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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Top Ten Edible Flowers Your Chickens Will Love

Anyone who free ranges their flock even some of the time knows that chickens will eat pretty much anything you have planted, so why not choose some nutritious flowers that they will enjoy when you're planning your gardens in the spring ?

(As an added bonus, all ten of these flowers are also edible for humans.)

Check out our pinterest board Gardening HERE.

Here are my choices for
The Top Ten Flowers your Chickens Will Love:


1. Nasturtium not only attract bugs that eat the dreaded squash beetle larvae, the leaves and flowers are also edible for humans and make wonderful salad garnish.   Your chickens will love eating both the loeaves and the flowers, which are thought to be a natural wormer and also have antibiotic properties.


2. Squash blossoms are tasty stuffed with a sausage/ricotta mixture then fried, but the chickens love them also fresh off the vine.  The blossom is a good source of calcium, iron and Vitamin A, so let them indulge from time to time.


3. Violets make beautiful edible garnishes for cakes, cupcakes and ice cream, and also help with circulation and stop inflammation of the arteries. Your chickens will enjoy munching on them too.


4. Marigolds not only ward off insects in your garden, but they are also an antioxidant and promote the growth of new skin tissue.  As an added bonus, chickens who eat marigolds lay eggs with bright yellow yolks.


5. Bee Balm is a wonderful flower whose leaves can be made into a healthful tea with antibacterial properties that is also used to clear respiratory problems in humans and chickens.  It of course also attracts bees which help pollinate your flowers and fruit trees. Your chickens will enjoy both the flower and leaves.


6. Dandelions are a nice addition to salads. I guess technically a weed, instead of spraying them why not pick some for your chickens.  They are a natural detoxifier and one of the most nutritious plants in your yard, with lots of iron, calcium and Vitamin A.


7. Roses and rose hips cleanse blood toxins and act as antiseptics and antibacterial agents for both humans and chickens. Roses are also a classic as well as a beautiful way to decorate a cake with an edible garnish.


8.  Sunflower seeds are obviously a favorite among the feathered crowd, and also very nutritious, providing protein and essential oils to both humans and hens. The leaves are edible as well and your chickens will enjoy stripping the stalks of them.


9. Clover Blossoms are considered to be the most nutritious weed in your yard.  Both a blood purifier and an antioxidant, clover provides calcium, iron, magnesium and Vitamins A, B-12 and E as well as respiratory benefits.


10. Echinacea (or coneflower) flowers and seeds are excellent for improving respiratory health. Chickens are extremely susceptible to respiratory illnesses, so planting some echinacea will benefit them greatly.

Other Edible Flowers: Apple blossoms, Calendula, Carnations, Chrysanthemums, Citrus blossoms, Eldberberry blossoms, Geraniums, Hibiscus, Hollyhock, Impatiens, Lavender, Lilac, Pansy, Pea blossoms, Peony, Phlox, Snap dragon

Flowers to Steer Clear Of:
For the most part, chickens will avoid those flowers that are harmful to them, but to be on the safe side, it's best to AVOID planting the following potentially toxic plants in areas your chickens can access:  azalea, black nightshade, buttercup, castor bean, clematis, corn cockle, foxglove, henbane, honeysuckle, irises, lily of the valley, oleander, privet, rhododendron, St. John's Wort, sweet pea, trumpet vine,  and vetch.

There are many, many more potentially harmful flowers and plants....but if you stick to the ten safe AND nutritious flowers above, your chickens will thank you !


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27 comments:

  1. Lisa, thanks for this list! With your posts on your chicken run landscaping and herbs in the coop, you've really inspired me to plant in and around my chicken run. I've included some of these plants but didn't know their beneficial qualities.

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    Replies
    1. Oh good ! In addition to being great for the chickens, I think a little landscaping makes the run look so nice and you just want to spend even more time there !

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  2. Thanks so much....! I have been outside alot lately....plan on planting abunch this weekend!!

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  3. I have planted mint and raspberries with a squash vine along the far end of my coop to climb up and offer shade and to of course let the chicken nibble on what pokes through the wire. They love my marigolds but so far will not eat the nasturtium. I am growing sunflowers just for them and I did not know about the coneflower. I think I will pick up a plant and then save seeds for each year. Thanks for all the good advice on this site.

