Borage! I was so excited to see this month's Seeds of the Month Club assortment included this pretty flowering herb. I've been reading quite a bit about borage lately and meaning to plant some in my herb garden for ages. So here the opportunity was dropped right in my lap.
Borage is an annual herb that originated in Europe and flowers with beautiful blue flowers. All parts of the plant are edible for humans and chickens although mainly the flowers and leaves are consumed. Also called 'bee plant' or 'starflower', it's a favorite of bees. While borage doesn't transplant well, it will reseed itself and can be planted in early spring or late fall and overwintered for an early spring appearance. It likes rich, well-drained soil and full-sun to partial shade.
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So what are some of the health benefits of this pretty flowering herb?
- High in calcium which is important for laying hens to make nice thick, hard eggshells
- High in beta carotene which makes nice orange egg yolks
- High in Vitamin A which provides antioxidants and mucus membrane health
- High in Vitamin B-3 (niacin) which is important for strong legs and bones
- High in Omega-6s which provide immune system support and also contributes to mucus membrane health
- High in fatty acids for improved cellular function
- Supports cardiovascular health
Clearly borage is a very nutritious treat for your chickens. Feed the leaves or blossoms fresh or dried, or steep them in hot water to make the chickens an herbal tea. Apparently chickens really like the taste of borage ... probably something to do with the fact that it tastes like cucumbers - one of our flock's favorite veggie treats!
I'm really excited to plant some of this beautiful, nutritious herb in my garden for the girls!
Health Note: Borage is thought to cause liver damage in humans if ingested in large quantities, so I would stick to feeding it free-choice to my hens (versus dried and mixed into their feed, for instance) and let them decide how much is too much. They are usually pretty good at figuring that kind of stuff out!
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The Beginner's Guide to Edible Herbs by Charles W. G. Smith (Storey Publishing, 2010)
Borage Nutrition Facts
7 Excellent Reasons to Plant Borage in your Garden
The Gardener's Friend ... or Enemy? Your Chickens Magazine, July, 2011
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