Don’t you love the taste of fresh parsley on your morning scrambled eggs?
Herbs like parsley have a ton of health benefits in addition to their culinary applications. You probably already know this. But what you might not know is that these herbs are also great for your chickens, too.
There are several ways you can incorporate herbs in your hens’ diets, whether it’s scattering them in the nesting boxes or coop, or adding them to their feed. You can even grow a few near your chicken’s free-ranging area so your chickens can peck for them on their own!
However you choose to feed herbs to your chickens, you’ll love the health benefits they provide. Here are some of the best herbs for your chickens to keep them healthy.
Parsley is my favorite herb, and my chickens love it, too. Chickens will eat both the stems and leaves of parsley, and there are a ton of nutritional benefits associated with them doing so, too. It not only contains vitamins A, C, B, K, and E, but it also contains tons of selenium, magnesium, zinc, and iron.
Believe it or not, feeding parsley to your chickens on a regular basis can stimulate egg-laying. You can grow it in your chicken’s pen and allow them to eat it down themselves (it won’t take long!) or you can grow your own indoors or in an outdoor bed, and feed it fresh or dried to your birds.
Your chickens may munch on lavender from time to time, but it’s really valuable in its ability to repel pests. Use it in your nesting boxes to keep away mites and other pests that can wreak havoc on your birds.
Plus, it can calm your birds. Just as it is for you, lavender is an aromatic stress reliever it can improve blood circulation, too, which is essential for laying hens. And let’s not forget its ability to “destinkify” a coop!
Another great herb to consider growing is sage. Rich in vitamins and antioxidants, this herb can even combat salmonella. Add dried sage to the feed for a delicious dose of nutrients!
There are all kinds of mint you can grow and/or serve to your chickens, including chocolate mint, orange mint, catmint, lemon balm, catnip, peppermint, and spearmint. Mint is an excellent insect and rodent repellent. You can add to a nest box or you can feed it to your chickens.
Mint grows rapidly – in many places, it is invasive. Grow it around your coop, and you won’t have to worry about insects or mice getting inside.
Comfrey is considered a weed by many people, but it’s actually a powerful natural healer. It was once used to heal wounds and respiratory problems, and is easy to grow on your property. Hang the leaves to dry, and then feed it to your chickens – or let them eat the wild-growing plants!
Oregano has some pretty powerful antibiotic properties. Not only can it combat infectious bronchitis, E. coli, avian flu, coccidiosis, and salmonella, but it can also boost the overall immune systems of your chickens.
It’s great for improving respiratory health, too. It is rich in calcium and vitamins K and E. You can feed the herb directly to your chickens, or hang it in their coop for them to play with.
Dill is another herb that can help stimulate digestion and the appetite of your birds.
Chamomile isn’t just for your tea! This easy to grow herb can kill mites and lice – plus, it has the ability to keep fleas away. It also serves as a powerful antibiotic. It smells great, so it might be a good idea to hang some in your coop.
Did your mom use to make you drink echinacea tea when you were sick? That’s because this herb can help improve your overall immune system and respiratory health, helping you fight off a cold more efficiently.
Plus, echinacea, or coneflower, produces gorgeous blooms that look great in your garden. Consider growing a few of these plants for your chickens – you won’t regret it.
Goldenseal is a plant that all chicken keepers should consider growing. It has powerful anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. If your chickens are suffering from any wounds or illness, this is a good option.
Borage is extremely rich in calcium. It contains other vital nutrients for healthy egg production, too, like beta carotene.
Garlic is another top herb to feed to your chickens. It not only can keep parasites away and improve digestive health, but it can relieve stress in your flock, too – something that’s essential if you just introduced new birds to the coop.
Another less-common herb to consider growing in your garden is chervil. It is a powerful healer, and is high in vitamins and minerals.
Another good way to stimulate laying in your flock is by feeding the birds marjoram. It can improve your birds’ circulatory systems, and is a powerful tool for egg producers, too.
