Can Chickens Eat Sunflowers? Are They Safe to Eat? (Guide)

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Sunflowers not only brighten up your gardens, but they’re also a solid wild bird food source and provide shade for other plants. So I’ve often thought if birds can eat sunflowers, can chickens eat sunflowers too?

According to experts, chickens can eat sunflowers. They’re considered non-toxic and offer many valuable vitamins/minerals (1).

But there’s more to discuss before putting sunflowers into your chickens’ diet.

So please read on, and let’s ensure you add it to their diet correctly!

Key Takeaways

  • Sunflowers are safe for chickens and an excellent source of vitamins/minerals. In fact, every part of the plant is an acceptable food option.
  • These plants offer a variety of health benefits when fed to chickens. Most notably, it’ll support their digestion system and limit cell damage.
  • Once or twice per week is a perfect amount of sunflowers for chickens. Anything more could cause issues, such as obesity or similar medical conditions.

Is It Healthy For Chickens To Eat Sunflowers?

Sunflowers are healthy snacks for chickens to eat, with many valuable benefits. Below, I’ll discuss some to provide more insight into what sunflowers can offer your chickens.

beautiful sunflowers

#1 Support Healthy Digestion

High fiber content is a sunflower’s primary benefit, especially its seeds (2). It’s vital because it’ll do wonders for your chicken’s digestive system.

For instance, adding sunflowers to their diet will only maintain and keep them healthy. It’ll also regulate their bowels by regulating digestion, absorption, and metabolism.

So this high fiber content will only make their lives much more comfortable. You even use sunflowers to help a chicken with an upset stomach or constipation.

It certainly did wonders for one of my chickens who had these issues. I gave him some sunflower seeds, which improved his condition rather quickly.

#2 Limit Cell Damage

An overlooked benefit provided by sunflowers is their high vitamin E content. Honestly, it’s essential because it aids in normal nerve function and maintains the immune system.

You can also expect vitamin E to offer antioxidant properties. These are vital to preventing cell damage created by free radicals.

As a result, adding sunflowers to their diet can help stop these issues. It’s a relatively simple way of assisting them to stay healthy and illness-free.

Check out our informative article on “Can Chickens Eat Dill” to learn more about whether this flavorful herb is safe and beneficial for your feathered friends to enjoy.

Can Chickens Eat Sunflower Seeds?

Sunflower seeds are undoubtedly safe for chickens to eat. I’d even encourage their use as these tiny black seeds “contain nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fat, etc.” (3).

sunflower seeds

For instance, vitamin B aids the immune system and strengthens it. Calcium, on the other hand, helps strengthen the bones and beaks of chickens.

Another thing to consider is sunflower seeds are full of healthy fats. I’ve found this trait helpful for hens since this nutrient is vital to the quality of the eggs.

It’s been proven that hens with some sunflower seeds will have higher-quality eggs. You can expect them to be colorful, shiny plumage and contain dark rich egg yolks.

But again, sunflower seeds must be given in moderation. Excessive amounts can lead to obesity and other issues because of these healthy fats.

Can Chickens Eat Sunflower Stalks?

Sunflower stalks are safe for chickens to eat without issue. But there is a proper way to prepare them before putting them in feeds or the coop.

I’d suggest breaking the stalks into smaller pieces and feeding them to the chickens. Sunflower stalks have rugged fibrous cells, which could make them difficult to eat.

Some chickens won’t need this preparation. In these cases, you can give them the whole stalk.

You’ll notice if your sunflower stalks need cutting rather quickly. If they don’t, the chickens will peck at it until some pieces of the stalk come off and then eat it.

Can Chickens Eat Sunflower Petals?

Chickens can eat sunflower petals, especially since these leafy greens are nutritious. It’s one of my preferred options for spicing up my flock’s diet.

sunflower petals

If you want to feed them sunflower petals, there are two ways of doing it. You can give them the whole petal or cut them into smaller sizes.

Due to their soft texture, the chickens will peck at them and eat a small piece of it at a time. I prefer skipping this whole step and cutting them into smaller sizes myself.

How To Feed Sunflowers To Chickens

You have a variety of ways to serve the sunflower plant to your chickens. I’ll discuss each one to ensure you can choose the most suitable option:

#1 Feeding Sunflower Seeds To Chickens

Some people love feeding chickens sunflower seeds. But, believe it or not, there are two different ways to approach this task.

One way is by harvesting the seeds from the sunflower heads. It’s a more precise method of ensuring your chickens don’t have any issues eating or pecking them.

Some poultry owners find this activity too involved. So the second method is simply giving your chickens the entire seed heads and letting them peck from it.

To harvest the seeds, you must let the heads dry first. By drying it first, it will be easier to harvest the seeds.

To do so, let the seeds dry on the stalks first. Once thoroughly dried, cut the seed heads off and leave them for a few days to dry.

I recommend choosing a place like a shed or a garage to store them. It’s a protection measure to keep them away from wild birds.

After they’re dried, pluck the seeds out or rub your hands over the head. Both these actions are meant to make the seeds fall out.

You can just leave the shell on the seeds when feeding them the seeds. Chickens are intelligent animals and will peck at them until the shell breaks.

Once it breaks, they’ll waste no time and eat the tasty sunflower seed treat inside.

#2 Feeding Sunflower Stalks To Chickens

Anyone who plans on using sunflower stalks needs to account for a few things. First, these stalks will be tough for chickens to eat.

