Herbs, Flowers, and Weeds for Chickens

By Mountain Peeps · Jan 31, 2015 · Updated Feb 1, 2015 · ·
  1. Mountain Peeps
    Herbs, Flowers and Weeds for Chickens

    Chickens are scavengers. Foragers. Omnivores. They eat herbs, flowers and weeds along insects and worms. They dig in the ground for foods they like. If allowed access, chickens will eat greens and bugs every day, all day. It makes us happy to see them happily pecking in the yard. But have you ever thought about what plants they are actually eating? Have you thought that some of these plants might be toxic? Or perhaps some of them have more benefits than you may think. In this article, we will be discussing what weeds, herbs and flowers are good for your flock, which ones you should avoid and which ones have special, healthy benefits.


    Although annoying to us, weeds can be very healthy and nutritious for our flock. Especially weeds like dandelions, chickweed and clover. Dandelions are a good source of calcium, vitamins A, B, C, E and K and contain iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. Chickweed acts as a natural pain reliever and aids in digestive health. Chickweed is also high in vitamin B. Clover is a highly nutritious perennial high in calcium, niacin, potassium, vitamins A and B, iron and protein. Aiding in respiratory and circulatory health, it is a very healthy plant for chickens to eat.

    Other weeds good for chickens include:
    •Bitter Cress
    •Catchweed Bedstraw
    •Evening Primrose
    •Fat Hen
    •Shiny Cudweed
    •Yellow dock


    Isn’t it nice to think that now you don’t have to throw out those weeds but instead you can feed them to your flock? Also, if you let your chickens free range, they will do some of your weed picking for you. (Of course they won’t pull the root out from the ground though.) If you keep a compost pile, consider throwing your weeds in and then allowing your flock to forage in there. (See end of article for a link on composting.)

    And then of course there are weeds you shouldn’t feed your flock. These include:
    •St. John's Wort


    Just like weeds, herbs can be extremely good and healthy for chickens too. Lavender, bee balm, yarrow, oregano, parsley and mint are all examples of beneficial herbs. Lavender is calming, soothing and aromatic. Bee balm is also calming and aids in a chicken’s digestive track. Yarrow acts as a stress and pain reliever and boosts the respiratory system. Oregano is thought to combat diseases such coccidiosis, salmonella, infectious bronchitis and E. coli. Parsley is one of my favorites. It is very high in vitamins, aids in the digestive system and acts as a laying stimulant. Mint helps prevent flies in the chicken living quarters and is highly aromatic.

    The list of herbs for chickens is long. Here is the best I could come up with besides the ones already listed:
    •Bay Leaves
    •Cayenne Pepper
    •Gotu Kola
    •Lemon Balm
    •Pineapple Sage

    I just love using herbs with my flock! I notice an improvement in their health and even their eggs. Herbs are a “must have” for flock owners who want to keep their naturally healthy flock.
    However, there are some dangerous herbs that can poison your flock. Steer clear of the following:
    •Castor Bean


    Chickens love to eat not only greens but also flowers. They love to slurp petals in their mouths like we do spaghetti noodles! There are many flowers that hold health benefits for chickens. Roses, marigolds and nasturtium are some examples. Rose petals are aromatic, calming and high in vitamin C. Marigolds are possibly my favorite flower to use in my flock. They are highly aromatic; add color to egg yolks and soothing to irritated skin. Nasturtium acts as a laying stimulant and light antibiotic. All three of these flowers are best used in hen nesting boxes.

    Other flowers to feed chickens include:
    •Pea Blossoms
    •Snap Dragon
    •Squash Blossom


    And then of course there are those flowers that should be avoided:
    •Corn Cockle
    •Lily of the Valley
    •Sweet Pea
    •Trumpet Vine

    Well there you have it! Chickens generally know what plants they can and can’t eat but we still need to be aware of what they are eating. I hope this article has given you a clearer understanding of the weeds, herbs and flowers best used for chicken health.


    Further Reading
    If you are interested in more information concerning what we have talked about here, please feel free to check out these links

    Special thanks to the BYC members Dan26552 and ChickenShan for allowing me to use some of their pictures.

    Share This Article

Recent User Reviews

  1. honanbm
    "Great article — I'm a lover of lists!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed May 26, 2019
    Very nice article with useful information.
    I had an EE hen who loved laying her eggs in a box of lavender on my deck. I have found that adding lavender to places that I'd like my hens to lay encourages them to use that spot. Be it the cat house, the wood box on the deck or the ground behind the wheelbarrow, I'm just happy to find them!
    I'm curious, do you feed herbs fresh or do you dry them first? Do you hens have favorite herbs? If so, which ones?
    Thanks for writing!
  2. Nathaliexx
    "Very useful!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed May 21, 2019
    We need to do some “garden pimping” for our little flock.
    So glad with this article!
  3. fldiver97
    "Nice overview!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed May 19, 2019
    I enjoyed reading this article! Quick review on some plants chickens can (and the ones they shouldn’t) eat. Also useful to know some herbs and flowers can be used in nesting boxes


To make a comment simply sign up and become a member!
  1. piyo piyo
    I have some snapdragons. What are the benefits?
  2. 40Acre Momma
    OUTSTANDING!!! I'm so glad to know a lot of my favorite plants/herbs I already have are beneficial to my girls too :)
  3. cowboy bob
    Great list. I have several flowering plants that are listed as toxic to chickens. They seem to avoid them but I don’t watch them closely. Should I be concerned?
  4. IamRainey
    My chickens love nasturtiums. They also grow very quickly so I just pull out long strands of it and feed the chickens big piles of vine, leaves and blossoms. It all disappears in a wink!
  5. Hyper_Chicken05
    My chickens hate green beans and vegetables. I could literally chuck them in a vegetable garden and they won’t eat a single thing lol.
  6. LulaBell
    Are there any fruits or vegetables that my flock should avoid?
  7. CuriousChickens
    Are Torenias edible for chickens, too??
      staceyj likes this.
    1. mymilliefleur
      I believe so. Chickens usually won't eat anything poisonous unless the are desperate.
      CuriousChickens likes this.
    2. staceyj
      Torenia is completely non toxic.
  8. jacksonnotary
    Very informative. Thank you
  9. applebutter14
    great job! you did awesome.
  10. Yorkshire Coop
    Great article! Mine are good at weeding the beds! I can't keep flowers in them because of this but they all look quite tidy after they have finished! Great ideas for new things to plant. Thankyou.
  11. Chickenchick11
    Great article!
  12. MelissaZeno
    This is a great list thank you!
  13. Mountain Peeps
  14. mymilliefleur
    Another great article!! I have most of those plants in my garden and pastures.
    Another plant my chickens love is Musk thistle. They gobble it up!
  15. poult
  16. TwoCrows
    Oh I LOVE this article!! You have inspired me to plant some of these good eating flowers for my flock this year. I have learned a great deal from this article!! Thank you Mountain Peeps!!!
  17. Americano Blue
  18. Book Em Danno25
    Great Article!!!!

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: