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.

Dandelions are probably the most easily recognized 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. I pick and dry the leaves when they are plentiful so I can add them to my flock's feed through the winter when greens are not available. Although I have even pushed aside snow to find them growing underneath the wet blanket of leaves covering the ground. 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.

Dandelions are a wonderful source of calcium, believe it or not, which as you know is very beneficial for laying hens and ducks. They also contain beneficial fiber plus other vitamins and minerals, like most weeds, since they pull nutrients from the soil in which they grow. 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. I feed chopped dandelion greens to our baby chicks and ducklings as well to provide them with all the nutritious vitamins and minerals they benefit from.

Dandelions are also a natural diuretic, and regular feeding can 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. Since they are considered a 'green' treat, they along with most other weeds and grasses can be fed pretty much in unlimited amounts.

Health Benefits of Dandelions

Anti-inflammatory, relieves pain
Diuretic, improves kidney and liver health
General health tonic
Improves digestion
Laying stimulant
Source of calcium and other vitamins and minerals

The entire plant is edible. Your chickens will enjoy eating the roots, as well as the fresh stems, flowers and leaves. I find that our ducks generally only want to eat the greens (leaves) fresh, and especially love them 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.


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