You’ll likely need to make it easier for them to eat the stalk. For example, cut them into smaller pieces or cook them.

But feeding the whole sunflower plant stalk is also an option. Letting them peck at it is a great way to keep them busy.

Due to the strong beak, they will tear and eat a small piece of the stalk.

#3 Feeding Sunflower Petals To Chickens

The petals or leaves of the sunflower plant are soft and edible for your chickens. I cut them into smaller pieces, but you can also give them the whole petal.

As with the stalks, giving them the whole petal will keep them busy. Your chickens will have a blast pecking at the petals as mine do.

How Many Sunflowers To Feed Chickens

Whether it’s the stalk, seeds, or petals, sunflowers should be given to the chickens in moderation. Too much of it can be not good for them.

The reason for moderation is sunflowers don’t offer the proper amount of nutrition. It simply won’t meet the requirements provided by regular meals.

As a result, it’ll cause them not to get the correct amount of nutrition. Your chickens will then not be healthy or the nutritious chicken flock that you imagined.

So it’s best to treat sunflowers as an extra treat to quality commercial chicken feeds. It’s the most effective option to ensure your flock gets the necessary nutrition.

Therefore, once or twice a week is enough sunflower for them. This amount should help ensure they remain healthy animals for a long, long time. It sure works with mine!

Get all the information you need on feeding your chickens with our articles on “Can Chickens Eat Nectarines,” “Can Chickens Eat Dandelions,” and “Is Lavender Safe for Chickens.” Our informative guides will help you keep your feathered friends healthy and happy by providing you with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions about their diet.

Other Plants That Chickens Can Eat

Of course, sunflowers aren’t the only plants chickens can eat. So let’s go over a few of my favorite alternatives to offer some ideas on how to spice up a traditional chicken diet:

#1 Marigolds

Marigolds make it onto my list because of their high number of antioxidants. These are vital in keeping your chickens’ cells from getting damaged or suffering other issues.

marigolds in a white background (can guinea pigs eat marigolds?)

I’ve also found marigolds very helpful with hens who are laying eggs. They improve the egg quality by giving them bright yellow yolks.

#2 Violets

Violets aren’t only my favorite flower but also offer some benefits when fed to chickens. I can rely on them as high-nutrition treats when supplementing my chickens’ diet.

I’m also a massive fan of its ability to help circulation and anti-inflammatory properties within arteries (4). It helps my chickens remain in peak health and pain-free.

#3 Bee Balm

If you need to get more familiar with bee balm, it’s a flowering plant with anti-bacterial properties. These abilities come from their leaves and are endlessly helpful.

For instance, bee balm is an excellent remedy to clear respiratory problems in chickens. So it’s a beneficial plant to have when you’re a poultry owner.

#4 Dandelions

Humans love to add dandelions to their salads. But most don’t know these flowers can also be pretty helpful to chickens.

Dandelions can help our flocks by being a loaded source of vitamins and minerals. Some crucial ones include iron, calcium, and vitamin A.


Furthermore, I love how every part of a dandelion is safe for chickens to eat. It makes preparing them much easier.

All I have to do is cut them into smaller pieces before serving. Once appropriately cut, it provides an excellent boost for chickens.

#5 Roses

Roses are an unlikely inclusion but a worthwhile one. After all, roses help cleanse blood toxins while offering anti-bacterial and anti-septic properties.

Meanwhile, it’s one of the more convenient options on this list. Every part of a rose is edible and safe for chicken consumption.

But you’ll want to cut them into small pieces so they’ll be easier to eat and digest.


1. Can chickens eat too many sunflower seeds?

Chickens can eat too many sunflower seeds, so I recommend moderation. Otherwise, your flock could get obese due to its high-fat content.

2. How much black oil sunflower seeds feed chickens?

The amount of black oil sunflower seeds shouldn’t exceed 1/3 of their regular diet. Anything above this range will likely to health issues.


Overall, the answer to can chickens eat sunflowers was a resounding yes. Every part of this beautiful plant is a healthy, nutritious treat for any chicken.

It even gives you several options when it comes to preparing them. So it is a convenient, versatile treat to help supplement your chicken’s regular diet.

beautiful sunflowers


1. SUNFLOWER SEEDS IN POULTRY DIETS – Small and backyard poultry [Internet]. [cited 2023 Jan 30]. Available from:

2. Liang Q, Cui J, Li H, Liu J, Zhao G. Florets of sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.): potential new sources of dietary fiber and phenolic acids. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry [Internet]. 2013 [cited 2023 Jan 30];61:3435–42. Available from:

3. FoodData Central [Internet]. Available from:

4. Rizwan K, Khan SA, Ahmad I, Rasool N, Ibrahim M, Zubair M, et al. A Comprehensive Review on Chemical and Pharmacological Potential of Viola betonicifolia: A Plant with Multiple Benefits. Molecules. 2019;24:3138.

Alina Hartley
Alina Hartley

Alina Hartley is a small-town girl with a ginormous love of bearded dragons. It all started with Winchester, a baby bearded who was abandoned at the shelter by his former owners because of a birth defect that caused one front leg to be shorter than the other. Alina originally went to the shelter looking for a guinea pig, but one look at Winchester and it was love at first sight. From that day on, Alina has dedicated her life to learning everything she can about bearded dragons. She loves helping new beardie parents start their incredible journey with these magnificent reptiles.
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