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Will Mow For Food

August 13th, 2013

One of the things that’s great about having chickens, pigs and ducks, is that it turns ordinary garden chores into money saving tasks. Weeding and mowing are actually food producing tasks.
Feeding grass clippings 1
Yesterday I mowed enough to get four bagfuls of clippings. One went to the pigs, one to the main chicken flock, another to the guinea keets, and the last one to the broiler chickens. Everyone LOVED the fresh clippings.
Feeding grass clippings
Feeding grass clippings 2
Grass clippings are always a valuable commodity around here, they are also saved and used as mulch and to smother grass and weeds around shrub and the woodland edge. In fact there are never quite enough grass clippings to go around.
Feeding grass clippings 3
I’ve been trying to mow a smaller section of the lawn more frequently just so I can feed clippings to all the animals. If I mow four bagfuls every day, that should about get me around the entire lawn. It’s nice knowing that I’m saving myself some money and providing them with healthy food as well.

What are some things you use grass clippings for?

23 Comments to “Will Mow For Food”
  1. Jandra on August 13, 2013 at 9:13 am

    Ha, for a minute I thought it read “wil meow for food” and was wondering when you were going to bring up the cats! :-)

    Thanks for keeping up the blog. I’ve been reading it for … a long time.

    Reply to Jandra's comment

  2. Marina C on August 13, 2013 at 9:13 am

    I use a mulching mower and leave the clippings on to nourish the lawn as I do not otherwise fertilize or enrich the soil. My lawn is a mixed bag of grasses, cleoer and other ‘weeds’, but green and healthy, and it stays green in the heat much longer than my neighbors perfect weed free lawns.
    How do you nourish yours?

    Reply to Marina C's comment

  3. Shannon on August 13, 2013 at 11:11 am

    I use mine the same as you. In the garden for weed control and I also give it to my chickens and ducks.

    Reply to Shannon's comment

  4. DebbieB on August 13, 2013 at 11:38 am

    That’s interesting – do the birds actually eat the blades of grass? Or are they picking through for bugs?

    Reply to DebbieB's comment

    • Susy on August 13, 2013 at 7:04 pm

      Yes, they do eat the blades of grass. They’re especially fond of the pieces of dandelion and plantain.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  5. Colleen on August 13, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    We use some grass clippings between the rows in the veggie garden and the chickens love it as well.

    Reply to Colleen's comment

  6. Barbara Shaw on August 13, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    Just wondering, I have always thought that using the grass clippings in the garden would cause extra grass from the seed that you would be bring in with the clippings. Is this a problem?

    Reply to Barbara Shaw's comment

    • Susy on August 13, 2013 at 7:12 pm

      I haven’t noticed that it does. I usually mow before it goes to seed. If you notice crabgrass seed then it probably wouldn’t be good to use as a mulch in a flowerbed or garden area.

      Reply to Susy's comment

    • Sue from Ky. on August 13, 2013 at 10:24 pm

      In response to Barbara’s question: I don’t worry so much about the seeds as I do the Bermuda grass clippings. It spreads like wildfire everywhere else and I dread getting it in my garden. That could be disastrous,especially since I don’t want to use chemicals to try to kill it there around our edibles.

      Reply to Sue from Ky.'s comment

  7. Rocky on August 13, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    I have been experimenting with pasture raised chicken for a while. We only have small flock of layers, and my understanding is that poultry especially those modern broiler do not consume much plant vegetation. One estimated figure for forage consumption of poultry is only 5-20% of the total diet. So, I still use commercial feed for them. May I ask what you are feeding them beside grass clippings?

    Reply to Rocky's comment

    • Susy on August 13, 2013 at 7:11 pm

      These aren’t modern broilers, so they probably consume more greens than those kinds of chickens do (they’re Delaware and Delaware mix). In some of my reading I’ve seen that chickens can consume up to 30% of their diet as greens. I’m also feeding them a blend of fermented wheat and oats along with raw milk kefir, meat scraps, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, eggs, azomite, kelp and some sea salt. There’s also a meal worm farm in the works to raise extra insect protein for them. The chickens all have a fairly large ranging area so they’re able to scrounge up worms and other insect as well.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  8. Jaye on August 13, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    What type of chickens are the white with black tails?

