For many, the sight of dandelions popping up in their lawn elicits a strong emotional reaction. You may hate the way they take over your yard, but you have to admit that they are a sight to behold. You’ve, no doubt, seen dandelions growing as they dot the landscapes with yellow flowers or puffs of white seeds that children make wishes on before blowing them throughout the air to land and re-seed wherever they fall.
They are also often the first hand-picked bouquet that children bring to their smiling and gracious moms who may actually want to toss them in the trash immediately, but instead, she puts them in a vase so as not to hurt her child’s feelings.
With all of the mixed emotions that this yellow-flowered weed with milky sap in the green stem and jagged green leaves create, they actually provide a lot of health benefits. Did you know that they also make great feed for chickens?
Yes, chickens can eat dandelions. That is, they can, so long as the weeds haven’t been sprayed with pesticides or weed killer chemicals. In fact, dandelions grown naturally provide a lot of nutritional benefits to chickens.
Dandelions are packed with nutrients
Basically, anything that humans can eat, chickens can also eat. Dandelions Are Nutritional for humans and chickens alike. They provide a wonderful source of calcium, which helps hens lay healthy eggs. They also contain fiber and pull other vitamins and minerals from the soil. Dandelions are high in Vitamins A, B, C, E, and K and also contain iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.
These nutrients found in dandelions help to provide many health benefits, including:
- acting as an anti-inflammatory
- a natural pain reliever
- an antioxidant
- a diuretic
- improving kidney and liver health
- a detoxifier
- controlling internal parasites
- improving digestion
- stimulating the process of laying eggs that produce bright orange yolks
The fresh or dried leaves of dandelions provide nutrients, and the fresh roots provide an antimicrobial benefit.
Several test studies found that dandelion extract helped to reduce the ability of some specific viruses from replicating. Scientific Research also indicates that some of the active compounds in dandelions protect against harmful bacteria. Dandelions are an excellent source of fiber. And they are a natural diuretic, and they help detox the liver. Dandelions also help to stimulate your chickens’ digestive system. This yellow-flowered weed helps chickens avoid chronic constipation.
Regular feedings with dandelions help to control parasites in the chickens and enhances their overall health. Some consider the dandelion plant to be a potent healer that is used to ease digestive-related issues, prevent gallstones and purify the blood.
What Part of the Dandelion Plant Is Edible?
Dandelions are very good and healthy for chickens to eat, provided that they have been grown naturally and have never been sprayed with any weed-killing product.
The entire dandelion plant is edible, so the fastest and best way to feed them to your chickens is to simply pull them up by the roots and toss them into their feed bin. Or, if your chickens are free-range, let them graze on their own. It’s also easy to pick the flowers and the leaves off of the plant as soon as they start to bloom and feed them to the chickens as a fresh treat.
Chickens can eat the entire dandelion plant, leaves and all. In fact, the leaves are where the most nutritional benefits reside. If you are feeding only the leaves, make sure they came from a dandelion plant and not a similar-looking green, since not every green weed is safe for chickens.
Chickens Get Health Benefits When They Eat Some Weeds.
Greens optimize a chicken’s diet. Chickens should be fed a variety of greens, including cover crops, grass clippings, excess garden vegetables, and weeds like dandelions.
Since the dandelion taproot grows deep down into the subsoil, they accumulate important minerals that are not provided in other food options. Different types of grass and weeds provide much-needed greens in a chicken’s diet. In the grass, there are bugs and insects that serve as a fantastic source of protein and help meet the dietary needs of chickens.
In the wild, chickens eat plenty of fresh greens. Free-range chickens naturally look for specific weeds as they wander about pecking and nibbling at their own discretion and to their heart’s content. When you choose to feed your backyard chickens dandelions, you give them some great nutrients that they need to stay healthy.
The greens provide more than 500% of the recommended Vitamin K. Vitamin K is great for strengthening bones and helping prevent neurological damage that can occur in the brain.
