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Herbs for Hens® Adding Herbs to your Chicken Nesting Boxes


I love growing herbs. For the most part, they're really easy to grow, not picky about the soil conditions or even whether you water them regularly...and they add a delicious flavor to my cooking.

Well, there's another way to put the herbs and edible flowers you grow to good use - in your chicken nesting boxes and coop. Fresh or dried, most herbs have wonderful benefits for your flock!



Culinary herbs and edible flowers have amazing health and well-being benefits...and also provide a bit of aromatherapy for your chickens. They're not only pretty to look at, they smell SOOOO good too! 

Especially during the spring and summer laying season, I try to make sure my chicken nesting boxes not only always have fresh bedding in them - either aspen nesting pads, pine shavings or straw are all good choices - but always have a sprinkling of fresh or dried herbs.

Adding Herbs to your Chicken Nesting Boxes

My coop and nesting boxes have never smelled so good until I started adding a mix of fresh-grown herb that at different times of the year includes mint, basil, lemon balm, thyme, oregano, bee balm, lavender, marigold and rose petals. 

Fresh or dried herbs scattered in coop not only work to discourage bugs like mites and lice, but also have anti-bacterial properties, and can act as natural rodent control, stress relievers and laying stimulants.

They can help a laying hen feel safe and relaxed while she is sitting - and help calm a broody hen.

When ever I refresh the nesting box bedding I add new herbs and also scatter herbs anytime I have extras that need to be harvested from the garden.

Herbs for Hens® 

Broody hens particularly have a tendency to get mites and other bugs since they don't get out to dust bathe often, if at all, and the warm, dark space underneath them is a breeding ground for parasites.

Certain types of herbs safely and naturally avoid that  and help keep not only the broody hen but her baby chicks healthy and mite-free.

Fresh vs. Dried Herbs

You may have heard that fresh herbs will mold and harbor bacteria in the nesting boxes. This is just not true, and in fact many herbs posses natural fungicide and anti-bacterial properties!  

It is extremely humid in Virginia where we lived for more than a decade and I never had any problem with using fresh herbs. 

Fresh herbs contain essential oils and are much more palatable to chickens, so fresh should be used whenever possible. Not only that, the herbs dry pretty quickly and the chickens also eat some of them. Far faster than any mold could grow.

While I do dry excess herbs at the end of the summer to use during the winter - as well as to cook with and I add dried crushed herbs to my chickens' layer feed year round - I try to use fresh herbs in my chicken nesting boxes whenever I can.


Why Add Herbs to Chicken Nesting Boxes

Research has shown that wild birds will line their nests with fresh herbs and flowers, especially those that contain aromatic essential oils. The newly hatched baby birds benefit by rubbing against these herbs in the first few days of life.

Same applies to baby chicks and ducklings. The herbs will benefit your newly hatched chicks by imparting lots of protection from parasites, as well as when they eat them garner the chicks even more health benefits.

Another school of thought believes that birds will choose aromatic beds of herbs to lay their eggs in to mask their scent and that of their newly hatched chicks.

Most predators use their sense of smell in part to locate prey, so if a hen can hatch her chicks in a bed of fragrant lavender or rosemary or thyme, there's a better chance she will go undetected to wandering predators.

Regardless if that's true or not, tossing some pretty, delicious-smelling (and tasting) herbs into your coop and nesting boxes can't hurt!

Here is a partial list of common herbs and flowers and their beneficial properties:

Health Benefits of Common Herbs

Toss a few handfuls of mixed cut herbs into your nesting boxes and on the coop floor and refresh them as needed. Your chickens will benefit from them and you will enjoy how nice your coop smells.

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