Seeing weeds growing in your yard is annoying for most people. You pull them up, they grow back. You poison them, they seem to pop up elsewhere.
If you’re raising backyard chickens, however, most weeds are a blessing.
They provide a healthy and delicious snack for chickens. Most chicken keepers even encourage the growth of common weeds like dandelions, purslane, nettles, and clover for this reason.
It’s a win-win. Your chickens get something to munch on and forage around for, and your yard gets tidied up. Sort of.
Can Chickens Eat Dandelions?
Yes, chickens can eat dandelions. Not only are dandelions safe from the root to the leaves and the yellow flower, but they’re also actually packed with good nutrition.
According to Healthline, dandelions are an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K. They also contain some B and E vitamins, along with a range of vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, and magnesium.
Pretty good for an annoying weed, right?
It’s not just chickens they are good for, we can benefit from all the good stuff too.
If I’ve piqued your interest, I recommend picking up some dandelion tea. You can eat them raw, but picking weeds and eating them isn’t the most appealing option.
Although, I will say, for the purpose of researching this article, I actually had a taste of a dandelion green.
It wasn’t that bad. I couldn’t put my finger on what they tasted like, so I looked up what other people were saying and they described it as more bitter-tasting arugula. That sounds about right.
The leaves do contain a tiny amount of oxalic acid, which as you may know is what makes rhubarb leaves potentially toxic. But it’s such a small amount it’s completely fine, but it adds to the sour taste.
What Are the Benefits for Chickens Eating Dandelions?
If you’re wondering how all this good nutrition can benefit your chickens, here are some of the pros:
Anti-inflammatory properties - It’s always good for chickens to eat herbs and plants with natural anti-inflammatory properties. You never know if they’re nursing aches and pains with their poker faces.
Digestive aid - Dandelion tea is known to promote better digestive health for us. With everything that chickens throw into their crop this can only be a good thing for them.
Laying stimulant - With a small amount of calcium and vitamins, dandelions can act as a laying stimulant. The more natural herbs and foods you can provide that promote healthy laying, the better.
Related - Can chickens eat fennel?
How to Feed Dandelions to Your Flock
Seeing as the entire dandelion plant is edible, you don’t need to be cautious when feeding dandelions to your chickens.
If your flock are free-range and they come across them, don’t be surprised if they gobble them up.
If they aren’t, now you know all of the amazing health benefits associated with eating dandelions, it's worthwhile going out of your way to pick some.
You can either give them to your girls fresh, dried, chopped, mixed in with their feed, I’m sure you’ll know all too well that chickens aren’t fussy when it comes to eating.
As long as they can get a hold of them, they’re going to munch them up.
Want to Grow Some Dandelions?
It’ll come as no surprise that dandelions are really easy to grow. Both wild in your yard, or in pots indoors.
They are a weed, after all. If you wanted to rid your yard of them, you probably couldn’t!
The seed of the plant is those white little parachute-like bristles that develop as a large round ball.
You’ve probably waved them around a bunch of times as a kid (or an adult) and watched the seeds get blown around by a slight breeze.
Without knowing it you were doing your part to spread those seeds and grow more dandelions.
Dandelions are perennial, herbaceous plants that will grow in most types of soil. They prefer lots of sunlight, but will still often find a way to grow in the shade too.
They only take about eight weeks to grow from seedling stage to bloom. In most parts of the country, dandelions growing wild will mature, seed, and grow again three times in a 30-week period.
If you want to grow some dandelions, simply plant some of the seeds around ¼ inches deep in some of the sunny spots in your yard.
Related - Read about the benefits of another weed, dock leaves here.
I don’t know about you, but I love it when I find ways to recycle or reuse stuff that most people consider to be a nuisance.
Especially when it has such an awesome upside as dandelions do for chickens.
My friends love having me over theirs for barbecues or parties in their yards. Because I go around picking all the dandelions for them so I can take them home and feed them to my flock!