The lilac is a common shrub that is known for its clusters of fragrant springtime flowers. Native to Europe they have been introduced to many other parts of the world and are commonly found in gardens, parks, and natural areas.
They are often used as ornamental plants because of their showy flowers, and so are regularly found wherever human habitation is.
As all owners know, chickens are inquisitive eaters and have been known to nibble on all sorts of ornamental plants. How about lilacs? Can chickens eat them?
Yes, chickens can eat lilacs. Common Lilac (syringa vulgaris) is non-toxic. All parts of the plant are safe for chickens to eat, including the flowers, leaves, and stems. While there is little nutritional value in lilacs for chickens, they can be a good source of fiber or entertainment for them.
That’s good to know, considering many beautiful ornamentals are harmful or even deadly poisonous to chickens. Keep reading to learn more about feeding lilac to chickens.
Lilac Flowers and Seeds are Edible
There is little reliable data on the nutritional value of lilacs, at least as it pertains to chickens, but you can take heart knowing that they are safe and edible, if not nutritious.
All parts of the lilac plant are safe for chickens to eat, including the flowers, leaves, and stems.
The flowers are especially popular with chickens as they smell pleasant and are a good source of nectar.
Some keepers tell of needing to station a guard around their lilacs or else fence them off to keep their chickens from eating them.
While the nutritional value of lilacs for chickens is low, they can be a good source of fiber or just an interesting diversion for them.
If you have a lot of lilacs on your property, consider letting your chickens into the area to forage. The seeds of the lilac are also edible and can be fed to chickens either whole or ground up.
They contain a small amount of protein and fat but are otherwise not particularly nutritious.
Can Chickens Eat Lilac Raw?
Yes, and this is likely the safest and best way to feed lilac to your chickens. They’ll be happy to nibble on them if they come across any growing around the run, or if you serve them harvested lilac.
Can Chickens Eat Lilac Cooked?
Yes, but there is no good reason to cook lilacs before feeding them to your chickens. They are perfectly safe convenient raw.
Never Feed Lilac to Chickens that Has Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
On the note of cooking with lilac, you should never feed any lilac to your chickens that has been prepared with or as an ingredient in dishes that they just should not have.
It isn’t as strange as it sounds; lilac flowers are often used in all kinds of dishes particularly sweets like syrups, jams, jellies, and even ice cream.
If you have any of these things around your home or make them yourself, make sure to keep them away from your chickens, no matter how badly you want to share.
Things like butter, oil, salt, sugar and so forth is all bad for chickens and can cause weight gain at best or serious health issues at worst.
Problems like fatty liver disease, heart disease, salt poisoning and sour crop have all been linked to chickens eating the aforementioned ingredients. All can be fatal.
Think twice before giving your chickens people food!
Beware of Pesticide and Herbicide on Wild Lilac
Something else you’ll need to be aware of when feeding lilacs to chickens or allowing them to dine on them is the presence of herbicides or pesticides.
This is especially true if you’re allowing your chickens to free range and forage for their own food, as they are likely to go after any plant they come across, including wild lilacs.
If you grow your own lilacs, make sure to use only organic methods of weed and pest control. The same goes if you purchase plants from a nursery.
It’s always best to be safe when it comes to your chickens and their food. When in doubt, don’t feed any lilacs of unknown provenance to your chickens!
How Often Can Chickens Have Lilac?
Chickens can have lilacs periodically, as a treat or snack. There’s no need to worry about them getting sick from eating too much, but they are not particularly nutritious and they could fill up on them when they should be eating other, better options.
Chickens should subsist mostly on their chicken feed for 90% of their calories with the remainder being wholesome snacks or supplemental items.
Just be sure that the lilacs have not been treated with any harmful chemicals before feeding them to your chickens!
Preparing Lilac for Your Flock
The best way to serve lilac to your flock is to simply let them eat it where it grows or else to harvest the blooms and offer them to your chickens in a bowl.
As mentioned above, special preparation is not necessary though some owners have reported that their chickens seem to love a bowl of cool water that has been steeped with lilac blooms.
Might be a nice treat for them on a hot day!
Can Baby Chicks Have Lilac, Too?
Yes, chicks can safely eat lilac. In fact, they are likely to enjoy nibbling on the blooms just as much as any other chicken!
However, you should wait for them to get a bit older before offering lilac to them as their digestive systems are still developing and they need a diet that is higher in protein to help them grow.
Around 6 weeks of age is probably appropriate.
As always, be especially sure that the lilac is free of any chemical contamination and keep an eye on them after they try them for the first time. Chicks often suffer from crop impaction and other problems when trying leafy foods.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.