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Common Herbs and their Health Benefits for You and your Chickens


Culinary herbs are easy to grow and have amazing health benefits for both you and your chickens.

I grow a wide assortment of herbs to use in cooking and also in conjunction with raising our chickens and ducks to keep them healthy naturally, without the use of antibiotics or medications.

Herbs and edible flowers look pretty and smell nice. 

They can help keep bugs and rodents out of your coop, aid in poultry overall health and well-being, providing essential vitamins and minerals, and also work to support the respiratory, digestive and circulatory systems.


I put fresh herbs in the nesting boxes to calm setting hens, repel insects and rodents and add an aromatic scent to the chicken coop.

I brew herbal tea for our chicks and ducklings to give them a good start in life and also for our laying hens. I put fresh herbs in my brooders for the newly hatched little ones also because the essential oils benefit their growth.

All of the culinary herbs, which are pretty much with I stick with, are perfectly safe to use around the chickens, so there's no worry about any being toxic or harmful to them.

(CAUTION: I would add a note of caution when using essential oils because they are extremely concentrated and can actually be harmful if you don't use them correctly)

Stick with fresh herbs as much as possible, used dried when you don't have fresh, and toss a variety of herbs into your coop and nesting boxes any time you trim your herb plants.

Here is a quick reference of some of the more common herbs and their specific benefits for us and for  our chickens:

COMMON HERBS AND THEIR BENEFITS

Alfalfa 


Benefits: High in protein, contributes to orange egg yolks.

How to Use: Add to daily feed.

Basil 


Benefits: Antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, aids mucus membrane, circulatory and respiratory health, supports orange egg yolks, repels flies and mosquitoes, stress reliever, supports digestion, immune system health aid, source of protein, Vitamin K and iron.

How to Use: Offer fresh or dry leaves and mix into daily feed.

Fresh basil growing in a container

Bay Leaves 


Benefits: Antiseptic, antioxidant, immune system booster, insect repellent.

How to Use: Add fresh or dried leaves to nesting boxes.

Bee Balm (bergamot/monarda) 


Benefits: Antiseptic, antibacterial, aids in respiratory health, calming.

How to Use: Add fresh flowers to nesting areas.

Bee balm providing nectar to its namesake

Borage 


Benefits: High in calcium, betacarotenes and niacin, soothing, supports cardiovascular health, antioxidant, mucus membrane health, helps keep bugs out of the garden.

How to Use: Dry and add to nesting areas.

Calendula/Marigold 


Benefits: Heals wounds, repels insects. See Marigold

Catmint 


Benefits: Insect repellent.

How to Use: Scatter fresh flowers and leaves in nesting boxes.

Our beautiful catmint plant in the rock garden in front of our house


Catnip 


Benefits: Calming sedative, insect repellent.

How to Use: Add fresh or dried to nesting areas.

Cayenne pepper 


Benefits: Aids circulation, blood flow and metabolism, appetite stimulant, antiseptic, digestive enhancement, natural wormer, increases egg production.

How to Use: Add to daily feed during the cold months.

Chamomile 


Benefits: kills mites and lice,  repels fleas, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, calming, relaxant, detoxifier.

How to Use: Scatter flower heads in nesting and dust bath areas.

Chamomile growing in my herb garden


Chervil


Benefits:  Heals bruises, thought to prevent illness, high in vitamins and minerals, aids in mucus membrane health, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, overall health tonic.

How to Use: Dry and add to daily feed.


Benefits:  Anti-inflammatory, natural pain reliever, soothes mucus membranes, aids in digestive health, purifies and cleanses blood, high in B vitamins and Omega-6

How to Use: Offer fresh and free-choice.

Chives 


Benefits: Aids digestion, stimulates appetite, good source of iron.

How to Use: Let chickens nibble on chives as they free range.

Wild chives

Cilantro 


Benefits: Antioxidant, anti-fungal, builds strong bones, high in Vitamin A for vision and Vitamin K for blood clotting.

How to Use: Dry and add to daily feed or feed fresh.

Cinnamon 


 Benefits: Promotes healthy breathing and respiratory health.

How to Use: Sprinkle over warm oatmeal in the winter or mix into dry feed.

