickens? Possible Dangers of Grass Clippings for Chickens

Grass clippings can be a great occasional treat for your chickens. However, there are some dangers from feeding chickens excess grass clippings, including:

Crop Impaction

The crop is a muscular pouch at the bottom of the chicken’s neck. When grass clippings are too long, they may get balled up along with other stuff and result in crop impaction. Therefore, it is essential that the grass clippings are finely mulched before feeding them to chickens.

Nutritionally Incomplete

Grass clippings should not be the only food your chickens eat. Sure, grass contains a lot of fiber, complex carbs, and a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals. However, it will not provide all the nutrition your chickens need. 

Could Contain Mower Fuel or Exhaust Residue

There is a slight chance that the grass clippings could get mixed up with your lawn mower’s fuel or exhaust residue. This could pollute your grass clippings and these toxins can harm your beautiful chickens.

If you are planning to feed mowed grass clippings to your birds, make sure to use a non-leaky mower or feed them clippings mowed using manual or hand mowers.

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Could Contain Synthetic Pesticides/Fertilizers

If your lawn is sprayed with chemical fertilizers or synthetic pesticides, the resulting clippings can harm your birds. Make sure to only use organic fertilizers made of completely natural ingredients for treating your grass. 

checking eat grass

How To Safely Feed Grass Clippings To Chickens?

Here are some important pointers to keep in mind before feeding grass clippings to your chickens:

Mulch the Grass Finely

Experts recommend feeding only small handfuls of a couple of inches of grass clippings to chickens. Anything larger can result in impaction and even cause death in chickens.

Avoid Pesticide-Treated Grass

As mentioned above, avoid treating your lawns with chemical fertilizers or pesticides. You may use organic fertilizers made of natural ingredients. This way, the grass clippings won’t harm your pets.

Be Mindful of How Much Grass Your Hens Eat

Do not let your chickens eat a ton of grass clippings. In excess, they could make your babies very sick and, as mentioned above, they are not nutritionally complete. Your chickens should also eat other chicken feed that can provide them with balanced nourishment.

Can Grass Be Used as Bedding For Chickens?

The best bedding options for chickens include:

  • Chopped straw – composts easily, insulates in winter, absorbs moisture, and is inexpensive
  • Pine shavings – control odor, are inexpensive and easily available
  • Sand – lasts long, dries out chicken poop, and lowers mold risk
  • Chopped leaves – free and readily available, great for chickens to play with, natural, and compostable.
  • Hemp – is long-lasting, offers superior odor control, and is compostable.
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However, if there is a bedding shortage in your area or if the above choices are not available, you can use miscanthus grass. The UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development recommends giant miscanthus grass as a great alternative to the traditional bedding options for chickens.

If you want to use grass clippings from your lawn as chicken bedding, ensure there is no lawn mower residue or synthetic fertilizer used on the grass.

You must also mulch or cut the clippings to a length of a few inches and then dry them out in the sun. After they are completely dried, you can use them as bedding.

Can Chickens Eat Leaves and Grass? 

Yes, chickens are omnivores, and they will peck away at everything if they are allowed to free-range. This includes your prized plants and grass.

Chickens love eating bugs and worms from the grass and they may eat a few blades of grass along with those. Chickens also love to scratch the grass and make dirt baths for themselves. Given time, they will reduce your verdant lawn to bare earth.

If you want your birds to stay away from your grass and plants, you might want to restrict them to a walk or run. But do ensure that your birds get plenty of space to free range. They don’t do well in limited space and can get bored and depressed. 

Remember: To have healthy free-range chickens, you might have to sacrifice a part of your lawn.

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Do Chickens Eat Grass Clippings

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