Can Chickens Eat Yarrow: Unlocking Benefits

Different Colors of Yarrow Flowers in The Meadow (image by Rollstein, Pixabay)

Article Summary

  • Yarrow is generally safe for chickens to eat in moderation, as it contains no known toxins that are hazardous to them.
  • The common yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is recommended for chickens, as other ornamental yarrow species may be less palatable and could have higher levels of thujone, which can be toxic in large doses.
  • Baby chicks can start sampling small amounts of yarrow leaves and flowers at 4-6 weeks old, but finely mince the yarrow and offer only a few small pieces once or twice a week.

Yarrow is a common herb that grows wild in many parts of the world. Its scientific name is Achillea millefolium. Some chicken keepers have wondered whether yarrow is safe for chickens to eat and if there are any benefits or risks to feeding it to them. This article will explore the key questions about feeding yarrow to chickens.

Is It Safe for Chickens to Eat Yarrow?

The good news is, yes, it is generally safe for chickens to eat yarrow in moderation. Yarrow contains no known toxins that are hazardous to chickens. Many chicken keepers allow their flocks to free-range in areas where yarrow grows wild without any ill effects.

However, yarrows can cause photosensitivity in some animals, like horses, sheep, and cattle, if they eat large amounts. There are no documented cases of this occurring in chickens, but it’s best not to let them gorge on yarrow just to be safe.

What Are the Benefits of Feeding Yarrow to Chickens?

Yarrow has several medicinal properties that can benefit chickens. It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial effects. The antioxidants in yarrow help boost chickens’ immune systems.

Some of the active compounds in yarrow are thought to be antimicrobial and may help prevent and treat common poultry diseases. Yarrow also aids digestion and can relieve respiratory issues in chickens.

So supplementing your flock’s diet with a small amount of yarrow can provide preventative health benefits.

Are There Any Risks to Feeding Yarrow to Chickens?

As mentioned above, the main risk is photosensitivity if chickens consume very large quantities of yarrow. It’s unlikely to happen, but it’s still best to feed Yarrow in moderation.

White Yarrow Flowers (image by Hans, Pixabay)
A Closeup of Yarrow Flowers

Yarrow also contains coumarin, which is a natural blood thinner. High levels of coumarin could cause bleeding issues. But the small amounts chickens would consume while pecking at yarrow pose little risk.

Finally, yarrow may interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications if given simultaneously. Check for any contraindicated combinations before feeding.

What Type of Yarrow Can Chickens Eat?

The common yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is the best type of yarrow for chickens to eat. There are other ornamental yarrow species, but these are less palatable and may have higher levels of thujone that can cause toxicity in large doses.

Stick to wild-harvested or garden-grown common yarrow. It’s more nutritious for chickens than dried yarrow, which loses some beneficial compounds.

Which Parts of Yarrow Can Chickens Eat?

Chickens can eat all parts of the yarrow plant, including the leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds. The leaves and flowers tend to be the most palatable. But chickens will nibble on the fibrous stems as well.

Some people boil yarrow leaves to make a nutritious tea for chickens…

Some people boil yarrow leaves to make a nutritious tea for chickens during molting or to provide relief from respiratory issues. This is a good way to administer yarrow as a tonic.

How Much Yarrow Can Chickens Eat?

There are no definitive guidelines, but most experts recommend feeding yarrow in moderation. As a supplement, aim for no more than 10% of their daily feed intake.

For chickens free-ranging in areas with abundant yarrow, monitor their intake. Remove or fence off large patches if they are gorging themselves on it consistently.

RECOMMENDATION

When giving the herb as a medicinal tea, follow recommended dosages for chickens and discontinue use after symptoms improve.

How to Feed Yarrow to Chickens

Here are some easy ways to feed yarrow:

  • Allow chickens to graze fresh yarrow in the run or pasture.
  • Chop fresh leaves and flowers into feed or scatter on the ground.
  • Add dried, crushed yarrow leaves to feed up to 10% ration.
  • Steep yarrow leaves in hot water to make a medicinal tea.
  • Stuff whole leaves and flowers into a suet cage as a treat.

Rotate fresh yarrows with other greens and flowers to provide variety. Always ensure clean, chemical-free yarrow. Wash it to remove dirt and debris if needed.

How Often to Feed Yarrow to Chickens

Yarrow does not need to be fed daily to chickens. Two to three times a week is sufficient as a supplemental feed.

Provide it as a treat or use the tea as needed for respiratory health, immunity boosting, or other benefits.

Discontinue yarrow feeding for a period of 1-2 weeks before offering again. This prevents chickens from developing an imbalance or possible toxicity.

Can Baby Chickens Eat Yarrow?

Yes, baby chicks can eat small amounts of yarrow but it is unnecessary. Chicks younger than 4 weeks old have sensitive digestive systems and yarrow may be too rough on them at first.

Once chicks are 4-6 weeks old, they can start sampling tiny amounts of yarrow leaves and flowers. Make sure to finely mince the yarrow. Offer just a few small pieces once or twice a week.

Wait until 12-16 weeks to provide yarrow more regularly as a supplemental feed. The medicinal compounds will benefit their developing immunity.

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

In summary, yarrow is a beneficial herb that is safe for chickens when fed moderately. It provides antioxidants, supports immunity, and aids respiratory health. Take care not to overfeed yarrow and discontinue use if any adverse reactions occur. When given properly, yarrow can be a nutritious supplement for chickens.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Chickens Eat Dried Yarrow?

Yes, chickens can safely consume dried yarrow in moderation. Dried yarrow can be offered as a supplement to their diet, providing potential health benefits such as improved digestion and immune support. However, it’s crucial to introduce new foods gradually and monitor your chickens for any adverse reactions.

Can Chickens Eat Yarrow Seeds?

Chickens can eat yarrow seeds without any issues. Yarrow seeds are a nutritious addition to their diet, offering essential vitamins and minerals. Incorporating yarrow seeds can contribute to a well-rounded and balanced nutrition plan for your chickens, promoting overall health and vitality.

Can Chickens Eat Yarrow Leaves?

Yes, chickens can eat yarrow leaves. Fresh yarrow leaves are a safe and nutritious option for chickens, and they can be included as part of their foraging or supplemental feeding. Yarrow leaves contain various beneficial compounds that may support chicken health, but as with any new food, introduce them gradually to monitor your chickens’ response.