Can Chickens Eat Rosemary? Is it Safe?

If you leave chickens to their own devices around your property, it won’t be long before you notice them chowing down on all sorts of plants, including ones that you grow in your own garden!

chicken eating rosemary leaves
A chicken eating fresh rosemary leaves

As it turns out, some of chickens’ favorite foods happen to be kitchen herbs that we use ourselves.

Chickens are naturally attracted to many of these fragrant herbs, and most are completely safe and nutritious for them, but not quite all. How about rosemary? Can chickens eat rosemary and is it safe for them?

Yes, chickens can eat rosemary and it’s totally safe. Rosemary happens to be reasonably nutritious for chickens, and it has compounds with proven antibacterial and antioxidant properties that can boost immune system health in chickens.

At first, you might be mad if your chickens completely strip that rosemary bush you’ve been growing in your garden, but it’ll be hard to stay mad at them when you notice all the good that rosemary will do for them.

But, as good and wholesome as rosemary is, it’s not something that chickens should eat all the time, and it definitely can’t be the majority item in their diet.

I’ll tell you what you need to know when it comes to serving rosemary to your flock below…

What Benefits Does Rosemary Have for Chickens?

Rosemary has quite a few health benefits for chickens. It can improve egg laying in hens and also strengthen eggshells, which together will improve egg viability and also help prevent accidents during laying that might threaten the life hen.

The same properties that improve egg health can also aid skeletal growth and healing in chickens young and old.

But, hands-down, rosemary’s best benefits are those for the immune system. Aside from improving overall cellular function, rosemary has proven antibacterial and antioxidant properties thanks to the abundance of rosemarinic and carnosic acids.

These unique compounds have been shown to eliminate many kinds of bacteria, and even slow down or eliminate the growth of tumors in chickens.

Even better, both have also noted antiviral and antifungal benefits. Your chickens will eat rosemary because they like it, but you’ll appreciate the massive immune system boost it will provide to your birds.

If you’re struggling with parasites, illnesses, and other health issues in your flock adding rosemary to the diet of your chickens is a great, natural step to help you in the fight.

Rosemary Nutritional Info

Rosemary is most known and beloved for its fragrance and flavor, but it is also a solid source of a few vitamins and minerals that chickens need…

Fresh rosemary contains a great amount of vitamin A and vitamin C, though chickens don’t need vitamin C in their diet because they make their own, and is also a terrific source of iron and calcium.

Is Rosemary Safe for Chickens Fresh?

Yes, fresh rosemary is completely safe for chickens. In fact, fresh rosemary is the best for chicken since it will have the maximum amount of vitamins and minerals, and also the antioxidant compounds discussed above.

Cooking, unfortunately, reduces the amounts of all three significantly, so you never want to go out of your way to cook rosemary for your flock. Besides, they will like it just fine when it is raw so long as it is fresh.

Is Rosemary Safe for Chickens Dried?

Yes. Dried rosemary is also completely safe for chickens. Dried rosemary is easy to add to other foods, or even to the water of your chickens to start giving them a steady drip of those aforementioned antibacterial and antioxidant compounds.

However, dried rosemary will have somewhat degraded levels of the other vitamins and minerals, so keep that in mind.

Are Rosemary Stems Safe for Chickens?

Rosemary leaves are the edible part of the plant that contains so much of the nutrition, but technically the entirety of the plant is safe and edible by chickens.

However, chances are very good that your birds won’t want to eat the tough, fibrous stems at all, and there’s no need to force them.

Let them have their fill of the leaves, and then you can discard the stems.

Can You Cook Rosemary to Give it To Chickens?

Yes, you can cook rosemary and then give it to your chickens if you want to. But, like I said above, this is certainly not required and is generally not a good idea.

Cooking rosemary will only reduce the benefits that it can offer your chickens because much of the nutrients and those precious antioxidant compounds will be lost in the cooking process, and more will be lost the longer you cook it.

If, for whatever reason, you have lots of cooked rosemary that you aren’t going to do anything with, you can give it to your chickens without worry.

Is Rosemary Still Safe for Baby Chicks?

Rosemary is safe for chicks, but with some significant reservations. First things first, yes, it will in fact boost the immune system health of baby chicks and much the same way as adult chickens, and that’s good news since chicks are especially vulnerable to various illnesses.

However, dried rosemary isn’t a tiny, brittle flake like other herbs, but instead a small, pointy sprig that chicks might choke on if you aren’t careful.

For this reason, you should let your chicks reach about 6 weeks of age before giving them rosemary for the first time.

If, for any reason, you’re worried about the ability of your chicks to eat rosemary, fresh or otherwise, then just abstain and wait until they reach adulthood. They will be okay without it.

How Frequently Can Rosemary be Fed to Chickens?

Rosemary is nutritious and definitely has some pronounced health benefits for chickens, but even so, it isn’t something that should be fed to them all the time. Rosemary is only a supplement and should be doled out to your flock accordingly.

Give your chickens a few servings of rosemary once or twice a week at most and that’s it. They will get plenty of benefits from the vitamins and minerals and will definitely get a big immune system boost from the antioxidants.

What’s the Best Way to Serve Rosemary to Your Flock?

The very best way to give rosemary to your chickens is, as mentioned, fresh. Simply cut off a few stems and either lay them out for your chickens to peck at or else hang them from fencing or even overhead if you have a covered run and let them nibble on them to their heart’s content.

Alternatively, you can mix dried rosemary in with their chicken feed or even put a little bit in their water to infuse it.

Either is acceptable, but if you’re mixing rosemary in with chicken feed or some other dry food consider tossing it with just a drizzle of olive oil to help it stick so they’ll actually eat it.

Try to Only Feed Rosemary to Chickens if it is Pesticide-Free

One thing you have to be cautious of if you are buying a live rosemary plant from the grocery store or from a nursery is the presence of pesticides.

Rosemary is often treated with pesticides to protect it until it can be harvested or sold at market. These residues can build up in the bodies of chickens when they eat it, even if the rosemary has been washed.

Accordingly, your best bet is to either grow your own and keep it chemical-free, or purchase organic and certified pesticide-free varieties for the purpose.

Also be cautious of any wild-harvested rosemary since it might have been exposed to pesticides or herbicides without your knowledge.

Rosemary Is Safe, But Only Safe By Itself: No People Food!

Rosemary, of course, gives all kinds of foods an amazing savory flavor, but as good as all these dishes are, you shouldn’t share any of them with your chickens.

Ingredients that are common in “people food” like salt, sugar, butters, oils, sauces, and the like are never good for chickens and if they eat very much of any of these things they might come down with hypertension, sodium poisoning, sour crop, or worse problems.

You can give your chickens fresh or dried rosemary by itself with absolutely no issues, and even mix it with other foods, but you should never give your chickens any human foods prepared with rosemary.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *