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#1 2011-04-06 14:57:01

hobbychicken
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From: Central Ont. near Peterborough
Registered: 2009-10-21
Posts: 569

feeding Marigold flowers to hens

My Stokes seed catalog came a few weeks ago and I noticed this:

Did you know that Marigolds contain the pigments lutein and zeaxanthin.  When included in chicken feed, marigold petals help turn egg yolks a golden yellow.

So my plan was to plant most of my garden to Marigolds.  Then throughout the summer, I would pick the flowers, dry them in the sun and then store them to feed out to the hens throughout next winter.

However, Cynthia M tells me that her hens would not eat Marigold petals, although she was feeding them fresh.

Does anyone else on the forum have experience with feeding Marigold petals to their hens?  Although the garden would be very pretty all planted to Marigolds, there's no point in doing it if I can't convince the hens to eat the petals.

Last edited by hobbychicken (2011-04-06 15:02:11)


Buff Orpingtons, Blue Copper Marans (a work in progress) and Exchequer Leghorns.

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#2 2011-04-06 15:02:52

hiddenmeadow
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Registered: 2009-01-15
Posts: 2731

Re: feeding Marigold flowers to hens

I've herd of Calendula, pot marigold  being used for that

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#3 2011-04-06 15:16:13

debbiej
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From: Vancouver Island BC
Registered: 2010-04-01
Posts: 5274

Re: feeding Marigold flowers to hens

Calendual flowers are edible, and are used as a substitute for saffron, so you'll get good color from the petals.  I've heard that alfalfa will give your yolks darker color.
Some of the Marigolds have a strong scent and are a good compainion plant, also help keep pests away.


Russian Orloffs,  Euskal Oiloas, Silkies,  Le Fleche, Isa Browns, Guinea Fowl, 2 Boston Terriers & 1 Rottweiler

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#4 2011-04-06 15:26:08

chickenlee
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From: Port Hope, Ontario
Registered: 2010-05-25
Posts: 455

Re: feeding Marigold flowers to hens

there are several subtypes of marigolds - regular garden type, french, african and calendua (pot marigold).

The french marigold and some african marigolds (Tagetes erecta or T. patula) can be used to control nematodes in your garden by growing and tilling them into your veggie plots. You have to ensure you are using one of these types, as not all marigolds sold as bedding plants have the same properties.

The calendula group (Calendula officinalis) are great for drying and using as a medicinal herb as it has both anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects (and is also high in anti-oxidents so is often made into a tea).

We use both the true french marigolds and calendula in our gardens - the marigolds have a really strong and pungent odor/taste and the chickens would not touch it. However, they gobbled up the calendula blossoms.

I have read several published papers on feeding marigold to broilers (they also use alfalfa and/or tomato)...it increases the amount of yellow pigment via caratenoids in both yolk and skin. In industrial applications they usually supplement the feed with an extract or dried powder in the food. Maybe if you dried the marigold and mixed it in they would more readily accept it...but then again, home grown fresh eggs from free ranging birds usually have very bright yellow yolks to begin with, so they probably don't need to be supplemented like commercial birds do!

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#5 2011-04-06 18:21:51

hobbychicken
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From: Central Ont. near Peterborough
Registered: 2009-10-21
Posts: 569

Re: feeding Marigold flowers to hens

but then again, home grown fresh eggs from free ranging birds usually have very bright yellow yolks to begin with, so they probably don't need to be supplemented like commercial birds do!

True, but I do notice that my birds yolks get a bit paler in the winter - hence the plan to plant marigolds.  Perhaps I'll try the calendula.  I just like giving my hens a bit of variety in their boring winter feed.  I could give them some dried alfalfa but it sounds like there are additional health benefits to using the calendula

Thanks everyone for your help.  I hope CynthiaM sees this.


Buff Orpingtons, Blue Copper Marans (a work in progress) and Exchequer Leghorns.

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#6 2011-04-06 18:31:28

Arcticsun
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From: Wetaskiwin AB
Registered: 2009-02-02
Posts: 7074

Re: feeding Marigold flowers to hens

put a cute little decorative fence around the plants and tell your chickens they are not to eat them.

They will be chowing down in no time.

Last edited by Arcticsun (2011-04-06 18:31:47)


Arcticsun Frickin Chicken ranch
A rainbow of colour in every egg basket!
Life is too short to to take ones self too seriously
Hug your chicken today

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#7 2011-04-06 19:13:11

chickenlee
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From: Port Hope, Ontario
Registered: 2010-05-25
Posts: 455

Re: feeding Marigold flowers to hens

put a cute little decorative fence around the plants and tell your chickens they are not to eat them.