The greens contain more than 110% of the recommended Vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for maintaining healthy skin, membrane, mucous, and vision.
The leaves contain a flavonoid called zeaxanthin that helps to protect the retinas from damage and ultraviolet rays.
The dandelion leaves are rich in Vitamin C, B6, calcium, riboflavin, iron, potassium, thiamin, manganese, magnesium, as well as copper, phosphorus, and folate.
Weeds, in general, contain anti-cancer components and additional important nutrients that are not found in most chicken feeds. Whatever you feed your chickens makes it into their eggs and meat that eventually goes onto your table. The healthier their feed, the healthier their eggs and meat will be.
Where Do I Find Dandelions To Feed My Chickens?
Dandelions are possibly the most recognized weed. They dot fields with yellow blooms and white-balled seed puffs. If you break open their stem, a milky sap will ooze out.
Their leaves are green and jagged, and they grow almost everywhere. Dandelions are typically in plentiful supply in the spring and fall. In some parts of the country, they grow year-round.
How Do I Feed Dandelions To My Chickens?
If you make dandelions available, most chickens will eat them. However, as purely a matter of personal preference, some may not like them. Others may like only the leaves or only the flowers. Introduce dandelions to your chicken’s diet slowly, and watch to see how they handle it before adding more of a variety of weeds.
Like many weeds and grasses, dandelions are considered green, which means your chickens can eat as many as they like. You do not need to control your chicken’s feast on the dandelions in your yard. They will instinctively know how much to eat.
Chickens usually eat whatever you throw into their feed. When you gather dandelions to feed your chickens, make sure that they are not exposed to toxic substances, like pesticides, lead, worms, parasites, or animal droppings.
Choose dandelion leaves that are tender since they will be milder in flavor. Make sure you feed the dandelions to your chickens while the weed is still fresh so that it does not lose important nutrients.
Another way to feed them, and to save them over the winter months, is to dry fresh dandelions and then mix in with the feed throughout the cold-weather months when greens are not so plentiful. You can also put the flowers in the water that the chicken drinks to slowly infuse their drinking water.
Free Range Or Trough Fed
When a chicken is allowed to forage freely, they tend to instinctively know what is safe to eat and what plants to avoid. Free-range or wild chickens are not the only ones who benefit from eating dandelions. You can always pick the dandelions yourself or purchase them as part of the feed for coop chickens as well.
If you don’t have enough naturally growing dandelions on your property and don’t want to buy them, plant your own. Set aside a part of your land to grow weeds specifically for your chickens. Just make sure you do not spray them with harmful chemicals that could be deadly to your chickens or make them sick.
When you’re ready to feed the chickens, simply pull the dandelions out by the roots, and throw them into the chicken coop.
Weeding Perks With Free-Range Chickens
Dandelions are considered an eyesore for most homeowners caring for their lawns. So, when you feed them to your chickens, it is a win-win situation. The chickens help you get rid of the eyesore while providing the nutrition that your chickens need to thrive and produce healthy eggs.
If your chickens are free-range, you will be rewarded with a natural fertilizer that boosts the quality of soil while the chickens get added nutrition through the dandelions as part of their feed. Owning free-range chickens is a great way to control weeds on your property.
Before you pick up that weed killer spray to get rid of a lawn filled with dandelions and other weeds, think about all of the additional benefits of feeding dandelions to your chickens. One noticeable additional benefit of feeding weeds to chickens is that it saves a bundle of money on chicken feed. The more free-growing plants the chickens eat, the less expensive processed feed you need to purchase.
When you feed your chickens dandelions, you can begin to be less dependent on manufactured chicken feed, which saves a lot of money. Use dandelions and other items to supplement your chicken’s diet by replacing some of the chicken feed that you buy with dandelions. Chickens can eat the entire dandelion plant as part of a balanced diet of green forages, seeds, and fruits.
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