Most chickens are allowed to roam free in backyards and, in turn, have a lot more freedom over what they eat. While foraging for food, your flock will most likely come across some dandelions, too. So, one might wonder: Can chickens eat dandelions?
Even though dandelions are a wild plant, they’re perfectly safe and edible. Dandelions provide numerous essential nutrients – as well as some health benefits.
In this article, we’ve covered everything you need to know about dandelions. So, without further ado, let’s dive in!
Chicken’s Diet – Overview
Chickens love to forage for food – and their instincts are in harmony with the splendor of nature. Even if it may seem unusual to us as their keepers, chickens instinctively know what’s safe for them to eat.
Different types of grass offer much-needed greens in a diet of a chicken.
Moreover, in the grass, there’s an abundant supply of insects which serve as a great source of protein and aid in meeting the requirements of these omnivorous birds.
When it comes to dandelions, they’re in plentiful supply during the fall and spring season, so it’s helpful to know that chickens can safely consume them – for the most part, that is.
Now, dandelions are an eyesore for some and pain to get rid of for those who want to have a perfect-looking lawn. Removing dandelions comes with certain challenges – but it seems like that’s a much more straightforward task for chickens.
As far as your chickens are concerned, dandelions are edible. And on top of that, they come with their own set of health benefits. For instance, dandelions are an ideal source of calcium which is crucial for laying hens.
As with many other weeds, dandelions contain many vitamins and minerals, not to mention that this tasty weed also includes a substantial amount of iron, zinc, phosphorus, and potassium.
Are Dandelions Good For Chickens?
As a matter of fact, dandelions are great for chickens. They’re healthy to consume if they have been naturally grown and haven’t been sprayed with weed-killing products.
And as we already stated, dandelions are rich in calcium, which laying hens require the most to produce healthy eggs. In addition to that, dandelions are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
They pull nutrients from the ground and, due to that, contain significant amounts of phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and iron.
Dandelions come with plenty of health benefits; here are a few examples:
- They have anti-inflammatory properties
- They’re an antioxidant
- Dandelions promote kidney and liver health
- They help to improve digestion
- Aid in producing more vibrant and brighter egg yolks
- Dandelions are a rich source of vitamins and minerals
- They aid in stimulating natural egg production
As a natural detoxifier and diuretic, dandelions aid in keeping internal parasites under control, as well. Also, it stimulates your chicken’s digestive system in general.
Like many other weeds, dandelions are considered “greens.” That means that your flock can eat as many dandelions as it wants.
It isn’t something you need to keep under control; your chickens will instinctively determine how many dandelions they want – and need – to eat.
Best of all, every part of the dandelion is edible. So, your chickens can enjoy munching on the fresh stems, leaves, flowers as well as roots.
And, of course, the fact that it grows practically anywhere is a plus, too. It’s essentially free food for your flock!
That said, make sure that dandelions you find in your backyard aren’t sprayed with chemicals – because that could harm your chickens.
Will Chickens Eat Dandelions?
Most chickens will eat dandelions they find in the backyard. However, some chickens may not like this weed at all, while others will enjoy only the leaves but not the flowers and vice versa.
It all comes down to the individual preference of the chicken.
We can’t guarantee that your birds will eat unattractive but still delicious weed growing in your backyard. With that being said, however, most chickens love to forage and roam about in open spaces.
Chickens and gardens just go together – and they will generally eat anything you grow, trim, or throw in the compost pile. On the flip side, you’ll have free fertilizer that boosts the soil’s health, thus ensuring better nutrition for your flock.
Aside from dandelions, many other types of grass and weeds are growing in abundance, such as purslane, chickweed, and lambs quarter. So, your chickens certainly have plenty of options, whether they like dandelions or not!
Can Chickens Eat Dandelion Leaves?
Chickens can most certainly eat the leaves of dandelions. In fact, most of the nutritional benefits are found in dandelion leaves.
Again, when gathering dandelion leaves, make sure that you do it from places you know aren’t contaminated with toxic chemicals like pesticides. Also, ensure that the leaves are free from parasites, worms, and animal droppings.
Here’s a piece of advice:
Double-check that the leaves are actual leaves of dandelions and not some other plants that resemble dandelions. There are similar-looking weeds that aren’t edible and could make your chickens sick.
