Herbs for Hens™: Yarrow

~Common yarrow offers numerous health benefits to humans AND chickens~
Yarrow is a flowering plant that grows wild in much of the United States and has many, many health benefits for both humans and chickens. In ancient times, it was used mainly to stop bleeding and heal wounds. In fact, according to mythology, Achilles used yarrow to treat fallen comrades. Alternate names for yarrow include 'soldier's woundwort' and 'nosebleed plant'.

~common yarrow growing wild in the field near our house~
Mention of yarrow has been found in Native American Indian writings as well as Chinese, Ayurvedic and ancient Greek medical journals.  Studies have shown that wild birds will line their nests with yarrow which helps to repel parasites. Yarrow also will kill mosquito larvae.

Yarrow root can be chewed to aid in tooth aches - not really anything chickens need to worry about! But yarrow also has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. It can guard against bacteria and improve digestive health. Dried yarrow flowers and leaves can be added to your chickens' feed so they reap the benefits.

~Yarrow 'tea' can help clear up all kinds of respiratory issues~
Probably most importantly for us chicken keepers, yarrow is drying and aids in respiratory health. Especially beneficial when mixed with goldenseal, fresh or dried yarrow flowers can be brewed into a tea to help clear up eye and nasal secretions and respiratory infections.  Just steep the cut flowers in boiling water for ten minutes then let cool and serve it up to your flock!

~bouquest of yarrow hung in your coop help  combat moisture which can lead to respiratory issues~
Bouquets of fresh yarrow hanging in your coop can help prevent respiratory problems in your flock by keeping their airways dry as they munch on the flowers. Since chickens have very small, weak lungs and complex breathing systems, keeping them working properly is key in backyard chicken care. We are lucky to have a field of yarrow growing across the street from our house, so I liberally pick it all summer and hang it in our coop to try and combat some of respiratory issues that can arise because of the high the humidity here. I also dry the leaves and flowers and crush them to use all winter as a feed add-in.

~yarrow grows wild throughout much of the United States and Canada~
Why not try to find some yarrow in an empty field, pasture or growing along the roadside - or grow some in your herb garden? Yarrow attracts butterflies and ladybugs, actually improves the quality of the soil in which it is planted and can also aid in the health of other plants around it!  

Sound too good to be true? Well, there IS one problem: both Queen Anne's Lace (also known as Wild Carrot) and Hemlock look surprisingly similar to Yarrow.

~this is the flowers and leaves of common yarrow~
~Queen Anne's Lace is very similar in appearance~
Queen Anne's Lace is a biennial weed in the carrot family that grows wild in much of the United Stated and Canada. According to legend, it is named after Queen Anne of England who once pricked her finger while tatting lace. It is also referred to as 'Wild Carrot'. The flower, leaves and root are all edible but don't offer the same health benefits of yarrow. However, the leaves can be boiled and applied to cuts to prevent bacterial infections. 

~Hemlock image courtesy of  Illinois Wildflowers Info
WARNING: Hemlock, another member of the carrot family, is a very similar-looking plant.  However it is highly toxic, especially the roots (remember Socrates?). Fortunately, it is fairly easy to differentiate hemlock from either Queen Anne's Lace or Yarrow, since hemlock lacks the fern-like leaves, instead having much larger, traditional-looking leaves.

The benefits of yarrow are hard to dispute for humans as well as chickens, but just do a bit of research first to be sure what you've got IS yarrow and then plan on adding some yarrow to your natural chicken keeping regiment.

~yarrow also makes a beautiful, long-lasting addition to cut flower bouquets~


I hope you enjoyed this installment  of Herbs for Hens. Stay tuned for the next in the series coming soon!
I would love for you to join me here...

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  1. This may be a dumb question, but is any kind of yarrow okay? I have some growing in my flowerbeds that's yellow (it's called Moonshine Yarrow). Can they eat that?

    I just love your blog. It's a treasure trove of information! :)

    1. Thanks so much! I'm glad you're finding it helpful. I believe all the varieties of yarrow have similar if not the same benefits.

  2. I enjoyed this info very much. I will be on the lookout for yarrow. Your information/research is invaluable. Thank you Lisa.

  3. Wonderful information! And yippeee! I think I have some yarrow growing out front. I hadn't even realized it until reading your post!

    1. I thought what we had was Queen Annes Lace until I posted a photo of a wild flower bouquet I had made and Suzanne said - um, that's yarrow and its got great health benefits!

  4. I always knew Yarrow was good for something. Thank you so much for explaining how to use with our chickens. Such wonderful advice. Please keep it coming. I always recommend your website to my hen keeping friends.
    Start To Grow

    1. Thanks so much! I appreciate you spreading the word and am so glad you enjoy my posts.

  5. I haven't noticed any growing wild in our area but then again the Kudzu tends to destroy everything. (chickens love Kudzu)

    I think that first photo was to show off your pretty garden shoes?

  6. Have you ever looked closely at the head of Queen Ann's Lace? You will see one tiny little red dot. That is where Queen Ann pricked her finger and bled on the lace.

  7. Wonderful information~ Herbal Remedies is something I want to learn more about. Have a great day~Lynn @ Turnips 2 Tangerines

  8. Wonderful info! I was looking for something to plant that would be good for my hens, I'm going to plant some ;)