What Chickens Don't Eat

One of the joys of keeping chickens is that they make a big happy fuss about things that you hate – like grubs and Japanese Beetles. And they eat kitchen scraps, like leftover pasta and carrot tops and apple cores. So, when they don’t eat something, it’s a big letdown.

My hens refuse to eat my worst garden pest – sawfly larvae. These nasty caterpillars decimate my favorite birch tree that graces the front walk. Not only do the larvae scream a warning with their yellow and black coloring, but they do a backwards curl and wiggle their nasty feet at any danger. Despite the fact that chickens are always hungry and always on the look-out for something wiggly, they won’t go near these. Buffy pecked at one and then walked away. Perhaps the sawfly larvae taste as bad as they look? Does anyone know about a chicken’s sense of taste?

The girls also refuse to eat fuzzy caterpillars, which means they aren’t helpful with the tent caterpillars either. The bantam hens don’t like tomato horn worms. Too big. Luckily, the large hens in my flock fight over them.

We tend to think of chickens as indiscriminate eaters. But they’re not. Fortunately, they do like enough of the “bad” stuff to do good. My girls, at this moment, are feasting on crabgrass seeds. Active Lulu is chasing down cabbage butterflies. So, I forgive them for not doing in the sawfly larvae. I’ll get out my oil and soap spray and do the job myself.

What don’t your hens eat?

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