What Do Chickens Eat? Easy As 1, 2, 3, 4.

Photo of Kassandra Smith

Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

Last Updated: 21 July 2020

All egg-sperienced green thumbs know that a healthy soil is the key to a flourishing garden. Without a nutrient rich foundation, the plants simply can’t absorb all the goodness they need to grow into fabulous flowers and fresh produce!

One of the ways avid gardeners can keep their soil in tip top shape is through crop rotation - it’s a simple concept that reaps brilliant rewards.

What does crop rotation mean?

Crop rotation means egg-sactly what it sounds like! It involves rotating around the crops you grow in different patches of soil in your garden. This is done to ensure your soil isn’t repeatedly ravaged of one particular type of nutrients. For example, one year you might plant some broccoli in one patch of your garden, the next you might swap it over to grow some berries or fresh flowers in their place. This will help to increase the longevity of your soil!

When we say that you should rotate crops, they have to be from different ‘plant families’. For example, lettuce and cabbages are both from the ‘leafy green vegetable’ family, whereas a produce like peas are from the legume family. Therefore, you should swap the lettuce with peas next season - swapping it with cabbage isn’t really a swap at all, as far as plant families are concerned.


Why does it work?

It seems like an odd notion to constantly rotate your crops, but it definitely has a proven track record of helping soil retain its nutrient richness! Any easy, chemical free way to keep our plants growing gloriously sounds good to us!

Growing the same plants tends to suck your soil dry

Crop rotation works wonders for your soil, as growing the same kind of plant in your garden patch season after season can exhaust the soil’s nutrients. Different plant types draw different nutrients from the soil - so when you’re swapping plants over from season to season, they’re all drawing from different nutrients. If you grow one continuous plant from season to season, it’ll feed on the same nutrients, effectively draining the soil dry of that one particular nutrient, meaning the soil won’t be so healthy after all!

Different plants have different diseases

Also, if there are any plant diseases in the soil, growing produce from the same plant family can mean it will also be affected - a leafy green disease doesn’t discriminate between a lettuce and a cabbage! If you grow plants from a different plant family, the disease won’t be a problem! (This is, of course, in the scenario that it’s a plant-type specific disease).


So, what plants should I swap?

Communitygardening.org.au have a great little guide on the best plants to rotate through your crops - their guide recommends following this method in sequential order:

Legume Vegetables

Beans, peas, broadbeans, etc

Leafy Green Vegetables

Lettuce, chicory, silverbeet, spinach, cabbage, Chinese greens, celery, etc.

Fruiting Vegetables

Tomato, cucumber, chilli, eggplant, capsicum, squash, corn, pumpkin, melon, etc.

Root Vegetables

Potato, beetroot, radish, turnip, onion, carrot, artichoke, etc.

Follow this plant rotation guide, and your soil will stay gloriously and naturally nutrient, and your plants will be flourishing for seasons to come!

Of course, another way to keep your gardens glorious is to introduce some chickens into your backyard! Their chicken litter will keep the garden bed fertilised with some rich black compost, and they’ll gobble up any pesky insects that may threaten your growing plants! Read more about how your chickens and gardens are a match made in heaven here.


There are plenty of ways you can prevent, identify and resolve health issues in your flock through knowledge about diet and disease. It can be stressful and worrying when things aren't going well with your chooks and we all want to do an eggcellent job when caring for our feathered friends. Make sure that you've got the knowledge you need to raise happy, healthy chooks. Did you know 67% of chicken keepers surveyed experienced a chicken health or behaviour issue in the first 12 months that they didn’t know how to handle?

But don’t worry! Our feathered friends over at Chickenpedia have created a Chicken Healthcare Course. It is a comprehensive online course that covers everything you need, including what to look for in an unhealthy chicken and how to support your egg-laying hens to optimal health. All of their courses are really well structured and filled with vital information, which is why I highly recommend them to all of my readers! From raising baby chicks to feeding to behavior, you’ll find valuable information that’ll give you the knowledge and confidence to successfully look after your chickens.

Check out Chickenpedia today. As a member, you will also get access to the ALL of their chicken courses!

Sources and further reading