Chickens that are allowed to free-range have a lot more control over what they eat. These birds are known for being keen foragers and are happy and willing to eat most things they come across, even if it is not always in their best interests. For the most part, enabling natural feeding is one of the best things you can enable as a chicken keeper. There are so many nutrients chickens can acquire from the land. But what about Dandelions? Are they safe, or even healthy for chickens to consume or are they toxic? I spent some time researching this weed and their suitability in a flocks diet. Here is what I managed to find.
So, can chickens eat dandelions? Chickens can eat dandelions. Although dandelions are a wild weed, they are perfectly safe and edible and provide a number of important nutrients, vitamins and minerals that support health. However, dandelions that have been sprayed with herbicides, pesticides and other chemicals are harmful to chickens, and even toxic in larger quantities. It is therefore essential that your birds only eat dandelions from preserved and protected areas.
Chickens love to forage, and their instincts are in harmony with nature’s splendor. They instinctively have a sense of what’s safe for them to eat – even if it may seem odd to us chicken keepers.
Different types of grass provide much-needed greens in a chickens diet, and in the grass, there’s a plentiful supply of bugs and insects. These serve as a great source of protein and help meet the requirements of these omnivorous birds.
For dandelions, they are always in plentiful supply during the spring and fall seasons, so it helps to know that chickens can for the most part, safely consume them.
Equally, dandelions are also an eyesore and pain to remove for those of us who want a pristine lawn. Getting rid of them comes with its challenges but with chickens, it can be much more simple.
Beyond this, dandelions are edible, not to mention they contain many health benefits. They are are an ideal source of calcium, which is essential for laying hens.
As with many weeds, they contain many vitamins and minerals, not to mention that they have substantial amounts of iron, phosphorus, zinc, and potassium.
So, let us know take a closer look at some of the most commonly asked questions related to dandelions in a chickens diet. We will be covering if they are healthy, if the leaves can be consumed and other health-promoting flowers you may want to consider.
So, be sure to keep on reading so that you get all the information you need!
Are Dandelions Good For Chickens?
Dandelions are very good for chickens. They are healthy to eat if they have been grown naturally and have not been sprayed with any weed-killing product.
As previously stated, dandelions are a rich source of calcium, which is what laying hens need the most for healthy egg production.
Dandelions are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins (A, B, C, E, and K) and minerals. This weed pulls nutrients from the soil as it grows, and it has substantial amounts of iron, phosphorus, zinc, potassium, and magnesium.
Dandelions come with lots of health benefits, these include:
- They are anti-inflammatory,
- They are an Antioxidant,
- They are a Detoxifier acting as a tonic to improve general health,
- Act as a diuretic (it promotes kidney and liver health),
- Help to improve digestion,
- Help produce more vibrant, brighter egg yolks
- Serve as a rich source of vitamins and minerals
- Help to stimulate natural egg production
As a natural diuretic and detoxifier, dandelions help keep internal parasites under control; they also stimulate your flock’s digestive system.
Regular feeding of this weed control parasites in your chicken, and it enhances their inner health.
Dandelions are considered a green like many other weeds and grasses – this means that your chickens can eat as many dandelions as they like. This is not something that you need to control and your chickens will instinctively dictate how much they want to eat and when.
Every bit of the dandelion is edible, so your birds will enjoy munching on the leaves, the fresh stems, the flowers, as well as the roots.
Dandelions are a delicious and healthy treat for your flock, not to mention it grows anywhere, and it’s free food.
However, you must make sure that the dandelions in your yard are not sprayed with chemicals, as this could harm your flock.
Will Chickens Eat Dandelions?
Most chickens will eat dandelions if they are available to them. However, some chickens may not like dandelions at all, while others may enjoy the leaves and not the flowers and vice versa. It all comes down to individual preference.
There isn’t any guarantee that your chickens will eat the unsightly but delicious weed growing in your yard or garden. However, with that said, most chickens love to forage and love to roam about in open spaces and pastures.
Chickens and gardens go together, and chickens generally eat whatever you grow, trim, or throw in the compost pile.
Your reward will be free fertilizer that boosts the health of the soil, and more nutrition for your birds.
Aside from dandelions, many other weeds and grasses are growing in abundances such as chickweed, purslane, and lambs quarter.
If chickens regularly munch on dandelions and other plants, they will have healthier and better-developed eggs than commercial hens.
Can Chickens Eat Dandelion Leaves?
Chickens can certainly eat dandelion leaves. Most of the nutritional benefits are contained in the leaves of the dandelion.
Again, when gathering the leaves, make sure that the places you go aren’t contaminated with toxic substances like lead or pesticides, also make are that the leaves are free from worms, parasites, and animal droppings.
