I love growing herbs. For the most part, they're easy, not picky about the soil conditions or whether you water them regularly...and they add a delicious flavor to my cooking. Well, here's another way to put the herbs and edible flowers to good use - in your nesting boxes and coop. Fresh or dried - the aromatherapy and other benefits are immense for your flock!
Culinary herbs and edible flowers have amazing health and well-being benefits...and also provide a bit of aromatherapy for your chickens.
My coop never smelled so good until I started adding an herbal nesting box blend that at different times of the year includes mint, basil, lemon balm, thyme, oregano, bee balm, lavender, marigold and rose petals.
Fresh or dried herbs in your nesting boxes not only work as insect-repellents, but also have anti-bacterial properties, and can act as natural wormers, anti-parasitics, rodent control, stress relievers and laying stimulants.
They will help a laying hen feel safe and relaxed while she is sitting, and calm a broody hen, as well as repel rodents, flies and other parasites. Broodies have a tendency to get mites and other bugs since they don't get out to dust bathe often, if at all, and the warm, dark space underneath them is a breeding ground for parasites. Certain types of herbs safely and naturally avoid that.
Note: you may have heard that fresh herbs will mold and harbor bacteria in the nesting boxes. This is not true, and in fact many herbs are natural fungicides and anti-bacterials! It is extremely humid here in Virginia and I have never had any problem with using fresh herbs. Fresh herbs contain essential oils and are much more palatable to chickens, so fresh should be used whenever possible.
The herbs and flowers look so pretty !
Research has shown that wild birds will line their nests with fresh herbs and flowers, especially those that contain essential oils. The newly hatched baby birds benefit by rubbing against these herbs in the first few days of life. Same applies to baby chicks and ducklings. The herbs will benefit your newly hatched chicks by imparting lots of protection from parasites, as well as when they eat them garner the chicks even more health benefits.
Here is a partial list of common herbs and flowers and their beneficial properties:
Health Benefits of Common Herbs
Health Benefits of Common Herbs
I plant various different types of herbs each spring because of their many uses. In addition to using the herbs for teas and in the nesting boxes, I also enjoy cooking with fresh herbs.
There's nothing like going out to the garden and picking a handful of fresh basil for pesto, oregano for homemade pizza or mint to garnish a slice of cheesecake. Herbs are easy to grow, do well in most areas of the country and can even be grown on your kitchen windowsill in the winter.
I do dry excess herbs at the end of the summer to use in the nesting boxes during the winter - as well as to cook with and I add dried crushed herbs to my chickens' layer feed year round, but I use fresh herbs whenever I can.
Purchase my signature Herbs for Hens Nesting Box Sachets HERE.
To learn more about using herbs in chicken keeping order a copy of my book!
Available online or from your local bookstore.
Hardcover, 160 pages, full color photographs throughout.