Japanese Millet Perfect For Your Yard And Chickens

Photo of Kassandra Smith

Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

Last Updated: 22 July 2020

Lots of garden and animals lovers are driven by the passion of creating a fully sustainable ecosystem in their backyard. From raising chickens, to growing their own herbs and vegetables, not to mention creating their own pungent and powerful compost bin – so many environmentally conscious green thumbs want to make their own environment even more eco friendly. One fantastic addition to any backyard is the fast growing plant known as Japanese millet. This lush green plant is not only pleasant to look at but is also a perfect source of feed for your chickens and other poultry to peck and graze upon.

What Is Japanese Millet:

Japanese millet resembles tall grass with a greenish purple seed heads that carry small yet delicious seeds, not unlike wheat or oats. It comes in two different varieties, one being standard Japanese millet and the other known as Shirohie, which experiences better regrowth after grazing, however takes longer to mature than the standard variety. Japanese millet is commonly used as feed for various farm animals, like cows and sheep, and the seeds are often fed to domestic birds, as well as poultry like chickens and ducks.

 Japanese millet plant showing grain

Where Can You Grow Japanese Millet:

Japanese millet will thrive best on a larger property with plenty of room for it to grow upwards and outwards. Many people take to planting Japanese millet near water, as this plant both helps prevent erosion, whilst also being a draw card for animals like ducks, who absolutely love to eat it. Additionally, Japanese millet can withstand significant waterlogged conditions, making it ideal to plant alongside a pond or river.

What Are The Ideal Growing Conditions For Japanese Millet:

It is recommended that you plant Japanese millet in lighter loam and clay soils, with a neutral or slightly acidic quality – ideally ranging between a PH of 5.5-8. Japanese millet tends to sap the soil of much of its nitrogen content, so be sure to add plenty of rich chicken manure infused compost to your garden, to kick the nitrogen level up a notch. This being said, Japanese millet still needs a balance intake of phosphorus, potassium and of course nitrogen –  many of the same garden rules still apply.

Do I Need To Grow Japanese Millet By Water

A common misconception is that Japanese Millet needs to be grown in highly damp conditions – this however is not the case. Japanese millet can be successfully grown in drier conditions, however it will simply require regular watering, like most plants.

How Do I Plant Japanese Millet:

If you feel as though you have the space, as well as adequate soil, perhaps you’ll consider growing Japanese millet in your own backyard. As mentioned previously, many different farm animals, from sheep to chickens will absolutely love munching on this scrumptious and natural snack. Here are the basics of what you need to do to grow your own Japanese millet…

  1. A couple of weeks prior to sowing the seeds ensure that you dry out the patch you intend to grow the Japanese millet in.

  2. Plough the earth, upturning the soil, until the patch is even and fluffy. Be sure to break up any dirt clumps, as well as removing any unnecessary stones and debris.

  3. If you are going to be using any fertiliser, it would be best to mix it through the soil at this stage. Regardless, it is probably best to toss through a healthy heap of nitrogen dense compost – make sure that it includes plenty of chicken poo!

  4. Rake the soil until the surface is flat and even, ready for planting.

  5. Sow the Japanese millet seeds into the soil, approximately 3-4 cm deep.

And that’s it! Though it may be a bit of labour in the yard getting the soil ready and the seeds sowed, the results are sure to be worth it.

Japanese millet crop

What Should I Do While My Japanese Millet Is Growing:

The seeds should take approximately 45-60 days to reach maturity, which is normally around the time the plant is 20-30 cm tall. Many gardeners do saturate the plants with water once they are approximately 15 cm in height. Additionally, it is very important that you keep the weed situation under control, as Japanese millet, though it is resilient to a great many things, does not handle weedy conditions well. Aside from that, in approximately two months your animals should be happily munching on delicious and nutritious Japanese millet.

Will My Chickens Lay Better Eggs From Eating Japanese Millet:

Egg production for chickens is largely determined by what breed they are, as well as their diet and lifestyle. In terms of their diet, chickens need plenty of calcium, protein, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates in order to produce healthy and delicious eggs. Japanese millet is a rich source of all of these things. Additionally, an active lifestyle of grazing and pecking at these tasty seeds will improve a chickens overall happiness and wellbeing. In short, though Japanese millet isn’t a miracle food for egg production, the lifestyle around eating it would promote egg-cellent results.

Growing Japanese millet is a great way to create a more sustainable environment within your own backyard. So long as the soil is healthy and enhanced by nutrient dense compost, your crop of Japanese millet is sure to be a success! One way to improve your chances of success in the garden in general, is to get yourself some chickens and a chicken tractor, like the Taj Mahal or Cluck House coop. Chicken tractors are your gardens best friend, as it’s one of the easiest ways to spread that chicken goodness all over the yard.


From plants to shelter and boredom busters, we all want to do an eggcellent job when caring for our feathered friends. There are plenty of things to consider when becoming a chicken parent and it can be overwhelming and confusing. Many chicken keepers struggle to handle chicken health or behaviour issues, especially in the first few years of having a flock.

This is why I recommend Chickenpedia to all my readers. They have comprehensive online courses on everything you didn’t know you need to know and then some more! From healthcare to raising baby chicks to feeding and behavior, you’ll find beginner-friendly courses that’ll give you the knowledge and confidence to successfully look after your chickens.

As a member, you will get access to ALL their fantastic courses. No need to wing it, become the ultimate chicken eggspert! Check out Chickenpedia today!

Sources and Further Reading