Marigolds, as well as other plants that contain the pigment xanthophyll, are routinely added to commercial layer feed to artificially boost the color of egg yolks of the chickens eating the feed. I also add dried, crushed marigold petals to our chickens' feed, not only because I love the vibrant orange yolks, but because marigolds provide numerous health benefits for our flock.
Planting marigolds in your garden is beneficial because they act as natural garden pesticides, not only repelling 'bad' bugs, but also attracting the 'good' bugs, such as butterflies and praying mantis.
Easy to grow from seed, marigolds are hardy and love full sun. While the Calendula variety is the more beneficial flower health-wise when making salves and healing creams, the more common African or French variety of Marigold (Tagetes Patula) pictured here also have amazing nutritional and health benefits.
When Ingested: Marigold leaves and stems can cause mouth irritation, so I harvest only the petals. While our chickens will eat them fresh, I find that it works better to dry and crush them and mix them into our hens' layer feed. They provide nutritious carotenes, flavonoids, lutein and lycopene. They also aid in blood vessel growth and skin tissue repair. Marigolds have antioxidant properties and are anti-inflammatory.
I also steep the fresh or dried petals in hot water for 5-10 minutes to make Marigold Tea - served chilled in the summer or room temperature in the winter - to our chickens for added health benefits and a wonderful toxin cleanser.
When Used in Nesting Boxes: Marigold petals or even entire flower heads in the nesting boxes act as anti-fungals and antivirals, assist the respiratory system and also repel flies, mosquitoes and other insects.
When Sprayed in the Coop: Mixing marigold petals with vegetable oil and water in equal parts can be used as an all natural, safe fly, lice or mosquito repellent in your coop.
Any excess xanthophyll that doesn't go into the production of the egg yolk is stored in the feet and beaks (or bills in a duck's case!) so adding some marigolds to your flocks' daily diet has many benefits, both visible and internal.