You know the saying, a healthy chicken is a happy chicken. One of the best routines you can give your chickens is free-ranging time to explore, roam, and forage in your garden.
But, if you’re a fond backyard gardener, you may have wildflowers in your yard or garden bed. Although chickens won’t often swarm your wildflowers while they’re foraging, it’s not out of the question for them to nibble at what your garden offers.
Knowing chickens, they eat anything and everything, which begs the question – are wildflowers safe for chickens to eat?
Here we go through if chickens can eat wildflowers, which ones are actually beneficial, and which wildflowers to avoid if you own chickens.
Can Chickens Eat Wildflowers?
I can relate a lot to chickens (unless that’s my crazy chicken owner inside me coming out). I simply love to eat, and I’ll eat what I can and when I can. The difference is though, I know what’s not good for me and what’s toxic.
For chickens, they don’t have the luxury of knowing what’s safe and what’s not, and it’s true that some wildflowers are not healthy for chickens to eat. As a rule of thumb, any wildflowers that aren’t edible to you are not edible for your chickens as well.
But, luckily, most are perfectly safe for chickens to feed on, and the edible wildflowers are actually an excellent source of nutrients for your chickens; they have numerous nutritional benefits that can improve your chickens’ health.
So, chickens can eat wildflowers, and some chicken owners even purposefully incorporate wildflowers into their normal chicken diet!
Can Chickens Eat Wildflower Seed?
If you’ve got yourself a fresh, permaculture bed ready for planting some beautiful wildflowers you may be thinking two things. One is my chickens going to get in here and dig up the beds. Two, if they do get in there, are the wildflower seeds actually safe for chickens to eat?
The answer is both good and bad. The good news is that it’s completely safe for your chickens to eat wildflower seeds in normal amounts. The bad news is there is a high possibility your chickens will get into the fresh unestablished flowers and do their signature digging kicks to find what’s lying underneath.
So, if you’re looking at growing some new wildflowers, it’s best to get temporary chicken fencing or netting until your plants are established before letting your chickens forage in the area!
Nutritionally Beneficial Wildflowers For Chickens
Not all wildflowers will have the same effects on chickens. That said, here are three common wildflowers that contain numerous nutritional benefits for chickens, so much so that it’s actually considered healthy to include a bit of them in your chicken’s normal diet.
Can Chickens Eat Violets
Both violet flowers and leaves are safe and beneficial for your chickens to feed on. Not only are they rich in vitamin A and C, but violet leaves also contain alkaloids and flavonoids. These organic compounds can improve blood circulation and reduce high blood pressure.
Alkaloids are known for their relaxing effect on blood vessels. Flavonoids, on the other hand, have diuretic effects on a chicken. This can reduce high blood pressure and keep the chicken’s heart in good condition.
Keep in mind that your chickens should eat violets in moderation. High intake may cause low blood pressure. Luckily, chickens won’t often go out of their way to fill up on violets, but you can supplement their normal diets with a few fresh violet petals in your next table scrap mix.
Can Chickens Eat Echinacea
Echinacea, also known as coneflower, is actually known for its effects on respiratory health. It’s also known as an excellent antioxidant. Echinacea can reduce inflammation, lower blood sugar levels, and improve immunity.
The reason behind all of these health benefits is an impressive set of active compounds. Echinacea contains alkamides, polyacetylenes, caffeic acid, and many more.
Your chickens can safely eat echinacea flowers, leaves, and seeds. If your chickens are prone to respiratory illnesses, feeding them coneflowers may help improve their respiratory and immune systems.
Can Chickens Eat Chickweed
Just as the name implies, chickweed is an incredibly nutritious wildflower for chickens and even baby chicks. The entire plant is rich in B vitamins, vitamin C, flavonoids, and many more.
Chickweed can improve your chickens’ digestive health, purify their blood, and soothe mucus membranes. In addition, it has anti-inflammatory properties and can act as a natural pain reliever.
If you want to feed chickweed to your chickens, it’s better to give them fresh flowers and leaves. They’re known to lose some of their benefits when dried. This is the same for other flowers too, like chickens eating geraniums.
Flowers To Avoid For Your Chickens
Although chickens won’t often consume too many flowers, stems, or other plant matter themselves, it’s always better to be on the safe side. This means, where possible, don’t feed your chickens the following flowers, or allow your chickens to forage in flower patches that contain:
- Nightshade plants, including eggplant stems and greens
- Potato plants
- Poppy, although chickens can eat poppy seeds.
So, without being too pedantic about it, chickens can eat wildflowers. Most wildflowers are non-toxic, but any wildflower that humans can’t have, chickens can’t have either.
Luckily, this means that chickens can safely consume most types of wildflowers, and some even have amazing health benefits for your chooks.
Even if your chickens peck at a few of your wildflower plants that are considered unhealthy or toxic for your chickens, they will likely be fine as they won’t consume them in large enough amounts to get any negative effects. Nonetheless, it’s always best to be conservative and avoid toxic plants where possible.