Comfrey


Benefits:  Pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, helps to heal wounds, promotes muscle, cartilage, and bone growth.

Now to Use: Note:  err on the side of caution - to be used topically, not internally.

Cornflower 


Benefits: Soothing, anti-inflammatory, aids immune system health.

How to Use: Add fresh or dried flowers to nesting boxes or mix dried flowers into feed.

Blue cornflower growing in the herb garden



Benefits: General health tonic, diuretic which improves kidney and liver health, laying stimulant, high in calcium for strong eggshells, antioxidant,  anti-inflammatory which helps to relieve pain, aids in digestion,  contributes to orange egg yolks.

How to Use: Offer the leaves and flowers fresh or dried and mixed into feed.

Picking dandelions growing wild in the yard

Dill


Benefits: Antioxidant, antibacterial, relaxant/calming, respiratory health, stimulates the appetite, aids in digestion, promotes feather growth, stress reliever, controls diarrhea.

How to Use: Dry and mix into daily feed or offer fresh.

Fresh dill from my garden

Echinacea


Benefits: Antibacterial, aids in respiratory health and strengthens the immune system.

How to Use: Hang bouquets in the coop, scatter petals in the nesting area.

Echinacea flowers in my herb garden in Virginia


Fennel


Benefits: Laying stimulant, boosts reproductive health, insect repellent, relaxant.

How to Use: Feed seeds and/or foliage free choice.

Garlic 


Benefits: Overall health boost, laying stimulant, anti-fungal, benefits circulatory and respiratory system, relieves diarrhea, believed to combat internal parasites.

How to Use: Add powdered to daily feed or crush a clove or two into the water several times a week.

Fresh garlic I grew in the garden

Ginger  


Benefits: Stress reducer (don't laugh, chickens have stress in their lives too at times!), appetite stimulant, anti-oxidant.

How to Use: Save kitchen trimmings for the chickens.


Goldenseal 


Benefits: Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, useful for treating wounds and eye infections.

How to Use: Steep the flowers and leaves, then administer to eye or apply to injury.


Hyssop
 


Benefits: Improves circulation, heals wounds, detoxifier.

How to Use: Dry and add to daily feed.

Lavender 


Benefits: Antibacterial, calming stress reliever, increases blood circulation, highly aromatic, insect repellent, laying stimulant.

How to Use: Add fresh or dried buds to nesting and dust bath areas, plant lavender around coop and run area. Hang fresh stems in bouquets in the coop.

A beautiful lavender spire growing in front of our house

Lemon Balm


Benefits: Stress reliever, antibacterial, highly aromatic, rodent and insect repellent, calming.

How to Use: Use leaves fresh or dried in nesting areas.

Lemon Verbena 


Benefits: Aromatic, fly repellent, antiviral properties.

How to Use: Plant around coop and run area.

Lemon Grass (citronella) 


Benefits: Fly repellent, aromatic.

How to Use: Plant around coop and run area.

Lovage 


Benfits: Aids respiratory and mucus membrane health, blood detoxifier, anti-inflammatory.

How to Use: Dry plants and add to daily feed.

Marigold 


Benefits: Supports vibrant orange egg yolks, feet and beaks/bills, insect repellent, antioxidant, antibacterial, laying stimulant, controls diarrhea.

How to Use: Add dried blossoms to daily feed or feed flowers fresh. Plant around coop and run area to help keep bugs away.

Marigolds growing in our herb garden in Virginia


Marjoram 


Benefits: Laying stimulant, anti-inflammatory, decongestant, improves blood circulation, detoxifier.

How to Use: Add dried to daily feed or offer fresh free-choice, sprinkle fresh or dried in nesting area.

A handful of fresh marjoram

Mint (all kinds) 


Benefits: Insect and rodent repellent, antioxidant, aids in respiratory health, digestive aid, lowers stress levels, aids in feather growth. Feeding results in larger eggs, thicker eggshells and increased egg production.

How to Use: Add dried to daily feed, scatter fresh or dried into nesting areas. Plant around coop and run area to help repel flies and rodents.

Trimming fresh mint around the chicken coop

Nasturtium 


Benefits: Laying stimulant, antiseptic, anti-fungal, antibiotic, insecticide, wormer, aids in respiratory health.

