If you allow your chickens to free-range, it won’t take long before you notice them taking a few bites out of every kind of plant they can reach.
But if you watch closely, you might notice that some of your chickens’ favorite plants actually happened to be herbs, specifically many of the same herbs that we use in our own recipes.
Pretty interesting, but do these herbs have health benefits for our chickens? Let us look at mint for instance: can chickens eat mint, and is it safe?
Yes, mint is completely safe for chickens. Mint supplies several vitamins and minerals that chickens need, particularly vitamin A and B-complex vitamins along with potassium and phosphorus. Mint also has known bacteria and parasite-killing qualities.
Mint is a great addition to the diet of your chickens, and though it shouldn’t be a mainstay, it is definitely a healthy snack or supplement that is super easy to grow and even easier to serve up to your birds.
I’ll tell you everything you need to know about mint’s nutritional qualities and other benefits below…
What Benefits Does Mint Have for Chickens?
Mint is first and foremost a good source of nutrition for chickens thanks to its vitamins and minerals.
Mint is proven to improve overall skin health, feathering after injury or during the molt and overall metabolism.
Mint also has significant benefits for the circulatory system, specifically by improving the oxygenation of the blood and cellular health in general.
Mint also contains several compounds that are known to kill off or impede harmful bacteria and parasites that might be inside your chickens.
By neutralizing these harmful microorganisms and bloodsuckers, the general health of your flock can be significantly improved, and this immune system-boosting property should not be ignored.
In a way, mint really has it all for chickens: it is completely safe, common, nutritious and best of all most chickens really seem to like the stuff, so you won’t struggle to feed it to them.
Mint Nutritional Info
The nutritional content of mint varies somewhat depending on the variety, and whether or not it is fresh or dried.
Assuming you are serving fresh mint to your flock, it will have a good assortment of the B complex vitamins, a significant amount of vitamin A, plenty of phosphorus, potassium, manganese, iron and calcium.
Mint also contains a good shot of vitamin C but chickens don’t really need this out of their diet since they make their own vitamin C.
Chickens need all of these nutrients, and although mint is not a super source of any of them, it’s easy for chickens to digest and is definitely a welcome supplement in their usual diet.
Is Mint Safe for Chickens Fresh?
Yes. Mint is totally safe for chickens when fresh, and it’s the ideal way to give it to them. Fresh mint will have the best overall nutritional profile since drying or cooking degrades the already somewhat sparse amounts of vitamins and minerals it contains.
Are All Mint Varieties Safe for Chickens?
Yes, all common varieties of true mint plants are safe for chickens. This includes peppermint and spearmint.
Is Wild Mint Safe for Chickens?
Yes, but with a catch: wild-growing mint plants are completely safe for chickens as long as they are true mint plants.
Some wild plants are commonly called “mint” or look like mint that are neither safe nor nutritious for chickens.
Only ever feed your chickens mint plants if you have positively identified them, and never let them eat from an unknown plant that resembles mint until you are sure.
Yes, chickens are pretty good about avoiding things that are harmful to them, but you can’t trust them totally and they still need you to keep them safe.
Are Mint Candies Safe for Chickens?
No. Mint candies, whether they are hard or soft, are no good for chickens. Most contain way too much sugar that can hurt your birds, or else they contain artificial sweeteners that might be toxic.
Additionally, hard candies can be a choking hazard and softer candies might block their crops or stick in their throat.
Don’t give your chickens mint candies no matter how much you like them, or how funny you think it is!
Can You Cook Mint to Give it To Chickens?
It is possible to cook mint and then serve it to your chickens safely, but there is absolutely no point.
Mint does not need to be cooked to make it more appealing to chickens, and cooking will only destroy most of the vitamins and minerals in the plant.
Stick with fresh mint if you want it to be a benefit and a treat for your birds.
Is Mint Still Safe for Chicks?
Yes, mint is totally safe for chicks, but you want to let them grow up just a little bit before giving it to them for the first time. Once your baby chicks reach about 3 weeks of age, they can have a little bit of mint as a treat.
Keep in mind that as soft and wholesome as it is, mint is still a novel food for chicks that have been living on starter feed, and indigestion or diarrhea is not out of the question.
Give them just a tiny bit to start with and then see how they handle it, and if you detect any issues discontinue feeding of mint immediately.
Something else to keep in mind is that chicks are more vulnerable to crop impaction than adult chickens, and fresh, leafy foods, like mint for instance, can increase this risk further. Give the mint sparingly, and grind it up into tiny bites to help them swallow it safely.
How Frequently Can Mint be Fed to Chickens?
Mint is absolutely wholesome, and it can be argued that it is an all-natural part of a natural diet for chickens. Various kinds of mint do grow wild all over the world, after all.
Despite this, it is not a primary item in their diet. Mint is a treat, though a healthy one, or a supplement at best.
For this reason, your chickens should still be eating a diet made up mainly of nutritionally complete chicken feed, one that you supplement with various whole foods and produce, of which mint should only be a small part.
If you want to give your chickens a small serving of mint once or twice a week, that is all it will take for them to get the maximum benefit from it.
What’s the Best Way to Serve Mint to Your Flock?
The very best way to give mint to your flock also happens to be the simplest: you can simply give them whole stems of mint for them to peck at.
If you do want to tear off the leaves and sprigs, you can scatter it to let them hunt it down or mix it in with other food. Chickens will not struggle to eat fresh mint at all, and as mentioned this will maximize the nutritional gains they get from it.
Try to Only Feed Mint to Chickens if it is Pesticide Free
One thing to keep in mind if serving your chickens meant that you purchased from the grocery store, specifically in the case of a live plant from the produce section, is that it has likely been treated for a long time with various pesticides to ensure that it makes it to market.
These pesticides will not come off when you wash the plant, not entirely, and as chickens ingest the residues they have a worrying tendency to build up in their tissues over time, potentially causing health issues down the road.
If it is at all possible try to purchase organic, pesticide-free mint plants from the grocery store or from a nursery, or else get some from a trusted neighbor or another provider in your area.
Mint Is Safe, But Safe By Itself: No People Food!
I mentioned above that you should never give chickens any mint candies. This sentiment also extends to other dishes containing mint along with ingredients that they cannot eat.
Mint is used in various dishes, sweet and savory, but almost none of them are good for chickens.
Anything with excess butter, oil, sugar, or other such ingredients is just going to cause problems for your birds, some of which can be life-threatening.
I promise, your chickens will love mint just the way it is when it’s fresh, without any other stuff on it or with it!
Tim is a farm boy with vast experience on homesteads, and with survival and prepping. He lives a self-reliant lifestyle along with his aging mother in a quiet and very conservative little town in Ohio. He teaches folks about security, prepping and self-sufficiency not just through his witty writing, but also in person.
Find out more about Tim and the rest of the crew here.