The Health Benefits of Dandelions for Chickens and Ducks

February 3, 2014


Before we started raising chickens, I didn't pay much attention to the random dandelions that would invariably find their way into our lawn. They were merely a nuisance to be pulled. But now that I know the incredible health benefits of the lowly dandelion for our chickens and ducks, I actually seek out this common weed - and can be found most mornings searching for handful of the greens to serve up as a treat to our flock!


Where can I Find Dandelions?


Dandelions are probably the most easily recognized "yard weed" with their jagged green leaves and brilliant yellow flowers. They grow nearly everywhere in this country, although in Virginia they seemed to be more prolific in the cooler months and in fairly wet soil in partially shady areas. Here in Maine, they grow well all summer long.

Depending on where you live, dandelions may grow all through the winter, or more predominantly in the spring and fall - and further north, they'll be a summer weed.


What are the Benefits?


Dandelions are a wonderful source of calcium which, as you know, is very beneficial for laying hens and ducks. Like most weeds, they also contain fiber plus other vitamins and minerals. As they grow, they pull nutrients from the soil, and they are high in Vitamins A, B, C, E and K. Dandelions also contain appreciable amounts of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc in addition to the calcium.

Health Benefits of Dandelions

Anti-inflammatory
Natural pain reliever
Antioxidant
Diuretic, improve kidney and liver health
General health tonic, detoxifier
Improve digestion
Laying stimulant
Produce bright orange egg yolks
Source of calcium and other vitamins and minerals

Dandelions act as a detoxifier and natural diuretic, and regular feeding is thought to help control internal parasites in your flock. They stimulate the digestive system as well, so they are a wonderful addition to your flock's diet to improve their intestinal health. And since they are considered a 'green' treat, dandelions - along with most other weeds and grasses - can be fed pretty much in unlimited amounts.

How Can I Feed Them? 

The entire dandelion plant is edible. Your chickens will enjoy eating the roots, as well as the fresh stems, flowers and leaves.

I pick the flowers and leaves as soon as I start seeing them in the spring and feed them to my chickens and ducks fresh. I also dry them when they are plentiful so I can add them to my flock's feed through the winter when greens and grass are not available.

I feed chopped dandelion greens to our baby chicks and ducklings as well to provide them with all the nutritious vitamins and minerals.


Our ducks especially love dandelions floating in their water bowl, but you can feed the leaves and flowers dried, added to their daily feed, as well.


So be on the lookout for dandelions in your yard, in the woods or along the roadside. Just be sure they haven't be sprayed with any type of chemicals if you're going to picking and feeding them to your flock. Adding dandelions to the menu is a free, easy way to boost flock health. Just be sure to leave some flowers for the bees!



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