Nasturtiums are gorgeous, vivid flowers that grow as annuals, or sometimes perennials, but there’s more to these beauties than just good looks.
These flowers actually have a surprisingly long and distinguished culinary history thanks to their distinctive, spicy taste that has seen them used as a salad vegetable and also for flavoring brines and other ingredients.
Interesting stuff, but naturally what we need to know is whether or not our chickens can eat them safely.
So, are nasturtiums okay for chickens to eat?
Yes, nasturtiums are completely safe for chickens and surprisingly nutritious, and every part of the plant is safe for them to eat. Nasturtiums can provide chickens with a variety of vitamins and minerals, and most notably a huge amount of lutein.
This is good to know if you grow nasturtiums for any purpose: if you grow them as ornamentals, you’ll have to keep your chickens well away from them, because they will eat them with no provocation.
If they grow elsewhere on your property you can let your chickens chow down on them to get a good boost of the nutrients that they need.
In either case, there’s a lot more to learn about feeding nasturtiums to your flock, and I’ll tell you about it below.
What Benefits Do Nasturtiums Have for Chickens?
Nasturtiums are surprisingly nutritious for chickens, significantly more than most other flowers they are known to commonly eat.
The vitamins and minerals present in nasturtiums can improve nervous system health, a variety of cellular processes, metabolic function and circulatory health in chickens.
Furthermore, healing and feathering will be improved by periodic consumption of nasturtiums, along with bone growth and repair, organ function, and even proper electrolyte balance.
Nasturtiums also show a tremendous improvement in overall immune system performance thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties of looting, which nasturtiums contain in tremendous abundance.
Considering that most folks think nasturtiums are just a gorgeous flower, there is actually a lot to like about these as a supplemental part of a well-rounded diet for your flock.
Nasturtium Nutritional Info
Comprehensive nutritional profiles for nasturtiums are difficult to come by, but we know they do contain a variety of B complex vitamins, lots of vitamin A and plenty of vitamin C though chickens don’t really need too much Vitamin C in their diet.
The mineral content is also significant, with known and fairly impressive amounts of iron, manganese, magnesium, calcium and potassium.
Another thing we know about nasturtiums is that they contain a truly impressive amount of lutein, more than any other known plant or vegetable.
As mentioned above, this makes nasturtiums a terrific supplement for boosting immune system function.
Are Nasturtiums Safe for Chickens Raw?
Yes, and this is the easiest and also best way for chickens to consume nasturtiums. Raw nasturtiums will have the maximum amount of nutrients, and are already tender enough that most chickens will eat them with no issues.
Are Nasturtium Flowers Safe for Chickens?
Yes. The incredibly bright, vivid flowers of nasturtiums are not only safe for chickens but a great source of vitamins and minerals. These tend to be the part of the plant that chickens eat first, for obvious reasons!
Are Nasturtium Leaves Safe for Chickens?
Yes, the leaves of the nasturtium plant are totally safe for chickens and also preferred by them. After the flowers are gone, the leaves are usually next.
Are Nasturtium Stems Safe for Chickens?
Yes, completely. All parts of the nasturtium plant are safe and healthy for chickens, and the stems can be eaten without any issue.
However, some stems might be a bit tough for chickens, especially in the case of older or larger plants.
If this is the case, you might have to break them up into smaller pieces so they are easier for chickens to consume, or just ignore them: your flock will get plenty of nutrition from the flowers and leaves.
Can You Cook Nasturtiums to Give Them to Chickens?
Yes, you can, and there is even precedent for cooking nasturtiums as food. However, cooking isn’t necessary to make them safe or appealing to your birds, and has the major downside of reducing their nutrient density compared to when they are eaten raw.
Therefore, while it is okay to cook nasturtiums for your chickens if you wish, it is far better to just leave them raw and let your flock enjoy the full benefits that come from eating nasturtiums in their natural state.
Are Nasturtiums Still Safe for Baby Chicks?
Yes, nasturtiums are still safe for chicks to eat, but I advise you to let them reach about 4 weeks old before they get them for the first time.
They may need to be cut up into smaller pieces, but they can still benefit from the vitamins and minerals in these flowers.
Do keep an eye on them, since baby chicks have a tendency to choke on leafy veggies and are also more likely to suffer from crop impaction compared to adult chickens.
If you have any concerns about feeding them nasturtiums, just hold off: they will do just fine on their usual diet of feed until they grow up.
How Frequently Can Nasturtiums be Fed to Chickens?
Nasturtiums are a good supplement for your chickens, but they are just that: a supplement.
They should not make up a significant part of your flock’s diet, and it is best to feed them nasturtiums no more than once or twice per week as part o a well-rounded diet.
Remember that around 90% of your chickens’ calories and nutrients should be coming from their regular feed. Nasturtiums are a great addition to this, but they shouldn’t take away from the importance of their normal diet.
What’s the Best Way to Serve Nasturtiums to Your Flock?
If you let your chickens free-range, just let them have at the nasturtiums whenever they encounter them. As long as your flock has a variety of foods to find that interest them, they should not overindulge on nasturtiums.
Quick note for you nasturtium gardeners: you must protect your plants from chickens if you don’t want them eaten!
If you’re harvesting nasturtiums to feed your flock, the best way is to pick them when they have bloomed, but before they get too old.
This ensures that their leaves and stalks offer peak nutrition, but are tender enough that chickens will find them appetizing. You can then chop and scatter the nasturtiums around, or mix them in with their feed if you prefer.
Make Sure Nasturtiums Have Not Been Treated with Chemicals Before Feeding
One thing to be cautious of when feeding or allowing your chickens to feed on nasturtiums is the possible presence of harmful chemicals on the plant.
Fertilizers, pesticides and potentially even herbicides are all things that can be present on a nasturtium plant, so it is important to know what they might have been subjected to prior to feeding.
These chemicals can have serious health consequences for chickens if eaten, especially over time, so it is best to avoid any potential contamination by making sure your nasturtiums are free from chemicals and safe for consumption. If in doubt, don’t!
The best way to do this is to grow your own, but you could also get unwanted plants from trusted neighbors or other sellers.
Nasturtiums are Safe, But Only Safe By Themselves: No People Food!
As I mentioned above, nasturtiums have a pretty impressive culinary history for a flower, if you can believe it.
They have been used in salads, as garnishes and even to flavor soups and stews and pickle brines thanks to their bold, peppery flavor.
However, your chickens cannot have any of the other ingredients associated with these foods.
Things like salts, dressings and sugar can be very dangerous to them and can even prove fatal. So while they can still enjoy nasturtiums in their natural state, don’t add anything else to the mix.
Tim is a farm boy with vast experience on homesteads, and with survival and prepping. He lives a self-reliant lifestyle along with his aging mother in a quiet and very conservative little town in Ohio. He teaches folks about security, prepping and self-sufficiency not just through his witty writing, but also in person.
Find out more about Tim and the rest of the crew here.