Nearly everyone is familiar with the green rosette and friendly yellow flowers of the dandelion, but not everyone realizes they are amazing feed for your rabbits, chickens, and goats. These tough, determined perennials can be found everywhere, snuggling compactly in lawns and growing luxuriantly along roadsides and in hedgerows. One real advantage of feeding dandelions is they stay green year round in many parts of the country, providing fresh green feed when everything else is dead and brown.
Dandelion has several nutritional benefits. The leaves have high chlorophyll and beta-carotene contents throughout the growing season. As anyone with a yard can tell you, they grow easily from seed (spread liberally in their silken parachutes) or root cuttings. What you might not know is that root sugar contents are high, usually approx. 11%, and the roots can be stored all winter in moist sand to use for feed in harsher climates where the plant itself doesn’t stay green.
The real heavyweight of the dandelion’s nutrition team is protein content. Crude protein content of the leaves ranges from 15.5% to 22.2%. Most animals find dandelion leaves highly palatable and will eagerly clean up everything you provide. Dandelion can easily be cut and dried for winter storage and these hardy plants with their extensive root systems don’t mind being harvested multiple times. As with any wild-crafted plant, make sure you are harvesting from areas that have not been sprayed with herbicides or pesticides.