Grow an Herbal First Aid Kit for Your Chickens


Growing herbs is easy and rewarding. Most aren't very picky about where you plant them, what you plant them in, or even if you water them very often. They thrive in sandy soil, full sun and basically like to just be left alone. Pruning or taking cuttings actually helps them grow, so you can help yourself to what you need all summer right from the garden. Herbs help to flavor your cooking, of course, but most herbs also have some powerful health benefits for both humans and animals. I grow an Herbal First Aid Kit Garden for our chickens each spring and then use the herbs both fresh and dried to keep my flock happy and healthy.

Why not plant your own Herbal First Aid Kit this year? Herbs can be started from seeds or seedlings. They can be planted in containers or raised beds. Many are perennials in many parts of the country. These herbs can be used in all sorts of ways to strengthen your chickens' health or to treat wounds, infections or injuries. Just pick at least one herb from each category below to get started (and notice that some herbs do 'double duty').


Anti-inflammatory - Calendula, Chickweed, Lavender, Parsley, Plantain ( a poultice or salve made from any of these herbs and applied to a sprain can help reduce swelling)

Antiseptic - Clover, Garlic, Goldenseal, Sage, Thyme (a salve made from any of these herbs can be applied and used on a cut or wound)

Blood Clotting - Calendula, Cilantro (a salve or tincture made from these herbs can help stop bleeding)

Detox - Basil, Fennel (a tea or infusion made with these herbs can help cleanse the body of toxins)

Digestive Aid - Chamomile, Dill, Fennel, Peppermint ( these herbs eaten fresh or infused in a tea can help with digestion)

Eye Health - Borage, Chamomile, Cucumber, Fennel, Goldenseal, Thyme, Yarrow (these herbs infused in a tea and applied to the eye with an eyedropper or a cool compress can alleviate an eye infection - or in the case of cucumber, sliced thin and held over the eye)

General Health Tonic - Basil, dandelion, peppermint (these herbs eaten fresh or infused in a tea can help with overall health)

Immune System Booster - Basil, Bee Balm, Echinacea, Oregano, Sage, Thyme (these herbs eaten fresh, dried, infused in a tea or made into a tincture can help boost your chickens' immune systems)

Pain Relief - Calendula, Chickweed, Garlic, Rosemary (these herbs made into a salve and applied, eaten fresh, or applied fresh directly to a wound can help relieve pain)

Relaxation - Chamomile, Lavender, Rosemary, Rose Petals (these herbs placed fresh or dried in the nesting boxes can help your chickens relax while they lay their eggs or sit on eggs to hatch them)

Respiratory Health - Basil, Bee Balm, Dill, Echinacea, Rosemary, Thyme, Yarrow (any of these herbs eaten fresh, dried or infused into a tea can help improve respiratory health)

Wormer - Catnip, Garlic, Nasturtium, Thyme (these herbs eaten fresh act as natural wormers)

Wound Healing - Calendula, Goldenseal, Plantain, Yarrow (a salve made from any of these herbs and applied to a wound can hasten healing)

Read HERE for a more complete list of culinary herbs and their health benefits.


Here are some of the most common ways to use use herbs medicinally, although feeding them fresh to your chickens or drying them and adding them to their feed is probably the easiest way!

To make an infusion or herbal tea: Pour one cup of boiling water over 2 teaspoons fresh or 1 teaspoon dried herbs and let steep for 15-30 minutes. Strain out the solids, cool and serve immediately or refrigerate. (this method is most often used for water-soluble herb leaves and stems and the liquid will take on some of the color of the herb)

Here's a recipe for an Herbal Tea for your chickens.
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To make a decoction: Simmer dried or fresh herbs over low heat for 30-60 minutes, strain, cool and serve or refrigerate. (this method is most often used for roots, bark and berries)

Here's a decoction recipe for a Spring Herbal Tonic for your chickens.
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To make a tincture: Steep 1/2 Cup of fresh herbs in 2 cups of white or apple cider vinegar for two weeks. Strain the solids and store in a covered container in a cool, dark spot. (this would be a very concentrated way to administer herbs internally and only requires a few drops to be ingested at a time)

Here's a Digestive Tincture recipe from Wellness Mama. I would just swap out the alcohol for apple cider vinegar if you're giving it to your chickens.
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To make a basic salve: Melt 8 ounces oil (such as sweet almond oil, olive oil or other coconut oil) with 2 ounces beeswax and fresh or dried herbs of our choice. Simmer over low heat for several hours, then strain out the herb and pour the slave into a covered container to harden. (this would be used for any external application of the herbs)

Here's a great Calendula Salve recipe from Jan at The Nerdy Housewife that would be perfect to apply to a wound.
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I have a wonderful book named Herbal Medicine, written by Dian Dincin Buchanan in 1979 that has since been reprinted several times, and is available HERE. It has really great information on the healing properties of many herbs and weeds. I highly recommend it as a reference since the information can be used for your family and your flock.

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3 comments:

  1. What is your opinion of growing hops for chickens? I have heard very little in regard to the safety of growing this vine and allowing chickens to eat? Most of the comments I have heard have been positive, as little as I have found, but I your opinion would seal the deal! Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've never done it nor read that much about it but I have heard many do successfully.

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  3. Hi, I have a duck with bumblefoot. Do you have any recommendations. I am making herbal tea for the water. And was going to try a homemade salve. Is there anything else I can do without using antibiotics. I was curious on essential oils diluted. Or are they still to strong. Any help would be much appreciated. Thank you.

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