There are lots of edible weeds that grow in most parts of the country including plantain, clover, chickweed, and purslane. Dandelion benefits in a weed salad are numerous and healthy for humans, and even for your chickens. In the early spring, you will likely find all kinds of perennial herbs and weeds peeking out of the soil or even out from under the snow. Weeds like chickweed and dandelions benefit your flock and your wallet. They make inexpensive, healthy spring treats for your chickens, giving them a bit of variety from their usual chicken feed. Although there are cautions of what not to feed chickens, most backyard weeds and all of the culinary herbs are not only safe but extremely nutritious.
A bowl full of weed salad provides dandelion benefits plus some fresh herbs like basil, parsley, cilantro, and dill gives a variety of health benefits for your flock and they will love munching on the fresh greens. Some seeds, nuts or berries make a nice addition. Can chickens eat pumpkins? Yes. They can eat the fleshy inside of pumpkins plus their seeds. Other favorites include sunflower seeds, as well as unsalted peanuts, almonds or other types of nuts. Fresh berries are also flock favorites.
You can increase the health benefits of their salad by drizzling some homemade apple cider vinegar dressing over the top. Apple cider vinegar aids in respiratory and digestive health, helps keep bacterial levels in your waterers down, boosts immune systems and aids in the absorption of nutrients.
Making Apple Cider Vinegar for Chickens
Making apple cider vinegar is extremely easy, it just takes a bit of time. It’s also far more economical than buying it commercially since you can make it using the peels and cores of apples that you likely would just throw away. In fact, the next time you make an apple pie, save the peels and cores.
To make your vinegar, wash, peel and core up to a dozen apples. Place the peels and cores in a large glass or stoneware bowl and cover them completely with water. Add 1/4 cup of sugar and stir the mixture thoroughly. (The sugar is entirely optional, but does help the fermentation process work faster.)
The apple scraps need to be completely submersed in the water, so you will need to put a heavy plate over the top of the bowl so it presses down on the apples. Then cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let it sit for a week in a cool dark location that stays between 65 to 85 degrees.
The mixture will begin to bubble and foam. That’s normal. After the week is up, strain out the solids and discard them, then pour the liquid into sterilized canning jars, leaving about an inch of headroom in each jar to prevent the metal ring on the lid from rusting. Cover the top of the jars with cheesecloth and screw on just the ring part of the top. This allows the yeast to breathe as its fermenting.
Store the jars for about six weeks. You will start to notice a film forming on the top and the liquid will start to get cloudy. Stir or swirl the jars periodically so the film (the “mother”) settles on the bottom to allow more to grow on top.
After about six weeks your apple cider vinegar should be ready to use. There should be a distinct ‘vinegar’ smell and some jelly like masses floating around in the jar. At this point, you can remove the cheesecloth, put the circular lids on and screw the rings back on.
Your apple cider vinegar will last indefinitely stored in a cool, dark spot. The flavor will continue to develop and evolve over time. Adding a Tablespoon per gallon to your chickens’ water or drizzling some over their weed salad greens will provide wonderful health benefits for them.
|Edible Herbs that Chickens Can Eat|