Any chicken owner that has ever let their chickens touch grass before has doubtlessly already noticed that their birds don’t just pick through the grass looking for choice morsels of food, but they actually eat a little bit of the grass too.
It’s almost a little strange when you think about it; chickens eating grass? It’s true, chickens do eat grass.
But that begs another question: can chickens eat grass clippings, and are they safe for them?
Grass clippings are safe for chickens as long as they are dry, and haven’t been contaminated with fertilizers, pesticides, fuel or other chemicals which could pose a health hazard.
Grass is a natural source of nutrients for chickens, but far from nutritionally complete.
There’s a fair bit of contention on the internet regarding whether or not you can give grass clippings to chickens. Reasons vary, but a few people have blown the topic way out of proportion.
Grass is a safe and natural food for chickens, and you can give your grass clippings to them so long as you apply a little bit of common sense.
I’ll tell you everything you need to know about the topic down below.
What Benefits Do Grass Clippings Have for Chickens?
Grass is only of marginal benefit to them, but it does have a part to play in chickens’ diet. It can provide them with a few calories and a little bit of various vitamins and minerals that they need.
Grass is also beneficial for helping to clear out a chicken’s intestinal tract, and it can potentially firm up their poop if they are experiencing loose, watery stools.
Chickens generally don’t eat grass all the time if they have any other choice, but when they do eat it, by necessity or otherwise, they will invariably seek out more grit to help them break down the tough cellulose present in it.
Grass Clipping Nutritional Info
Grass is only a marginal food for chickens, and though it contains nutrients that they need, it does not contain very much of them at all.
Although the nutritional profile of grass does vary somewhat depending on the specific type, typically grass will offer chickens some carbs and fiber, a little bit of vitamins A and E, and a smattering of B-complex vitamins.
Are Grass Clippings Safe for Chickens?
Yes, grass clippings are safe for chickens. There is nothing in grass that is inherently harmful to your chickens unless it is fed them excessively.
This also assumes that your grass clippings are dry, and also free from chemicals such as fertilizer and pesticides, which could be toxic. More on that in just a bit.
Are Grass Clippings Cut by Power Mowers and Tools Safe for Chickens?
Yes, as long as they are dry and have not been contaminated by any chemicals. As we just discussed, grass clippings are perfectly safe for chickens, and the same holds true for grass cut with a power mower or similar tools.
But, this is a contentious point for some keepers: Many chicken owners are wary of feeding their chickens grass clippings cut by a power mower or other lawn tools.
The reason is, power mower can theoretically release harmful chemicals into the grass it cuts, things like oil, fuel, grease and so forth, or even pesticides and herbicides picked up from previous mowing.
These chemicals would then be consumed by chickens when they eat the clippings, leading to potential illness or even death.
Although certainly possible, the actual threat is way overblown if the mower in question is in good repair and working order, and if the grass is cut from any property that you have had full control over, i.e. a property where you know exactly what and what has not been sprayed on the grass.
Then again, grass cut down by a manual push-reel mower or scythe won’t entail this worry at all, so do keep that in mind if it is a concern for you!
Are Grass Clippings Safe for Baby Chicks?
Grass clippings are of dubious safety for chicks. Chicks’ digestive systems are not yet mature, and their crops are much more prone to blockage, especially from tougher vegetation like grass.
You could give grass to your chicks, but you should wait until they are around 6 weeks old – or even older – before you do, and only then in small amounts of finely chopped grass bits.
Something else to keep in mind is that grass has nowhere close to enough nutrients or calories for chicks, so it really is just taking up space in their tummies that could be filled with something more nutritionally useful.
How Frequently Can Grass Clippings be Fed to Chickens?
Grass clippings are a novel snack for chickens, or if you are being very charitable a dietary supplement.
You should give them grass clippings (deliberately), no more than once a week, and only in small quantities.
Additionally, chickens that are allowed to wander around and free-range can and will get lots of grass all on their own when they want it.
They don’t need you to give them extra grass at all because they are already eating plenty themselves.
Be Careful: Too Much Grass in the Diet Can Harm Chickens
In all cases, be wary when feeding grass clippings to chickens, no matter where it came from.
Grass has a bad reputation for causing crop impaction issues in chickens, and though some keepers just seem to be avowed haters of the idea of serving grass to chickens, there is merit in the concern.
Specifically, wet grass is far more likely to cause blockages in the chicken’s crop. If you give your chickens grass clippings, make sure they are dry before serving, and never be too hasty to serve chickens grass that is wet from dew or rain.
Do keep in mind that chickens do best when their food is dry, or damp at most. Truly moist and wet foods of all kinds, not just grass, are disproportionately likely to cause crop and other digestive problems in chickens.
What’s the Best Way to Serve Grass Clippings to Your Flock?
Assuming the grass clippings are fresh, dry and free of contaminants like pesticides, herbicides, and oil or fuel residue, the best way to serve them is loose in small amounts. Your chickens will eat their fill and leave the rest, most times.
It is rarely worth it to try and bulk up other foods by mixing them with grass clippings, so don’t waste your time.
Be Careful of Chemical Contamination that Might Be on Cut Grass
I’ve harped on this topic throughout the article, but just in case you skipped ahead to this part, allow me to be perfectly clear: you should never, ever feed grass clippings to chickens if they have been treated with any kind of pesticide, herbicide, or other common lawn chemicals.
Those chemicals can remain in the grass basically forever, and persist long after rain and cutting. Any of them could make your flock sick if you feed them, or maybe even kill them.
Remember that all birds, and that includes chickens, are highly sensitive to toxins and poisons.
If you’re unsure whether a batch of grass was sprayed or chemically treated in any way, just do not give it to your chickens. It is just not worth the risk!