Can Chickens Eat Goldenrod? Owner’s Feeding Tips

Andalusian Rooster by Konstantin Nikiforov
Andalusian Rooster by Konstantin Nikiforov

Article Summary

  • Goldenrod is a wildflower native to North America and typically grows between 1-7 feet tall with yellow flowers in dense clusters.
  • Chickens can safely eat goldenrod; however, it’s essential to distinguish it from rayless goldenrod, which is toxic.
  • Goldenrod can be introduced to baby chicks starting from 4-6 weeks old though in moderation.

Goldenrod is a common wildflower that grows throughout much of North America. Its bright yellow blooms can be seen along roadsides, in meadows and fields from mid-summer into fall. But is this abundant plant safe and beneficial for backyard chickens to eat? Let’s take a closer look.

What Is Goldenrod?

Goldenrods are a genus of around 100 species of yellow-flowering herbaceous plants in the Asteraceae family. They are upright perennial plants that can grow anywhere from 1-7 feet tall, depending on the species. Goldenrods thrive in open sunny sites and are often found growing in large colonies. They sprout slender green stems covered in long narrow leaves. Their tiny yellow flowers bloom in densely clustered spikes at the tops of stems.

A Yellow Goldenrod Plant (image by hansbenn)
A Yellow Goldenrod

Can Chickens Eat Goldenrod?

Yes, chickens can safely eat goldenrod. In fact, it provides some nutritional benefits. Goldenrod is not toxic or poisonous to chickens. The entire plant can be fed – leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds. Chickens generally enjoy pecking at and consuming fresh goldenrod.

Is Goldenrod Safe For Chickens?

Goldenrod is considered safe for chickens to consume. There are no toxic compounds or alkaloids present that could cause illness. The saponins found in goldenrod may cause mild diarrhea if very large amounts are eaten, but occasional moderate grazing poses no threat. As with any new plant treat, introduce goldenrod gradually.

How To Tell Goldenrod From Rayless Goldenrod

It’s important to be able to distinguish goldenrod from rayless goldenrod, as the latter can be toxic. Rayless goldenrod lacks the small yellow ray florets around the edge of the flower cluster.

Rayless goldenrod has rounded flower clusters compared to goldenrod’s flat-topped…

It has rounded flower clusters compared to goldenrod’s flat-topped blooms. Rayless goldenrod also has wrinkled leaves versus smooth leaves. So inspect plants closely before allowing chickens access.

Benefits of Feeding Goldenrod to Chickens

Goldenrod provides vitamins A and C, iron, potassium, calcium, flavonoids, and other nutrients. Its natural diuretic properties can encourage healthy kidney function. The saponins may help control intestinal parasites. Its high antioxidant content also supports immune health. Overall, goldenrod makes a nutritious supplement for chickens.

Risks of Feeding Goldenrod to Chickens

Rayless Goldenrod in The Wild
Rayless Goldenrod in The Wild

Eaten in moderation, goldenrod poses very little risk to chickens. Consuming extremely large amounts could potentially cause diarrhea from the saponins. Make sure not to mistake it for the similar-looking rayless goldenrod. Also, offer fresh clean water at all times when allowing chickens to forage on goldenrod. Start slowly when first offering it to monitor for any individual reactions.

How Much Goldenrod Can Chickens Eat?

Chickens can eat goldenrod daily, but it should be limited to around 10-15% of their overall diet. Feed free-ranging birds as much fresh goldenrod as they care to peck at. Confined chickens can be offered a few handfuls per bird each day. Avoid suddenly overloaded chickens with large volumes of goldenrod; introduce it gradually.

How to Feed Goldenrod to Chickens

Chickens Feeding on The Ground

Chickens kept on pasture will naturally graze on goldenrod. You can also pick fresh goldenrod and put it in their feed troughs or hang bundles for confined chickens to nibble. Chopped or dried goldenrod can be added to feed rations. For easiest consumption, chop or crush the plant material to allow access to the nutritious seeds and flowers.

How Often to Feed Goldenrod to Chickens

Goldenrod can be fed daily during seasons when it is actively growing. For penned chickens, offer fresh-picked goldenrods a few times a week. Give smaller amounts of dried goldenrod in feed 1-2 times per week.

NOTE

Chickens free-ranging where goldenrod is abundant will eat as much as needed. Pay attention to droppings to be sure it is not causing diarrhea.

Can Baby Chicks Eat Goldenrod?

Goldenrod should be introduced slowly to baby chicks, starting around 4-6 weeks old, as their digestive system develops. Offer just a few sprigs in the beginning, gradually increasing over a week. Avoid overloading their small systems with too much goldenrod right away. But in moderation, goldenrod provides beneficial nutrition for growing chicks.

In summary, the common wildflower goldenrod can be a nutritious supplemental feed for backyard chickens. Rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, goldenrod provides variety and health benefits.

As long as chickens don’t consume extremely large amounts, goldenrod is safe for chickens of all ages to enjoy. It rewards their natural foraging behaviors. Just be sure to properly identify goldenrod and exclude any potentially toxic lookalikes before feeding it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can chickens safely eat goldenrod?

Yes, chickens can safely eat goldenrod. Goldenrod is not toxic to chickens and can be a nutritious addition to their diet when offered in moderation. However, like introducing any new food, it’s advisable to start with small quantities to ensure that the chickens tolerate it well without any adverse reactions.

Will goldenrod affect the taste of chicken eggs?

There’s no definitive evidence to suggest that goldenrod directly affects the taste of chicken eggs. Generally, the flavor of chicken eggs is influenced more by the chicken’s overall diet rather than specific plants like goldenrod. Therefore, incorporating goldenrod into a chicken’s diet is unlikely to alter the taste of their eggs significantly.

Can goldenrod act as a natural dewormer for chickens?

Goldenrod is sometimes believed to have natural deworming properties for chickens. Some poultry enthusiasts and natural health advocates use goldenrod as a part of holistic deworming protocols for chickens. However, scientific evidence supporting its effectiveness as a standalone dewormer in chickens is limited. It’s always essential to consult with a veterinarian for advice tailored to your flock’s specific needs.

Do chickens naturally forage for goldenrods in the wild?

Yes, chickens have a natural instinct to forage and explore their environment, and in the wild or free-ranging settings, they may come across and consume goldenrods, among other plants and insects. Foraging allows chickens to supplement their diet with various nutrients and engage in natural behaviors. However, it’s crucial to ensure that any plants or materials they forage are safe and free from pesticides or contaminants.

Image Reference

  • Content Image – Mt. Cuba Center. Nuttall’s Rayless-Goldenrod [Photo]. Website. https://mtcubacenter.org/plants/nuttalls-rayless-goldenrod/