Common Herbs and their Health Benefits for You and your Chickens

February 6, 2014

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:


Alfalfa - high in protein, contributes to orange egg yolks. Add to daily feed.

Basil - 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. Offer fresh or dry leaves and mix into daily feed.

Bay Leaves - antiseptic, antioxidant, immune system booster, insect repellent. Add fresh or dried leaves to nesting boxes.

Bee Balm (bergamot/monarda) - antiseptic, antibacterial, respiratory health, calming. Add fresh flowers to nesting areas.

Borage - high in calcium, betacarotenes and niacin, soothing, supports cardiovascular health, antioxidant, mucus membrane health, helps keep bugs out of the garden. Dry and add to nesting areas.

Calendula/Marigold - heals wounds, repels insects. See Marigold

Catmint - insect repellent. Scatter fresh flowers and leaves in nesting boxes.

Catnip - calming sedative, insect repellent. Add fresh or dried to nesting areas.

Cayenne pepper - aids circulation, blood flow and metabolism, appetite stimulant, antiseptic, digestive enhancement, natural wormer, increases egg production. Add to daily feed during the cold months.

Chamomile - kills mites and lice,  repels fleas, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, calming, relaxant, detoxifier. Scatter flower heads in nesting and dust bath areas.

Chervil - heals bruises, thought to prevent illness, high in vitamins and minerals, aids in mucus membrane health, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, overall health tonic. Dry and add to daily feed.

Chives - aid digestion, stimulates appetite, good source of iron. Let chickens nibble on chives as they free range.

Cilantro - antioxidant, fungicide, builds strong bones, high in Vitamin A for vision and Vitamin K for blood clotting. Dry and add to daily feed or feed fresh.

Cinnamon - promotes healthy breathing and respiratory health. Sprinkle over warm oatmeal in the winter or mix into dry feed.

Comfrey - pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, heals wounds, promotes muscle, cartilage, and bone growth. Note:  err on the side of caution - to be used topically, not internally.

Cornflower - soothing, anti-inflammatory, aids immune system health. Add fresh or dried flowers to nesting boxes or mix dried flowers into feed.

Dandelion - 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. Offer the leaves and flowers fresh or dried and mixed into feed.

Dill - antioxidant, antibacterial, relaxant/calming, respiratory health, stimulates the appetite, aids in digestion, promotes feather growth, stress reliever, controls diarrhea. Dry and mix into daily feed or offer fresh.

Echinacea - antibacterial, aids in respiratory health and strengthens the immune system. Hang bouquets in the coop, scatter petals in the nesting area.

Fennel - laying stimulant, boosts reproductive health, insect repellent. Feed seeds and/or foliage.

Garlic - overall health boost, laying stimulant, anti-fungal, benefits circulatory and respiratory system, relieves diarrhea, believed to combat internal parasites. Add powdered to daily feed or crush a clove or two into the water several times a week.

Ginger - stress reducer (don't laugh, chickens have stress in their lives too at times!), appetite stimulant, anti-oxidant. Save kitchen trimmings for the chickens.

Goldenseal - Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, useful for treating wounds and eye infections. Steep the flowers and leaves, then administer to eye or apply to injury.

Hyssop - improves circulation, heals wounds, detoxifier. Dry and add to daily feed.

Lavender - antibacterial, calming stress reliever, increases blood circulation, highly aromatic, insect repellent, laying stimulant. 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.

Lemon Balm - stress reliever, antibacterial, highly aromatic, rodent and insect repellent, calming. Use leaves fresh or dried in nesting areas.

Lemon Verbena - aromatic, fly repellent, antiviral properties. Plant around coop and run area.

Lemon Grass (citronella) - fly repellent. Plant around coop and run area.

Lovage - aids respiratory and mucus membrane health, blood detoxifier, anti-inflammatory. Dry plants and add to daily feed.

Marigold - supports vibrant orange egg yolks, feet and beaks/bills, insect repellent, antioxidant, antibacterial, laying stimulant, controls diarrhea. Add dried blossoms to daily feed or feed flowers fresh. Plant around coop and run area to help keep bugs away.

Marjoram - laying stimulant, anti-inflammatory, decongestant, improves blood circulation, detoxifier. Add dried to daily feed or offer fresh free-choice.

Mint (all kinds) - 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. Add dried to daily feed, scatter fresh or dried into nesting areas. Plant around coop and run area to help repel flies and rodents.

Nasturtium - laying stimulant, antiseptic, antifungal, antibiotic, insecticide, wormer, aids in respiratory health. Feed leaves, seeds and flowers fresh or dry and add to daily feed to act as a natural wormer.

Oregano - 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. Dry leaves and add to daily feed or offer fresh.

Parsley - 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. Dry the leaves and add to the daily feed or offer fresh.

Peppermint - anti-parasitic insect repellent, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, digestive aid, laying stimulant. See Mint.

Pineapple Sage - aids nervous system, calming, highly aromatic, antiseptic. Scatter fresh flowers and leaves in nesting area.

Plantain - Antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant. Prevents infection. Thought to be a natural wormer. Feed leaves fresh.

Purslane - antioxidant, great source of Omega-3s, high in vitamins A, B and C, as well as calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium. Feed leaves fresh.

Raspberry Leaf - antioxidant, relaxant, supports healthy reproductive system. Dry leaves and add to daily feed.

Rose Petals - highly aromatic, high in Vitamin C, antibacterial, antioxidant, aids respiratory system, mild sedative. Offer fresh or scatter in nesting area fresh or dried.

Rosemary - calming and relaxing, anti-inflammatory and pain reliever, aids in respiratory and liver health, insect repellent, heals wounds, aids blood circulation and digestion. Add to nesting and dust bath area, plants around coop and run area.

Sage - antioxidant, anti-parasitic, antibacterial, general health promoter, immune system booster, thought to combat Salmonella, laying stimulant. Dry and add to daily feed.

Spearmint - antiseptic, insect repellent, stimulates nerve, brain and blood functions. See Mint.

Tarragon - antioxidant, appetite stimulant. Dry leaves and add to daily feed.

Thyme - aids in respiratory, digestive and immune system health, antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-parasitic, laying stimulant, insect repellent. Plant around coop and run area. Use fresh or dried in the nesting and dust bath areas.

Yarrow - antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, clears sinuses and respiratory systems, stress reliever. Hang bouquets of flowers in the coop.

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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  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!

    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.

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

  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

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


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