In my farm my chickens (and ducks) roam free all over the yard. It is healthy for them and chickens improve your soil. Most people are aware that they eat bugs which they find in the grass, but chickens can eat herbs too! There are even flowers you can feed to chickens and some flowers that are very toxic. Some flowers can change the egg yolk color of your chickens!
Not everything about free range chickens is ideal. They will eat freshly sown seeds and pull up seedlings, so do not let them near new crops. Chickens will also eat new fruit, plant leaves and flowers. Fresh tilted soil is their ideal dust bath area. So keeping all of this in mind, it is probably best to give them a specific space in your garden where you can plant flowers you can feed to chickens, which is something I am doing as I am planting more species.
Do not feed chickens flowers that come from the florist or supermarket since they may contain preservatives to help them open and keep fresh. Also they may put chemicals and antibacterial agents in the water that could hurt chickens. When roaming, chickens usually avoid flowers that harm them, but this is not always the case so make sure to read about which flowers are toxic to chickens and avoid planting them.
Flowers you can Feed to Chickens
I will not include descriptions for calendula, marigolds and dandelion since they are included in my article “What Changes Chicken Egg Yolk Color”. Other flowers you can feed to chickens include apple blossoms, carnations, chrysanthemums, citrus blossoms, elderberry blossoms, geraniums, hibiscus, hollyhock, impatiens, lilac, pansy, pea blossoms, peony, phlox and snap dragon. Chickens also love some weeds, so let them pull them out of your garden. They will forage for mallow, clover, oxalis, chickweed, purslane, among others.
Just like humans, sunflowers are flowers you can feed to chickens. They are super nutritious and beautiful to have in the garden. Growing sunflowers requires minimal care, so its great for lazy gardeners! Include these flowers in the pen or just outside so they can develop. Once they have bloomed, cut off the heads, dry them and feed sunflower seeds to your chickens.
Sunflowers have very high levels of linoleum acid which increases the weight of chickens and adds nutritional value to eggs. They also contains a lot of protein giving chickens a boost during mounting. This is specially important during winter months. Sunflowers are rich in natural antioxidants, which boost the immune system. Finally, they contain vitamin E which protects against diseases such as bronchitis, coccidiosis, and E. coli. Get sunflower seeds here.
Although amaranth technically is a grain, it will be included in this list of flowers you can feed to chickens. It grows up to 10 inches tall with edible leaves and gorgeous spiral flowers. When added to the feed of laying chickens, they require less feed to produce eggs and it can also improve the egg yolk color.
Amaranth leaves have similar nutritious values to Swiss chard, beets and spinach, but contain three times more niacin (vitamin B3) and calcium than spinach. Do not give too much amaranth to chickens, only up to 10% of their feed. This plant has carbohydrates and proteins needed by your birds. Get amaranth seeds here.
Of all the flowers you can feed to chickens, white clover is one of the most resistant to all their trampling. It bounces back quite fast after chickens step and mulched on it. Clover is highly nutritious (read about the remarkable health benefits of red clover for humans) since it is high in vitamin A and B, iron, calcium, niacin, potassium and protein. As a detoxifier, it stimulates the digestive system and the liver. It is also an anticoagulant, so it improves circulatory and respiratory health.
Clover is cautioned for chickens because of coumarin which is a blood thinner. If clover gets moldy, fungi can turn coumarin into a toxin that causes internal hemorrhaging. So you should not mix it in feed where it can get wet. Isoflavone, a form of estrogen found in white clover, can also interfere with the reproductive systems of animals. This also happens when very large doses are consumed. It you choose to feed chickens clover, let them range and eat what they need. Get white clover seeds here.
It is super easy to grow nasturtiums from seed. This plant is native from South America and it is gorgeous! Its colorful flowers are red, orange, yellow and cream. Bees, butterflies and humming birds love them too. Plant them outside the chicken coop in the ground or in pots so they can eat some of the leaves and flowers but can’t reach the roots, otherwise they will destroy your flowers. Humans can also eat nasturtium.
The main benefit of these flowers that you can feed to chickens is their natural ability to deworm. Nasturtium is also a natural antibiotic suppressing five different types of bacteria that affect chickens. Nasturtium has a lot of vitamin C, which creates strong immune systems in chickens and vitamin A, that is responsible for bone development and healthy growth. These flowers also help chicken withstand heat because of its potassium content. Phosphorus helps absorb calcium which they need for laying and iron is needed to prevent anemia. Get nasturtium seeds here.
Known as purple coneflower, echinacea is full of medicinal properties for both humans and chickens. It can strengthen their immune system and help them absorb food better, leading to weight gain.
Echinacea root is effective in treating the intestines of poultry contaminated with the protozoan parasite Coccidia which is picked up from the droppings of infected birds. This is usually very hard to treat and can invade the linings of the intestines, eventually causing death. Dry the roots (of Echinacea Purpurea and Angustifolia varieties) and make a tea for chickens to drink.
Echinacea is quite easy to grow, these perennial plants are drought resistant and love the heat. They attract butterflies, bees and birds to your garden. For all these reasons make sure to include them in your list of flowers you can feed to chickens. Get echinacea seeds here.
Bugs simply do not like lavender, which makes it a perfect addition to add to your nesting boxes. Besides keeping insects away, it will also help improve the smell of your coop since we do like the smell! This natural stress reliever will help laying chickens. It also boosts blood circulation which is extremely beneficial for chickens sitting on top of their eggs for a long time. Please note that lavender doesn’t promote laying.
Chickens will probably eat some lavender from their boxes. They should not eat much of it since it is high in phytoestrogen compounds which is similar to estrogen and can knock their hormones out of whack. Of all the flowers you can feed to chickens, this is one of the few they won’t eat from the plant because of the smell. You have to let it dry. This herb can also be added to the chicken dust bathing areas to help them get rid of mites. Get dry lavender here.
Who doesn’t love having roses in their gardens? They are on the list of flowers you can feed to chickens. Keep in mind there are many types of roses and your chickens may not like them all. It is believed that darker roses have a stronger smell and more flavor. Rose petals have about 95% water content and some vitamin C, so in general they don’t have much nutrients to provide.
Surprisingly rose hips, the fruits of the rose that are left after the petals have fallen, have huge nutritional value. Make sure to plant rose varieties that will produce rose hips such as the rosa rugosa or rosa canine. They have huge amounts of vitamin C, which is why you will see vitamin C with rose hip as a human supplement.
This vitamin clears up unstable cells in chickens that may create critical illnesses. It is considered an antioxidant and it is very important for your chickens during winter. Rose hips also have vitamin A, B, E and K, as well as iron and several minerals. Besides vitamins they also contain carotenoids like lutein and lycopene, which boost the immune system.
You can feed entire rose hips to chickens – do not cook them. If you can’t produce them fresh then buy them dried and ground them into a powder. Or do this process yourself by letting them sit in the sun until become shriveled and dark or you can simply use a dehydrator. Grind them using a pestle and mortar before feeding them. A little rose hip goes a long way!
Wild violets are edible for humans and are part of the list of flowers you can feed to chickens. These beautiful flowers are drought tolerant and easy to spread. Get violet seeds here.
Bee balm is one of those flowers you can feed to chickens which has so many benefits! This perennial is part of the mint family. It produces scarlet and deep blue flowers. Bees love this plant, so planting bee balm in your garden will bring the pollinators.
Its essential oils contain 26 active compounds and high amounts of flavonoids particularly in its leaves and flowers. Flower leaves can be brewed in a tea that has antibacterial properties which clear respiratory system problems. Get bee balm seeds here.