Herbs have a variety of health benefits for chickens — very similar to their effects on humans. If you are looking for holistic ways to care for your chicken flock, scattering herbs throughout the coop and nesting boxes is an effective method.
Herbs can be used as an insecticide, for rodent control, and as a stress reliever. You also can try feeding herbs fresh to your chickens. Another effective method is to add dried, ground herbs to their chicken feed. If you’re trying to boost egg production, try mint and parsley. (Read more below.)
Try these herbs with your chickens:
Lavender. Lavender is a favorite herb among humans and animals alike. If there is one herb you should use right now, it is lavender. One of my favorite ways to use lavender is to place some in each of the nesting boxes. Lavender releases an aromatic scent that helps to reduce stress, ideal for nesting boxes.
There are other reasons why you may want to use lavender for your chickens. Lavender helps to increase blood circulation, and it is a natural insecticide. While you might want to use lavender in nesting boxes, it is also safe to air dry and use dried in the coop.
The benefits of lavender don’t stop there. Lavender also is antibacterial, antifungal, helps to fight off staph infections, and improves your chickens’ digestion! It is an easy and pleasant herb to include frequently.
Oregano. Oregano is a strong herb. You might know that already if you’ve ever used oregano essential oil. Numerous studies conclude that oregano contains natural antibacterial properties. Within chickens, it helps fight against coccidiosis, salmonella, infectious bronchitis, avian flu and E. Coli.
Aside from the antibacterial properties, oregano also contains many nutritional benefits, and are high in vitamins E and K, along with calcium and necessary antioxidants. Allowing your chickens to consume oregano will boost their immune and respiratory systems. Herbs that benefit the respiratory system are useful for flock owners.
There are two ways you can add oregano to your chickens’ diet. First, you can simply allow the flock to snack on fresh cut leaves. Another easy choice is to add dried herbs to their feed.
Mint. The mint family is large, encompassing a huge variety of plants. You can use spearmint, orange mint, peppermint, chocolate mint, lemon balm, catnip and more! Mint is highly aromatic, making it a great choice for repelling rodents or insects in the chicken coop. Novice and expert gardeners can easily grow mint around the perimeter of your chicken coop! Doing so creates a natural mouse barrier, even though your chickens may like mice for snacks!
During summer months, try adding freshly crushed mint leaves to your chickens’ water. Mint has the natural ability to lower the body temperature in humans and animals.
Mint also can help to increase egg production. Adding any mint to your chickens’ feed might result in larger eggs with thicker eggshells. It also can increase overall egg production, so you might want to use it during a rainy period with less sun.
Sage. Sage is an easy herb to grow in your garden, and it’s an exceptional choice for your chickens’ health. I opt to add it to their feed as a dried herb, but you can always use clipped, fresh herbs. Why is sage a good choice? It contains many antioxidants and vitamins, which will help keep your flock healthy.
Some chicken owners believe sage helps to fight off salmonella and other diseases. Sage also helps to control parasites that may be attacking your flock.
Parsley. You might love parsley for your dinner dishes, but your chickens can benefit from its use, too. Chickens love parsley, and they can eat it fresh directly from the garden. You can grow it around your chicken coop, allowing them to graze on it through the fence of your run. Another choice is to pick fresh parsley from your garden and feed it throughout the month to your chickens.
Why would you want to use parsley? It contains vitamins such as A, B, C, E and K. These benefits help to encourage blood vessel development, which may help to stimulate egg laying.
Herbs are easy to grow and maintain yourself. If you have space, I would recommend growing a separate herb garden just for your chickens. If humans can benefit from the use of herbs for culinary and medicinal purposes, chickens can, too.
Have you used herbs to increase your flocks’ health? Let us know about your experience in the section below: