I don’t know about you, but for me, one of the greatest pleasures about owning chickens is letting them free-range and seeing what they get into.
Watching how they explore, what they investigate and most of all what they like to track down to eat is a limitless source of enjoyment.
And chickens, believe it or not, are pretty good about staying away from things that they shouldn’t eat, or rather things that might hurt them.
As it turns out there are quite a few common plants, particularly flowers, which are toxic to chickens and you’ll need to do what you can to keep them safe.
How about marigolds? Can chickens eat marigolds, and are they safe?
Yes, marigolds are completely safe for chickens, and all parts of the flower are edible. Marigolds can provide chickens with a fair bit of nutrition, and have promising inflammation-fighting properties.
There’s no reason to keep your chickens from eating marigolds when they are free-ranging unless of course, you’ve spent a lot of time and effort growing them!
As an incidental item when they are allowed to roam or a purposeful supplement to their usual diet of feed, marigolds are just fine for your chickens.
But as you might have guessed, there’s more to learn before you let your birds chow down on these pretty flowers, and I’ll tell you all about it down below…
What Benefits Do Marigolds Have for Chickens?
Marigolds definitely have some health benefits for chickens. They have vitamins and minerals that chickens need, ones that can improve feathering, circulation, and skeletal health in particular.
But what’s most interesting about marigolds, and likely the chief benefit if you’re going to feed them to your chickens, is that they contain special compounds that can fight inflammation and get rid of damaging free radicals in the body.
When it comes to improving immune system function and overall wellness, these are benefits that can’t be overlooked!
Considering that chickens are highly likely to eat marigolds anyway if they can reach them, this is a significant health boost to go with some nutrition and calories.
Also of particular note is that marigolds, when fed regularly to laying hens, they are known to create vibrant, bright yellow yolks in eggs.
Although surprising, it doesn’t harm the hen or the quality of the egg, fertilized or not, in any way, and is only a byproduct of the pigment present in the flower.
At the very least, if you want some truly Instagram-worthy scrambled or fried eggs, marigolds might be the best way to do it!
Marigold Nutritional Info
A proper nutritional profile for marigolds is very difficult to ascertain considering they are not typically grown or sold for human consumption, and accordingly they are not analyzed by any of the big labs for the purpose.
That being said, we can extrapolate the nutritional basics of marigolds by comparing them to other, similar plants…
In doing so we know that marigolds do have vitamins and minerals that chickens need, including vitamin A, B-complex vitamins, and vitamin C along with various minerals like manganese, iron, and a little bit of calcium.
Are Marigolds Safe for Chickens Raw?
Yes, raw, fresh marigolds are completely safe for chickens, and they greatly prefer them this way.
Something else to consider is that fresh marigolds will have the maximum amount of nutrients, both vitamins and minerals. Cooking or drying marigolds will deplete the supply of both, meaning they aren’t as significant in the diet of your chickens.
Are Marigold Flowers Safe for Chickens?
Yes, they are. The entire flower of the marigold plant is highly nutritious and totally safe for chickens.
If you pay attention to them, you will probably notice this is the very first part that a chicken will go for when they decide to eat. There’s a reason for that!
Are Marigold Seeds Safe for Chickens?
Yes. Marigold seeds are tiny, nutritious, and completely safe for your chickens, and they will likely be eaten along with the other parts of the flower when they start in on them.
Are Marigold Stems Safe for Chickens?
Yes. Marigold stems are safe for chickens along with every other part of the plant. Compared to some other flowers, marigold stems tend to be reasonably tender and most chickens will eat them if given a chance.
However, if they don’t want to you don’t need to worry about it since the leaves and flowers contain plenty of nutrients.
Can You Cook Marigolds to Give Them to Chickens?
Yes, if you really want to. But you don’t have to: marigolds are already tender enough for chickens as is, and cooking will actually deplete both the vitamins and the minerals present in marigolds, hurting their nutritional value to your flock.
If, whatever the reason, you happen to have some cooked marigolds, you can give them to your chickens, but don’t feel like you have to cook them.
Are Marigolds Still Safe for Chicks?
Yes, marigolds are safe for chicks but with a few reservations. First and foremost, try to let your chicks grow up a little bit before you give them marigolds.
Baby chicks are extremely delicate and have digestive systems that are easily upset by novel foods, even something as wholesome and natural as a marigold.
Once they are about 4 weeks old, maybe 5 weeks old depending on how fast they mature, they can try a few nibbles of the petals or the leaves.
But, if you notice any upset stomachs and associated problems, stop feeding the marigolds immediately.
Marigolds are healthy and wholesome, but baby chicks don’t really need them as long as they’re still eating their starter feed. They’ll be more than ready to snack on them once they are adults.
How Frequently Can Marigolds Be Fed to Chickens?
Marigolds are nutritious for chickens but aren’t something that they should have all the time assuming you are deliberately feeding them.
If you allow your chickens to free-range, you can let them eat marigolds whenever they happen to come across them if they are growing wild, because they will rarely eat too much before moving on to other foods.
But if you are giving marigolds to your chickens, only serve them up a small portion once or twice a week as a supplement to their usual diet of feed.
This will be plenty to give them the inflammation and free radical fighting benefits of marigolds.
What’s the Best Way to Serve Marigolds to Your Flock?
All you need to do to serve marigolds to your flock is hand them over. Your chickens will eat the parts that they want, and discard the rest.
If you want to mix in marigolds with other foods, consider roughly chopping them up first, but that’s all it takes.
And remember, fresh is best: don’t feel obligated to cook marigolds for any reason, because this will only hurt their nutritional content.
Try to Only Feed Marigolds to Chickens if They’re Pesticide Free
Something to keep in mind if you are allowing your chickens to nibble on wild marigolds that you’ve collected or from plants you purchased from a nursery or anywhere else is they have likely been treated with pesticides.
Pesticides are bad news for chickens, and rinsing is insufficient to remove all of the residues.
When eating over time, these residues will build up in the bodies of chickens and can cause some pretty serious health issues over time.
Try to only let your birds munch on marigolds that you know have not been treated with any chemicals.
Marigolds are Safe, But Only By Themselves: No People Food!
One thing that is worth mentioning, though probably not a factor for you particularly, is that you should never feed marigolds to chickens if they have been prepared with harmful ingredients they can’t have.
It might sound a little strange, but marigold greens and even the flowers themselves are used occasionally as a component in salads and other dishes.
It should go without saying that you don’t want to give your chickens anything that has excess salt, sugar, oils, and other similar things.
Any “people foods” like this can cause serious health problems for your birds. And, take it from me; they will like raw, plain marigolds just fine on their own.
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.