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  4. Lisa--Thanks for posting this! I have been trying to figure out what to plant next to the coop since the girls (and boy) turned their beaks up at Nasturtium! I wanted something tall in one section and was afraid of planting something toxic by accident. I think that the gang will get sunflowers this summer!

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  5. Thanks for the list! I'm going to plant the hens their own garden so they leave mine alone (yeah, right!). I have found that they love sweet alyssum too. ALOT!! Mine are all gone now. Ah, well... a small price to pay for eggs. :)

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  6. What a great list and with pictures too. Some of these we have already planted, others we still need. Thanks for posting with pictures.

    @ 3Beeze Homestead

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  7. I have an ABUNDANCE of the Lambs-Ear plant and from what I have read it is edible and has several medicinal purposes. Is it good for chickens too? I have so many of these volunteer plants that I need to get rid of but didn't want to throw them away if my chickens can benefit from them. Thanks! =)

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  8. Notice how smart they are! Their favorites are all medicinal herbs.

    Linda

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  9. I'm brand new to chickens. Actually, I'm the "expectant Mother", my chickens arrive next week! I always have a lot of marigolds. Is it possible for chickens to eat too much of any one thing?

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    1. Hi there! Congrats BTW! Yes it is possible for them to overeat things like corn, fatty foods, salty foods, etc. But weeds, grass and flowers can be fed in unlimited amounts. They are considered 'green' treats and perfectly fine in any amount.

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    2. Thank you...I'm sure I'll have lots of questions!

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    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank You so much!! I have learned so much from your site !! Now I will make a Chiken Garden!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I love your garden board on Pinterest, so now I'm following it. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'd love to have you stop by and share your post on The Creative HomeAcre Hop today!
    http://www.theselfsufficienthomeacre.com/2013/04/the-creative-homeacre-10.html

    ReplyDelete
  14. Are there any benefits to feeding your chickens dried flowers during the off seasons? Many of the flowers on this list make excellent dried flowers. I'm just curious if the health benefits are lost in the drying process? If they do retain their benefits, then dried flowers culd be usefull in the winter season when fresh flowers are harder to find.

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    Replies
    1. There sure are. Dried anything loses a bit of the health benefits, but look at it this way, herbal teas all use dried herbs and flowers and still retain tons of health benefits. I do dry herbs...haven't tried drying flowers other than rose petals. If you do dry them, I would then crush them up and maybe even mix them into their feed through the winter.

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  15. I just read this blog again and realized that vetch is on the "no no" list and my crop cover that I recently planted has vetch in it.

    Should I just get rid of all the plants and soil???

    Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Hi there. I don't have personal experience with vetch but see it on the lists. Most likely they'll just ignore it as long as they have plenty of other choices. We have toxic buttercups in our horse pasture where they free range but they've never touched it.

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  16. Thanks, Lisa. There's plenty of other things in the crop cover (rye grass, wheat grass, peas, etc). I wouldn't know a vetch seed if I tripped over it!

    We have a weed native to the PNW that is very toxic to horses...Tansy Ragwort. It grows...well, like a weed. We try to get it out of the pastures frequently, but I've never seen one of the horses going anywhere near it.

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  17. They usually know. They will love the rye and wheat grass and peas. I bet they'll steer clear of the vetch. (I wouldn't know it if I tripped over it either!)

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  18. I have a crazy question. I haven't really done much gardening in the past except to "help" my grandmothers with theirs. Which translates into them saying dig this or pull that, LOL. Anyway, you mention Chrysanthemums as an other edible. Is this like the fall mums? My mom always gets several for her and my grandmother, and I wasn't sure if these were the same thing....

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    1. Oh my goodness! You just described my husband's grandmother to a tee, except she would add in, tapping the weed or flower with her cane to demonstrate which one she meant! How funny! And yes, fall mums same thing. Our chickens ate the potted mums I had out side their coop last fall.

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    2. It must be a "Southern Grandma" thing! I will have to get me some mums now, and try to get everything else planted in the spring! We just moved in this past spring, and getting grass sowed ect, took first priority! Next year will be a garden for us and one for the chickens! Thank you so much, and I am IN LOVE with your blog!

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Lisa of Fresh Eggs Daily
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