Feeding weeds to chickens during shemitah
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At this time of year, chickweed and milk thistle generally sprout, and I usually feed them to my chickens. Am I allowed to do that this year? If so, in what way?
That is an excellent question and relates to two issues:
The sefichin prohibition: Can self-seeding annuals that sprouted during shemitah be used as animal fodder?
Since chickweed and milk thistle are not generally eaten by humans, the sefichin prohibition does not apply (actually this is subject to dispute, but the mainstream ruling is to be lenient).
Do these plants have kedushat shevi'it?
Since these two plants are weeds and not plants grown specifically for animal fodder, they do not have kedushat shevi'it.
So how do I go about feeding my chickens?
You can gather the weeds by cutting them above the surface (but avoid uprooting them).
OR you can let your chickens come and help themselves.