Borage - A Nutritious Herbal Chicken Treat

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. 

-photo credit: 200birdies-
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!

-photo credit:

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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  1. I knew you would love the Borage ... I am growing some in containers so my girls will have them over the colder months :)

  2. I love my borage but can't figure out who decided that it tastes like cukes. It is prickly, but a leaf or two in with a pot roast seems to bring out all the wonderful flavors. Also, in sausage a little bit of it dried will do the same. Be forwarned, it not only reseeds itself, it will take over. I like it in my garden because the bees love it, but I do try to keep it under control. Having it in a location where the chickens can get to it but not the other things in your garden seems like a great control method. Thank you.

    1. Interesting. This will be my first time growing it so I can't comment on the cucumber taste, but I read that in several books and also a few articles online. I will for sure plant it somewhere it can spread and reseed itself this coming spring. It's so pretty,

  3. I've grown it for years and my girls completely ignore it, but it is great for all the bees!

  4. My lot (chickens or humans) wont eat it either! I grow it now pretty much just for the flowers in ice and fruit salads.