Make sure that the leaves are real dandelion leaves and not ones that resemble dandelion leaves. There are similar-looking greens, but these aren’t edible and can make your flock sick.
Dandelion leaves are at their best during the spring; choose ones that are tender and young as these have a milder flavor.
It is believed that the wild plant is a potent healer, used to ease digestive -related issues, purify the blood, prevent gallstones and piles, among many other problems.
The greens of this plant provide over 500 percent of the recommended value of Vitamin K; Vitamin K strengthens bones and can help prevent neurological damage occurring in the brain.
The greens contain over 110 percent of the recommended intake of Vitamin A; this is essential for healthy skin, membrane, mucous, and vision.
In the leaves, a flavonoid called zeaxanthin is contained, and this helps protect the retina from ultraviolet rays and further damage.
The leaves themselves are a rich source of Vitamin C, B6, calcium, riboflavin, iron, potassium, thiamin, manganese, and magnesium. You will find other nutrients such as copper, phosphorus, and folate.
Other Flowers Chickens Will Eat
A free-range flock will eat virtually anything you have planted, and many flowers are safe, not to mention nutritious for your chickens.
Let’s look at ten flowers (other than dandelions) your chickens will love to forage, and the benefits of them doing so:
Roses come with many nutritional and medical benefits for chickens and humans alike. This flower acts as an antiseptic and an antibacterial agent.
This weed is considered the most nutritious of all the weeds.
It acts as an antioxidant, a blood purifier, and it contains Vitamins A, E, and B-12, iron, calcium, and magnesium. It supports the respiratory system.
Marigolds promote the development of new skin tissue; they are also an antioxidant.
This weed helps hens lay eggs with yolks that are bright yellow.
This flower helps support healthy circulation, and it stops inflammation of the arteries, not to mention it’s a delicious treat for your chickens.
These attractive and colorful flowers are delicious and full of nutrition.
The leaves and flowers have antibacterial properties, and they are a natural wormer.
The pods of these bright yellow flowers attract butterfly larvae and other insects that make a tasty snack for your chickens.
The seeds and the foliage promote good general health.
Chickens enjoy eating the seeds of sunflowers, and the flowers look resplendent in your garden.
Sunflowers are a hardy and fast-growing plant that comes in a variety of sizes. For a tasty and easy treat, you can cut the seed heads and dry them, once dry, feed them to your flock.
Pansies are not only an attractive flower in your garden but they many health benefits, they offer relief for heart pain, and they help to lower blood pressure.
Known nutrients include Vitamin C, carotenoids, mucilage, tannin, salicylic acid, among others.
This bright flower has a tangy, sweet, citrus flavor; not only is it ornamental, but it has numerous medicinal and nutritional benefits.
The petal has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory abilities. The leaves contain beta-carotene and lutein – which function as antioxidants.
Calendula helps to maintain healthy skin and good vision.
Lavender is spicy and sweet to taste, many people are unsure if chickens can consume lavender, but it’s safe for them to do so.
Lavender has many medicinal benefits that apply to humans, but it’s uncertain whether they benefit chickens as well.
Certainly, lavender is a herb that acts as an insect repellent, and it’s a good idea to plant seeds around the coop as an added line of defense against insects.
The area will also smell much better. Lavender is known to reduce stress, and many owners confirm that it helps reduce stress among their flock, especially for laying hens.
Hopefully, it will come as some relief to know that dandelions and many other weeds are perfectly safe and edible for the consumption of your flock.
Dandelions are an unsightly weed for most people but letting your chickens peck away at them will provide a free snack for them.
Chickens enjoy foraging as it brings out their natural feeding habits, and they love the social aspect of it.
While there are many flowers (apart from dandelions ) that are safe for your chickens, you should be aware of the ones that are unsafe so that you can take steps to keep your flock safe from them.
Make sure whatever you gather to feed your flock is free from harmful substances like lead and pesticides, be sure to gather plants that are also free from animal droppings and parasites as they can make your chickens very sick indeed.
Chickens are wild at heart and will love foraging in their yard; they know instinctively what’s safe and delicious to eat.
What humans can eat, chickens can eat, and we could learn a lot from our feathered friends simply by watching them.
Some of the most commonly found plants that are known to be toxic to chickens include daffodils, morning glory, jimson weed, tulips, nightshades, castor beans, trumpet vines, and yew. Some chickens will avoid these plants entirely, others will eat a small amount before recognizing they are not good for them. Chickens generally know what plants to stay away from. However, you should ensure these plants and other known toxic substances, are not available or provided to your flock.
Wondering what else chickens can eat? Check out my other chicken feeding guides below!
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.