Leaves of dandelions are at their best during the spring season; select young and tender ones as they will have a milder flavor.
According to some, the wild dandelion is a potent healer used to aid digestion, purify the blood, and prevent piles and gallstones, among many other health-related issues.
The greens of this plant provide tremendous amounts of vitamin K, which strengthens bones – and can aid in preventing neurological damage that can occur in the brain. Also, the greens contain considerable amounts of vitamin A, which is vital for healthy skin, mucous, and vision.
Dandelion leaves also contain zeaxanthin which helps protect the retina from UV rays.
On top of all that, the leaves are rich in vitamin C, vitamin B6, riboflavin, iron, calcium, thiamine, potassium, magnesium, and manganese. Some other nutrients in dandelion leaves are copper, phosphorus, and folate.
A pretty impressive list, huh?
How To Feed Dandelions To Your Chickens?
Seeing how the entire plant is edible, you don’t need to take caution when feeding dandelions to your flock.
If your chickens are free-range and come across dandelions, don’t be surprised if they munch them up. And if they aren’t, well, now you’re familiar with all of the fantastic health benefits of consuming dandelions.
So, it’s certainly worth going out of your way to pick some for your flock.
You can feed them fresh or dried, chopped, and mixed with their regular feed. We’re sure you’re familiar with the fact that chickens aren’t too picky when it comes to eating.
If they can get a hold of dandelions, your chickens are going to gobble them up!
Want To Grow Dandelions?
It’ll come as no surprise that this weed is extremely easy to grow – both wild in your backyard or indoors, in pots. After all, dandelions are a weed. If you ever attempted to get rid of them, you probably couldn’t.
Dandelion seed is found in those small, white parachute-like bristles that develop into big round balls. You’ve probably waved them around numerous times as a kid – and watched its seeds get blown around.
Without knowing it, you were spreading those seeds – ultimately growing more dandelions!
Dandelions are perennial plants that will grow in virtually any soil. They prefer lots of sunlight, though, but will still find a way to grow even in the shade.
They only take around eight weeks to grow. Wild dandelions growing will mature, seed, and grow again up to three times within 30 weeks.
If you want to grow dandelions on your own, simply plant some of its seed around ¼ inches deep in the sunny spot in your backyard – and just let it do its thing.
Other Flowers Chicken Will Eat
Free-range chickens will eat just about anything you have planted in your backyard, and for the most part, all flowers are safe for them to eat. Plus, they’re generally nutritious for chickens, as well.
Let’s take a look at some flowers your chickens will love to forage – and some benefits of those plants, while we’re at it:
- Roses: They come with many nutritional and health benefits not only for chickens but for humans, as well. Roses are antiseptic and antibacterial agents.
- Clover blossoms: This plant is considered the most nutritious among weeds. It acts as a blood purifier, antioxidant and contains a plethora of vitamins and minerals.
- Marigolds: This plant promotes new skin development and is also an antioxidant.
- Violets: These flowers help support healthy blood circulation and prevent inflammation of the arteries.
- Fennel: The pods of these flowers attract butterfly larvae and some other insects that make a tasty treat for your chickens. The seeds of fennel promote good general health.
- Sunflowers: Chickens adore eating the seeds of this plant. Cut the seed heads and dry them for an easy and tasty snack. Once the seeds are dry, feed them to your chickens.
- Pansies: This one is not only an attractive flower but comes with many health benefits, too. Pansies offer relief for heart pain and aid in lowering blood pressure.
- Calendula: This bright flower has a sweet, tangy, citrus flavor – and is known not only for its ornamental purposes but for countless medical and nutritional benefits, as well. The petals have antibacterial abilities, and the leaves contain lutein, which functions as an antioxidant.
Hopefully, we answered your question, “Can chickens eat dandelions?” in this guide.
Not only are dandelions safe for chickens to eat, but they also come with numerous health benefits.
While dandelions are unsightly weed for most, your chickens love to snack on them. Just make sure that dandelions you feed your flock with aren’t sprayed with pesticides and other toxic chemicals – as they could be harmful to your flock.
Other than that, let your chickens eat as much as they’d like!