🦒 Can Chickens Truly Feast on the Abundant Goose Grass? πŸ” πŸ”



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I clearly remember the steamy 95Β° summer afternoon 2 years ago when I discovered my backyard chickens’ new favorite food.

I was relaxing with a glass of sweet iced tea on my shady back porch after finishing my chores one Saturday.

As I gently swung on the creaky old porch swing observing my 5 hens grazing in the yard, I noticed them eagerly ripping into a strange-looking tall green weed that had aggressively taken over my unfinished vegetable garden plot.

The way they ripped through the stringy stalks and leafy foliage with intense excitement, their little feathered faces buried whole into the plant, you’d think I had served up an all-you-can-eat dessert buffet!

Yes, chickens most definitely relish munching on goose grass weeds, also called stick grass or sticky willy, and it provides great nutrition.

This common annual warm season “weed” packs high protein, omega-3s, minerals like manganese and magnesium, and other key vitamins essential for chicken health and laying prime eggs.

That Annoying Sticky Grass Exploded in My Unused Garden Space


How this beneficial chicken discovery came about was quite by accident the first summer after buying our rural house on 5 acres of overgrown former farmland.

That first spring, I only managed to rototill and amend half of the compacted, weed-ridden garden plot previous owners had let go wild.

By July, the neglected side of my 60’x40′ sunny vegetable garden bed had literally exploded into a solid thicket of 6-8 foot tall stalky weeds I eventually identified as goose grass.

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My Chickens Went Nuts Stripping Those Weeds


When I finally uprooted enough of that tangled mess to allow my small flock of 5 chickens access, they excitedly dove in beak first!

They ripped and stripped every leaf and small shoot they could reach with vigorous delight.

For nearly 3 weeks straight, my girls hit the same freshly cleared patch immediately after I opened their coop at dawn.

They would voraciously graze for over an hour, aggressively pulling and snapping at tender tips until I physically herded them towards other treats like garden windfall.

It was like I was opening an all-you-can-eat goose grass salad bar just for them!

I Discovered This “Weed” Packs Serious Nutritional Value


Surprised by their obsessed interest, I decided to research whether this rapidly spreading stalky plant was actually beneficial.

It turns out, the plant variously called goosegrass, stick grass, or sticky willy is packed with vital nutrients chickens thrive on.

The young shoots and leaves provide higher protein than the layer feed I offered.

It also contains healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, manganese for reproduction, magnesium for calmness, and a megadose of vitamin A for their combs and wattles.

Letting my girls strip that nuisance patch of weeds to bare soil cleared out the unwanted invasive plants, AND gave them a nutritious summer treat they still ask for!

Goose Grass Growing Habits and Identification

Before allowing your flock access to scary-looking weeds, it helps to ID goose grass and understand where and when it grows to prevent poisoning.

This annual warm season grass emerges each spring and thrives all summer into early fall across most of North America.

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It flourishes best in disturbed, fertile soil and concentrated nitrogen like manure piles or competes well in uncultivated garden beds.

Goose grass starts as small sprouts just 1-2 inches tall with hairy leaves and a reddish stem.

By mid summer when it shoots upwards of 5-6 feet tall and goes to seed, the stems and long leaves feel rough and extremely sticky to touch thanks to tiny grappling hooks that latch onto skin, fur, and fabrics.

Safely Introducing Chickens to Unknown Weeds

While goose grass itself poses no toxicity risk, chicken owners should use caution when allowing birds to free-range unknown plant growth.

Start by visually identifying any weed yourself through guides or your agricultural extension.

Then offer a small test portion to observe for reactions before expanding access further.

Watch all birds closely for the first few days checking for changes in behavior, appetite or droppings to confirm the new plant agrees well before permitting them to strip it completely.

Other Beneficial “Weeds” Backyard Chickens Love

Along with goose grass, several other common garden invaders also offer surprising nutrition for backyard chickens.

Prickly thistles contain protein and bioflavonoids that stimulate egg production and bright yellow yolks.

Dandelion leaves and roots provide digestive support with anti-parasitic benefits.

Chickweed serves up beta carotene for fertility, niacin for energy, and calcium for proper shell formation.

Allowing your flock to eliminate these weeds saves you labor while supplementing the birds’ diet!

Dangers of Unchecked Goose Grass Growth

If let completely unchecked, goose grass develops long stem-and-root structures that choke out desirable vegetation.

While chickens may keep new sprouts under control, established stands self-seed prolifically.

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Each plant produces up to 25,000 seeds annually that spread far and wide by clinging to feathers, fur, clothing, and machinery.

Tilling or incomplete weeding often worsens goose grass since broken roots just generate more plants.

Effective Goose Grass Weed Prevention

Stop this annoying weed from taking over your landscape with aggressive pre-emergent herbicide application.

Corn gluten meal, a common organic weed block, also prevents goose grass seed germination when applied heavily in spring and fall.

Planting desirable grasses like fescue or rye establish actively growing ground cover that discourages goose grass from invading.

And fertilize lawn and garden areas appropriately to avoid creating the nitrogen-rich condition this invader thrives on.

Eradicating Established Goose Grass Stands

Manually uprooting goose grass rarely succeeds since broken fragments of stem and root easily re-sprout.

Mowing larger infestations also worsens spread by scattering sticky seeds everywhere!

Repeated tilling eventually starves and desiccates roots but disturbs soil significantly.

For heavy goose grass, apply targeted herbicide containing glyphosate, fluazifop, or sethoxydim for best control.

Why Chickens Love Goose Grass

Beyond its nutritional benefits, chickens may enjoy goose grass for behavioral reasons too.

The long wavy leaves hanging at various heights create a jungle-like canopy with insects and cover.

Birds satisfy their urge to forage and scratch while nibbling shoots.

They peel the unique seed heads like banana snacks.

And the intriguing sticky texture likely amuses their senses similar to hands-on novelty toys for kids!

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Get Crackin’ on Your Own Egg Empire

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Get Crackin’ on Your Own Egg Empire

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