Can Chickens Safely Enjoy Lilies As Part Of Their Diet?

A White Lily Under The Sun (image by Ralphs_Fotos)

Article Summary

  • Lilies offer several health benefits for chickens, including essential vitamins (A and C), beta carotene, antioxidants, fiber, and moisture, but caution is essential due to the potential toxicity of some lily species.
  • Feeding chickens toxic lilies can lead to kidney damage and other health issues, while overconsumption may result in diarrhea, digestive upset, and nutritional imbalances.
  • Lilies should be fed to chickens sparingly, ideally 1-2 times weekly.

Lilies are popular ornamental flowers known for their large, showy blooms and distinct fragrances. But did you know that certain types of lilies can also be a nutritious treat for backyard chickens?

In this article, we’ll explore the benefits and potential risks of feeding lilies to chickens, which parts are safe for chickens to eat, and proper feeding guidelines to ensure your flock enjoys lilies safely.

Is it Safe for Chickens to Eat Lily Plants?

Many varieties of lilies are non-toxic for chickens. However, some lilies contain toxins that can cause kidney damage if consumed in excess. Lilies to avoid feeding chickens include:

  • Tiger lilies
  • Japanese show lilies
  • Rubrum lilies
  • Most true lilies from the Lilium genus

As long as you steer clear of toxic varieties, lilies can be a safe, nutritious supplement to a balanced chicken diet. Monitor your chickens closely when first offering lilies to ensure no signs of adverse reaction.

What Are the Benefits of Feeding Lily Plants to Chickens?

Lily plants provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants beneficial to chicken health:

  • Vitamin A – Supports immune function and vision. Found in lily pollen.
  • Vitamin C – Boosts immunity and combats stress. Abundant in lily leaves and flowers.
  • Beta Carotene – A precursor to vitamin A that promotes healthy skin and feathers. Provided by orange daylily flowers.
  • Antioxidants – Helps fight disease and boost overall health. Lily pollen contains flavonoids and carotenoids with antioxidant properties.
  • Fiber – Aids digestion and nutrient absorption. Lily leaves, stems, and flowers contain fiber.
  • Moisture – Helps keep chickens hydrated. Lilies have a high water content.
A Bachelor Flock Outside The Coop
A Bachelor Flock

As you can see, lily plants contain a powerhouse of protective nutrients when fed in moderation.

What Risks Are There With Feeding Lilies to Backyard Chickens?

While lilies provide many benefits, there are some risks to consider:

  • Toxicity – As mentioned, some lilies contain dangerous alkaloids. Eating toxic lily varieties can cause kidney failure and death.
  • Diarrhea – Eating lilies can have a laxative effect, causing loose droppings if overindulged.
  • Feeding Frenzy – Chickens may voraciously gobble up lilies due to their sweet taste. This can lead to digestive upset.
  • Nutritional Imbalances – Feeding too many lilies could lead to deficiencies in protein, carbohydrates, or calcium.

Following proper feeding guidelines will help avoid these risks when serving lilies. Moderation is key!

Which Parts of Lilies Are Safe for Chickens to Eat?

All parts of non-toxic lilies can be safely eaten by chickens, including:

  • Flowers – Both closed lily buds and opened blooms. Choose non-toxic varieties.
  • Leaves – Young, tender lily leaves and shoots in springtime. Older leaves may be too fibrous.
  • Stems – Softer, green lily stems are the most palatable. Avoid woody stems.
  • Roots – Only feed chopped cooked lily roots, as raw roots can be tough to digest.
  • Pollen – Nutrient-dense lily pollen makes a tasty, protein-packed treat. Shake it onto the feed.

Avoid feeding lily stamens, pistils, or seeds, as these may cause intestinal blockages if swallowed. Stick to flower petals, leaves, stems, and pollen for safety.

Can Chickens Eat Lily Flower Petals?

Yes! Lily flower petals are a favorite treat of many chickens. Both closed lily flower buds and opened blooms can be safely consumed as long as they are from a non-toxic lily variety.

The soft texture and sweet nectar of lily petals is irresistible…

The soft texture and sweet nectar of lily petals is irresistible to chickens. Petals provide moisture along with vitamins A, C, and E. Feed lily petals in moderation to avoid diarrhea.

Are Lily Pads an Option for Feeding Chickens?

It’s best to avoid feeding lily pads to chickens. The fibrous, waxy texture of lily pads makes them difficult for chickens to digest. Consuming lily pads could potentially cause crop impactions.

For safer options, stick to tender lily leaves, stems, flowers, and pollen when providing lilies to your flock. Chickens don’t gain much nutritional benefit from the tough pads.

Asiatic Lily Under The Sun (image by StillWorksImagery)
Asiatic Lily Under The Sun

Can You Feed Tiger Lilies to Your Backyard Chickens?

No, tiger lilies should never be fed to chickens. Tiger lilies contain toxins called alkaloid colchicines that can cause fatal kidney and liver damage in chickens if ingested, even in small amounts.

Stick to non-toxic lilies for chickens, like daylilies and some water lilies. Never take the risk of feeding tiger lilies or other toxic Lilium species to your flock.

Are Calla Lilies Harmful or Safe for Chickens to Eat?

Chickens should not be fed Calla Lilies, which are toxic to chickens and can cause severe health issues if ingested. The entire plant, including the leaves, stems, flowers, and even the water in their vase, contains toxins that can be harmful to chickens.

These toxins can cause symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, difficulty breathing, and even death in severe cases. It is important to keep lilies away from chickens and ensure they have a safe and appropriate diet that consists of grains, vegetables, fruits, and protein sources suitable for their nutritional needs.

Can Daylilies Be Fed to Chickens As a Nutritious Snack?

A Closeup View of a Daylily Flower
A Daylily Flower

Yes, daylilies are one of the best lilies to feed backyard chickens. All parts of the daylily plant, including the flowers, leaves, stems, and roots, are completely non-toxic and safe for chickens to eat.

Daylily petals and leaves make especially nutritious snacks – they contain vitamin C, antioxidants, moisture, and fiber. Just feed in moderation, as excessive daylily consumption could lead to loose droppings. Overall an excellent source of nutrients!

Are Canna Lily Plants Toxic or Safe for Chicken Consumption?

Canna Lily plants are toxic to chickens and should not be included in their diet. Consumption of these plants can be harmful to chickens and may cause various health issues. It is important to ensure that chickens are provided with a safe and appropriate diet to maintain their health and well-being.

How Much Lily Can Be Safely Fed to Backyard Chickens?

Lilies should be fed to chickens sparingly, about 1-2 times per week. Offer just a few lily flowers, leaves, or tender stems per chicken as an occasional treat, not a daily food.


Overfeeding lilies could cause nutritional imbalances, diarrhea, or even toxicity if a toxic variety is accidentally ingested. Stick to small, measured amounts of lilies no more than twice weekly for safety.

How Should Lily Plants Be Fed to Chickens?

The safest way to feed lilies to chickens is by hand, either held gently out for chickens to peck or chopped into bite-sized pieces. This prevents gorging and allows monitoring of consumption.

Scatter a few lily petals, leaves, or stems into their coop or run so the chickens can forage for them. Never make lilies a main component of feed mixes, as chickens may overeat them.

Always supervise chickens the first few times you offer lilies to watch for any adverse reaction. Only continue feeding if all birds appear healthy and normal afterward.

What Is the Recommended Feeding Frequency for Lilies?

In general, lilies should only be fed to chickens occasionally as a supplemental plant treat a maximum of 1-2 times per week. This prevents chickens from overconsuming any toxins they may contain.

Avoid feeding lilies daily or in large amounts. Stick to a few flowers, leaves, or stems just once or twice weekly. Monitor to ensure chickens don’t experience diarrhea or other adverse effects.

Only continue to feed lilies long term if chickens show continued tolerance. Discontinue feeding if adverse effects arise. Moderation is key for safety.

At What Age Can Baby Chicks Start Eating Parts of Lily Plants?

It’s best to wait until chicks are fully feathered at around 6 weeks old before offering any parts of lily plants. Baby chicks under 4 weeks should not eat lilies due to potential toxicity or digestive upset.

Once feathered and eating treats, chicks can start enjoying a few lily petals, leaves, or stems once or twice a week with close supervision. Only feed varieties that are known to be non-toxic and monitor for any adverse reaction.

Chicks on The Grass (image by Lolame)
Chicks on The Grass

Go slow with lily treats for young chicks since their digestive systems are still developing. Avoid anything too fibrous or harsh until the chickens mature more.

In summary, most lily varieties are safe for chickens when fed occasionally in moderation. Stick to non-toxic types and limit treat amounts to prevent adverse effects. With some common sense precautions, your flock can safely enjoy the beauty and nutrition of lilies!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can chickens eat daylilies?

Yes, chickens can eat daylilies, but it’s essential to ensure they only consume them in moderation. Daylilies are generally safe for chickens, but like many plants, they should be offered as part of a varied diet. Always monitor your chickens for any adverse reactions, and avoid feeding them large quantities at once. As with introducing any new food, it’s a good practice to introduce daylilies slowly and observe your chickens’ responses.

Are calla lilies safe for chickens?

Calla lilies are not recommended for chickens. These lilies contain calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause irritation and discomfort if ingested. It’s best to keep calla lilies out of chickens’ reach to prevent any potential harm. Always prioritize the safety and well-being of your chickens by ensuring they have access to a balanced and appropriate diet free from harmful plants like calla lilies.

Can chickens eat tiger lilies?

No, chickens should not eat tiger lilies. Tiger lilies, like other lilies, contain substances that can be toxic to chickens if ingested. These plants can cause digestive upset, poisoning, and other health issues in chickens. It’s crucial to be aware of the potential risks and ensure that your chickens do not have access to tiger lilies or any other toxic plants. Providing a safe environment and a suitable diet is essential for the health and longevity of your flock.

Are canna lilies poisonous to chickens?

Yes, canna lilies are considered poisonous to chickens. These lilies contain compounds that can be harmful if consumed, leading to symptoms such as digestive upset, vomiting, and other health complications. It’s crucial to prevent chickens from accessing canna lilies to avoid potential poisoning. Always be cautious when introducing new plants or materials to your chickens’ environment, ensuring that they are safe and non-toxic. Regularly inspecting your surroundings and removing any hazardous plants can help maintain a safe environment for your flock.