Did you know that most of the weeds in your yard and around your home are actually a source of good nutrition for your chickens?
And you too for that matter. This includes dock leaves, which I’m looking into in this article.
Can chickens eat dock leaves? Yes, absolutely. Dock leaves were commonly eaten by us during the great depression due to how readily available they were and the range of vitamins and minerals they contain.
I always knew a dock leaf was the best natural remedy for a nettle sting. When I’d be out hiking with my dad as a kid if I ever got stung he’d rub the underside of a dock leaf on the sting and it would help for sure.
One thing I hadn’t considered was eating them.
After doing some research, however, and finding out just how nutritious they are – I think I might just try some!
Here’s some interesting information that will change your opinion on dock leaves. They aren’t just annoying weeds popping up in your yard, they a free, nutritious snack for your chickens:
Health Benefits of Dock Plants for Chickens
First of all, there are a lot of different types of docks. I read there are an estimated 25 different dock plants in the U.S., and while most of them are edible it’s worth double-checking what plant you have before using it.
The most common types are the broad-leaved dock, curly dock, and yellow dock as far as I can tell.
The leaves of these plants are used in salads or cooked just as you would spinach. They do contain a small amount of oxalic acid, which can be toxic to us and chickens in large amounts.
But it would take a lot of dock leaves to reach any levels remotely harmful, so don’t worry about that.
In traditional herbal medicine, curly and yellow docks are used to aid digestive health. It’s also known to help reduce inflammation and help with some skin conditions.
According to eatweeds.co.uk, some dock plants actually contain a higher concentration of vitamin C than oranges and more vitamin A than carrots. They also contain some other vitamins like B1 and B2, and various minerals – powerful stuff for a weed!
While chickens do not need all of these vitamins and minerals in this capacity, feeding them some dock leaves will aid their digestion, give their immune system a boost, and help them maintain good health.
It’s certainly one of the better leafy greens you’ll find in your yard. Plus, being a weed that’s easy to grow, it’s a great way to add some variety to their diet for free – which is always a bonus.
How to Feed Dock Leaves to Your Chickens
You don’t need to cook or prepare docks for your chickens. The entire plant is edible, and there isn’t much to do as the plant is mostly large leaves with thin stalks.
Just simply hand them over to your flock and see if they eat them. Chickens will eat most things, as I’m sure you’re aware. They can be picky at times though, so don’t be surprised if they’re not interested.
You might need to chop them up a little or just tear them in your hands. Especially for baby chicks.
If you have docks growing wild, the best scenario is letting your chickens roam to see if they want them. Farm animals will typically eat docks while grazing, and it encourages chicken’s natural foraging behavior.
Being a weed, they are very resilient to a lot of weather conditions and tend to grow back with ease. Which is often more of a problem than a blessing for the green-fingered among us.
But now you know you have a free source of tasty and nutritious greens for your flock, why not encourage some docks to grow in an area of your yard?
Some Other Weeds That Are Also Great for Chickens:
Docks aren’t the only weeds that are good for chickens, here are some of the other common weeds that can provide a nutritious snack:
Stinging Nettles – Having been stung more than enough times in my life, I tend to avoid nettles. They are nutrient-rich though and great for chickens to eat though.
Dandelions – Dandelions have some greatest nutritional benefits for chickens. I wrote about the benefits of dandelions for chickens more in this post.
Clover – Clover grows like crazy around here. I’ve been scooping it up and feeding it to my flock for months and they love it.
Chickweed – Commonly used as a digestive aid and for various skin conditions for us, chickweed is another nutrient-dense weed to try with your chickens.
Purslane – I’ve not had purslane in my yard, but I’m told it’s one of the most difficult weeds to get rid of. If you have chickens, however, this presents a great opportunity for them to help while filling up on nutritious snack.
If the benefits of docks came as news to you – as it did for me – you won’t look at the weed the same now. I know I don’t.
My friends think I’m crazy when I ask if they have any weeds growing in their yards then offer to go pull some up for them!
Image credits – Dock leaves photo by Wikimediaimages on Pixabay, chicken photo by Sarah Halliday on Unsplash
Everything You Have Always Wanted to Know About Dock – TheSpruceEats.com