    Reply to Jaye's comment

    • Susy on August 13, 2013 at 6:59 pm

      They are Delaware and Delaware barnyard mix (meaning Delaware mixed with other chickens). Our neighbor incubated them for us.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Jaye on August 21, 2013 at 11:50 am

        Thanks! They’re so pretty!

        to Jaye's comment

  9. Chris on August 13, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    Just beware when feeding your chickens grass clippings, because if they don’t have access to enough grit or small stones (which they should while free ranging) the clippings can mat in their stomach. Then they develop sour crop which can lead to death.

    I’ve heard of people feeding their chickens grass clippings, but they tend to do it every once in a while, rather than regularly, to avoid the issues with sour crop.

    I’ve had this happen with my chickens, but I was hand feeding them with long strands of grass instead. It was twining in their stomachs as with little grit around it was unable to be digested. When I give my chickens grass now, I break it into inch pieces just with my hands and it’s a small ration. The problem with long strands of grass, and finely cut grass, is that because the chickens rely on grit to break up the food in their stomach, they can develop problems with sour crop if the balance isn’t right.

    Just giving you something to look out for, rather than discourage you from feeding clippings. My guess is (as someone else mentioned) they’re going after the insects in the stash more than anything, but they will consume the grass too. Pigs should have no issues with the clippings though. ;)

    Reply to Chris's comment

    • Susy on August 13, 2013 at 7:06 pm

      I provide grit and they have a nice sandy/gravely area that they range it and eat pieces of it for grit. They actually eat the grass, but they pick out the dandelion and plantain pieces first. When they’re allowed to free range they eat a good amount of grass, but then the foxes eat the chickens. They have about a sixth of an acre that they range in now which has a very nice varied landscape with everything except grass.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Chris on August 14, 2013 at 2:23 am

        A sixth of an acre is a good patch of area for them to forage in. I keep my chickens contained because of predators too.

        It’s a constant juggle finding the right balance, isn’t it? I wish you all the best with your chicken keeping endeavours. :)

        to Chris's comment

      • Susy on August 14, 2013 at 7:53 am

        We have found the electric net fencing to be the best way to protect them and give them a decent area to range in. We use different areas for our different flocks. Not quite as good as 100% free range, but they still get the benefits with protection.

        to Susy's comment

    • Deb on August 13, 2013 at 7:08 pm

      My chickens EAT the grass clippings and never have problems. As long as they get grit they’ll be fine no matter how much they get. I’m sure the Chiots know all about grit since their poultry are flourishing. Never known anyone to have problems with a lot of grass clippings for their chickens. I know lots of chicken keepers too.

      Reply to Deb's comment

      • Chris on August 14, 2013 at 2:19 am

        Anyone reading this post may start to feed their chickens grass clippings, but then don’t know to provide grit or aren’t in a position to free range their chickens. Highlighting the potential issues with their crops, means people now have that “extra” information to contemplate their own balance at home with.

        to Chris's comment

  10. Deb on August 13, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    My chickens eat what they want. I sure wouldn’t want to waste so much time and gas mowing all the time but glad it works for your animal family. I hate wasting money and polluting the air so the chickens get to eat lots as we mow very seldom, 4 times so far this summer.

    Reply to Deb's comment

    • Susy on August 13, 2013 at 7:14 pm

      We like to mow around the house to keep the tick population down, they can be quite prolific if you don’t. We used to let the chickens free range and they did a decent job mowing it, but then the foxes learned we had chickens. Now they’re behind an electric fence, which does get moved, so there are areas that they mow and we don’t have to. Next spring we’re hoping to get a few sheep to reduce the mowing needs around here.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  11. Jennifer Fisk on August 14, 2013 at 9:20 pm

    I do exactly as you do. Egg chickens get a bag, meat birds get a bag and the turkeys get a couple. I stagger my mowing so I can provide a fairly steady stream of clippings. Of course the fabulous crop of weed next to my veggies are great bird food too.

    Reply to Jennifer Fisk's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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