They will be chowing down in no time.

:veryfunny:  so true!

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#8 2011-04-06 19:17:02

karona
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From: Prince George
Registered: 2010-07-23
Posts: 609

Re: feeding Marigold flowers to hens

In the winter when my girls don't range and the yokes loose
there color I soak alfalfa cubes in warm water and they
love it.

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#9 2011-04-06 22:56:05

CynthiaM
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From: Grindrod, B.C. Okanagan
Registered: 2009-08-19
Posts: 4309

Re: feeding Marigold flowers to hens

Hobbychicken, good post, and was wondering if you would, if not, I would...

Calendula, what an amazing and beautiful flower, it grew wild at our place in our old life.  I planted it one year and had it forever more.  The shades of yellows and oranges are something for the eye to behold.   I have the seed saved from my calendula.  It is a most beautiful flower, I only wish the flowers lasted longer before they faded and went to seed.  I think the flowers only last like 2 days or so, before the flower petals fall off and  turn to seed, which, by the way, goes everywhere.  You will have calendula EVERYWHERE!!  It is wonderful, but at the same time can be considered invasvie, but that depends on how you look at seeds growing.  They survive winter and come up the next spring.  So if one is thinking of using calendula for their chickens, once you got it you got it forever more, and that is a most certainly good thing. 

If you go with calendula, you must gather those flower petals in a big hurry, as soon as the flower petals are open, gather then, don't wait, they will be gone very soon.

As I am typing this, I wonder if all calendula's flowers are spent as quickly as the cultivar that I grew, probably not, I think calendula officinalis is the "normal".  I never thought to try pot marigold (calendula) with my chickens, yep, they disliked the stinky marigolds, but perhaps the sweet calendula will be a favourite for them.  Glad I have the seeds to sow to the wind.......

Good information here, and probably more good information is coming on, yay!!  Have those awesome and beautiful days, with happiness and health, CynthiaM.


Two breeding groups of large fowl -- blue, splash and black cochins and buff orpingtons.     Located one half hour north of Vernon.  Also a keeper of the honeybees.

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#10 2011-04-07 12:46:47

hobbychicken
A.C.E. Addicted
From: Central Ont. near Peterborough
Registered: 2009-10-21
Posts: 569

Re: feeding Marigold flowers to hens

Calendula it is then.  If I can remember next winter, I'll post the results.  Thanks everyone for the info.


Buff Orpingtons, Blue Copper Marans (a work in progress) and Exchequer Leghorns.

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#11 2011-04-07 13:18:14

CynthiaM
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From: Grindrod, B.C. Okanagan
Registered: 2009-08-19
Posts: 4309

Re: feeding Marigold flowers to hens

Hobbychicken.  Remember when you plant calendula it is a very big and sprawling plant.  You will need to keep close eye on the flower petals to gather those petals for drying, that flower goes to seed very rapidly.  It is a most beautiful flower, and you will love it.  Each plant has different coloured flowers, all ranges of gold to deep oranges and is just lovely. 

Go to this site, it is probably the first one to come up when one googles "calendula officinalis", the picture that you see only shows one flower on a small plant, the plant has hundreds of flowers on it when it grows  more.  This site speaks of deadheading the flowers to keep many new ones coming on strong, I would suggest to do this.  Although you will be gathering the petals, you would in essence be deadheading them anyways.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calendula_officinalis

This is a picture of the mature plant that I goggled.  This is the plant that I am familiar with and is so nice.

http://www.google.ca/imgres?imgurl=http … CD8Q9QEwBg

Do you see how sprawling the plant is, lots of blooms, smiling.

I also found that the black aphids liked the plant species.  Only in certain areas of my yard would they be attacked and only one or two plants.  I let nature be nature and let those aphids have those calendula plants for their food source (whatever they do to plants, smiling).  It kept those black aphids away from other plants that I desired to have close by.  Calendula is a sweet plant and it is used for many things medicinal and for stuff.  It is nice to make a tisane from the flower petals too (tea).  Anyways, enjoy the beauty that will abound in your gardens from the plant called CALENDULA.  Have a most beautiful and wonderful day, full of great things in life, CynthiaM.

I am now getting excited about sowing my seeds gathered around the acreage to have them grow where no man goes, smiling.

I wish the honeybees liked these flowers, but never saw any on them, oh well.


Two breeding groups of large fowl -- blue, splash and black cochins and buff orpingtons.     Located one half hour north of Vernon.  Also a keeper of the honeybees.

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