Chicken owners probably already know that their beloved birds can be pretty pesky if they are allowed to free-range.
So many times chickens will happily pluck blooms off of our beautiful, decorative flowers and sometimes even nibble young plants all the way down to the ground.
Sure, it’s annoying when it happens but it is good to know that chickens can make use of a wide variety of flowers and other plants for food. How about marigolds? Can chickens eat marigolds?
Yes, chickens may eat all parts of a marigold, including flour, stems, leaves, and seeds. Marigolds can offer flowers a good bit of nutrition and are known for possessing good anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
So long as they are fed to chickens as part of a well-rounded diet, they make a good inclusion on your flock’s menu.
If you grow marigolds of your own, on one hand you might be sad to see them go once your chickens get a hold of them.
On the other hand, you might be happy to know that they are so nutritious for your birds! Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about giving marigolds to chickens.
Health Benefits of Marigolds for Chickens
Although a dependable nutritional profile for various types of marigolds is difficult to come up with, we know that chickens will derive some nutrition from them, both vitamins and minerals.
Perhaps more importantly, marigolds of a species are possessed of powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Together, these characteristics can significantly improve a chicken’s overall health and well-being by eliminating cell-destroying free radicals from the body and reducing the harmful effects of inflammation. Not bad for a small, pretty flower!
Also, marigolds contain a particular yellow pigment that can directly affect the eggs of laying hens. This pigment can give eggs a vibrant, yellow yolk.
This is not harmful for the chicken, the egg, or for anyone who eats the eggs, but it is interesting and can give them a nice, sunny aesthetic.
Can Chickens Eat Marigolds Raw?
Yes, chickens may eat marigolds raw and this is the best way to serve them to them. Raw marigolds have the maximum nutrition value and are already soft and tender enough for chickens to eat easily.
Can Chickens Have Marigold Flowers?
Yes, and the flowers are one of the best parts of the plant. They are usually very brightly colored chickens love to nibble on them.
Can Chickens Have Marigold Seeds?
Yes, they can. The seeds of the marigold are safe and nutritious for chickens to eat.
Can Chickens Have Marigold Stems?
They sure can. All parts of the marigold plant are safe and nutritious for chickens.
Can Chickens Eat Marigolds Cooked?
Yes, chickens may eat cooked marigolds but there is no great reason to cook them just for serving to your birds.
Notably, cooking will deplete the nutritional value of the marigolds somewhat, and the plants are already so tender that your chickens don’t really need any help in preparation in order to eat them.
Never Feed Marigolds to Chickens that Have Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
Since I mentioned cooking, now is also a good time to mention that you should never serve marigolds to your chickens that have been prepared with harmful ingredients. This means no butter, garlic, salt, oil, or any other such thing added to them.
It might sound strange- they are flowers, after all- but the reality is that marigolds are sometimes harvested and used as components in salads and other dishes for people. Many such dishes have dressings or other ingredients that chickens cannot have.
At best, extra calories from rich oils or sugars might cause chickens to gain weight, and will likely also result in soiled feathers and possibly even diarrhea.
At worst, certain ingredients can be downright poisonous to chickens or even fatal, causing such issues as fatty liver hemorrhagic syndrome, salt poisoning, hypertension, and more.
Chickens should only have unadulterated, plain marigolds as part of their healthy diet.
So, if you grow marigolds or otherwise have access to them, by all means feel free to let your chickens enjoy them cooked or raw, but with no added ingredients!
Beware of Pesticides and Herbicides on Wild or Unknown Marigolds
Another potential danger associated with feeding marigolds to your chickens is one that can apply to all kinds of other plants and flowers, and that is pesticides or herbicides.
While it is unlikely that you would ever feed marigolds to your chickens that have been intentionally sprayed with these sorts of chemicals, it is possible that you might unknowingly do so if you let your birds forage for them in the wild or in an area where such spraying has taken place.
It is still possible for them to be contaminated by these sorts of chemicals if they are downwind from sprayed areas or if runoff from rain carries these chemicals to them.
Pesticides and herbicides can be very harmful or even fatal to chickens, so if you are unsure about the origins of the marigolds, it is best to be cautious and not feed them to your flock.
Failing that, at least give the plants a good wash before letting your chickens eat them.
How Often Can Chickens Have Marigolds?
Marigolds are a healthy and valuable addition to the diet of your chickens, but they should not be the only thing they eat.
Chickens need a balanced diet in order to stay healthy, and that means eating a variety of different foods.
With that being said, marigolds can certainly be given to chickens on a regular basis as part of their diet.
If you have them available, feel free to let your chickens enjoy them as a regular supplement to their usual diet of chicken feed.
Allowing a few servings once or twice a week is more than enough to ensure your flock is receiving maximum benefits from them.
Preparing Marigolds for Your Flock
You’ve got it easy when it comes to fixing up marigolds for your flock. As I said before, they are so tender that your chickens don’t really need any help in preparation in order to eat them.
If the marigolds are still growing, you can just let your chickens have access to them and eat their fill. If you are going to harvest them prior to serving, just give them a chick, coarse chop.
And of course, as with anything else you feed your chickens, it is always best to wash the marigolds first to remove any dirt, residue, or potential contaminants. A quick rinse under some cool water should do the trick nicely.
Can Baby Chicks Have Marigolds, Too?
Yes, baby chicks can have marigolds and will benefit from them in the same ways adults will. However, you will want to let chicks get a bit older before they have marigolds for the first time.
Chicks are very tiny and delicate when they first hatch, and their digestive systems are not yet fully developed. This means that they can have a hard time digesting certain foods, including marigolds.
It is best to wait until chicks are at least 4-6 weeks old before introducing them to marigolds or any other new food, and then make sure you cut it up into tiny bits and sharply limit the quantity they can have.
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.