Herbs are a great way to boost your chickens’ health and wellness. Herbs can bolster your flock’s immune system, reduce their stress, keep them parasite free, prevent boredom and more.
Why Herbs for Chickens?
Just as herbs can support and improve the overall health of people, they can help livestock too. Herbs are easy to grow and can be used in your own kitchen or medicine making in addition to your chickens. Herbs can offer additional vitamins and minerals when added to feed and/or water plus they can offer benefits of boosting the immune system, supporting respiratory health, adding protein, controlling parasites, relieving stress, and improving circulatory health.
Wild birds use herbs when building their nests. If you happen to find a bird nest on your homestead and can safely do so, check out what it was built with. Those mamas know what is best for their babies. The herbs they choose could help to protect the babies from bacteria or possibly disguise their scent from predators in the case of highly aromatic herbs.
There are no steadfast rules when it comes to how to use herbs for your chickens but I’ll give you some ideas how to use them as I profile each herb below. Free choice is often a good choice. Let the hen decide how much she needs of each herb. This is where hanging small bundles in or near the coop can be helpful.
Another option is to infuse the herbs in oil or as a tea for topical applications. The infused oil can also be made into a salve.
Actions: Anti-parasitic, anti-fungal, and antibacterial. It supports the chicken’s immune system against illnesses like avian flu, salmonella, and infectious bronchitis. It is also a natural dewormer.
Ways to Use: Add to coop, feed, and water. Hang bundles for them to nibble and stay entertained. Chop or add dried to chicken feed, particularly during molting.
Actions: Anti-inflamatory, high in protein, aids digestion, aids respiratory health. Particularly good for bone development in chicks and as a protein source during molting.
Ways to use: Add to feed. Free choice in the run. Use comfrey salve for chicken injuries.
Actions: Natural insect repellent, antifungal, adds color to yolks, improves feet and beak health.
Ways to Use: Make a tea to spray as insect repellent or on skin irritations. Have chicken drink directly (or use a syringe) for oral yeast infection. Use salve for injuries (good to pair with comfrey for this).
Actions: Immune support, laying stimulant, supports circulation, anti-fungal, repels fleas, ticks, and other parasites, natural dewormer.
Ways to Use: Add to feed, crush in their water (1 clove per quart). Give at the first sign anything seems “off.”
Actions: Insecticide, high in protein, calming
Ways to Use: Add to water directly or brew as a tea and add to water. Strew in nesting box.
Actions: Rodent and insect repellent, parasite control, promotes feather growth, can lower body temperature in the summer.
Ways to Use: Chop and freeze in ice cubes for a boredom buster in the summer.
Smell calms and de-stresses the flock. Hang in the coop and run to deter rodents and insects.
Actions: Pain relief, respiratory health, insecticide, calming, wards off rodents.
Ways to Use: Strew in coop and nesting box. Hang in bundles in the coop or run.