Can Chickens Eat Cattails?

By Chicken Pets on
Can Chickens Eat Cattails?

Yes, chickens can eat cattails in moderation. Cattails are not toxic to chickens and can provide a source of foraging for backyard flocks. However, chickens should not consume large quantities due to the potential for impaction and the lack of substantial nutritional value compared to their regular feed.

Quick Summary

  • Chickens can eat cattails.
  • Cattails are safe in moderation but offer limited nutritional value.
  • Key benefits include foraging enrichment; risks involve potential impaction.
  • Feed cattails sparingly and ensure they are clean and free from pollutants.

Overview of Cattails

Cattails, scientifically known as Typha, are common wetland plants typically found near the edges of freshwater bodies. They are recognized by their long, slender leaves and distinctive brown cigar-shaped heads or flower spikes. While cattails themselves are not densely packed with nutrients, they can contribute to a chicken’s diet through foraging behaviors which is important for their mental and physical health.

Benefits and Risks of Cattails for Chickens

Allowing chickens to forage on cattails can mimic natural behaviors and provide mental stimulation. However, the fibrous nature of cattails can lead to digestive issues if consumed in large amounts. They should be regarded as a foraging supplement and not a primary food source.

Feeding Guidelines

Cattails should be introduced to chickens cautiously. It is advisable to present them in a clean and accessible manner to prevent contamination and parasites. Chickens should not be fed more than a small handful of cattail leaves or heads per bird, once a week at the most. Always observe birds after introducing new foods for any signs of digestive discomfort.


If considering alternatives, chickens can benefit from a variety of leafy greens such as lettuce, kale, and spinach which provide a higher nutritional yield. Herbs such as parsley and oregano can also be suitable and beneficial alternatives to cattails, promoting better health with their antimicrobial properties.

Expert Opinions

Poultry nutritionists agree that while cattails are non-toxic, they are not a significant source of nutrients and are best used as a tool for enrichment rather than nutrition. Veterinarians also caution about the potential for digestive issues if cattails are consumed in excess. It is recommended to incorporate a variety of greens into chickens’ diets to ensure a balance of nutrients.

Frequently Asked Questions

With various aspects to consider when feeding cattails to chickens, several questions commonly arise that poultry keepers may be concerned with.

Can chickens eat all parts of the cattail plant?

Chickens can peck at the leaves and the flower spikes of cattails, but moderation is key as the fibrous parts can pose a risk if ingested excessively. Only provide clean, pesticide-free parts of the plant.

How often can I feed cattails to my chickens?

Feeding chickens cattails should be a rare occurrence. Once a week is the general guideline, always in small amounts mixed with their regular feed or as part of their foraging activities.

Are there any ways to prepare cattails to make them safer for chickens?

Although preparation is not necessary, ensuring that the cattails are clean and free from pollutants or pesticides is essential. You can also chop cattail leaves up into smaller pieces to aid digestion and prevent impaction.

Like what you see? Share with a friend.


Popular posts from the hen house.

Egg-cellent job on making it to the footer, welcome to the egg-clusive chicken club! At, we are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and other affiliate programs. This means that, at no cost to you, we may earn commissions by linking to products on and other sites. We appreciate your support, as it helps us to continue providing valuable content and resources to our readers.