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.)
Here are my choices for
The Top Ten Flowers your Chickens Will Love:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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, rhubarb leaves, rhododendron, St. John's Wort, sweet pea, trumpet vine, vetch, yew
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 !