How to Use: Feed leaves, seeds and flowers fresh or dry and add to daily feed to act as a natural wormer.

Nasturtium growing in a container by the vegetable garden

Oregano 


Benefits: Natural antibiotic, antimicrobial, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, research suggests it helps to combat coccidia, salmonella, infectious bronchitis, avian flu, blackhead and e-coli, strengthens immune system, aids in respiratory health and digestion.

How to Use: Dry leaves and add to daily feed or offer fresh.

Fresh oregano in the herb garden

Parsley


Benefits: high in vitamins A, B,C calcium and iron, aids in bone development, aids in blood vessel development and improves circulation, laying stimulant, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, aids in digestive health.

How to Use: Dry the leaves and add to the daily feed or offer fresh.

Picking fresh parsley from the herb garden


Peppermint


Benefits: Anti-parasitic insect repellent, antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral, digestive aid, laying stimulant. See Mint.

Pineapple Sage


Benefits:  Aids nervous system, calming, highly aromatic, antiseptic.

How to Use: Scatter fresh flowers and leaves in nesting area.

Fragrant pineapple sage in my Virginia herb garden



Benefits: Antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant. Prevents infection. Thought to be a natural wormer.

How to Use: Feed leaves fresh.

Plantain picked from the yard


Purslane 


Benefits: Antioxidant, great source of Omega-3s, high in vitamins A, B and C, as well as calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium.

How to Use: Feed leaves fresh.

Raspberry Leaf


Benefits: Antioxidant, relaxant, supports healthy reproductive system.

How to Use: Dry leaves and add to daily feed. (fruit is great to feed also as a chicken snack!)

Lone raspberry in our patch here in Maine

Rose Petals 


Benefits: Highly aromatic, high in Vitamin C, antibacterial, antioxidant, aids respiratory system, mild sedative.

How to Use: Offer fresh or scatter petals in nesting area, fresh or dried.

Blooming roses on one of the bushes that surrounds our chicken coop


Rosemary 


Benefits: calming and relaxing, anti-inflammatory and pain reliever, aids in respiratory and liver health, insect repellent, heals wounds, aids blood circulation and digestion.

How to Use: Add to nesting and dust bath area, plants around coop and run area.

Fresh rosemary growing in the garden

Sage 


Benefits: antioxidant, anti-parasitic, antibacterial, general health promoter, immune system booster, thought to combat Salmonella, laying stimulant.

How to Use: Dry and add to daily feed.

Picking fresh sage from the herb garden

Spearmint 


Benefits: Antiseptic, insect repellent, stimulates nerve, brain and blood functions. See Mint.


Tarragon
 


Benefits: Antioxidant, appetite stimulant.

How to Use: Dry leaves and add to daily feed, scatter leaves, fresh or dried, in nesting areas and around coop.

Thyme 


Benefits:  Aids in respiratory, digestive and immune system health, antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-parasitic, laying stimulant, insect repellent. Plant around coop and run area.

How to Use: Use fresh or dried in the nesting and dust bath areas, add to daily feed.

Thyme ready to be air dried



Benefits: Calming, high in Vitamin C, aid in respiratory health.

How to Use: Hang bouquets of flowers in the coop, scatter in nesting areas, offer free-choice.


Benefits: Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, clears sinuses and respiratory systems, stress reliever.

How to Use: Hang bouquets of flowers in the coop.

Wild yarrow growing in a neighboring field in Virginia

Herbs are easy to grow, generally not picky about the soil they are grown in and many come back year after year. Think about growing an herb garden for your family - and for your chickens. You'll be glad you did!

-herbs aren't generally picky about soil conditions and will grow nearly anywhere-



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5 comments

  1. Home Depot and Lowes both have Herbs on sale this weekend. I decided to look up this blog entry to find out which ones I needed to get for the ladies. Now that I have my list, I can go soho and come home and play in the dirt!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please try not to buy plants from stores like these, they are sprayed with pesticides, and over fertilized with synthetics that are not good for man nor beast. Just a thought.

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  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  3. hey lisa always you create nice article about food and ginger thanks for all your efforts byn the way you can profits for that awesome thread about ginger

    فوائد الزنجبيل

    ReplyDelete
  4. Do you start your chicks out on herbs as well?

    ReplyDelete