Most seasoned chicken keepers already know that chickens tend to really love herbs, usually above all other plants. Many of the herbs that we use in our kitchens to season our foods make great supplements to the diet of our chickens, too.
But not all herbs make a regular appearance in the kitchen, and not all of them are even safe for chickens.
How about lavender? One of the most fragrant herbs around, lavender is more commonly used for its aromatic properties than as a kitchen herb. Can chickens eat lavender, and is it safe?
Yes, lavender is safe for chickens and has a few vitamins and minerals that chickens need, in addition to other health benefits. But most chickens avoid lavender when it is fresh, and instead are only likely to eat it when it is in its dried form.
Surprisingly, lavender is probably one of the only herbs you can grow yourself that your chickens will dependably steer clear of.
Something about that intense fragrance really seems to keep them at bay, but nonetheless they will eat dried lavender and they should, because it has several important health benefits.
I’ll tell you more about giving lavender to your chickens below.
What Benefits Does Lavender Have for Chickens?
Lavender has several beneficial properties that can make it a great supplement to the diet of your flock.
You probably already knew that lavender has been used around the world in various traditional medicine systems for human beings, but it can also do a lot for our chickens.
Lavender is famous for its relaxing qualities, and it can also settle down your birds if they are stressed or nervous.
Adding lavender to their diet is a great way to keep your chickens calm, or you can consider steeping it in their water for the same benefit.
Lavender also has special compounds that show antimicrobial properties, specifically against bacteria, and it might help to reduce instances of respiratory tract infections and chickens.
Lastly, that fragrance that makes lavender so alluring is actually a defense mechanism that the plant uses against insects, and letting your chickens eat lavender, and adding it to their dust bath, might help to keep biting critters away from them.
Lavender Nutritional Info
Lavender doesn’t have much in the way of traditional nutrients that chickens need. Fresh and dried lavender alike contain a little bit of vitamin A, some iron, and some calcium.
But, the antioxidant compounds present in lavender that provide so many of the other benefits are the reason for giving lavender to your chickens in the first place.
Is Lavender Safe for Chickens Fresh?
Yes, fresh lavender is totally safe for chickens, but don’t be surprised if your birds don’t touch it.
Many chicken keepers report that their chickens will ignore fresh lavender entirely, and the ones I’ve observed seem positively repelled by the stuff.
But, if your chickens are happy to eat it, you can let them: it won’t harm them at all.
Is Dried Lavender Safe for Chickens?
Yes, and it is dried lavender that is likely to be eaten by chickens. One of the benefits of dried lavender is that it concentrates those beneficial compounds, so you can give your chickens more of a health boost with less effort.
You can mix it in with their food or just scatter it on the ground if you know they like it. You can even steep their water with a little lavender to extract the healthy compounds, and let them drink it.
Are Lavender Flowers Safe for Chickens?
They are. Lavender flowers are non-toxic to chickens.
Are Lavender Stems Safe for Chickens?
Yes. The stems of the lavender plant are likewise safe for your chickens, but they are highly unlikely to eat them: they are tough, woody, and generally unpalatable.
Can You Cook Lavender to Give it To Chickens?
You can, but this isn’t really necessary or even a good idea. Cooking lavender will degrade and destroy those healthy compounds that we want our chickens to get.
If you lose those, there isn’t much point in giving them lavender at all! But, even so, if you do have a quantity of cooked lavender you can give it to your chickens safely.
Is Lavender Still Safe for Chicks?
Lavender is safe for chicks and can provide them with the same benefits that it will for adult chickens. But, you don’t want to give them too much when they are too young.
Start with a very small amount of crushed, dried lavender at about 4 to 6 weeks of age (depending on how fast the chicks grow) and see how they do.
As always, monitor them for any adverse reactions when trying something new in their diet.
Even though lavender is natural and non-toxic, it can still spell trouble for chicks if they choke on it, get an upset stomach, or start to suffer from crop impaction.
How Often Can Lavender be Fed to Chickens?
Lavender has some legit benefits for your chickens, no doubt about it, but it isn’t something you should let them fill up on.
Lavender is a supplement only, or something you feed to chickens when required. It has almost no real nutrition that chickens need, and even if they eat as much as they can they won’t thrive on lavender as a primary part of their diet.
That means you only need to give your chickens lavender once or twice a week at most. This counts for infusing their water, too.
They will get plenty of benefit from it that way, and will still have lots of room left over for the foods they actually need.
What’s the Best Way to Serve Lavender to Your Flock?
Lavender is a cinch when it comes to feeding your flock. I like to simply give it to them dried, mixed in with feed, or else infused into their water since they seem way less averse to eating it then.
If feeding them dried lavender, scatter it on the ground to let them peck at it only if you know they like it. Otherwise, mix it with feed; a tiny dash of olive oil can help it stick to the feed.
If you’re going to put it in their water, steep a few sprigs of fresh lavender in lukewarm water for a few hours and then use the strained liquid to fill the flock’s usual water sources.
Be Careful: Lavender May Have Been Treated with Chemicals
Be very aware that any store-bought lavender has not been treated with harmful chemicals, perfumes and other things that can harm your birds.
Double-check everything! Lavender is a common component of potpourri and other fragrant products, so be sure not to feed your birds anything that might have been used in these products.
Even lavender that has been treated with extra lavender essential oils might be made dangerously toxic for chickens. If you don’t grow it yourself, you must be sure that store-bought lavender contains nothing that will harm your chickens.
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.