Can Chickens Eat Nasturtiums? The Benefits and Safety Guide

Blossoming Nasturtium Flowers in Summer
Nasturtium Flowers

Article Summary

  • Nasturtiums are flowering plants that have a peppery flavor; it has essential nutrients and antibiotic and antioxidant properties.
  • Chickens enjoy foraging on nasturtiums, which supports their natural behaviors like pecking and scratching.
  • Chickens can consume nasturtium leaves and flowers and also eat dried seeds, which provide protein, fiber, phosphorus, and zinc.

Have you considered growing nasturtiums in your backyard chicken coop? These brightly colored flowers provide beauty, serve many uses, and offer health benefits for chickens. Keep reading to learn all about feeding nasturtiums to chickens.

What is the Nasturtium Plant?

Nasturtiums are flowering plants with round leaves and trumpet-shaped blooms. These edible flowers come in shades of yellow, orange, red, pink, and white. They have a peppery flavor similar to watercress. Both the leaves and flowers are nutritious and completely edible.

The edible flowers of nasturtium come in shades of yellow, orange, red, pink…

Nasturtiums contain vitamin C, iron, and manganese. They also have antibiotic and antioxidant properties. These plants prefer full sun and well-drained soil. They can be grown in containers or garden beds. Nasturtiums spread easily by reseeding themselves each year.

Benefits of Nasturtiums for Chickens

Offering nasturtiums to backyard chickens provides several benefits:

Natural Antibiotic Properties

All parts of nasturtiums have antibiotic and antimicrobial capabilities. The flowers contain a compound called glucotropaeolin, which forms into antibiotic substances when chewed and digested. This can help prevent and treat minor bacterial infections in chickens.

Increased Egg Production

The nutrients in nasturtiums, especially the high vitamin C content, may help boost egg production. Providing chickens with a variety of plants can support reproductive health.

Chicken Eggs
Chicken Eggs

Internal Parasite Control

Some research indicates that nasturtiums may have a vermifuge effect. The substances that give nasturtiums their peppery taste may help prevent and expel parasitic worms. Offering the flowers and leaves supports overall digestive health.

Foraging Entertainment

Chickens love leafy greens and edible flowers. Allowing hens to forage for nasturtiums provides environmental enrichment. It encourages their natural pecking, scratching, and foraging behaviors.

Can Chickens Eat Nasturtium Leaves?

Yes, chickens can safely eat both leaves and flowers. The leaves have a fresh, herbaceous taste. They provide nutrients like vitamin C, calcium, and iron.

NOTE

The leaves retain the antimicrobial compounds that benefit chicken health. So, provide leaves whole or chopped into bite-sized pieces, as chickens enjoy pecking at the round leaves.

Can Chickens Eat Nasturtium Seeds?

Chickens can forage and eat dried seeds that drop from spent flowers. The seeds offer protein, fiber, phosphorus, and zinc.

Welsummer Hen with Chicks
Welsummer Hen with Chicks

Allow chickens to scratch through fallen blooms to find the small brown seeds. This activity provides mental stimulation. Or collect seeds to mix into chicken feed.

Remember, nasturtiums freely reseed themselves. Allow some spent flowers to drop seeds to ensure more nasturtium plants next season.

Grow Nasturtiums for Chickens

Adding nasturtiums to a chicken run or coop provides beauty, variety, and health benefits. Follow these tips for growing:

  • Select a site with full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil.
  • Sow seeds directly in the garden after the last spring frost. Plant 1/2 inch deep and 12 inches apart.
  • Water regularly until plants become established. Then water only when the soil is dry.
  • Remove spent blooms to encourage more flowers.
  • Mulch plants in fall to protect from frost. Let some blooms go to seed for next year.
  • Start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before last spring frost to get a head start on the growing season.
A Closeup View of Nasturtium Leaves
Nasturtium Leaves

When fall approaches, consider potting some plants to overwinter indoors. Then replant next spring for a continuous nasturtium supply for happy, healthy chickens all season long.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are nasturtium leaves good for chickens?

Nasturtium leaves can be beneficial for chickens as they contain vitamins and minerals that can supplement their diet. However, it’s essential to introduce them in moderation and ensure they are free from pesticides or other harmful chemicals. Always monitor your chickens’ reactions when introducing new foods to ensure they tolerate them well.

Can chickens eat nasturtium seeds?

Yes, chickens can eat nasturtium seeds. Nasturtium seeds are not toxic to chickens and can be a source of nutrition. However, as with any new food, it’s advisable to introduce them gradually and in moderation to ensure the chickens’ digestive systems adjust without any issues.

Are nasturtiums safe for chickens to eat?

Yes, nasturtiums are generally safe for chickens to eat. Both the leaves and flowers can be offered as occasional treats. However, it’s crucial to ensure that the plants are free from pesticides or other chemicals. Additionally, while nasturtiums are safe, always provide a balanced diet for chickens and avoid overfeeding any single type of plant.

How to introduce nasturtiums to chickens safely?

When introducing nasturtiums to chickens, start by offering small amounts and observe their response. Gradually increase the quantity over a few days, ensuring they show no signs of digestive upset or other adverse reactions. It’s also a good practice to wash the nasturtiums thoroughly to remove any potential contaminants before feeding them to the chickens.

Do nasturtiums affect the taste of chicken eggs?

Feeding chickens nasturtiums is unlikely to significantly alter the taste of their eggs. The primary factors influencing egg flavor are the chicken’s overall diet and living conditions. While nasturtiums can contribute subtle flavors and nutrients, they are just one component of a diverse diet. As long as chickens have a balanced and healthy diet, the taste of their eggs should remain consistent.