Also referred to as marigolds, calendula is technically a family of plants that includes about 15 separate species. It is often grown by gardeners to repel insects, but it’s edible for chickens, too.
It provides egg yolks with a beautiful orange color and also has powerful healing powers. You can grow this plant from seed and plant the seedlings just after the last frost.
Lovage is not a very common herb, but if you can get your hands on some, feed it to your chickens. It has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and can promote respiratory health, too.
Bee balm, or bergamot, is another plant to consider for your chickens. It is an antiseptic and has solid respiratory and antibacterial benefits, too.
You might have some trouble growing your own bay leaves for your chickens – these aren’t always the easiest to grow, as you need a certain climate to grow a bay tree. However, bay leaves can help boost your chickens’ immune system, and serve as good antiseptics, too.
Thyme is another aromatic herb that will not only help keep pests at bay, but can help keep your chickens healthy, too. It is incredibly sweet-smelling, and can help keep all kinds of insects away.
Thyme also has properties as an herbal antibiotic. It can be used to fight respiratory infections and also has antibacterial properties.
Clover might not be considered an herb by everyone, but it’s definitely a plant worth growing. Let your birds forage on wild clover, and you’ll likely notice that they are more active and healthy as a result. Clover is high in vitamins, minerals, and even protein.
If you’ve ever grown chives before, you probably already know how quickly they spread. They come back every year, so plant them once and your job will be done. They are high in iron, too – a plus for chickens who are suffering from parasitic infections.
Yarrow isn’t the first herb that people think of growing, but if you want to improve the health of your chickens, it’s a top pick. It is not only anti-inflammatory, but it’s also antibacterial. It can clear out your sinuses and respiratory tract, too. It’s also a great natural insecticide.
Anise can help prevent both internal and external parasites. It’s easy to grow, too, provided that you start the seeds indoors six weeks before the last frost.
Here’s an herb you’ve likely heard of! Rosemary is an excellent pain reliever and can keep pests away. Many people feed rosemary to their chickens as a supplement in the feed, but it can also be hung in the coop or used in a nesting box, too.
Instead of mowing all the dandelions down on your front lawn, why not harvest them and feed them to the chickens? Dandelions can encourage laying, and are incredibly delicious and nutritious.
Another “weed” to consider growing is chickweed. It is a good natural pain reliever and high in minerals and vitamins, too.
Cilantro is another beneficial herb for chickens. High in vitamins K and A, it is also high in calcium – it can help your birds build strong bones and eggs!
This herb, easy to grow but also found in the wild, can keep away external parasites like mites, lice, and fleas.
Ways to Use Herbs For Your Chickens
There are several ways you can use herbs to keep your chickens healthy. One of the easiest is to simply let your chickens free-range near the herb garden.
Chickens are smarter than you might think, and when they aren’t feeling well, they’ll eat things that can make them feel better.
Herbs are great for this! If you plant herbs where your chickens can reach them, you might just want to be mindful of your flock’s ability to stir up the soil and uproot your plants.
You can also stew herbs in the nesting boxes. This will keep the boxes free from pests and incredibly nice-smelling, too. Just toss a handful of fresh or dried herbs in the boxes when you go to collect eggs. It’s as easy as that!
You can also hang a bundle of herbs in the coop. This can help keep pests away, and will also minimize your chickens’ boredom as they make their way through molts and periods of bad weather.
When it comes time to clean out your chicken coop, you can combine herbs with vinegar and water for a healthy cleaner, too.
And let’s not forget one of the easiest and most common ways to feed herbs to your chickens – simply feed them to them! You can add them free choice, or you can sprinkle them in the feed.
The choice is yours, but whatever you choose to do, consider adding herbs to your chickens’ diet. They’ll be healthier than ever!
Rebekah is a part-time homesteader. On her 22 acres, she raises chickens and bees, not to mention she grows a wide variety of veggies.